A bounce rate is when someone visits a page on your website and leaves your site before visiting a second page.
A high bounce rate could be a sign that something is wrong.
But over the years I've seen more than a few website and business owners overreact when it comes to bounce rates.
Let's look a little deeper at what makes a bad bounce rate and a few other things to consider on this topic.
A Bad Bounce Rate Is...
A bad bounce rate for a website homepage is 70%+.
That seems to be the consensus among many articles, interviews and analysis from around the web.
And in my experience that is about right.
But there are obviously some caveats.
What is your homepage is meant to be the entrance and exit page?
Say you're a local business like a dental practice. The goal of your homepage is to get people to call you. So someone searches for dentists in their area on Google Maps. They find you, click your homepage, see a short description and phone number and call. Then they leave because they got what they needed...
That qualifies as a bounce on the website analytics. If that website is succeeding at getting people to call the bounce rate will be 100%.
Another aspect that can skew bounce rates is content marketing. Video, audio and text on websites. A blog is a great example.
Blogs typically have higher bounce rates than homepages. Usually 80%+. And that's just fine. The reason it's fine is that someone found your headline and link somewhere. They read your post and are ready to leave.
The hope with the blog is that the person remembers your brand and comes back in the future when they need what you sell. Or the hope is that by helping people with your content that you increase brand awareness and trust and more people learn about your brand and search for it and land on your homepage.
The bounce rate on your blog could be 100% and it could still be a good thing. Trying to force people to visit another page could be the wrong thing to do. People don't like to be forced to do things.
Audit Your Website
Now, a high bounce rate can certainly be cause for concern.
It starts with knowing what the goal is for a page.
If the goal of your homepage, for example, is to get people to click on your about page and hardly anybody is following that path then obviously something is wrong.
Auditing your website is simple. First, you determine the goal of the website overall. Then you determine the goal of each page.
Then you see if the content and design are allowing those goals to occur.
You can use analytics, including bounce rate, to give you clues to see if things are working or not working.
If something is not working, like visitors not going from the homepage to the about page, then you want to see if you can figure out why. Usually it involves making a change and assessing what happens after that.
It could be something as simple as the button or link to the about page not being visible enough for visitors to the homepage.
Change it. See what happens. Keep changing things until the goal is being accomplished at a higher rate.
Bounce rates generally worth looking into if they're higher than about 80%. But there are some big exceptions.
The thing that's important to understand is what the goal of your website is for your business. Then dig deeper and define what the goal is for each page on your website.
After that, determine if that goal is natural for visitors. Often I see companies trying to make visitors do something that they just aren't going to do very often.
For example, if I click on a link to read an article on a newspaper site and they want me to click on one of the ten ads popping up I'm not going to do it. I may do it on accident on occasion, but they're never going to get me to do it consistently. It's not what I want to do.
But if you determine that your goal is natural for your visitor and that the goal is to visit another page and the bounce rate is high...then dive in and figure out why it's not happening.
Usually it's because the design or the content isn't giving the visitor a clear path.