What Is Bounce Rate
So what is bounce rate ? Chances are good that you've probably heard of it but still don't know what it is. However for the sake of asking, I'll still ask a couple of direct questions.. Why do people bother to look for information that focuses around reduction in bounce rate ? Why does website bounce rate even matter to you ? Nevertheless, while bounce rate does seem like a funny term, I assure you that there is a "degree of importance" that should be given to it, but it won't send your website into Google abyss as long as you're "consistently" working on it. Now there are differing opinions as to whether you should lose your mind or not about this particular metric, so a little subjectivity on the subject is a good thing. However, as we enter this conversation, I will agree that while you should most certainly pay attention to this metric, you shouldn't lose your mind over it especially if your percentages aren't terrible.. something that we'll delve into a little later in the post.
With that said, bounce rate has everything to do with your visitors coming and going. In short, visitors that stick around mean a lower bounce rate and visitors that leave quickly mean a higher bounce rate. Bounce rate is an analytic metric that Google pays attention to so what does that mean for you ? In layman terms, it means that you should be paying attention to it too.
The Bounce Rate Analytics Metric
There is a correlation between the time that a visitor stays on your website and the information that they are seeking. If the content doesn't connect with the reader then the reader will seek out information that more adequately answers the questions that are seeking answers for on another website and clearly that's not what you want. The goal is to keep the visitor there and to connect them with as much useful information as possible.
Google continues to reiterate that content is important as I'm sure you've heard the adage that "content is king", there is a reason to pay attention to this. When content resonates with your readers, the byproduct is that your readers will continue to consume literature on your website and the likelihood that they will seek out additional content that you've written grows. However that is not always a guarantee, but again we're talking about the "likelihood" of what could or may not happen. However, it goes without saying that you want to take steps to improve the visitor experience and give them opportunities to find more of your content too.
Bounce rate is sometimes overlooked until a website owner starts looking into their analytics, but honestly this metric should never be overlooked considering the information that it can provide. It can tell you about how engaged your audience is. This analytic metric can also tell you about how interested your visitors are in the content that you are writing about. It can provide you information about how well your website is converting your visitors from just readers into buyers depending on the focus of your website.
As I mentioned before, a little subjectivity is a good thing when you're exploring the topic of bounce rate. In my own research, what is consistent is that your goal should be to get your bounce rate under 50%. Keeping it under fifty percent tells Google that your website is informative and engaging. Now this isn't a one size fits all and that's where I think the conversation gets interesting and enters the realm of debate, because it's not like you're comparing apples to apples. You can run queries and find websites that are doing quite well, seeing thousands of visitors per day yet also may have high bounce rates (typically under 80-90%). This is where I say again that it's not a metric that is entirely damaging to your website, but is still something to monitor and decrease as much as possible.
It is important to note that websites change from site to site and there are several variables that affect time on site from simple to complex landing pages, to CTA's (call to action's) to the buyer experiences to media that directly impact how much time an individual spends on site. This doesn't necessarily say one thing definitively over the other, but again the calculation outcome of bounce rate for one website in a specific industry at 80% may be okay, while in another industry that number may say something entirely different. Now you may be wondering.. well isn't the goal to keep it under 50%. Yes, that goal is still true, but what's the overarching point of all this ? The point is that you should always be working to "decrease your bounce" rate. Goals that every website owner should keep as a central focus when it comes to their visitors and traffic is in the following:
- increasing visitor engagement
- increasing time on site
- exposing as much of their website content to their visitors as humanly possible
- decreasing bounce rate
- decreasing exit rate (percentage of visitors leaving from a specific page.. this is "different" from bounce rate)
I personally find bounce rate pretty interesting because it provides goals for me with respect to my content, my visitor engagement, how I'm doing in comparison to other websites in the blogosphere that are similar in their content and so forth. With that said, Quicksprout provides some insightful information on bounce rate in their informative infographic:
Bounce Rate Benchmarks And Percentages
This infographic starts out with why does bounce rate matter.. one of the very same questions that I asked at the start of this post. Lets just say this.. you want your content to matter to your readers and more importantly you want it to matter to everyone that visits your website. However, the truth is that there is no perfect bounce rate, however extremely high bounce rates (90% or higher) can impact your search engine visibility.
One very interesting section in this infographic is the benchmark averages for bounce rate.
- Content Websites - 40 to 60% bounce rates are normal
- Lead Generation - 30 to 50% bounce rates are normal
- Blogs - 70 to 98% bounce rates are normal
- Retail Websites - 20 to 40% bounce rates are normal
- Service Websites - 10 to 30% bounce rates are normal
- Landing Pages - 70 to 90% bounce rates are normal
Looking specifically at blogs, that benchmark to me is completely unacceptable. A bounce rate in the 90th percentile means that a very small percentage of your traffic connects with what you have to say. A website will find growth nearly impossible if their traffic retention is that poor. On the high side, the benchmark average is 98% which means that you can expect not to rank for many search terms as a bounce rate this high will inevitably hurt your rankings across the board.
Taking a critical look at your bounce rate should certainly answer questions for you as the owner of your website and content regarding your engagement and connection that you're making with your audience. The reality is that everyone experiences bounce rate. Try as you might you are not going to reach a point where no one bounces from your website and that is perfectly normal.
Bounce Rate Advice
There's a lot of bad or just insufficient advice online about reducing bounce rate. It's not that it's all bad but it doesn't tell you anything so lets get real for a minute.. Your bounce rate isn't going to magically decrease by changing your website especially if it looks like crap. I'm looking for a more professional word for it, but crap is the best way to approach this one. If there's one thing that I truly believe will help to retain visitors, it would have to be looking professional. If your website doesn't give you some credibility by how it looks then you can expect that people are going to click and run. It's that simple.
More bad surface advice I've heard is just speed up your website... really ? So making it faster will do great things for my bounce rate huh ? Here's what you don't hear.. yes, speed does matter, but if your content doesn't connect, the visitor is still going to bounce. If your website is hard to navigate, no matter how fast your website is, the visitor is still going to bounce. If your photos are terrible, the visitor is still going to bounce. All the little things have to be in order along to leverage this advice you're getting. The website package, the website overall from top to bottom has to work.. and not just work a little bit, it has to work well for you to having a fighting chance to reduce your bounce rate.
I'll say this again that you don't have to lose your mind over bounce rate, but when you lower your bounce rate you are leagues ahead of other websites that are still working to do the same thing and that work will lead to getting noticed by Google, improved rankings and positive benefits in other metrics that matter too.
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