What Is A Bounce Rate And How I Improved Mine By 68%

Earlier on yesterday I was looking at some stats for my sites through Google Analytics. I never really paid attention to the bounce rate, but later on that day I saw a new post from Scot at Self Made Minds discussing bounce rates on his own pages. I decided to look a little further into it. Here’s Google’s explanation for bounce rate:

Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page). Bounce Rate is a measure of visit quality and a high Bounce Rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.

Basically a person comes to your site, and leaves without looking at any other pages, it’s considered a bounce. Obviously the lower bounce rate percentage you have, the better it normally is for your site. It would mean that the user found something they liked and looked further into the site for more. This is an interesting statistic to look at, because you can use these numbers to better optimize your site, for example by making the user interface easier to use.

So one of the main things I noticed in Google Analytics when look at stats for my eCommerce site ActiveTuning was that there was a drastic change in January. I noticed that pageviews, pages per visit, and bounce rate had all drastically improved. So what changed in January? I had actually redesigned the entire site, and according to the stats, it made one hell of a difference! A comparison between March 2007 and December 2006 shows these improvements:

Pageviews: Up 117%
Pages Per Visit: Up 92.58%
Bounce Rate: Down 68% (To 14.46%)

Those are some ridiculously drastic differences in numbers, and sales increases have shown for it. I built the new design for the site as optimally as I could from a users perspective, and more people are now using the site the way it should be used.

As Scot mentioned, here’s the breakdown of what percentage of bounce rate is considered good and bad:

Under 20%: Extremely hard to achieve and very good.
21%-35%: A good score and probably the one most should aim for
36%-50%: Cause for concern and investigation needed to see if it can be improved
Greater than 50%: Very worrying unless there is good reason.

Another important factor he mentions are some scenarios where the bounce rate is actually expected to be high:

  • Shoppers browsing for prices to compare
  • Mini Site
  • Info sites with good Adsense CTR placement
  • Ad campaign concentrating on one sales page
  • Site does not meet visitors expectation
  • Slow loading site
  • Poor navigation
  • Blogs where visitors read a single post and visit often without having to navigate

Looking at this list, you’ll see that blogs is listed as a line item. For us blogs, we can expect our bounce rates to be higher than normal just because of the nature of the beast. It should definitely be a goal to lower the rates as much as possible, but the way blogs work, it would be impossible to have such low rates as ActiveTuning for example.

I think it’d be a good time to see where my sites stand and how they compare in regards to bounce rates. First we’ll look at this blog since it’s inception. The average bounce rate is 83.61%, but it has been getting lower (June so far is 71.87%):

Bounce rate for DavidPitlyuk.com

ActiveTuning averages much lower, and normally is somewhere between 12-20%. Here’s a look at the bounce rates for ActiveTuning since March 1st:

Bounce rate for ActiveTuning.com

Remember I mentioned that just by improving the design and UI for ActiveTuning, it made a drastic difference in bounce rates? Take a look at this chart comparing December 2006 and February 2007 bounce rates:

ActiveTuning bounce rate comparison between redesigns

The rate dropped down from 55-70%, all the way down to the teens. Talk about an improvement!

What is your bounce rate like for your site? Do you have any sites that are lower than ActiveTuning? Scot asked the same question, and it’s worth taking a look at some of the comments that were posted on his site.

  • http://blogstorm.co.uk Patrick Altoft

    My bounce rate is still not as good as it should be thanks to a load of Digg and Stumbleupon traffic. In the past I found good navigation and an easy way to get to the homepage helped a lot.

  • http://dereksemmler.com Derek

    Very interesting post! I’ve looked at the bounce rate before but never really paid too much attention. However, after looking at one page just now I made a slight tweak to see if it impacts the bounce rate of that page at all.

    For my personal blog my bounce rate is at 65% and for my personal finance blog the rate is a little higher at 71%. With both being blogs though I expect them to be on the higher side, although it will be something to focus on improving.

  • http://www.davidpitlyuk.com David Pitlyuk

    Yeah, as Patrick was stating, much of Blog traffic is from search engines and referral pages where a visitor is just looking for that specific page…and it’s likely they will not stick around to look at more. Which is why those bounce rates seem pretty normal to me.

    Let me know what you did and if it helped improve the rates!

  • http://dereksemmler.com Derek

    The change I made wasn’t really so much to change the bounce rate but more to try and capitalize on the high bounce rate.

    I had a page that has a bounce rate around 90% as people are hitting that page from search engines and social sites but then leave, as it is a very specific topic in that post. So I have added some contextual ads to that page to try and gain some benefit from the people leaving that page, hopefully they will leave via one of the ads.

  • http://www.davidpitlyuk.com David Pitlyuk

    Ahhh, smart!

  • http://www.meridiancrest.com Scot Smith

    Good job on the improvement. It definitely makes a difference (a blog vs e-commerce site), and I think you’ve shown exactly why.

    Nice post.

  • http://www.nozamanews.com Neale

    Great post thanks for the detailed info :)

  • http://www.custominvites.ca Lauren

    Very interesting post! I have been trying to get a handle on what is good/average/poor for bounce rates. My site has had a fairly consistent bounce rate of 23% for the last 12 months, which tells me I must be doing something right :)

  • http://www.portapocket.com Kendra Kroll

    I have a flash intro and bounce rates range from 44% to 56% in the last few months…not great. wondering if the intro is hurting my sales possibilities, despite the fact that I think it shows/describes this new concept product rather well. Do I scrap the intro, or…? Thoughts?

  • http://www.davepit.com/who-is-david-pitlyuk David Pitlyuk

    Kendra – I would take the intro out for a month or two and see how it affects your bounce rate. There is only one true way to test against data, and that’s testing :)

  • http://www.qualitymindsinc.com Stephen

    This article was forwarded to me. Thanks so much for the content. I’m working hard right now to improve the bounce rate for two of my sites.

  • http://pencil-portrait-drawing-artist.com Darla Dixon

    Thank you for the good information! Kendra, I would also advise getting rid of the flash intro page. Just from my own experience, I know I often click out of websites like that without watching the intro. I just don’t have time for a big presentation. I want to click and right away see what you do, and I think most website surfers are impatient or busy.

    Thanks to the ideas on this page, I have some ideas for my own site to make the navigation easier. I have a lot to do. My bounce rate is about 50-52%.

  • http://blog.patyuen.com Pat Yuen

    As you probably already know, you can’t just look at bounce rate by itself. It’s one factor to consider. Unless you are TMZ or Gizmodo, general blogs and news sites should expect very high bounce rate above 80%. People come look, get what they want and leave. That is not bad. I changed my bounce rate from 93% to under 5% just by adding pages to my most popular posts. It’s great for serving more ads but my visitors have not changed.