For a small business owner, Google Analytics can be an overwhelming place. Heck, even for a marketer, it’s easy to be lost in a jumble of numbers. But there’s perhaps one analytic that’s more confusing and more downright misleading than any other: the bounce rate.

Bounce rate is a measurement of how many people landed on your website (through any means–referral, search, entering the URL directly) left after visiting just one page. After that, maybe they closed the window or hit the back button, for whatever reason, they didn’t hang around.

For many people, when they see this number edging up, they become very concerned. “Why didn’t they stay? Why didn’t they click around? Why are we driving them away.” Relax. It’s okay. A high bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing. A high bounce rate might mean a page is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.

According to Google Analytics, the average bounce rate is 40%. But even that’s misleading. How can you compare a rabbit-hole website like Wikipedia to a single landing page? You can’t. In most instances, a bounce rate of 40-60% is about where you want to be. But even if you see your analytics nosing up to the higher end of that scale, don’t panic. Consider what might be causing the bounce rate:

  • You answered all their questions. Let’s say someone comes to a blog post via social media. They read the information and then they leave. Of course, you hope they’ll stick around and contact you about your marvelous products or services, but in many cases, they’ll simply click away. Remedy this by putting on-page conversion with your best blog content. Don’t make people go searching for ways to contact you.
  • They clicked a link to an external site. Maybe you linked to another great article, or even to a sales page. When someone clicks on that link, away they bounce. Fix this by making sure links to external sites always pop open in new windows.
  • They already did what you wanted them to. Maybe the page with a super high bounce rate is a conversion page, and people have already done what you wanted them to. Maybe they only came to the page for your phone number. Look into this statistic by not just looking at your site-wide bounce rate, but really digging into the rate for individual pages. It might be that a high bounce rate is already accomplishing everything you wanted it to.

When should you become concerned about a high bounce rate? When the site stops serving the purpose you want it to. If you aren’t getting leads and your bounce rate is high, find out why. If no one is buying your products using your e-commerce, if no one is filling out your conversion form, if no one is commenting on your posts and your bounce rate is high? You need to start playing detective and figure out why. But that’s the subject for another blog post.

Don’t fear your blog post. Like any metric, it can bamboozle you. But think smartly, think strategically, and use bounce rate to your best advantage.

Want to learn more?

We are running a special session of our Web Analytics class. Normally this session is limited to Roundpeg clients, but we’re in the holiday spirit and are opening the session to anyone who drops by this blog post. Simply snag your ticket below.

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