At Rockstar Marketing, we are obsessed with good bounce rates. We scrutinise every tiny bit of Google Analytics data for our clients. If the bounce rates are high, it triggers a red flag and our team goes to work. That’s when clients wonder, what is a good bounce rate? Why are these guys fussing over it?
Turns out that many others also have the same doubt. That’s why we decided to create this blog post. Today we are going to talk extensively about bounce rates. Along the way, we will also share some best practices that we follow to fix poor bounce rates. There’s lots of interesting information coming up. So stay with us.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who will exit your website without completing the intended action. In other words, visitors who didn’t quite like what they’ve seen. There could be various reasons for this. Maybe they expected better information. Or your website’s navigation is clunky. Maybe the page takes too much time to load. Or the content is thin. We’ll talk more about this during this article.
A bounce rate is a broad indicator that something’s amiss. But there’s another reason why bounce rates top our priority list. It’s a critical variable in ‘user experience’. SEO 2.0 is all about user experience. A user that lands on your site and exits immediately is bad news. Not just for you, but also for Google.
It sends out a signal that the user experience on this website is poor. For Google, that’s like a billboard that says, ‘hey, this website doesn’t deserve to rank.’ There was some debate on whether or not bounce rates were a ranking factor. That ended recently with this study. Backlinko found out that bounce rates can influence your page-1 rankings. Now you know why it’s important. Let’s find out what the industry standards are.
Bounce Rate in Google Analytics 4
With the previous iteration of Analytics called ‘Universal Analytics’, Google used session time to measure bounce rate. Bounce rate was equal to any session (interaction) that had only a one-page visit divided by the total number of sessions. That’s no longer the case after Google Analytics 4 was launched. The bounce rate is now ‘engaged sessions’ in GA4.
The fundamentals remain the same. But the parameters have changed. Engaged sessions will only measure a session that meets the following parameters.
- Lasts more than 10 seconds
- Logs a conversion
- Has 2 page views or more
This change makes things a little tricky. Firstly, you cannot log in to analytics and check your bounce rate. It no longer exists in GA 4. Instead, you can track engagement rates. This is a more detailed metric. But here’s the tricky bit. If a user loiters on your web page for 11 seconds and exits, GA 4 won’t track it as a bounce. Regardless of whether they completed an action or not.
We’re not too happy with this change. Same applies to many other SEOs. But we’ve got to live with it. More importantly, bounce rate is still available in Universal Analytics. We use both versions for most of our clients. Until Google phases UA out, the bounce rate is going to be around. Might as well stick to the basics then.
That said, even UA’s bounce tracking is not devoid of its flaws. It can track any single-page session as a bounce if the user doesn’t navigate to another page before exiting the site (exit click). That’s regardless of how long it lasted. For instance, you have a cookery blog. A visitor lands on the site and reads a 10,000-word recipe for an hour. Then, they close the tab happy with the information. UA counts this as bounce too.
What is a good bounce rate anyway?
Coming to the crux of the matter. What is a good bounce rate, or a bad one? It depends. We know how much you hate that answer. Most of you probably expected a number. Don’t worry. We have one for you. Before we share it, it’s important to know that this is a ballpark.
Gorocketfuel collected it as part of their study. The sample was random websites with varied profiles. In other words, it’s not industry-specific. The bounce rate for your industry might vary. Custom Media reveals a great example here. So take this with a pinch of salt. Alternatively, use it to understand how this works.
The average bounce rate hovers from 41-51%. But bounce rates this low are generally found in e-commerce sites. Blogs can have bounce rates that are sky-high. As can landing pages. Then there’s the quality of traffic to consider.
Here’s a study from Conversion XL. It shows that email and referral traffic is sticky. Paid ads and social media are probably the ficklest traffic sources. Organic search seems to be the healthy middle ground.
Based on all of this, here’s a bullet-point summary of bounce rates ranging from good to worse:
- Good – 41 – 55%
- Great – 25 – 40%
- Meh, but workable – 56 – 70%.
- Poor – 70 – 90%
It’s very important to consider industry-specific rates before you gauge the performance of your website based on the bounce rate. Here’s an example. One of our clients has a tech blog. The bounce rate on his website is 73%. That’s actually quite good for the industry. But we are trying to bring it down further. At the same time, we have an e-commerce client we have just started working with. The bounce rate for their site is 64%, which is poor. We will bring this down in the upcoming months.
Understanding why bounce rates are high
How do you fix a bad bounce rate? Your SEO team needs to conduct an SEO audit to spot potential problems. Like we said earlier, it could be one of many things. An audit is the only way to understand the possible flaws.
That said, here are the most common culprits:
Site Load Time
Speed is one of the most important ranking factors. If your website is as slow as a snail, you’ve got your answer already. Here are the Google Pagespeed Industry Benchmarks. How does your site fare? Log on to the Google Pagespeed Insights tool and give it a whirl. Speak to your SEO team about fixing poor page load time. Crunch images, use caching, do away with plugins that cause bulk.
Search intent is critical. If your page title and description promise certain things, the page content has to match it. If the page title and information do not match, Google considers this spammy. You’re trying to lure the visitor with a ‘clickbait’ title. You can invite an algorithmic penalty or even a manual one.
Poor Quality Traffic
Where does your traffic originate from? Many businesses use social media to drive traffic to their sites. Unfortunately, social media traffic has very low attention spans. Or so the data reveals. Some businesses also buy traffic in bulk. A lot of this can be bot hits. You will see the traffic in your billing report. But the traffic might not even stay for seconds on the site.
Thin content can kill your website’s prospects in SERPS. There’s no room for it on the internet. You’ve got to ask yourself this. Does the content provide value to the reader? Look at it from a reader’s perspective. If it does, move on to the next point. But if it doesn’t, fix this first.
Maybe you hired the best copywriter to write a mammoth content piece. But it’s very difficult to read. There are large chunks of text with no images. You don’t use headings. There are no bullet points. Content readability is critical. Let’s reserve the large blocks of text for journals. Work on the formatting. Neil Patel lists out some great tips here.
Is your web design team aware of Google’s guidelines for UX? Does your site have one pop up too many? Or a glaring email subscribe box from the 2000s? Do away with those. Work on making the UX intuitive. Give visitors the information they seek without going down a rabbit hole. Have a clear navigation menu. Use CTAs and headings. Avoid distractions. Just like content design, have a UX with a purpose.
Last but not the least, your site is not mobile-ready. We bump into businesses with websites designed in 2005. Do those sites work? Sure. But only as an outdated billboard. Google now has a separate mobile-only index. Sites that are not mobile-ready look jumbled on mobile devices. It’s a bad experience for a user. Did you know that 54.8 % of traffic now originates from mobile devices?
Bounce rates are a critical ranking factor. But they are not the be-all, end-all. We have worked on near-perfect websites with disastrous bounce rates. It takes time and skill. But it’s fixable. Is your current SEO team unable to deal with bad bounce rates? Are you left wondering what is a good bounce rate and how to achieve it? Speak to the Rockstar Marketing SEO team now.