Last updated on September 6th, 2017
Ah, the dreaded bounce rate. It’s that unpleasant little number that lets you know that no matter how many visitors you get to your page, some just aren’t going to stick around to see the rest of your site. This can happen for a number of reasons, though, and not all of them are bad. Do you know the average bounce rate for web pages?
According to Google, Kissmetrics and just about every other source on the internet, the average bounce rate for a web page is about 40%. Whether that’s higher or lower than what you usually see, though, is less important than determining what that bounce rate means for that specific page.
When high bounce rates might not be so bad
Sometimes a high bounce rate might actually mean you’re doing something right. This is especially true of informational pages like knowledge centers, blog posts and even directory listings.
If you’re putting information out there on a page optimized for search with content that directly answers the question posed by the keyword phrases you’re targeting, then you’ve given visitors what they want. They search, come to the page, get the answer to their question and leave satisfied. This isn’t bad from a marketing standpoint, either, because the next time that visitor has a question or needs what your business offers related to that topic, chances are they’ll remember you.
In some cases, bounces might also indicate quality leads. If you host an offsite blog linking to your business home page and that blog has a high bounce rate, visitors may very well be bouncing right where you want them to go. Are you getting a lot of referrals to the main site from the blog? If so, then your blog is doing its job.
A high bounce rate may also be benign for a business website. If you’re observing web design best practices, your contact information is prominently displayed on every page of the site. Bounces in this case could indicate that visitors liked what they saw and took the next step.
In short, if your content is robust, high-quality and relevant to the keywords that are bringing in visitors, a high bounce rate is likely nothing to worry about, and possibly even a good sign.
When to worry about a high bounce rate
Reassurances aside, there are some situations where a high bounce rate really is a no good, very bad thing. The most common occurrence of this: the landing page. If you’ve created a page specifically to bring in visitors with the intention of having them purchase a product or sign up for a service, and those visitors then bounce without buying, browsing or signing up, it’s time to optimize that landing page.
You should also be concerned when high bounce rates correspond with shorter visits. If you’ve written a robust information piece but visitors are spending an average of 30 seconds or less on the page and then leaving your site entirely, it usually indicates that you are either offering information that’s irrelevant to the keywords or your content itself is problematic. It may be too generic, or it may simply be poorly written and difficult to read. If you really want to fix these types of issues, get ready to set aside your ego and get self-critical.
Every page is different
What makes understanding bounce rates so confusing for some is that every page and type of content is different, and you won’t learn anything from analyzing bounce rates in a vacuum. You need to understand how to interpret bounce rates as they relate to your other metrics and the page’s purpose and content.
So, did you guess the right answer? How do you use bounce rate to help you optimize your SEO and online marketing?