Google Analytics tip: what’s the big deal with bounce rates + exit rates?

ballIf you’ve ever worked in Google Analytics, there’s no doubt that you’ve seen the Bounce Rate stat or heard others refer to it. But what exactly is a Bounce Rate?

A Bounce Rate is a way of measuring users who visited a page on your site, but left before exploring the site any further.

However, an Exit Rate measures something similar – users who came across a page while browsing on the website and opted to leave the site rather than continue further. Users who bounced and users who exited were both on the website and then left. So what’s the difference?

Bounce rate vs. exit rate

An Exit Rate is a way of measuring visitors who took a look around the site, but then left from the website while on a certain page or completing a certain action. On the other hand, a Bounce Rate implies that they ‘bounced’ immediately – that they didn’t explore any other pages on the site.

A good rule of thumb:

  • In order to ‘exit,’ you have to truly have entered something. Exit Rates measure visitors who were on two or more pages within your site, but left from the page in question.
  • The word ‘bounce’ indicates that a person only visited one page before they left the site for good.

Find your bounce + exit rates

BR-OverviewPage-v2Finding bounce/exit rates for your own site is simple.

When you log in to Google Analytics, Bounce Rate for the entire site will be listed on the default Audience > Overview page.

If you want to view Bounce Rate for an individual page, simply click Content > Site Content > All Pages, and then search for the page in question. Both Bounce Rate and Exit Rate (as well as number of entrances, Pageviews, Page Value, and other page statistics) will be visible both in the table of results as well as under the line graph that appears.

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What’s a good bounce rate?

A lot of people ask us what a good bounce rate is, and the correct answer is always the same: a ‘good’ Bounce Rate can vary. Stats like these are attuned to your company, but generally a bounce rate between 25%-50% can be considered normal. You’ll have to continuing testing and tweaking in order to lower your Bounce and Exit Rates to a level that is acceptable to you. Obviously, the lower, the better, but this depends on the type of page to which visitors are being directed.

Take an ‘information’ page, for example. If you’re driving people to your site to read a news article about the latest tech craze, a high ‘bounce’ after reading the article you want them to read is a lot less concerning than if you were driving them to complete a purchase, and the majority of visitors bounced before they followed through. Put simply, if the action you wish visitors to complete is contained on one page (as is a news article), a high Bounce Rate is a lot less concerning than it would be with a multi-page transaction.

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Always consider the content of the page before you judge a Bounce Rate. It may be telling you that the page has serious issues, or it may be telling you that the user found the information they need and then left your site. The same holds true for an Exit Rate: content that appears to be irrelevant could be a key cause of exits from the site, but a high Exit Rate from a single page could also mean it is the prime source of desired information.

Correcting the problem

A high Exit Rate from the Sign In or Cart page on an e-commerce site is much more of a warning sign than a high Exit Rate from a “Thank You For Your Purchase” page, shown after the transaction has already been completed. In the latter situation, interactions with the customer have come to an organic, natural close; in the former, something very likely went wrong with your links, or friction was too high on the transaction pages for a customer to justify completing the purchase.

For example, if an otherwise engaged customer visited 5+ pages, spent a lot of time on each, or exhibited other positive trends, but then exited after they hit the cart page, it may be time to stop and reassess your shopping cart. You’ll want to consider things like:

  • Are the shipping rates too high?
  • Is the ‘submit’ or ‘change order’ button too hard to find?
  • Is the purchase form too confusing, or does it involve too many steps?

All of these things can cause enough friction to end a transaction.

The same is true for Bounce Rates, only in that case, you’ll want to make sure the page is relevant to the source of the traffic.

  • Are you delivering on what external links have promised?
  • Is your organic search properly optimized or are you attracting visitors under false pretenses?

Remember, the more relevant and appealing your page and content, the lower your bounce rates will be, and the happier your customers will be in the end.

Adjustments

If you want to drill down into these single page ‘bounces’, there are some tweaks you can make to your Google Analytics code that will enable you to change Google’s standard definition of a bounce so that it more closely represents a bounce for your company.

For example, those who spent one minute on a blog post might no longer be counted as bounces, if that’s the amount of time you think it would take for them to look at the site and really take away an understanding and good impression of your company (despite leaving immediately afterwards). For information on how to view this adjusted Bounce Rate, please see Google’s help page on the topic.

So what’s the big deal?

Bounce Rates and Exit Rates are a good measure of the relevance and ease of usability a page has for your customers. However, just like any statistic, they must be considered in light of your website itself. Does the site exist to sell products? Is your main aim to disseminate information? Think about what goals you’re trying to achieve and work to lower your Bounce and Exit Rates accordingly. We hope this information will help to get you on your way!