What You Can Learn from Bounce Rate & How to Improve It

Before we can fix our bounce rate, we have to fully understand what bounce rate is. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your website and leave without viewing any other pages on your website. If you look into your Google Analytics, you will see a percentage. If you’re average bounce rate, for example, is 75%, this means that 75% of the people who come to your website leave after only viewing the page they entered on, whether it was your homepage or an internal page.

What this all boils down to is the fact that your website isn’t retaining its visitors. People are coming to your site and either finding what they want but not anything else or not finding what they want at all. The key is to make sure that once visitors land on a page, they are drawn to visiting even more pages throughout your site.

Is Your Bounce Rate Really a Bad Thing?

Before we get started, I would like you to take a moment to think about the goals for your website to see if having a high bounce rate on your site is really a bad thing. I have seen some websites where the goal is not to have visitors browse endlessly through a maze of content, but instead to take a call to action. Calls to action that could lead a visitor off your website includes:

  • Calling your 1-800 number to speak to inquire about products or services.
  • Leading customers to product sales on another domain or network, such as if you sell products on eBay or Etsy.
  • Clicking on ad banners that pay per click or lead to affiliate product marketing sites.
  • Filling out a lead form that does not take the visitor to another page on your website for confirmation.

Essentially, if you have any goals that only require people to visit one page on your website, then you may not have to worry about bounce rate unless you are having far fewer goal completions compared to the number of people leaving your website after viewing a single page.

It All Begins With Google Analytics

Your first stop in figuring out how to improve your bounce rate is in Google Analytics. When you sign into your Google Analytics profile for your website, you are greeted with an average bounce rate. While you want this to go down, it isn’t the one you really need to look into. Here are some things you can learn from your bounce rate throughout Analytics.

Best “Sticky” Content

First off, you will want to drill down to your Content > Site Content > Pages (in the new version of Google Analytics).

Google Analytics Content Bounce Rate

Here you will see the pages on your website that have received the most pageviews within the last thirty days with their bounce rate. Here you can see that:

  • My blog’s homepage bounce rate is a little under 50%. This means at least half of the visitors to my homepage move on to additional posts or pages on my blog.
  • My most popular post this month on the Facebook Timeline profile has a bounce rate of almost 91% – after people read the post, they are satisfied (hopefully) and move on.

You can then sort the bounce rate by clicking on that column to see pages with the highest to lowest bounce rate. This information can help you determine:

  • Which content leads people to more pages on your website vs. which content is the first and last that people see.
  • Which pages on your site need improvement first – you will typically want to improve the bounce rate of pages with a high volume of pageviews. This way, the pages that drive the most traffic to your site will send the most visitors throughout more of your website.
  • Which pages you should check out as models for ways to keep visitors on your site longer – the ones with the lowest bounce rates probably have the best leads to other areas on your website.

Best Traffic Sources

Next, you will want to go to Traffic Sources > All Traffic.

google analytics traffic sources bounce rate

Here, you will see the traffic sources that have brought the most visitors to your website along with their respective bounce rates. What I can see quickly from this is:

  • Geeks4Share.com and TrafficGenerationCafe.com are my top referrers with low bounce rates. Visitors from these websites are more likely to dig deeper into my blog.
  • StumbleUpon is my strongest social referrer and has the lowest bounce rate compared to Facebook and Twitter-related sources..
  • Facebook, surprisingly, has the highest bounce rate as a traffic source.

This section can tell you which traffic sources bring visitors who will stick around longer on your site. It can tell you whether you are satisfying a particular visitor over another. In my case, I provide content that StumbleUpon users are enjoying more so than Facebook users. And it can tell you which traffic sources to focus upon if your goal is to keep people on your website.

Best Keywords

Diving deeper into your Traffic Sources, under Search > Organic, you can see which keywords have brought the most visitors to your website through organic search along with their respective bounce rate. You can even see which landing pages the keywords lead visitors to by clicking on the Landing Page link above the data, then selecting Keyword (under Traffic Sources) on the Secondary Dimension dropdown, resulting in this.

google analytics keyword landing pages bounce rate

This way, if you have different keywords leading to the same page, you can see which searchers are receiving the information they want on the related landing page, and which keywords are making them want to continue browsing your site based on the landing page content.

More Data in Relation to Bounce Rate

Throughout Google Analytics, almost every piece of data is linked to bounce rate. Continue perusing Google Analytics to find how demographics such as location, browser types, and even social engagement relate to your website’s bounce rate.

How to Improve Bounce Rate

So now that you’ve learned more about your content, traffic sources, keywords, and demographics data and how it relates to your bounce rate, your next question is probably how to improve bounce rate. Here are some great ideas!

  • Add links to more pages within your website in your content. Think about other pages that people interested in that piece of content will want to see, and link to them throughout the content and at the end in a “if you liked this, you’ll love this” kind of way.
  • Go beyond just product pages. Someone may not be ready to purchase a product, but they might just want to learn more about it. Instead of just having the sales copy, include some links such as a product manual, guides on how to use the product to achieve a specific result, what other customers have said about the product, or other similar ideas. Maybe it will keep the visitor on the site long enough to make the sale.
  • Add links to content everyone will love to your sidebar. If your design includes a sidebar that remains throughout your website, then include links on that sidebar that everyone would enjoy. For example, a new visitor could end up on any page within your website without knowing anything about you, so you could have an About Me / About My Company page linked to the sidebar. You could also have a “first time guide” to visiting your site, top content, most popular products, and so on, all of which would attract visitors deeper into your website.
  • Improve your content. If you notice the issue on some of your content isn’t just a high bounce rate but also a low average time on site (meaning people leave pretty quickly), then it might be an issue with your content not providing what the visitor wants. Be sure to review pages on your website with a high bounce rate and low average time on site and look at ways you could provide more information that would keep visitors on the page (like video) long enough to notice that there is more to your website without just immediately leaving.

Last, but not least, even if you can’t keep visitors on your website, you can do your best to ensure they will return by giving them links accessible throughout your website to your social media profiles, newsletter, or other online properties. If they leave your website but become a fan of your Facebook page or start following your Twitter account, you will still have a chance of bringing them back vs. if they leave and have no way to connect with you otherwise. It’s definitely something to consider if you don’t have these options already!

What other things have you learned from analyzing your bounce rate? Have you had any success in improve your bounce rates using the suggestions listed above or trying other things? Please share your experience in the comments!

About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing, including social networking strategies and blogging tips.

  1. Phew! Finally a clear explanation of Bounce Rate and how to improve it. I knew it was important but didn’t know how it was measured or what to do with the pages that are doing badly. Some of these have a lot of content on and a good average time spent viewing them. Now I can relax about those and to work on the others first. Thanks Kristi

  2. I’ve never thought about the use of google analytics in that way! Also I suggest, in order to know how the users are interacting in this pages with low bounce rate (i can help to improve it) to install a heat map (i.e. crazyegg) so you can see what content/banner/call-to-action boxes are interesting to the people who visit that particular website and try to replicate the same in the others with higher bounce rate… Nice article, very clear and useful thanks!

  3. Hi Kristi,
    As someone who does all of my own SEO and behind the scenes stuff for my own site, your article has been a big help.
    Thanks.

  4. Bounce rate plays major role in improving keyword rankings on Google. As an SEO, I always try to decrease bounce rate of landing pages to improve keyword positions which finally helps to drive better traffic.

    Great Article Kristi. Thanks

  5. Michael Shmilov Nov 01, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Kristi,

    Thanks for the useful and clear guidance.
    I was wondering about the traffic sources section; if we can see a very high bounce rate, combined with a short avg. time on site, should we consider removing the link, sending users to the site?

    Or the approach should always be keeping the traffic, and optimizing the site. Meaning, how important the avg. bounce rate?

    Thanks,
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      I have taken some of my content that has a high bounce rate and low average time on site and redirected it to a similar or updated piece of content. I’ve seen good results from doing that in terms of keeping visitors from particular traffic sources longer on my site.

  6. I got excited thinking this was about email marketing! Still a great article as always from KISSmetrics. I’ve got to admit, I thought bounce rates we’re a lot worse than that – thanks for helping reduce my fear of high bounce rates.

  7. I love articles like these on how to actually USE Google Analytics to make sites better.

    Here are a couple of extra things to explore while exploring this subject:

    Switching the GA ‘View’ (menu over to the right above ‘Time on Site’ in the screenshots above) over to Performance or Comparison views can help you understand which pages/keywords are better/worse.

    Changing the sort menu (over to the left) from default to ‘weighted’ is also very useful to focus on items which matter most.

    You can also filter the reports to show things like ‘just’ your category pages or ‘just’ product pages so that you can compare like with like and spot the duds.

    I’ve got more advice on how to use these methods here:
    http://www.cxfocus.com/index.php/google-analytics-tips/find-landing-pages-keywords-fix-inline-filters/

    if you’ll allow the link. [Please delete if you prefer.]

  8. I’ve never really been too fussed about my bounce rate, because I could go either way; I’m happy if my readers got what they were looking for, but if they also want to stick around and continue reading other articles, then that’s great too. My bounce rate tends to be about 80%, which I always thought was quite high, but it really does depend on your overall goals. Since I don’t really have any specific moentization goals, I don’t mind whether people come and go, or stick around.

    • It really does all come down to goals. Usually, when I see a high bounce rate in conjunction with a lengthy average time on a page (one of my articles currently has 90% but with 8 minutes avg. time one page), I feel pretty satisfied that they at least enjoyed the article. :)

  9. J. B. Nippert Nov 09, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I am J. B. just turned 70 in August and have about one year behind me on the internet. I truly believed it was a waste of time at my age but I was wrong it is something I really enjoy now, at first I was scared to even send an email afraid of the unknown. As I grow in understanding an run across information like Kristi Hines delivers make the learning experience so much easier to understand. ( No Techie Talk) So many instructors can never bring the information down to the beginners level I guess they have forgotten when they were beginners. I had never paid any attention to Google Analytics before but after reading Kristi article I am going to make a point of learning about it.
    Thanks Kristi
    Regards.
    J. B.

  10. Bounce rate is something I’m always working on. Mine has improved significantly in the last six months, mainly because I added a Related Posts plugin and sprinkled links within my content to other older content. Having a list of categories or best posts on the sidebar has really helped also.

  11. Another nice post, Kristi.

    I was annoyed with my Total site bounce rate shown at the top of the table(Home page and individual pages combined).

    Then I realized my homepage bounce rate was in the low to mid 40% mark. So, thanks to your very clear explanation, I am not as stressed out as far as my high bounce rate for individual pages is concerned.
    Okay! So they will still need some working on, though.

  12. Hi,
    This is very useful documents about SEO and Google Analytivc, thank so mouch

  13. Great post :) thank you Kristi

  14. Very comprehensive article on bounce rate and how to reduce it, Kristi. I use a plugin called Linkedin to show relevant articles (with photos) and have really improved my bounce rate.

  15. Since I am newbie, I have to learn a lot about SEO and also how to improve it. This will help me a lot, I will bookmark this. Thanks for sharing:)

  16. Very good information.Thanks!!! What should an acceptable bounce rate be at?

    • I found this quote on Wikipedia:

      “Google Analytics specialist Avinash Kaushik has stated: ‘My own personal observation is that it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying. I stress that this is my personal analysis.’”

      Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bounce_rate

      Hope that helps! :o)

  17. What improved my ecommerce site’s bounce rate from a 25% to around 1% was just making the default ordering of products by price (asceding) and not by product name (alphabetically).

  18. Hi, very nice article.
    Just one thing to remind, that if you have an event tracked within this landing page, the action been taken will show the visit as unbounce.
    We can even track mouse scrolling as an event so we can know if any engagment was accured.
    In the other hand, if we wnat to track events without leting them unbounce the visit, we can do it by adding additional code lines to the event tracking code.

  19. This was truly helpful. Would you explain the difference between bounce rate and % exit? Thanks!

  20. Thank you. This is the first article I’ve read that actually gives something to go on in terms of analyzing the data analytics provides.

    My site averages around 70% bounce. I’m not sure if this is a bad thing as I have quite a few DIY tutorial pages drawing traffic that probably bounces once they’ve learned how to solve the problem.

    Typically, these pages will have a bounce rate of 80-90% –though time spent on the pages indicates the content is well-recieved.

    I could probably improve my bounce rate further by adding more internal links and staying on topic on the blog … but I have a wandering mind. :-)

  21. Good Post Kristi!
    1 thing I want to ask here is, you wrote “My most popular post this month on the Facebook Timeline profile has a bounce rate of almost 91% – after people read the post, they are satisfied (hopefully) and move on.”

    I satisfy a user and he moves on (Leave the site). What if I want them to go to the order page and buy the product after reading that page? and if I see the bounce rate of over 74% with having 100 daily visitors on that particular page. What will you suggest?

  22. Great Article! Thanks for sharing.

  23. Thanks for clear and really helpful post, Kristi! One more thing you haven’t mention here that influences bounce rate much. Web design of a page can be the main reason whether people leave or stay on the page. Beautiful, usable and professional design can work wonders.

  24. Wow Kristi, a very nice detailed report on the #’s that are so often confusing. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I’ll be printing this out for future reference.

  25. Hey Kristi,

    I am not officially confused :-) Is a high bounce rate good or bad? The way I am thinking is this, hope it makes sence…

    1 – Q&A website. People type their question into Google and find your site in the serps, click through and within seconds get the answer they were looking for. So my guess is high bounce rate low time on site. I think this is a good user experience as they found what they were looking for?

    2 – Information website. People looking for a how to guide maybe. So my guess is high bounce rate high time on site. Again, that’s a good user experience as they must have read your guide and left?

    Suppose what I am trying to say is low or high bounce rates must dependant on which type of website you have?

  26. Wow. Clarity, insight, and actionable steps. Thank you.

  27. I have a free social site directed to entrepreneurs and investors, I would like to know if anyone would want to guest blog on my site. Thanks

  28. My site has an average bounce rate of 68% and I am getting worried as it seemed rather high. I appreciates your list of tips for improving bounce rate and I think I will try to put some internal links up on my sidebar and hopefully it helps. Thanks!

  29. if your content in the site is useful and informative to user who visits and also more internal linking will reduce the bounce rate.. you need to improve your content consistently for better bounce rate

  30. I have a different problem. Using traffic data I calculate the bounce off rate myself (Unique visitors/Unique Visitors that spent less than 10 second on the site), however the results is ridiculous about 7-8%. What would be the problem?

    Note: I don’t have the total visits time to leave data.

  31. What a relief! I thought I was going down. So it is not yet very important if my bounce rate is high if I am only concentrating on one page. What I should focus is organize and add more link going inside the site to make it more interactive.

    Really helpful indeed.

    Thank you.

  32. Hi Kristi,
    Improvement of the bounce rate has become a relevant issue. Thanks for sharing the above mentioned points, its really effective.

  33. Hi
    Thank you for your detailed explanation of bounce rates plus the suggestion of how to use this service/ brochure idea, I will implement that

  34. Hello,

    Is there a way to track whether a user clicks a link on each page? I have a link to Artists on most pages, each link is differnent. Can I drill down to know if the visitor has clicked the link?

    Thanks,

    Kevin

  35. It’s a known fact that we know infinitely more about the universe than our own oceans. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are thousands of species of fish that we don’t know about. Some would probably be very shocking to us.

  36. Good article which highlights many simple, yet important, points. The point on simple navigation is especially important as people want to be able to find their information as quickly and easily as possible and a hard to use site will definitely cause most of them to leave.

  37. I have like over 80% bounce rate which is really high. The problem is, most visitors come from the search engines. I believe they’ve got what they are looking for in the post and then close the tab (isn’t that what most search engine visitors do?)

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