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In Google Analytics, a bounce is defined as a session in which Google Analytics was only triggered one time before the end of the session. For example, when a user visits one page on your site, and then leaves again, that causes only one request to go from the user to Google Analytics. Therefore, that session is registered as a bounce.
The bounce rate is what percentage of all sessions on your site was such a single request session. So if your page had 10 sessions, and 4 of those were a single request session, that’s a bounce rate of 40%.
Bounce and the bounce rate can give you a general idea of how engaged people are with your page. If you notice an unusually high number of people leaving your site without performing any further interactions, that could be an indication that the page could be improved so it better grasps the attention of the visitors.
Whether or not scrolling on a page is counted as an interaction, and thus making the visit not count as a bounce, depends on how you’ve set up your tracking in Google Analytics.
By default, scrolling by itself does not count as an interaction. This means that if a user visits your site, scrolls, and then leaves, it’s counted as a bounce.
However, if you’ve set up different events on the page in question, then it’s possible that by scrolling the user triggers one of them, which would cause the visit to not count as a bounce. This is something to keep in mind when looking at your bounce rate. Look at what events you’ve set to be tracked, and base your conclusions on that.
If you want to, it’s possible to make scrolling count as a second interaction. You can do this by setting it as an event.
Google Analytics calculates the bounce rate via a very simple formula:
Amount of single request sessions / Amount of sessions * 100%
It simply calculates what percentage of sessions were single request sessions. In other words, it takes the amount of single request sessions, and divides it by the total amount of sessions.
Mind you, the bounce rate on its own doesn’t say anything. What your bounce rate means is heavily dependant on the kind of page that’s being talked about. By nature, a landing page will have a higher bounce rate than an index page.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a ‘definitively good’ bounce rate in Google Analytics. Google Analytics is used for every kind of website imaginable, and naturally these all have the goalpost of a good bounce rate at a different place. It would be unfair to expect an ecommerce site to have the same bounce rate as a standalone landing page, wouldn’t it?
There are some very general guidelines that exist. Generally, a bounce rate between 26 and 40 percent is considered really good, 41 to 55 percent is about average and 56 to 70 percent is above average. Anything above 70 percent is where things could be getting problematic.
These are just very general guidelines though. In reality, a good bounce rate depends on tons of factors from the structure of your site, to the content of your page, to the devices used by your audience.
I recommend that, rather than focussing on some arbitrary bounce rate you found online, you set your own goal based on what you know about your business. If you’re still unsure, getting advice from a professional, like a CRO expert or an ecommerce consultant, is never a bad idea.
Like previously mentioned, an absolute point at which a bounce rate is too high can’t be given. This heavily depends on the type of website you’re running. For news sites or blogs, 40% could already be on the high side. For landing pages, however, 40% could be pretty good.
Unusually high numbers like 80% or more do of course indicate that something is critically wrong. If you notice that your bounce rates are this high, there is definitely a more serious problem that requires looking into.
In addition to bounce rates that are too high, you should also keep your eyes out for bounce rates that are too low. Bounce rates of 20 percent of lower may seem brilliant, but if they’re that low, there’s a good chance that there’s actually something wrong with how you’ve set up Google Analytics. Perhaps two things trigger the second a page is loaded, causing most visits to not be registered as bounces, even if they are in practice.
If you notice your bounce rate is unusually low, it’s recommend that you look through your setup again. Make sure you look in every nook and cranny for something that seems off. You may just find that your results are completely different from what’s actually going on.
Also, keep in mind here that bounce rates fluctuate between devices. By default, bounce rates are higher on mobile than on desktop. Keep that in mind when making judgements about your bounce rate.
The tricky thing about a high bounce rate is that it could have a ton of different causes. Thankfully, Google Analytics allows you to figure out what the exact cause is.
To start, try to find out if there’s a specific place where the high bounce rate comes from. You can do this by examining your bounce rate from different perspectives. When you browse to different reports, you can clearly see the bounce rate listed for different categories.
For example, browsing to the ‘Source/Medium’ report (Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium) will show you the bounce rate for each unique source from which people came to your site. The ‘Browser & OS’ report (Audience > Technology > Browser & OS) can you show the bounce rates for the different browsers that are used, the ‘All Pages’ report (Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages) can show you the bounce rates for individual pages, et cetera.
Look through these reports, and look for any segments with a noticeable low conversion rate. Does one page stick out for a super high bounce rate? Perhaps that page’s design needs some improving. Does traffic from one particular marketing channel perform badly? Perhaps the campaign needs to be altered. Approach other segments that stick out with the same logic. To summarize: find the leak and fix it.
Of course, it’s also possible that the high bounce rate is a site wide problem. If your conversion rate is almost unrealistically high, it’s possible something may be wrong with how you set up your Analytics. If you feel like this could be the case, go through your setup once again. Check all the details, and look for any oddities in your setup. Perhaps certain triggers you’ve set up don’t work properly. These little mistakes are natural, but they can cost you your data.
If your bounce rate is still consistently high, the problem lies deeper. This seems to indicate there’s a deeper problem wit your site’s design and/or your marketing. This is when we get into the field of conversion optimization and marketing optimization. These are fields where it’s highly recommended to hire an expert if you’re not working with one (or are one) already. They can help you run tests on what the problem is, get to the core of it, and fix it in the most effective way possible.
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