This post is intended to be a very quick overview about what “bounce rate” means when viewing and interpreting a Google Analytics report.
The official help documentation for Google Analytics defines the bounce rate as:
Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. The more compelling your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert. You can minimize bounce rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy.
What does that really mean? Basically, it means that the bounce rate shows you how many people are visiting only one page on your site. Everyone that comes directly to a page, then leaves your Web site without going to any other internal pages is added to that count.
However, when viewing the bounce rate for a particular page or set of pages, you have to remember one very important aspect: the bounce rate is the percentage of users that entered your site on the pages you’re currently viewing.
Therefore, if you look at a content detail report for a single page, and you see that your bounce rate for that page is extremely high (let’s say 80% for this example), don’t start worrying, yet. The next thing you need to check is what percentage of visitors came directly to this page without going anywhere else on your Web site, first. To do that, you need to go to the Navigation Summary and check the percentage of “Entrances”.
Now, let’s say that the entrance rate for that page is only 5% of your total visits to that page. What that really means is that only 80% of those 5% “bounced” from that page. In other words, only 4% (80% x 5%) of the total visitors to that page came directly to it and then left immediately afterwards, without viewing any other pages on your site.
If you find that one of your landing pages has a very high bounce rate, then you most likely need to reevaluate the content of that page and see if you can figure out why so many users are bouncing away from it.
For a lot of sites (this Web site, for example), it would probably actually be fairly normal to experience a high bounce rate on many of your pages. I would imagine that quite a large percentage of our visitors search for information on Google, find a tutorial pertaining to their question and click the link to visit our site. Once they’re here, if they get their question answered, they probably bounce away to work on something else. That would be an expected result.
However, if the page you’re analyzing is intended to be a gateway to other pages on your site, a high bounce rate can be a sign of poor usability or simply poor content.
I hope this little bit of information has been helpful. Over the next few months, I will try to post more information about Google Analytics, how to use and interpret the data it provides, and how to utilize some of the more helpful tools within.
In the meantime, you might want to pop on over to .EduGuru. The founder of that site, Kyle James (who just announced that he’s leaving the world of higher education to move onto SEO utilities and applications at HubSpot), has posted an incredible amount of information about Analytics.
Though the blog on that site is generally aimed toward Web professionals in higher education, it includes a great font of information about Google Analytics. After all, even though it’s intended audience works in higher education, the base fact still remains that the blog is written for Web professionals.