December 12, 2016

What Is Bounce Rate?

Nick Bandy

Bounce rate sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.

“Captain, our instruments are detecting bounce rates that shouldn’t even be possible!”

“My god…”

But bounce rate is number many businesses fear. Abnormally high bounce rate means you’re leaving money on the table, and unchecked, can lead to untold fortunes being lost on the web. If that sounds like hyperbole, it’s really not—read on and find out why.

What Is Bounce Rate?

First things first, let’s define bounce rate.

Calculating bounce rate is very simple—take your number of entries that left after viewing one page, and divide that number by total entries. This is the percentage of visitors to your site who left from the same page they entered, AKA bounce rate.

Say your site is very bare-bones, and you have a landing page and an order form. If 100 people enter your site via landing page, then 50 hit the back button, and the other 50 proceed to your order form, your bounce rate is 50%. Notice that bounce rate doesn’t tell us how many people then proceeded to order, though.

Why Do Visitors Bounce?

There are ways visitors who come to your site might leave immediately, such as:

  • Clicking the back button
  • Closing the tab
  • Clicking a link to a new site
  • Typing a new URL in the current tab
  • Session timeouts

Right, that’s HOW a visitor might bounce. But what about the why?

  • Your site is too hard to navigate
  • Your site loads to slow
  • Your content is formatted poorly
  • Your content doesn’t provide value
  • The reader found answers to all of their questions on one page (not necessarily bad)
  • Your readers have a short attention span (varies by industry)
  • You have too many external links

There are millions of reasons why someone wouldn’t continue to browse your site, and some of them are outside your control. But what exactly is a “good” bounce rate?

Average Bounce Rate for Common Site Types

Landing Pages

Basic landing pages (like the one we talked about earlier) typically see very high bounce rates, from 70-90%.

Content-Based Sites

Content sites often rank for irrelevant search terms, which lead to somewhat high bounce rates up to 60%.

Lead Generation

Lead gen sites typically have 30-50% bounce rate.


Self-service sites often lead visitors to multiple different pages as they attempt to find answers, and have a low bounce rate of 10 to 30%.

How Do You Improve Bounce Rate?

Easier said than done, but improving your bounce rate is crucial to get the most out of your site. Improving bounce rate is a site-wide measure that requires serious thought, with steps like:

  • Writing valuable, relevant content
  • Streamlining your navigation options
  • Either reducing external links, or having external links open new tabs
  • Increasing page load speed (this is huge)
  • Make intra-site search easy to locate

This list isn’t exhaustive, but even taking care of these five things should improve your bounce rate considerably. I can’t stress enough how important page load speed is, by the way. If people are waiting more than a couple seconds to visit your site, I promise you that you’re losing a huge chunk of potential customers.

Bounce, Deflated

Bounce rate can be an important metric for uncovering where all of your traffic is going, but it doesn’t explain the important part—WHY it’s leaving.

Improving bounce rate (and the selling power of your site) involves making some big changes and could mean revamping how you look at design, search, social media, conversion, and web content. These aren’t easy changes to make, but with the right approach you’ll see big, big improvements for your business.

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