What is “Bounce Rate” Anyway?

What is “Bounce Rate” Anyway?
August 17, 2010 Julian Becerra

Website owners sometimes think that having a website will indefinitely provide ongoing traffic and that they, both the owner and the website will live happily ever after. Truth of the matter, as my colleague once said; websites are not just for Christmas. In fact, websites are a lot of work, especially good ones. Luckily, with the evolution of the web and web based technology, (free) open source technology, keeping a website fresh and up-to-date has become a much easier and cost effective task. The tricky part about keeping a website fresh and up-to-date becomes then the “finding the time” and most importantly the “knowing what to add” to your website to keep it fresh. But is that really all that matters when up-keeping and maintaining a website?

Man jumping into oceanAs we know, or most of us should know by now; traffic that ends up on a website doesn’t just appear by chance, it’s not a miracle, nor is it the website fairy sending traffic our way. People searching the web via search engines everyday eventually are presented with websites that in one way or another are related and/or relevant to the search query. For example, if we do a search for “apple” on a search engine, we will most likely be getting a bunch of “apple” computer results, “apple” based cooking recipes, “apple” growing techniques, or a combination of all of these and more.

As website owners, it is our responsibility to ensure that web searchers looking for specific information find this content in a properly structured way, is relevant, and at-the-end-of-the-day meets the expectations set forth by the initial search query. Alternatively, if we end up on a website that doesn’t have what we were expecting, what do we do? Think about it; we “bounce.”

We bounce! We’ve all done it. We do a search and get to a page that doesn’t really provide us with what we were looking for, apple computers vs. apple recipes. What do we do? Leave immediately. In web lingo, this is called a “bounce.”

Search engine traffic, however, is only one example of how incoming traffic can bounce from our websites. Bounce traffic can also apply to referral traffic, campaign traffic, or any incoming traffic to your website.

Thanks to the availability of online tools such as Google Analytics, a free online traffic tracking web application that enables you more data than you ever thought you’d need to know about your website traffic; with it you can track your “bounces” or “bounce rate.” This indicates to a website owner how many visitors have come and gone from your website without finding what they were looking for, or better put; their expectations weren’t met and left without any interaction.

Plain and simple: A bounce happens when a user comes to your page and leaves without interacting with any of the links or elements on your page, meaning the user does not navigate through your website. A bounce rate is the percentage of visits in which a user left without viewing any other pages. High bounce rates are bad and low bounce rates are good. Bounce rates on a blog may be irrelevant since it is common for people to look at a single page and leave, without navigating at all. Bounce rate is a good indicator of landing page relevance and effectiveness. To lower your website or landing page bounce rate, analyse your content and tailor these pages to their associated keywords, ads, and referral links. The more relevant the page the less likely a visitor will bounce off of it.

Keeping your website up-to-date and fresh is important. However, having a solid content strategy for your website that ensures that your existing content is relevant and meets the expectations of incoming traffic is equally as important. So, keep an eye out for your bounce rate!

Julian is the Director of Digital Strategy at Graphic Mint