Bounce rate – What it means and why it’s not a disaster if it increases.

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Analysing your website’s traffic can quite quickly become an obsession. The most obvious aspect people look at would be the number visitors coming onto the site, but there is far more information than that available to the budding website analyst.

Being able to identify whom your average customer is would be a good start. There are different analytical packages available, however, we at PoLR prefer to use Google Analytics. Good analytic software will provide you with an exponential amount of information about your visitors; how many there were, how long they stayed on the site, where in the world they came from, the amount of pages viewed, average page views, average time on site, how they got to the website (search engine, direct or referral), comparisons against previous days/months/years and also if the browser left the website straight away without navigating to any other pages in the website – this is known as the ‘Bounce Rate’.

The Bounce Rate is given in a percentage, if yours is over 50% (i.e. 50% of browsers leave the site after hitting the first page they see) then you would not be blamed for thinking that it would be advantageous to try to reduce this number. After all, if you can stop half of your customers leaving your website straight away, then that’s got to be a sensible move!

There are different ways to approach the tricky task of reducing the bounce rate (and PoLR SEO can help you do this), but the main rule-of-thumb would be to try to encourage the user to stay on your website for longer through more obvious call-to-actions such as ‘special offer’ adverts on an e-commerce cart or offers of ‘free stuff’ like our own free website healthcheck – generally just improving the navigation so the user is encouraged to explore.

This annoyingly addictive statistic starts to mean more-and-more to you as the owner of this precious website that you lovingly monitor. Like a wallaby on a treadmill, it will fluctuate out-with your control from time-to-time, so then you will get to wondering why it does this. Is it seasonality? Is it the credit crunch (media fuelled pandemic if you ask me)? Or could it be your own marketing that indirectly increases your bounce rate?

Over the years we have noticed that the informative blog posts we do, like this very one here, can attract a fair amount of traffic (because we’re so helpful and interesting *ahem*), however, because the traffic is coming to our blog section of our website and leaving after reading the post, our bounce rate is higher than we would like! It’s only recently though that we have had to explain this trend to clients and potential clients. We assume this is due to people becoming more aware of what SEO is and it’s aim (conversion v’s traffic) rather than just wanting solely to get to the top of Google.

Benjamin Disraeli once said that there are “Lies, damn lies and statistics”. We think statistics are great indicators of areas for improvement, so we wouldn’t necessarily go as far as Benjy, but keep in mind that it is always best to look at the bigger picture and try to understand how your website should ideally work. This way you can use these analytical statistics as a reference point to your main objective, and not live or die by them.

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2 Comments
    • admin
    • 2nd August 2008

    Hi Lindsay, Good point there and we know exactly what you mean. As soon as we have a post stumbled our bounce rate goes up. We’ve come to expect it though and ‘ignore’ it to some extent.

  1. I am glad to hear your trick for decreasing the bounce rate but that’s also depends on the visitors coming from say foreg. If visitors are appearing your site from social media sites then i am 100% sure that more than 80% will be not convert into sales where as the same tarffic coming from google will definitely convert more than 50% into sales. This is my personal experience. Though its not very simple to convince visitors because of difference in opinions but we can still workhard and use some tricks as you specified to convince them and surf more pages of website.
    I like this post and stumbling it here http://lindsayhogan.stumbleupon.com/ so that I can Share with my Whole SEO Group at stumbleupon.