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Why is my bounce rate so high?

For those who don't know, a bounce occurs when a web session consists of a single pageview. The bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that bounce.

Firstly what is a good bounce rate? Luckily I came across a website with that very answer the other day.

https://www.whatisagoodbouncerate.com/

There you go, a bounce rate tailored just for your website!

I'm always slightly deflated after delivering a comprehensive analytics report covering the performance of all channels and highlighting the success of conversions and the areas for improvement when I get asked "But what's the bounce rate?" swiftly followed by "Why is my bounce rate so high?" Sometimes it seems that all people really want is a single metric for a whole website and assurances that their metric is better than their competitors. If only life were that simple.

The success of your website is not encapsulated by your overall bounce rate - while generally it is good to keep people on your site, if they come to look for a phone number to call you in order to place an order then a bounce straight off your Contact page is a GOOD THING. If they cannot find your phone number and visit a few pages to try and find it then that is a BAD THING! In that case you are lowering your bounce rate by making your website more difficult to use ...

If you have a blog and it brings in traffic from outside your target market then those landing pages will usually have a high bounce rate. The graph at the top of this page shows the tracking of overall bounce rate against percentage of sessions landing on a blog page - you can clearly see the correlation between surges of blog traffic and a spike in the overall bounce rate. So if you only want to reduce your overall bounce rate, you could delete your blog - obviously a ludicrous suggestion.

So rather than focus on the overall bounce rate, the better question to ask is "what is my bounce rate for target clients landing on non-destination pages?" In other words, if you only sell your services within your own country, then your target clients are visitors from that country. A destination page can be a product page, or a blog page, or a contact page - in fact any page where it is likely someone has searched for that page directly (or a topic related to that page) and the reason for their visit has been satisfied with just a single page.

Non-destination pages are product category pages, or top level landing pages and most importantly for most websites, your home page. You do not want visitors to these types of pages to bounce and that is where you need to focus your efforts to ensure that they move through the website. With Google Analytics it is easy to create a segment of your target clients landing on your key page.

On our own website last month (https://www.cucumber.co.nz), our overall bounce rate was 56%. For just our target regions it was 45%. Filter the landing pages to exclude our destination pages and it drops to 34%. The bounce rate for the home page was 28%. For organic traffic to the home page, the bounce rate falls even further to 22%. So is that a good bounce rate? We would, of course, like it to be lower although we cannot know for sure whether 1 in 5 people who arrive at the website actually want to buy cucumbers!

So what can you do about bounce rate? For your key pages, take an honest look at them on desktop, tablet and handset and try to work out why people bounce and look at how to make a click-through more appealing. There are many tools you can use such as HotJar which will show you how users interact with your pages. That's a good starting point to reducing the bounce rate on that page. If you find that a key page tile is below the fold on desktop and most of your visitors don't even scroll down far enough see that tile then an adjustment in the page layout may produce improved results.

If you're looking for a simple alternative for bounce rate to assess which of your blog articles are engaging visitors, then check out this blog post of mine on Real Bounce Rate

All comments welcome ... I'm on Twitter and LinkedIn