What is Bounce Rate? How to Measure, Analyze, & Improve this Metric

What is bounce rate hero image

You probably already know that bounce rate can be too high, but did you know that it can also be too low?

Bounce rate is one of the most misunderstood metrics in web analytics.

This article will explore this metric, what to expect from it, and when you need to make it a priority. We'll also look at specific strategies to improve your bounce rate.

Let’s get started.

What is Bounce Rate?

Before we discuss bounce rate, let’s make sure we’re clear about what “bounce” means in web analytics: A bounce is a single-page session on a website. In other words, when someone visits your website, only views a single page, and then leaves, Google Analytics counts that visit as a bounce.

Here's Google’s definition of bounce rate:

Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.

For example, let’s say that there were a total of 100 sessions on your homepage, 75 of which were single-page sessions. What is the bounce rate of your homepage? In this case, 75% of people who visited it bounced after a single session, so the bounce rate is 75%.

Why Is Bounce Rate Important?

Now let’s talk about why you should care about this metric.

To put it simply, a high bounce rate usually indicates that there’s an issue with your website. In particular, a high bounce rate can indicate that:

  • People are put off by the design of your website

  • The content doesn’t meet the visitor’s expectations

  • The offer on your website just isn’t that great

Bounce rate is one of the factors that Google uses to determine a website's rank. A high bounce rate means people are not finding what they are looking for on your client’s website. Because Google’s algorithm constantly adjusts to present the right content to the right audience, a high bounce rate can negatively impact SEO rankings.

However, it should be noted that a high bounce rate is not always a warning sign. There are certain industries and websites where a high bounce rate is inevitable and shouldn’t be seen as a cause for concern.

That said, unless your website falls into that category (more on this later), a high bounce rate should prompt you to analyze the page, identify the cause of the problem, and figure out how to fix it.

Bounce Rate vs. Exit Rate

You may also be familiar with another web analytics metric: exit rate.

It’s easy to mix up bounce rate and exit rate, although these are separate metrics, so it’s important to understand the difference between them:

  • Bounce rate shows what percentage of people who landed on a page exited the website after only a single-page session (bounce rate = total single-page sessions / total sessions).

  • Exit rate shows what percentage of people who visited a page exited the website (exit rate = total exits from page/total pageviews for that page).

So if someone lands on your homepage, then closes the browser, that counts as a bounce that will add to the bounce rate of your homepage.

Meanwhile, if someone lands on your homepage, clicks through to your About page, and then closes the browser, this won’t count as a bounce on either page, but it will add to the exit rate of your About page.

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How Do You Determine When Bounce Rate Is Bad?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on a number of factors, including the type of website, the industry, and the specific goals of the website. However, some general guidelines can be used to determine when the bounce rate is bad.

For example, if the average bounce rate for websites in your industry is 40% and your website has a bounce rate of 60%, then this may be cause for concern. Similarly, if you have set specific goals for your website (e.g., generating leads) and your bounce rate is high compared to other similar websites, then this could also indicate that something is wrong.

How to Check Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

Let’s now review step-by-step where you can find the bounce rate for your website in Google Analytics:

1. Go to Google Analytics Home

2. Click Audience Overview (you can adjust the period)

google analytics dashboard

3. You’ll see the bounce rate below the graph.

As we mentioned earlier, your website’s bounce rate alone won’t always give you a complete picture.

What is a Good Bounce Rate?

What is a good bounce rate? What is a bad bounce rate? Is a lower bounce rate always better and a higher bounce rate always worse?

To answer these questions, let’s look at a few statistics.

Jay Peyton from RocketFuel attempted to answer these questions by analyzing a sample of 60 websites, in particular:

  • The domains were picked at random.

  • The data covered a period of about a year.

  • The websites varied wildly in terms of traffic, with some getting only a few thousand unique visitors and others over a million.

“Most websites will see bounce rates fall somewhere between 26% and 70%,” explains Jay. “The average bounce rate for the websites in my sample set was 49%.”

bounce rate chart

Image source - GoRocketFuel

According to Jay, as a rule of thumb:

  • A bounce rate of 26% - 40% is considered excellent.

  • 41% to 55% is roughly average.

  • 56% to 70% is above average but may not be a cause for concern depending on the website.

  • 70%+ is disappointing, with exceptions for blogs, news, and events

Jay also reminds us that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. When a bounce rate is under 20%, it’s probably because analytics aren’t working properly. Even a 20-25% bounce rate calls for inspection.

The first question to ask is - are you sure that everything is set up correctly?

Now, this clearly wasn’t intended to be a rigorous scientific study since the sample is quite small, so there may be selection bias at play, amongst other things.

That being said, Jay’s research provides a rough idea of what to expect when it comes to bounce rate, and it’s also nice to have thresholds for serious concerns.

As mentioned, you also need to consider the type of website as the average bounce rates will likely differ based on that. These are the benchmark averages for the most common types of websites:

bounce rate chart

Image Source

The data in the image does seem quite intuitive when you think about it.

For example, eCommerce shoppers generally want to explore multiple product pages on the website. Hence, they’re likely to click around more, which explains the lower average bounce rate for this type of website.

If someone is searching for information on a particular topic and lands on an in-depth blog post, they may find all the information they need in a single place. Although they could spend 2-10 minutes on that page, which indicates high engagement, they may leave the site when they are done reading. This is why blogs tend to have a higher bounce rate. 

Meanwhile, someone who finds themselves on a landing page either clicks on the call-to-action button or leaves. If you know anything about landing page conversion rates, you also know that most people leave without converting.

So you would be setting yourself up for disappointment if you expected a landing page or a blog post to have a 50% bounce rate. Instead, use these benchmark bounce rates to be more realistic.

It’s also important to note that the average bounce rate varies depending on the industry.

For example, as ConversionXL pointed out:

“The difference in benchmark bounce rate between the food & drink industry and the real estate industry is more than 20%.”.

bounce rate chart by industry

So when you look at your bounce rate, a few things to consider include:

  • The lower and upper thresholds can be cause for concern (i.e., below 20% and above 70% bounce rate).

  • The type of the website (i.e., eCommerce sites vs. blogs)

  • The industry that you’re in

That way, you’ll be able to set reasonable expectations, evaluate the current situation, and determine the best way to improve it.

How to Reduce a High Bounce Rate

Okay, so you concluded that your bounce rate is unacceptable, and you’ve started to track this SEO KPI for your client. Now let’s discuss a few strategies that can help reduce it.

1. Increase Page Load Speed

Backlinko’s team analyzed 5.2 million web pages to learn more about page load speed.

According to the study, a web page's average page loading speed is 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.4 seconds on mobile devices.

desktop and mobile page speed

Image Source

Meanwhile, Google analyzed 11 million mobile ads’ landing pages from 213 countries. This study found that loading speed has a significant impact on bounce rates.

page load times

Remember Backlinko’s research? 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.4 seconds on mobile is terrible. Instead, you want your website to be as fast as possible.

So what’s one of the easiest ways to improve your page load speed? Compress the images.

According to Google’s research:

“Simply compressing images and text can be a game changer — 25% of pages could save more than 250KB and 10% can save more than 1MB that way.”

If you want to use a tool to help with this, check out TinyJPG for .jpeg and .png images.

You can also do more technical things (minifying HTML, CSS, and Javascript, reducing redirects, etc.). While we won’t cover them all in this article, you can check out Moz’s Page Speed article if you want to learn more.

2. Improve Your Web Design

Now, once your website loads, the visitor will make a snap judgment about it based on its design.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure that it looks modern, clean, and professional. Plus, the design needs to meet the expectations of your target audience and resonate with them.

Moreover, you need to make sure that your website looks great on all devices, including smartphones, tablets, and desktops. If you want to test your website on mobile, check out the free tool called mobiReady.

However, it’s not enough to have a pretty website; it also has to be easy to use. In other words, you need to consider user experience as well as aesthetics.

Also, keep in mind that annoying elements like popups, autoplay videos, and sound effects might all be contributing to your bounce rate and, ultimately, your conversion metrics.

3. Improve Readability

Let’s be real; reading on screens for long periods isn’t pleasant.

There’s the eye strain, the need to keep scrolling, not to mention all the distractions.

That’s why publishing text online comes with its own set of best practices:

  • Subheadlines: Divide the text into sections. Each section should have its subheadline.

  • Paragraphs: As a rule of thumb, keep them short at 1-3 lines long.

  • Bullet points: Use them whenever you’re listing something.

  • Font size: 16px minimum, but 18px is probably better.

  • Images: In general, you want to add 3-4 images for every 1000 words.

People tend to skim when reading on screens, which is why you should break up the text as much as possible. This is especially important for those who fall into the trap of writing long-form content for the sole purpose of hitting a specific word count target for SEO.

Also, you want the text to be simple since the simpler the text, the easier it is to read. Shorten the sentences, remove flowery language, and avoid industry jargon.

One great tool you can use is the Hemingway App to gauge the reading level required to understand the text.

4. Get Better Traffic

All traffic is not created equal.

Take a look at these statistics:

bounce rates by channel

Social media is fun, but the click-through traffic from it is notoriously fickle. If it is your main traffic source, you may want to work on building your email list and increasing your search engine traffic.

There’s one potential pitfall with search engine traffic, though. You may have a high bounce rate because people want an answer to a specific question and leave right after they get it. Good for them, not so good for your bounce rate.

When that’s the case, it makes sense to work on converting search engine traffic to email subscribers. One way you can do this is by offering content upgrades.

5. Make it Immediately Clear What Your Website is About

When new visitors land on your website, it should be immediately clear to them what it is that you are offering.

If the visitor is confused, they certainly won’t click around or won’t scroll very far to figure it out; they will simply leave.

So make sure that you place the most important information above the fold and that your copy is clear.

6. Meet People’s Expectations

You need to deliver on what you promised if you want people to stick around.

And you did promise something...maybe it was in an ad, maybe it was in the title and an excerpt on a search engine, or an email newsletter. Somehow you got them interested enough to visit your website.

Now it’s time to deliver.

Analyze your site content. Does it match the ad copy? Does it match the search intent for the keywords you are targeting? Is this what your subscribers expected when they clicked that CTA in your email?

You can trick people into clicking through, but once they realize they have been tricked, they’ll press the back button immediately. It’s better to just give them what they want.

6. Give Visitors Something More

One of the best ways to reduce bounce rate is to give visitors a reason to stick around. Offering more content on the same topic, similar products to explore, resources they can download, etc., is an effective way to turn a single-page visit into a multi-page visit. 

Summary: Bounce Rate

As we’ve discussed in this article, a high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing. Realistically, it is generally a sign that there’s an issue with your website, which means that it’s your job to uncover and fix it.

When it comes to improving your bounce rate, keep it simple. Can you make your website faster, more aesthetically pleasing, and more readable? That would almost certainly reduce your bounce rate. Start with these three things, and you should be on the right track.

Jay Kang

Written by

Jay Kang

Jay Kang is an SEO Expert with over 9 years of experience crafting powerful content strategies, driving keyword optimization programs, and delivering significant organic growth.

Read more posts by Jay Kang ›

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