- Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visits that occur on a single page or visits from which the visitor leaves your site.
- This metric is used to measure the quality and relevancy of visits.
- Exit rate can be described as a metric that indicates the number exits from your website. It is equal to the number visits when applied across your entire website.
- This metric can be used in conjunction with specific content pages to determine how many times a particular page was viewed by visitors.
- Visitors are more likely to bounce off pages that don’t meet their expectations.
Google Analytics offers valuable insight into how visitors interact with your website. This information is crucial to improve both the user experience and profitability of your website. Google Analytics offers many useful metrics to help you achieve this, including the bounce rate as well as the exit rate.
It can be difficult to know the difference between a bounce or an exit, especially if analytics is new to you. This article will explain the differences and help you understand why they are important. It can also be used to help you interpret bounce and exit data, and how to reduce them to increase your website’s performance and conversions.
Make an entrance that counts
Before you can calculate and understand bounce rate, you must first be familiar with entrance pages. Also known as landing pages or entry pages. Google defines an entrance page as:
This metric indicates the number of visitors to your website. This metric will always equal the number of visitors to your website. This metric works best when it is combined with specific content pages. It will show how many times that particular page has been accessed from your website.
An entrance page is simply the page that a visitor sees when they visit a website. We will see that entrances are a major factor in calculating bounce rates.
How do you view your entrances?
These steps will allow you to easily see your entrances in Google Analytics.
- Click on “Behavior” under “Reports”.
- Click “Site Content”
- Click “All Pages”
- View your “Entrances”
Entrances can be very helpful because they will show you which pages bring in the most visitors to your site. You can also get the opposite information and identify pages with low bounce rates.
What is a bounce, you ask?
A bounce refers to a visit to a single page. A bounce is when a visitor visits a website and views only the homepage.
What is a bounce rate?
For example, if 100 people visit your site via Page A and 20 leave without clicking through to any other pages, Page A would have a bounce ratio of 20%.
The site-wide averages are shown in the figure above.
Google Analytics will provide site-wide averages in some of its reports. This screen grab was taken from the “Top Content” report. You can find it by clicking on the Content tab within your Google Analytics dashboard.
First, you may notice that the average bounce rate and average exit rate are greater than 100 percent when combined. How can it be higher than 100 percent if bounce rate and exit rates are both measures of how many people leave your website? It can’t, it is impossible.
It is possible to be deceived into believing that bounce rate is calculated in percentage of Pageviews. It is shown in the report. This is a reasonable assumption. But, if you add bounces and exits together, they would be higher than the total Pageviews.
The bounce rate is not determined by the number or page views, but the entrances.
Why do people bounce?
There are many reasons why people bounce. The key to reducing bounce rates is to identify and address the most common reasons.
1. Pages that don’t live up to your expectations
Let’s take, for instance, the search for an air fryer. You search for “buy air fryers with free shipping”. The ad says “air fryers with free shipping”. You click on the ad. You’ll be taken to the homepage of the site when you click the ad instead of the landing page about air fryers. What’s your next move? Go back to Google to do a fresh search to find a page all about air fryers.
2. Design is ugly
A bad design can cause users to bounce back. Websites are judged primarily on their design and then on their content.
3. If the page provides users with what they are looking for
Yes. All bounces are not necessarily “bad”. Sometimes, bounces can actually be a sign that users found exactly what they needed on your site.
This recipe page was one example of what I found. The landing page contained all the information I needed to prepare the recipe, including detailed instructions and photos. Once I had my soup simmering over medium heat, I closed this page.
Although this session was technically a bounce, it’s not because the website had a poor UX or a terrible design. It is because I received what I wanted.
Identifying pages that have high bounce rates
The figure below shows sitewide entrances as well as bounces.
You need to dig deeper to find out the true numbers behind bounce rate. This screen grab was taken from the “Top Landing Pages” report. You can also find it by clicking on the Content tab in Google Analytics.
You can view bounce rates for specific pages as you go down the report.
The bounce rate at page level is shown in the above figure.
The report ‘Top Landing Pages’ helps to identify pages that have high bounce rates and may need further investigation.
Figure 3 clearly shows how the bounce rate for a single page is calculated: (283 bounces/303 entrances) * 100 = 93.393993993944%, which analytics have rounded to 93.40%. This is as interesting as it is. However, it doesn’t tell us anything about the bounce rate or what steps we should take to reduce it.
Poor user experience can lead to a high bounce rate
Visitors will abandon pages that don’t meet their expectations. They won’t be able to navigate the site easily, they won’t understand what features are, and they won’t take action on content. Many visitors to your site don’t have super-fast internet connections. They will leave your site if the page takes too much time to download. Linking to pages from other sites can increase your bounce rate if you are too enthusiastic about linking to your site. These are all things that you can test and fix.
Pages time forgotten and timestamps missing
Google Analytics tracks the time that visitors spend on pages through comparing timestamps. A timestamp, which records exactly when a visitor arrives on a page, is created whenever they land.
Two timestamps will result if a visitor clicks through to page “A” at 13.45, and arrives at page “B” at 13.47. You can subtract the time the visitor lands at page “A”, from the time they land at page “B”, to get the time spent on page “A”.
13.47 – 13.45 = 2 mins spent on page “A”.
13.50 is the last time a visitor leaves your website. No timestamps are created. There is no way to know how long they spent on page “B”.
What is the reason why a timestamp was not created? Your analytics account can’t access the timestamp if the page was not within your scope, such as on another domain. The page view time can’t therefore be calculated.
The time spent on a page can also not be measured if a visitor enters a site but bounces around without visiting another page.
Cookies, sessions and timeouts
A session timeout is responsible for every bounce and exit. A session in Google Analytics will end after 30 minutes of inactivity. A session that a visitor navigates through to another website will continue for 30 minutes, before it registers a bounce or exit. It will not be considered a bounce or exit as long as the visitor does not leave the session before it ends.
- Every visit to your site ends in a session timeout
- A session that ends after only one page is viewed is considered a bounce.
- An exit is a session that ends after multiple page views.
Take a look at all the tabs in your browser. How many have been open for longer than 29 minutes? The page may still be open in your browser. However, it is possible that some sessions associated with individual pages have timed out and caused an exit or bounce. You can also close your browser and disconnect from the internet by hitting the back button. This will cause the session to timeout and likely recorded in an Analytics report.
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Search Engine Watch’s first article, Bounce and exit rate analytics – measure, assess and audit to increase conversions appeared on Search Engine Watch.
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