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Site Statistics: What Is Bounce Rate?

The Meaning Of Bounce Rate (Site Statistics and Analytics)

Bounce rate has innovated website analytics in terms of giving webmasters a much deeper insight into the website traffic behavior. But what does it mean? And more important, how can we leverage its meaning in order to optimize and improve our websites? While doing research, it occured to me that this statistic is often misunderstood by bloggers and webmasters. I hope that these tips and tricks will help you learn more about the importance of bounce rate as it relates to your website.

All statistical data is defined as information that we collect about a topic or subject under investigation. Let's take a look at the definition of Bounce Rate and learn what it is:

Bounce Rate Definition

Bounce Rate is nothing more than a function of your website visitors' interest in content posted on your website.

If a visitor is interested in more content on your website they are likely to continue browsing your site, causing the bounce rate to decrease.

If a visitor is not interested in more content on your website they are likely to leave your website right away, causing the bounce rate to increase.

Bounce Rate shouldn't necessarily be thought of as a measurement of success of your website judging by the numeric percent (%) rate it indicates because it measures quality of particular browsing behavior and not its volume. Different browsing bahaviors can produce equally successful results!

Working with bounce rate will require making important decisions about managing the visual space of your website and thinking more about such things as the quality and purpose of your website's content and design.

At the very fundamental level, the definition of bounce rate can easily be—a type of data that gives us information about the percent of website visitors who never discover more than one page of a website. Or in other words, the percent of visitors who "bounce" off the site for one or another reason. The reasons for why such types of behavior occurs among website visitors are plenty. It is very important to understand, that these reasons are different.

The most common question people ask is What is a good bounce rate? Why is it a wrong question to ask?

Despite what it may seem, and although many people believe that bounce rate below 50% is great, website visitors do not think in a primitive way such as: "I liked this website and I must continue clicking to discover new pages on it" or "I didn't like this website and I must leave". A more common question that website visitors ask is "Did I find what I was looking for on this page?". And because of this bounce rate is so tricky! The bounce rate indicator can tell you the same thing for different reasons. This is why it's so important to understand the purpose of every page located on your website before being misled by the bounce rate data. The fundamental logic of the bounce rate is explained below in great detail.

In simple words, what is it?

  • Percentage of how many people leave your website without going past the first page they landed on. So they "bounced" off your webpage without digging into it.
  • Bounce Rate is a shape-shifting entity, it is nothing in particular until you start thinking of the context it belongs to. And that's the tricky part.

The universal law of bounce rate

  • Bounce Rate is mostly governed by the purpose of a webpage on a website and not the subject of the website (as many people like to believe).

Why is bounce rate difficult to understand and why many people ignore it at first?

  • It is a complex kind of a statistic that is unlike other commonly used statistic types.
  • In statistics, bounce rate is thought of as a qualitative data type. This means it determines a particular quality of something, not its amount or volume. The only question is quality of what? Much of confusion about this statistical data metric comes from the misleading idea that bounce rate must be low in order for your pages to be effective or "successful". That much is true only if one considers most common scenarios.
  • To draw a comparison, quantitative statistics are so much easier to understand because it is generally easy to think about data in terms of increasing value and not probabilities, for instances, like with stochastic statistical data. An example of quantitative statistical data would be unique visitors, page views and exit rates. They are all pretty easy to understand because they are concerned with the amount or number of measured things. Bounce rate is concerned with measuring the amount of people that leave your website after landing on a page on your website without visiting any other internal page. Different pages, like the ones that use different layout or have different information will generate different bounce rate levels.

What to look for in the bounce rate?

  • A popular myth about the bounce rate is that particularly high or low bounce rate numbers define whether your page is a success or not. It all depends on the circumstances, and the purpose of the page. What exactly does a page tries to achieve?
  • The more targeted the traffic is, the more meaningful your B.R. analytics data becomes.
  • As click-through rate (CTR) to external pages increases, so does the bounce rate. But it may not always be a bad thing, even though generally that's considered to be true.
  • Bounce rate of a new website is not the same as bounce rate of an established website, because loyal visitors are likely to come back and look for more information.

How can bounce rate help my website?

  • It can show what content needs to be revisited and optimized for general page usefulness.
  • Pay attention to each individual web page bounce rate to see which pages build the most interest in the rest of your website.

The bounce rate myths

Myth #1: Bounce rate is more important than the amount of traffic your website receives.

  • Bounce rate, while extremely valuable is not "more important" than the amount of traffic your website receives.
  • I think that this statement is commonly issued by someone who starts to feel enthusiastic about bounce rate as a statistical indicator, because that person has just discovered it. Both, the bounce rate and the website traffic volume are very important. Tracking these statistics together can have an enormous impact on making important optimizations.

Myth #2: High bounce rate is associated with less product sales or affiliate commissions.

  • This is just simply not true. Again and again, it all depends on the purpose of a page in particular. In some unique instances high bounce rate might indicate great success. It may mean that the visitors don't progress past the first page they landed on because they were so interested in either clicking on an advertised product link, donation button link or an affiliated text link that led them to leave the original website. This means the webmaster is not pouring large amounts of advertising cash into his advertising campaign for nothing. And in a case like this, increasing bounce rate for such page would only contribute to the the success of the monetization model of your website! This is why the universal rule of bounce rate is that its data must be interpreted within a specific context and not by itself alone.

Myth #3: Great content lowers bounce rate

  • This is also not true, because bounce rate is a function of website visitor interest. Remember that bounce rate is a shape-shifting animal. This means that bounce rate data becomes more meaningful only with the increase of targeted traffic.
  • No matter how amazing your content is, if the swarms of visitors are not interested in it, it will not help you to lower your bounce rate. Traffic targeting is also very important.

How to decrease bounce rate

  • Use descriptive phrases in the title tag of your website.
  • The bottom of the page is an extremely effective area for placing links to related content. Many a blogger raved that links located in this area of a web page actually get clicked on. Many people use ads there, but it's really a trade off beween monetizing your pages and decreasing the bounce rate of your site—it's your decision—choose wisely!
  • Join community websites that allow you to advertise your website in your forum signature.
  • Make your website easy to navigate. It may have the great content, but is it accessible?
  • Increase quality of content and care about your visitors. Make it easy for them to navigate the site.
  • Add more interactive content to your website.
  • Give users more options to choose from on the page.
  • Play around with different page layouts to see which one works best.
  • Use prominent, visible links that are easy to notice in a glance, point them to featured articles. This is like giving your site a second chance.
  • Anticipate visitor's interests and needs, and build your content and layout based on the logic you deduct.
  • By organizing the content on your webpages, you save visitors valuable time and you make it easy to find things they might be interested in.
  • Use subtle call-to-action phrases within the content (text links) right after the link in the same or next sentences.
  • If the visitors recognize the purpose of a website, they are likely to take advantage of it. This will decrease bounce rate.

How to increases bounce rate

  • Large volumes volumes of first-time visitors will increase the bounce rate of your website.
  • Attract visitors from Digg or StumbleUpon.
  • Fooling the visitor with the title tag, meta keywords or meta description tags, that your website is about content it does not contain.
  • People who come to your website from your own RSS feed will contribute to increasing the bounce rate of your website because it is common for them to be only interested in recent articles. These people have already read the ones you have published in the past! See? This doesn't mean high bounce rate is a bad thing! As you can now see, user loyalty can increase the bounce rate.
  • Using iframes with analytics code on your site.
  • Linking to the original source of where you got the content idea from. This should remind us to write original content. Let us be that original source for other publishers!
  • Make your website someone's homepage/startpage. Although, this is not always the case. An established custom start-page website that implies using it as a homepage (awesomestart.com) has average bounce rate of about %40 to %50.

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