“I came, I puked, I left.”
I love this vivid description used by Avinash Kaushik in his book “Analytics 2.0” to describe the meaning of bounce rate.
Bounce rate is a measure of whether people actually click on anything upon arriving at your website. It is expressed as a percentage and is an important metric search engines use to determine whether or not your site is giving people what they want.
A bounce means I found your site in a search engine, but when I got there, I did not click on anything. I “bounced” right off. For my visit, you would receive a bounce rate of 100%.
Let’s say your next new visitor enjoys what you have to say and they click on your site, scroll the sidebar, or follow a link they see. This means they did not bounce and your rate is 0%.
The average bounce rates of these two visitors is 50%.
As you can see, it’s easy to understand why a low bounce rate is a good indicator of your site’s ability to engage its readers.
How To Use Bounce Rate
What I like to do is find my benchmark bounce rate for my website and then try to tweak other pages on my site, so they get closer to my benchmark.
Bounce rates vary from industry to industry. For example, if you own a pizza place, users might search for your website simply to find your phone number. They could easily find your site, see your phone number and then “bounce” off to give you a call. This would result in you having a high bounce rate, but it would not necessarily be a bad thing. However, it does give you an idea of how the other pages on your site should be performing, in comparison.
If you owned a website that was more technical in nature, that required the user to get more information (like my local SEO website, for example), you might expect to see a much lower bounce rate because most people that find this site do a little research before they take action.
The way I determine my benchmark bounce rate is to look at the bounce rates of the keywords being used by people who are directly searching for me. I figure anyone that types my business name (Mike Munter) or website URL (mikemunter.com) is seeking me out directly and is likely to at least click something when they visit.
In my case, the benchmark bounce rate for keywords like these is 25%. This means that 3 of every 4 visitors to my site actually click something before they leave.
So, I use this percentage as my goal for other pages on my site. If I see a page that has a particularly high bounce rate, I know that people are not getting what they want. I know I need to make changes to that page. And I know that a goal of 25% is probably a reasonable target for most pages on my site.