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Knowledge base – Understanding the factors that affects bounce rate

When it comes to a fully integrated search marketing strategy, businesses become obsessed with the numbers. They want to know where they rank for certain keywords, how many sessions their website is receiving and the number of social followers their accounts have


All of these are important and in truth they all play a part in the wider picture which is increasing the return on investment (ROI). This metric is the most valuable and represents the end goal. If the business makes money then it remains a business, if the ROI increases then revenue rises and that very same business then has the chance to grow.

But what about the other metrics and what about those which are often overlooked by marketers?

One such area that is neglected is bounce rate. This metric can give you the clearest indication that your strategy is working or not. So what is bounce rate and what changes can you make to improve your conversions?

What is bounce rate?

In its simplest form, bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits or web sessions in which a person arrives at a landing page and then leaves without any further interaction.

Webmasters at Google say: “A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.

“Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.

“These single-page sessions have a session duration of zero seconds since there are no subsequent hits after the first one that would let Analytics calculate the length of the session.”

Is a high bounce rate always bad?

Well there are two ways of looking at this. If you run a single page blog then a high bounce rate is no bad thing, in fact it’s expected. If however the homepage for your website is the gateway to other information and pages then a high bounce rate could be catastrophic.

What can we do about bounce rate?

The majority of the information that you gain relating to bounce rate comes from Google Analytics (GA). You need to be able to understand user engagement, to find out what brings people to you and the reasons which they leave. These reasons form a list of considerations for you to put in place in order to get a deeper understanding of why people might be leaving your content and ‘bouncing’. Here are the key considerations:

User intent –

This is search engine optimisation (SEO) in its rawest form. If the page that you direct a user to does not satisfy their query or the need then it is likely that they will leave. Make sure that you conduct the highest quality keyword research and that you are answering a direct set of queries.

Remember here however that bounce rates may still be high if all of the information is on the same page and therefore satisfies the query. One thing that be done here is to set up subpages or links to wider reading.

Type of website –

As I mentioned earlier the type of website plays a huge part in the reason why users drop off a site. Single page websites could have a bounce rate of 100% and blogs also see a high bounce rate as it is viewed that the information needed will be on that page and there is no need to read on. Internal linking can solve this problem and may lead the user on to further reading.

Another consideration is that pages build with flash enable may show a high bounce rate, especially if you are not tracking them.

Contact pages –

Do not be alarmed by a high bounce rate on contact pages. These types of page fulfil a user’s need (usually) and there is no reason to continue browsing.

Visuals –

A landing page littered with poor quality images , too much text, ad after ad after ad, or that doesn’t have a clear call to action (CTA) will see users leave quickly.

New visitors –

Those visitors to your site who are new would seem like the perfect audience, if everything on your landing page is relevant and well optimised then there is no reason they wouldn’t navigate to other pages. Be warned through, if they don’t see you are a relevant, reputable brand then they may leave.

Quality of traffic –

This seems a pretty obvious reason why users may drop off your site. If the audience that you are targeting are the wrong sort of people then they are highly likely to see any benefit from navigating around the site.

Marketing channels –

If you look at two of the main marketing channels, social media and organic search it is easy to see why there is a difference in bounce rates. A social post might draw a user in, but an organic search means that they are actually looking for you or your services in the first place. If the latter is the case then they are more likely to stick around.

Device type –

This is one of the reasons for a high bounce rate that has increased in relevance over the last few years. The rise of smartphone and tablet use means that sites which are not fully optimised will give a negative user experience (UX) and therefore encourage higher bounce rates.


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