Bounce rate is a term often thrown around as meaningful in SEO discussion, and it really is quite meaningful, but too many people don’t seem to know why. In an effort to address that issue, here’s some information about bounce rate and why it’s important.
First of all, you need to understand exactly what your bounce rate is. A simple definition is easy; your bounce rate is the number of people who visit your site and immediately leave without clicking through to another page.
At first glance, this sounds like a bad thing. People see your page and leave. They aren’t sticking around to explore any of the useful content you’ve posted over the past months. They aren’t clicking your ads or your navigation to go buy your product. Or are they?
The key to understanding your bounce rate is understanding that it’s not always a bad thing. There are a number of reasons why a user might leave immediately in a positive light:
It all comes down to your goals. If a successful conversion, as determined by what you want to get out of a visitor on your site, involves something that doesn’t require loading a second page, your bounce rate may be higher than normal just because it doesn’t differentiate. This is one reason it’s possibly a good idea to funnel users to a second page to convert, no matter what page they start on; your bounce rate will be a more accurate measurement of dissatisfied users.
So, what can you learn from your bounce rate?
Log in to your Google Analytics and check out the content section. You’re going to want to dig into it until you reach the page that shows your individual pages, their pageviews, the time spent on page and the bounce rate for that page. You can sort this in a few ways to make it interesting.
In general, the pages you want to improve the most are the pages with high volumes of pageviews and a high bounce rate. Any page with a high bounce rate is a good target to optimize, however; even if a user leave satisfied, you’d prefer they don’t leave at all.
Again, in Google Analytics, you want to find a specific panel of information. This time, what you’re looking for is your traffic sources. This panel will show you the source of traffic, the number of hits from that source, the average number of pages visited, the time on site, the percentage of the traffic coming from new users and the bounce rate.
From this page, you’re going to learn how your traffic sources stack up. Obviously, you’ll be able to see which traffic sources bring in the highest volumes in a given time. However, that’s not always a useful metric. For example, if you had a blog post go viral, you’ll see a huge influx of traffic for that post, but the traffic will come from some irrelevant sites and the users will bounce quickly.
Once more in Google Analytics, click deeper into your traffic sources and check under your organic traffic. This will display for you a pane with the landing pages, the keyword query that brought a user to that landing page, the number of visits it happened, bounce rate and a few other metrics. You can sort this information in a number of interesting ways.
You can work to improve your bounce rate across the board, but to do so, you need to know how to monitor it. Always pay attention to pages with low bounce rates; they’re doing something right, and you may want to use them as examples for future content.
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