Why Bounce Rate is Your Most Valuable Analytic
Google Analytics can be a mess to look at with so much information thrown at you. There are people who make their entire career analyzing and creating reports from analytics, so what does the busy business owner really need to focus on?
Many business owners focus on just how much traffic their site gets. The more people they can get to the site, the better off they are doing. So obviously, that’s the most important analytic right?
People Bouncing Away
If you’re on the main screen of Google Analytics, look directly to the right of your visits metric and you’ll see Bounce Rate. What does it say for your site? Is it over 60%? 80%? Even 90%?
You have a serious problem with your website then.
Bounce rate is tracked when a visitor comes to a page and leaves the site without visiting another page, or they “bounce” off your site after a single view. The higher the bounce rate, the more frequent you are losing potential customers off your site. Meaning that, for whatever reason, your content or services aren’t interesting potential customers.
For example, you have a blog filled with content about your services, your business’s culture, and whatever else is important. If your site has a high bounce rate, either on specific pages or as a whole, that means your content didn’t capture their attention.
So why are people bouncing away?
Why Leads are Leaving
The first step to finding out why people are leaving is to identify how they are coming in. Is most of your traffic from a specific search engine, a link on another site, an ad you are running, or are people coming directly to your site on their browser? To do this, hit Acquisitions on the left toolbar, click on Overview and check it out.
Now look at what is enticing them to visit your site. Check individual pages on the Google search results page. Does the meta description (the text under your website name, describing the page) match the content they are greeted with when they click on your site? A high bounce rate for that page means probably not.
Now analyze your content. Look at the keywords you targeted on the page and compare it to the rest of your content. What type of keyword did you pick? Does it apply to a niche market? Does it attract the wrong niche market? Are there any reasons for people to quickly abandon your site?
It doesn’t matter how many people click on your site if the next thing they click is the back button.
Ask other people to look at your site for any glaring flaws. Is the design of your site user-friendly?
Is the content well written and engaging? Does it answer a question or provide a service that your target market is interested in? Is it relevant to that meta description? If anybody answers “No” to any of those questions, you need to change your page.
Don’t forget to check how your website looks on a mobile device, since over 91% of the U.S. adult population owns a mobile device. Is it friendly and easy to use, or does the user have to zoom in on the text to read your content?
Your Home Page
A large amount of bounces happen on your home page. Business owners have to ask why. Your home page should be one of your most interesting webpages, leading visitors to more content and eventually to your desired end goal.
Is it quickly apparent what your business does and why it matters? There are too many websites floating out in cyberspace with a bland homepage featuring a long video explaining who they are or a slow scrolling slideshow with pictures of their office. If the visitor can’t tell what you do in 5 seconds, you need to change your content for the better.
When a higher bounce rate is ok
There are instances where a higher bounce rate is acceptable. They are:
- A product page that leads to an third party site like Amazon or eBay
- Contains a call to action involving a phone number
- Clicking an ad that leads to a third party site
- Filling out a form that doesn’t direct them to another page
- Landing on a product page and purchasing the product
- An informational page like a Wiki page with no call to action.
Remember though, that the longer you can keep somebody on your site, the more likely they will do what you want. By creating a natural flow through your site, your visitors will go where you want them to and purchase your product.
Improving your Bounce Rate
So now you know your website needs to update, and you’ve begun the long process of improvement. How do you know if it’s working? If your bounce rate goes down, but your traffic stays the same/improves, your on the right track.
Of course, it’s impossible to completely eliminate your bounce rate. A great bounce rate is around 20-50 percent, meaning that over half of your visitors go to a second page!
Do you have a success story in lowering your bounce rate? Do you think a different analytic is more important? Share with us in the comments below.
About the Author:
Ben Allen is a freelance writer and digital marketer that believes in helping small businesses grow. You can follow him on twitter @allen24ben