This article was first published January 29, 2009 on the Tatum Marketing blog
Websites generate a large number of statistics and it can often be confusing. Today I want to focus on one important statistic called bounce rate.
The concept of this is fairly simple. It measures how many people come to a single page of a site and then hit the back button. No matter how someone found your website, the bounce rate tells you how many people left your site after one quick look.
Clearly every website owner wants to have the lowest bounce rate possible, but just how low can cause many arguments among people. I personally like to see fewer than 40% on the bounce and anything lower than this is very good. Because this means that people have found want they were looking for and are willing to look at other pages of the website.
But what if your website has a 50% or higher bounce rate? In this case you should review carefully what people expect to find when they come to your site. For example, take a look at your listings on a search engine. Does the description text that shows up on the search engine accurately describe your website or does it give false impressions of what the visitor is going to find? If it’s the latter, you’ll probably want to change your description. In most cases, it does no good to drive traffic to your site if it’s just going to bounce.
This is also the time to look at the contents of your homepage. Analytics applications such as Google Analytics allow you to see what is being clicked on — buttons, links and so on. If only a few buttons are being clicked on and the other links have no clicks this clearly indicates that some changes need to be made. The changes don’t have to be drastic.
Let’s say you have a button on the home page to download a document, but no one has clicked on the link. A change of the document description could help attract people to take a look at it. If you change the description and people still ignore the document, you’ll want to consider removing that button and using the space for something else. This is especially true if the document is also available on another page of the website and it is being downloaded from that link.
In the next few months bounce rate might become even more important than it has been in the past. Rumors have been going around the past few months that Google is going to do a major modification of their filters and make the bounce rate more important. This will have an impact on a website’s organic ranking, with a high bounce rate dropping it from the top of searches.
From Google’s point of view this makes sense. They are trying to give people relevant results. If people keep bouncing off a website this means that people are not finding what they want when they type in their keyword search. So these failed searches might pound a website down to the bottom of the ranking.
Even if Google does not make the rumored changes, it’s still worth it to drive down your bounce rate.
Next week I will talk about pageviews.