What does bounce rate mean in easy to understand terms?
Well to put it simply, the definition of bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave your website after visiting just one page.
Let me give you an example to explain this further ...
Say you’re looking at the bounce rate for your home page. When you sign into your Google Analytics account you notice that your home page has a 75.00% bounce rate.
What this means is that 75% of the people that land on your home page are only reading your home page and leaving soon after. They’re not clicking on ANY of your other pages. So for these 75% of visitors, your other pages are virtually invisible. Not a good thing!
Each page on your website will have its own bounce rate. So for example, your home page may have a low bounce rate and other pages on your website or blog may have high bounce rates.
This is a Google Analytics' screen shot of one of my websites' pages. As you can see, on a particular day (13th of March) 32.14% of the visitors to that page, left my website without visiting any other pages.
Your job is to keep the bounce rate as low as possible. This will essentially mean that people are finding your content interesting and are willing to take a look at more than one page!
The bounce rate is not related in any way to the total amount of time people spend on a page.
So if someone visits a specific page and stays on that page for two minutes then leaves, that is still another person who “bounced” away from your site. It doesn’t matter if he spent two minutes or two seconds on that page. What matters as regards to bounce rate, is whether he visited any other pages on your website after he landed on the first one.
So now that you know the definition of bounce rate, what should you watch out for and what should you check?
If possible, you should try to get the stats on the typical bounce rate for your industry. This is easier said than done though because unfortunately, online stats and data can be quite conflicting. But it’s worth a try. Always good to know how you are fairing with your competitors.
Next you should take a look at the bounce rate of your home page. Your home page is the “hub” of your website and is probably one of your most visited pages. How’s your bounce rate on that page? And what can you do to improve it?
Here are some questions that you should be asking yourself to try to understand why visitors are behaving the way they do on your website.
Let’s imagine that your website is a brick and mortar clothes store. Say you wanted to buy a white shirt. You go in and you see all these types and styles of shirts.
But it’s not immediately evident to you whether the shop carries white shirts. Now in a brick and mortar store, you can simply go up to the shop assistant and ask.
However, when it comes to websites, people will not usually email you to ask for something that they didn’t find on your site. They just leave to search for what they were looking for on other sites. Because after all, it only takes them a few seconds to find your competitors!
When people find your website, they have a problem that needs to be solved. So are you solving it? It’s no use ranking high for a particular keyword if on that specific page, you’re not providing any real answers to people’s problems and concerns.
Say you sold boots for women. Sheila is looking to purchase a pair of red boots. So she types “red boots” in Google Search. You’ve optimized one of your pages for red boots, so you’re now ranking on Page 1 of Google for the term “red boots”.
Sheila clicks on your page and quickly scans your page, only to find one pair of red boots. Sheila does not really like the style of your red boots, so she leaves your site in search of another site that has a wider choice of red boots.
In addition, Sheila may have ONLY been looking for high heeled red boots. So if she stumbles across a page with low heeled red boots, she would immediately exit the page because it would not provide what she is looking for.
So the more detailed your keywords are, the better chance you have of converting your visitors. The keywords you choose must of course have sufficient demand, otherwise you’re just wasting your time.
If traffic to your pages is not highly targeted, then people are most likely going to leave your site immediately because their questions will remain unanswered! So identify the keywords that people are using to find your pages, then answer their queries effectively!
Sometimes the things that people are looking for are bounce rate magnets. So there’s not much that you can do about that. Let me give you a simple example.
Say you have a page that is about the colors of Australia's national flag. So people may be finding your page because they use the keyword phrase “What are the colors of the Australian flag?”
You may have fantastic content on that particular page but as soon as people get their answer, there's a good chance that they’re going to leave. Because all they wanted was a simple answer and they got it.
You can of course try to make them linger on for a while by using clever, effective copy to entice them to check out your other pages. However, because the intent behind their search was fairly straightforward, you’ll have a hard time trying to motivate them to look at other pages on your website.
So the more "complex" a search query is, the better chance you have of keeping your visitors on your website for longer. This depends greatly on whether you provide real value of course.
I’m sure you’ve come across such sites. You land on a page and there are simply way too many things going on. Banner ads flicking for your attention, pop up opt-in boxes, images of all shapes and sizes, text of differing colors and so on.
Sometimes, it feels as though the webmaster is “deliberately” making it hard for you to find what you’re looking for! Are you making the same mistakes? Can people easily find the content that they’re looking for without getting a headache?
So now that you know what bounce rate means, make it your mission to keep it as low as possible. Why? Because there's a good chance that anyone who "bounces off" your site is not coming back.