What is Bounce Rate? Typical Analytics Mistakes

TL;DR Bounce rate is when a visitor lands on a page and leaves without further action. Bounce rate will help you understand relevant traffic but, sometimes it can be deceitful. This post will explain the difference between bounce rate and exit rate, the bounce rate platform and how to accurately analyze bounce rate data.

Curtis morte
Head of Development & Co-Founder
Let's Talk
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Contact form success icon

Thank you for getting in touch!

We will get back to you as soon as possible
(usually within one work day).

Bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors that entered or landed on your website and left without continuing to another page. The bounce rate percentage was made to help understand if the content on a website was what the visitor was looking for or not. In Lehman terms, bounce rate can be stated as "I went to a website and left because it wasn't what I was looking for."

What is Exit Rate?

Exit Rate is associated with a page that a visitor leaves on. This sounds similar to bounce rate but, exit rate is a measure of visitors that have already been browsing a website. Unlike bounce rate where a visitor enters/lands on a page and leaves from that same page, someone who exits has already visited at least one page before exiting/leaving. Typical analytics mistakes happen by not understanding the difference between the two. Keep in mind, some of your pages may have high bounce rates or exit rates based upon the nature of the page. If you need help understanding or implementing analytics, feel free to talk to one of our Google Analytics Consultants today.

Bounce Rate Platform

The bounce rate platform is compiled of five different visitor interactions that let you know they didn't find what they were looking for. Each of these events would trigger a bounce and cause the bounce rate to increase.

  • The Back Button
  • Going to a new URL
  • Leaving the page open for more than 30 minutes (Session Timeout)
  • Closing the browser tab or window
  • Clicking an outbound link to a new URL*

Beneficial Clicking of External Links

Assuming a visitor landed/started on page, it's imperative to understand that if they click an outbound link from the page this can be considered a bounce but, it shouldn't always be seen as negative. Take for example if a visitor landed on a page that is a blog post. They might read the blog post and then click on a link in the article. This link could be a partner site or another domain that you may own. You could in fact benefit from the clicking of those links but it still effects the bounce rate for that page. Such external links should be identified and tracked to ensure proper evaluation of traffic across multiple domains. This can be done by tracking event interaction links or non-interaction links. Using events can let analytics know to not count certain outbound links as bounces.

Google Analytics Average Bounce Rate Percentages

Bounce rate percentages vary for different forms of websites but, the average is said to be around 40% according to google. For different website styles, average bounce rate percentages vary accordingly from our internal study.

  • Content Heavy Websites 36% - 60%
  • Blog Websites 65% - 90%
  • Retail Websites 17.5% - 37.5%
  • Service Industry Websites 10% - 25%
  • Ad Landing Pages 75% - 90%
  • Lead Generation Websites 25% - 55%

Should a High Bounce Rate Concern Me?

Bounce rate is typically seen as the higher a percentage, the worse it is. This is false. Consideration must be taken into account for the type of website the page is on and the style of the page. At first glance, a high bounce rate should not constitute a dramatic change in strategy.Remember, a high bounce rate means that the user started/landed on a page and didn't like what was there so they left. There are many outliers for bounce rates that influence the percentage to be higher. Google support offers a high bounce rate segment that goes into details and provides a video from Avinash Kaushik.

Blogs with High Bounce Rates

Lets use a blog post for an example again. Someone can perform a google search and type in a "review on google analytics". Lets say the listing they clicked on was a blog post. This initiates a start/land on the website but when they are done reading the blog post they navigate away from the website. This would trigger a bounce and cause the bounce rate to go up. The visitor could be satisfied because they found relevant information but a bounce is still triggered. This is one of a few reasons why blog posts tend to have a much higher bounce rate (65% - 90%).

Ad Landing Pages with High Bounce Rates

Another concern for high bounce rates is ad landing pages. Keep in mind that when users are searching for things online there are two types of buyers. The ones who "need it now" and the ones who are "comparison shopping". When an ad landing page has high bounce rates it would be easy to think that your marketing efforts aren't targeted right. Most visitors tend to do comparison shopping at home on their desktop computers where as someone who might "need it now" could be away from home and only have their mobile phone. Someone may come to your landing page, causing a start/landing, get the price or information about a service and leave. Thus, a bounce is triggered. Comparison shopping is a main factor for high bounce rates with ad landing pages (75% - 90%). Keep in mind that if the visitor has a positive experience than bounce rate should not matter. Also, some pages do in fact have high bounce rates naturally.

  • Contact Pages: Once someone has contacted you they have usually retained information they need. This is something that industries like restaurants and retailers should not be worried about.
  • Confirmation Pages: A visitor has went through the process to complete a goal. Usually after this point the visitor has what they have come for and is ready to leave.
  • Checkout Pages: Checkout pages aren't desired by a visitor if they land/start there so high bounces rates are normal.

Is 100% Bounce Rate Bad?

100% Bounce Rate isn't always a bad thing and it's a common analytics mistake that many people make. If you analyze a page and notice it has a 100% bounce rate the first thing you should look at is entrances to the page. You may have 1,000 unique pageviews for a page but only 30 of them were entrances. All 30 of the people that left make up the 100% bounce rate but, 970 other visitors enjoyed what they saw. So don't jump to conclusions if you see a three digit bounce number. Make sure to analyze the traffic properly before changing strategies.

Proper Analysis for Bounce Rate

For accurate analysis of bounce rate, page data needs to be analyzed the proper way.

A common mistake is when reading the data of the 5125 pageviews, 49.09% of them bounced. Thus, meaning that 2516 of your visitors left without viewing another page (5125 * .4909 ≈ 2516). This is wrong. The proper way of accurately analyzing the data is as follows; Entrances multiplied by bounce rate equals visitors that bounced. Mathematically speaking; (662 * .4909 ≈ 325). Statistically, of your 5125 pageviews, 325 of the visitors bounced after landing on the page (325 / 5125 ≈ 6.34%). When analyzed properly, the bounce rate actually isn't 49.09%, it is approximately 6.34% of the 5125 pageviews.

If you need more help with bounce rate feel free to read more

Exit Rate vs. Bounce Rate - Google Analytics Support Need help optimizing your website or marketing machine? Get in touch with us.

About the author

Curtis morte

Curtis Morte

Head of Development & Co-Founder

Passionate about Full Stack Development, DevOps, and Solutions Architecture in the Cloud. Lover of efficient algorithms and most things JavaScript.

See other posts from Curtis Chat with the author on LinkedIn

Contact Us

Our Clients Turn Customer Data Into Dollars.