Understanding Google Analytics Bounce Rates

If you claim to be someone who’s not tech-savvy at all, then bounce rate may seem like one of the performance gauges in the NBA. It’s not, and clearly, you don’t know much about the NBA either.

In the digital world, bounce rate refers to a website’s ability (or lack thereof) to lock in users’ interest. A bounce is created when a website visitor or user bids farewell to the website by hitting the back icon, clicking the exit button, typing in a new URL, ignoring a CTA, or clicking an external link. The general idea among marketing managers is that if you have a high bounce rate, you’re doing something wrong — your website isn’t sticky enough and people who visit it don’t find any reason to stay (ugh, heartbreak!). As such, you need to make changes.

However, online marketing specialists who have been studying bounce rates claim that you shouldn’t be too quick to brand your website a loser and give it a huge makeover. Understanding Google Analytics bounce rates is imperative because the numbers do not always depict the real picture.

If you take a look at your Google Analytics reports, you will see the Time on Page metric alongside Bounce Rate; as the name implies, this refers to how long, on average, users stay on a given page. Time on Page is an approximated metric and not a clearly defined measure because Google Analytics always requires two clicks (the “open” and “exit” clicks) to calculate it. However, the important close or exit click is usually missing from the equation because online users do not always click “x” once they’re done with a webpage. Most leave the original tab open and then open a new tab for other activities. When that happens, it doesn’t matter if a user clicked onto another page and fully read an entire article that satisfied her needs. If that visitor closed the tab without exit clicking, that session is logged as a bounce.

The same applies to sessions in which a user opens a link in another tab and leaves the original tab open before eventually closing their browser… Or if the visitor arrives at a page, reads all the information and decides to call a phone number on the page to follow up. In that case too, without an “exit” click, it will be recorded as a bounce even though the visitor went as far as contacting your business over the phone. So you see here how the bounce rate in itself is not a truly reliable metric since it doesn’t always report the true situation.

But is this a completely useless metric of online performance? No. This article only presents why you shouldn’t rely too much on your bounce rate. It’s just something to take into account if you’re dedicated to achieving great success with your website.

The key point that I’m trying to make is that focusing on one single metric is pointless. It is far more critical to ensure that your website complies with other natural elements that can also contribute to higher bounce rates. For example,