What does Bounce Rate mean?
The term comes from the idea of a user being reflected rather than accepted by a webpage – they bounce off one site and onto another they like better.
Bounce Rate Formula
The bounce rate equation is the number of users who came and left a page without interacting, divided the total number of users who went to that page. As this is expressed as a percentage, the whole formula is multiplied by 100 for convenience.
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Bounce Rate = (Single Page Visits / Total Visits) x 100
Technically bounce rate isn’t actually about only visiting one page, but in fact about only visiting one page and doing nothing on that page. For example Facebook wouldn’t be considered to have a high bounce rate, even though its infinite scroll means that many users don’t actually go onto a second page. For a user to not to be considered to have bounced, they simply need to have interacted with a page in some measurable way – which on most sites would mean having gone to a second page.
Reducing the bounce rate is important for any website, as a high bounce rate means low engagement. Websites are usually punished for high bounce rates by search engines – as in a webpage with a high bounce rate for a certain search term will appear lower in SERPs.
It is possible however that a user will enter a site and find the information they want immediately and then leave. When this happens, although the bounce rate remains high, the site will not be punished by search engines (as this is considered a long click). This is what search engines ultimately want to provide – useful information on the first link a user follows.
Average Bounce Rate
This is a contentious issue as different types of site have vastly different averages, and it doesn’t appear that anyone has done a comprehensive study. There are some universal truths to be had though: bounce rates are very rarely ever below 20%; for most sites are between 40%-60%; almost everyone agrees that 80%+ is a problem.
As with all metrics, the key is always for to be improving. If your bounce rate is 85% or 55%, try and make it better rather than worry what the average is. You may not succeed, but tirelessly trying to improve engagement is a worthy goal for any site owner.
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Author: Justin Driskill
Justin is the founder of The Online Advertising Guide and a freelance Digital Projects Manager.