Google Bounce Rates and What They Mean

Google Analytics Bounces Rates

Google AnalyticsSEO experts usually add Google Analytics to their clients web pages as this enables them to track the success of their optimisation and promotion campaigns on behalf of the client.

Many SEO companies also send their clients a copy of the Google Analytics report, or at least a summary of it.

If a client sees the full Google report this will include a reference to a an overall Bounce Rate. This is a measure that can cause confusion, especially as Google can show an overall bounce rate for a website and the bounce rate of all the individual pages.

Many people say that bounce rates below about 5%, or above 95% can signal some sort of technical problem with a website. And bounce rates of higher than 70% or 75% nearly always indicate a problem.

However, we believe bounce rates are not as clear cut as this.

Looking at the Google Analytics for QBS PC Help these show that the overall bounce rate 'site wide' is 73.28%. But for our home page the bounce rate was 44.80% and our blog's entry page only 30%.

Other pages have bounce rates varying from 0% and 100%, so what does all this mean?

Lets analyse a few different scenarios to get a better idea of what a bounce rate is and what the figures really picture:

  • A site has a splash page intro, with only the words 'click here' on it. The bounce rate is likely to be very low as the next move is to click the button and go to the sites home page.
  • A visitor is looking for sites selling widgets in order to find the best place to buy one online. They enter the widget product page from a search query, make a note of the site and then promptly leave. The bounce rate will naturally be high for these types of visitors.
  • A visitor spends longer looking at a page than the timeout period for a visitor session. This contributes to a high bounce rate.
  • The visitor has a query which is immediately answered by your landing page (not necessarily your home page). The bounce rate will be high.
  • The purpose of your site is for people to click on ad sense ads, and these ads are well-targeted on your page. You want that bounce rate to be high because it shows that people are clicking on the ad sense links and are moving on to visit another website, hopefully to provide you with some commission.
  • You attract a lot of traffic for a very general keyword. Only a small proportion of these visitors will be looking for your particular product or service. The bounce rate could be very high because of those that just leave your site.

A High Bounce Rate is Not Always Bad

The thing to remember is that a high bounce rate is not always bad news. If someone visits your site as a result of a google search they could enter your site via any number of targeted pages, find exactly what they want and then leave. There's a very happy visitor, but the bounce rate is closer to 100% rather than 0%.

It's also worth noting that there are a number of technical issues which could make a bounce rate artificially high.

Most search queries can be categorized as:

  1. Navigational Queries
  2. Transactional Queries
  3. Informational Queries

These account for 80% of all search queries.

The queries represent people who need more information before they are ready to take action. If your site has an FAQ page this could help most of these individuals get the answer to their questions.

For example, a search for "widget startup times" indicates a person who needs more information before making a purchase. Instead of sending them to a product page, provide the information they need, and then send them to the appropriate product. Always take time to provide any needed information before asking for the sale.

You can find the main keywords people use to find your site through Google Analytics "entrance keywords." It's a good idea to sort these keywords on bounce rates and average revenue to spot opportunities and problems.

From these entrance keywords you can learn:

  • Whether you are having a problem with certain kinds of traffic. For example, if you have a very high bounce rate with your paid search, you can drill down to learn if it is caused by bad keywords or bad ad copy.
  • Whether you are having a problem with certain pages. From there, you might use Google Website Optimizer to test your site.
  • If you have a problem on the whole site you should consider some form of user testing.

We sincerely hope that this article has better explained what bounce rates are all about and why high bounce rates are not always a bad thing.

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