Aug 6, 2012 by Aaron Rubman
Beautiful websites are a joy to look at, but it’s the return on investment that defines the value of a business website. Google Analytics are a great help in measuring ROI and the Bounce Rate is one of the immediately accessible measures.
What Is a “Bounce”?
According to Google Analytics, any “single-page view or single-event trigger in a session or visit” is a bounce. In other words, if someone shows up on your site, sees a single page, and leaves before doing anything else they have “bounced off” of it.
What a Bounce Means
A high Bounce Rate means that your website has somehow missed the mark:
- Your chosen keywords might attract multiple (or off topic) audiences
- Your site might not be visually appealing
- Visitors might just have no idea where to go next
If you’re selling mountain bikes but have picked keywords that appeal to fly fishers, a good portion of your visitors will stop when they reach your site. Nothing on your site serves them.
Poor conversion caused by aesthetic consideration can be mended by a design (or SEO) professional.
But if your visitors don’t know where to go, that requires some serious thought about your desired audience, and what’s relevant to them.
Audience Point of View
If you’re sure you’re targeting the right audience, ask yourself:
- What are my calls to action?!
Without a compelling call to action, there is nothing to drive a visitor to another page.
After that, you should ask yourself if there is a clear navigational track for each audience segment that you’re trying to reach. Current clients, vendors, reporters, job seekers, whomever – put yourself into their shoes and ask the following four questions:
- What do I want?
- Can I get it on the website?
- Does the navigation bar point the way?
- Are there more than three things that look like they might be what I want?
Ideally there will be one or two obvious routes through the navigation. Search doesn’t count. If you’re counting on your search function to get people to the right page, you’ve designed your site poorly.
Can a high Bounce Rate be a good thing?
In some cases a high bounce rate may be acceptable or even desirable.
Job Listings are a prime example of a page that should have a high bounce rate. You want people to return to the page over and over – even when they don’t find a listing that matches their qualifications.
External resource pages should also have high bounce rates. It means that people are using your site as a jumping off point to visit the sites you’ve linked.
Look for these (or similar) pages in the Landing Pages display. If they are behaving as desired, the % New Visits will be noticeably lower than elsewhere on your site.
Self-qualification pages also tend to have higher bounce rates. They exist to filter out visitors who aren’t part of your target audience.
However, not all bounces are created equal. Once someone has made it past a self-qualification page, you want them to stick with the website. Any further drop off is a sign that something else ails the site.
So What About My Site?
Current MB/I customers can request an evaluation of their Google Analytics through email@example.com - New clients are instead invited to make use of our 30-point site critique.