When people open up Google analytics one of the first questions they ask me is “What does bounce rate mean?”. As Google continues to put more weight on user engagement it is critical that you understand what “bounce rate” is, how to lower bounce rate and what is the average bounce rate for website in your niche!
- I use www.google.ca/analytics/ to track the metrics of my websites.
- Check out www.shareaholic.com for a related content widget.
Transcript: What Does Bounce Rate Mean In Google Analytics?
I know that if ten people have asked a question, there’s a hundred or more that are likely wondering the same thing. So, the question I want to answer today is “what does bounce rate mean?” and what impact does that have on your website?
Also how to reduce your bounce rate so it is in line or better than the average bounce rate for websites in your niche.
So what does bounce rate mean?
This is a measurement of how many people enter your website on that page, and then leave your website without visiting another page.
So for example, if you have a blog post, and that blog post was on dog training, and someone searched “dog training” online, and that blog post shows up, and they click the link and go to that blog post, and they read that entire post, and then clicked the back button.
They never clicked to see any other pages on your website. In Google’s eyes, that would count as a bounce. Effectively, what they’re saying, is that person just left your website without visiting anything else.
The reason this has sort of become a hot topic over the past few years, is because Google has started to evolve their algorithm to focus on how people actually interact with websites.
What Google knows, is that if someone spends a lot of time on a website, and clicks round to a whole bunch of different pages on that website, they feel that the website was relevant and that it contained what that person wanted.
Alternatively, if somebody clicks through and then left without clicking anything else, maybe this website isn’t as relevant or as good. This is a factor that now exists in their algorithm that can impact your search rankings.
How big is the impact?
Frankly, nobody knows, except the engineers at Google that actually have visibility into that algorithm itself. It’s one of a hundred ranking factors. But I believe more weight has been added to it in the past few years, as Google is looking to reward websites where people stay and engage.
So what does bounce rate mean? It’s when someone comes to your website, they read a page, and leave. The next question I receive is, “Derek, why is my bounce rate so high?”
I’ll ask, “okay, what’s your bounce rate?” and they’ll say, “well on this page, it’s 75%!”
The question then becomes, what are you measuring that against? Do you know what the average bounce rate is for websites in your niche?
If you look at all of your other pages, and they’re around 35%, 40%, and that one is 75%, then yeah, that’s a problem.
But if you look across, and your average bounce rate is between 65 and 75%, what are you benchmarking that against to say that it’s high or low? Maybe in your niche, that’s a common bounce rate.
What I’m trying to say is you need to look across your industry, and the averages will skew anywhere from 25% to 75%. If you’re up around 85% or 90%, your rate is high, and maybe you should worry about that, but my point is if you login and your bounce rate is 50%, don’t panic!
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What really matters is how you compare against the websites you’re competing against. If your bounce rates are all similar, you’ll all be treated equally by Google.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to know what our competitors bounce rates are. That said, we do want to move forward and make sure our bounce rates are as low as possible.
If our bounce rates are low, that’s a good thing–because that means more people are clicking through on our website. They’re engaging, which is ultimately what we’re trying to achieve anyway.
So now that you understand what bounce rate is, now that you know there isn’t necessarily a high or a low, that there’s actually quite a broad spectrum of what bounce rate actually is, I want to give you some fixes. How do you reduce your bounce rate? Now the very first thing you need to do is diagnose why your bounce rate is high.
One of two reasons why your bounce rate may be high, is that somebody lands on your page and immediately determines that this page is not relevant to what they were looking for. That’s the worst kind of bounce rate; that’s problem number one.
The other kind of bounce rate is when somebody comes to your website and maybe they land on a blog post, and they read that blog post and get all the information they need, and they have no reason to click on any other page in your website so they leave!
In that case, they’re staying, and engaging, and that’s good. How do you diagnose between the two?
To diagnose, you want to look at your Time On Page. That’s another statistic you’ll find in Google Analytics, where they’ll tell you how long people are actually staying on your specific page.
If you have a really low Time On Page, and people are leaving within 15 or 20 seconds, what that means is that the people coming to that website aren’t being engaged by that page.
They don’t feel it’s relevant to what they were looking for, so they’re leaving quickly.
To solve that problem, you need to ask yourself two questions. Question number one is, what are those people expecting when they come here? Where are they coming from?
To figure that out, one of the simplest ways is to check your search traffic and find out what keywords they’re coming in off of.
If somebody is searching for dog training, and they find my page about dog grooming, then that isn’t relevant to their initial search. They’re going to bounce.
If that’s what I’m ranking for, and I want to keep those people, I need to modify those pages to deliver what they’re looking for to keep them there.
The number one place to start with that is to write a compelling headline that speaks to them. Ask yourself, where are they coming from? What are they expecting? And then ask, is my page delivering that?Is my headline saying, “hey! This page has what you’re looking for!” If it doesn’t, you need to modify it.
Again, you can figure out if that’s the problem by looking at the average Time On Page. If that’s really low, that means people aren’t reading, they’re just leaving. The content is not congruent with what they were actually searching for.
Reason number two for people bouncing, is people coming to your page, consuming the content, and then leaving. The good news is, and you’ll be able to tell by a high Time On Page–people reading–maybe a minute, or a couple minutes, but you now need to give them a reason to click. There are lots of ways to do this.
The fact of the matter is, when someone lands on a page on a website, there shouldn’t just be one reason for them to click. There should be a plethora of reasons for them to click to other pages.
The only exception to that is if you’re landing them on a sales page and you don’t want to distract them from that sales process, but those aren’t usually the pages we’re worried about ranking in Google.
If somebody lands on a blog post, and they read the post, what are some things we can do to get them to click? One of the best things to do is recommend related content. If you go to Shareaholic.com, they offer a free plugin called the Related Content plugin.
You can install that on your website and what they’ll do is find related content to that article and they’ll display it. Now, something I like to do is create a popular post widget, like on Project Ignite.
That way, I can go through and hand pick my top three or five or ten most popular posts, and have that as a widget that you see right away. You’ll also see on Project Ignite that we have lots of calls-to-action, and lots of free offers, to get people to click on stuff.
If you have a pop-up that pops up and someone clicks to go to a different page, that now lowers your bounce rate. My point here is that there’s lots of different strategies to lower that bounce rate.
If you’re getting a lot of people coming to your website and consuming your content without clicking, you can solve that problem. You need to give them reasons to click.If you’re expecting someone to read an article and then click through on their own, you’re going to be let down a bit here.
If you want them to click, you need to tell them to click. In fact, when you write your article, at the end, you can include a call-to-action that says “subscribe here!” or “here’s another great article!”
The last strategy, if you have longer articles, is called pagination. This is a strategy that you see used on just about every big media website today. From Mashable, Verge, Cracked, any of those media websites.
Rather than having their articles over one large page, they use plugins that take that article and break it up over multiple pages. So if someone starts reading it, they have to click next to continue reading the article. So if they’re engaged, they’ll have to click to continue.
You’ll see that with sliders, with plugins, stuff like that. There’s lots of different ways to get people to do that. One warning about using pagination is that splitting your article up into multiple pages can also have an impact on your SEO.
I won’t go into deep detail on that today, but if you’re going to paginate your articles, maybe do a bit of research on SEO and pagination, because there’s a few meta tags and stuff that I don’t want to get into on this podcast, but you need to be aware of to avoid actually hurting your search engine ratings by splitting your content up.
So, there you go. I hope I’ve answered the question “What does bounce rate mean?” for you along with giving you some ideas on how to lower the bounce rate on your website. Like I said, Google’s algorithm is adapting and evolving, figuring out what pages people are engaging with. Bounce rate does play a role.
We want to engage people, to get them to click and get involved. It’s great to have a post that ranks really well in Google, and have people come and read it, but if they don’t click and do anything on the website, you’ve turned into a not-for-profit.If you want to have a business where you’re capturing leads, you need to give people a reason to click.
I hope I demystified bounce rate for you, and I want to thank you for taking your time to listen to this podcast.
We have some amazing episodes coming up, with some fantastic guests scheduled to be here on the Project Ignite podcast.
So go forth, make your lives extraordinary, and we’ll see you next time here on Project Ignite.