Bounce Rate: what`s it all about then?

Posted by Ryan Davies on Sep 30, 2008 | Tagged as:

Bounce rate: a measurement in Google Analytic’s that indicates the number of your visitors who jump away from your website after they arrive at a page, without going to another page. Definitely one of the most useful metrics webmasters or marketers have in their arsenal. One can merely glance at the bounce rate of a page or an average over a section of pages, to derive some idea of how the page is performing.

The post that is linked to as a reference by the official Google Analytics blog as an adequate explanation is called Bounce rate: sexiest web metric ever? I hope that`s it`s referenced because it is an accurate interpretation of bounce rate, rather than because it`s what Google want us to hear.

If you have a landing page that`s purpose is to convert someone doing pre-purchase research into a bonafide customer, then a high bounce rate would suggest that page is not doing such a fantastic job. But there is definitely more to the picture than can be seen from one focal point, as different situations call for different results.

A Webmasterworld forum administrator called Receptional Andy lists his interpretation of how bounce rate scenarios differ according to the various purposes a page might fulfil. His intention is really to make the point that a high bounce rate is not always a bad thing that should send you into a frenzy of revising your copy and reorganising your site architecture.

  • A splash page with nothing but a an “enter here” link will likely have a low bounce rate.
  • People browsing through a product page on an ecommerce site who scan and compare prices before they eventually make a purchase, and then leave – this could result in a high bounce rate.
  • A visitor exceeding their browser session time on a page (like leaving the page open while darting off to the shop for cigarettes), will count as a bounce – although I have not confirmed this in my research.
  • Your landing page answers a visitor`s question immediately, and they jump to the next point in their journey – high bounce rate.
  • If the most prominent purpose of your page is to deliver AdSense ads, your copy is very relevant, and your visitors bounce away through ads, then you will be delighted with a high bounce rate.
  • If your page receives most traffic for a very broad phrase from search engine results, then you run the risk of your visitors being general and “unqualified”, as the chances of them finding what they were really looking for are far lower. Here your bounce rate might be high.

These are but some of the cases where bounce rate is involved. There are too many unique applications to list them all, but one thing is for sure, bounce rate is a long running statistic used by many in web analytics to help reduce the strain of getting goggle-eyed and exhausted when reading your traffic and deciding what actions you wish to take in your webmastering endeavours.

I welcome any people who have had unique purposes for web pages, which have called for a more customised interpretation of bounce rate to make use of our commenting facility. I`ll link to the best ones from my post 😉

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2 responses to “Bounce Rate: what`s it all about then?”

  1. Phil says:

    Thanks Louis

    That would be great. Such an interface would require some support from Google Analytics I imagine, or maybe you could set the call center system to http request a dedicated tracked page on your site or something.

    I wonder if Google Analytics have built in developer support in like that, or what communications standards they would prefer etc. I’d like to find out.

  2. Louis Venter says:

    What about they pick up the phone and call you?

    Phone call conversion rate is also a key action that often gets overlooked in the same way as bounce.

    What would be great is if Google analytics allowed an external SOAP interface for you to manually add conversion from a call center application.

    For example last month we thought ROI from SEO was 2100% which was great but chatting to him they actually track it closer and ask the question of where they clicked on in Google when taking phone orders. According to his calculations we could add another 30% revenue on which would make the ROI figures closer to 2785%…..

    Wouldn’t that be great if we could automate that?

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