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What are bounce rates?

Bounce rate is a Web analytics term that measures the percentage of single-page sessions your site has. So when a shopper visits a page on your site and leaves the site without going deeper into the site or viewing more pages, that person contributes to your bounce rate (also known as an exit rate). There is no standard set measure of a "good" or "bad" bounce rate, so this Web analytic is most useful in the context of other metrics (1).

Many visitors who leave a site after viewing a single page (called the entrance page) made their way to that page from a search engine. A quick exit might mean that the visitor found the information he or she was looking for and doesn't have a need to view additional pages on the site.

More commonly, though, a high bounce rate can point to a problem, such as usability issues, confusing design, lack of enticement to explore further, or content that doesn't match what the user is after. Optimizing your site pages so they better correlate with the search terms that are bringing users to your site can be one way to lower your bounce rate. You can also change any ads or keywords to more closely reflect the page's content.

Other factors that may contribute to a high bounce rate include (2):

  • Bookmarks: If a user has a particular page of your site bookmarked, every time he or she visits it and leaves is considered a bounce.

  • Single-page sites: Sites that consist of only one page tend to have high bounce rates because Google Analytics doesn't register multiple page views unless users reload that page.

  • Splash pages: Some landing pages-particularly those that gate access to a site's content-can contribute to a higher bounce rate.

  • Incorrect tracking implementation: If you're relying on a tool to track the bounce rate of your site, check that you've added the tracking code to all of your pages.

How to improve your bounce rate

Because there's no set standard of a good or bad bounce rate, it's important that you measure your site's bounce rate only against past metrics from your site. Improving this rate is as individualized as the site itself, but in general:

  • Scrutinize specific data. Your site-wide bounce rate can be hard to parse, but if you break it down by platform (mobile vs. desktop) or specific traffic sources, you'll have an easier time creating targeted changes and measuring the impact.

  • Adjust design factors. Layout, navigation and interactive elements can all contribute to a high bounce rate if they present usability barriers for your visitor.

  • Give it time. Allot enough time in between any changes so that you can collect sufficient data and evaluate the impact each change has had on your bounce rate.

1. "Bounce rate"

2. "Learn what a bounce rate is, and how to improve it"

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