Bounce rate is a key web performance metric that can tell you a lot about the different pages on your site and about your traffic. This tutorial will explain what bounces are, how to track bounce rate in Google Analytics and how to break down the metric to give you insights into what could be driving the metric.
What Is Bounce Rate?
Google Analytics defines a bounce as a session that has a single interaction hit. Interaction hits are pageviews and other interaction events you may have configured on your page. If you have no other interaction events configured, a bounce is simply a session that has a single pageview. You can learn more about interaction events here.
The bounce rate is simply the percent of all sessions that are bounces. If out of 100 sessions, 75 of them had a single pageview and no other interaction hit, then the bounce rate is 75%.
Is a High Bounce Rate a Bad Thing?
The answer is that it depends. If your website is comprised of a single page without interaction points, then your bounce rate would be 100% and that would be perfectly acceptable. Even in a larger site, a specific page might be intended to be a one-stop read and exit page. However, more typically your site requires advancing through pages for a conversion to take place. In that case you typically want a lower bounce rate.
Does Bounce Rate Affect SEO?
This is another tricky question. Google has publicly stated that it does not use Google Analytics’ bounce rate (or any other GA derived metric) in its search rankings. This is likely true since not all sites use Google Analytics so Google would have only partial information. However, it is possible that Google uses related signals. For example, say a user searches for “sweaters” and clicks on a search result. But that site wasn’t helpful and the user almost immediately goes back to the search results and clicks on another result or runs another search query. In this case, Google could infer low relevance of that first site to the user and query.
So, in practice, bounce rate itself is unlikely to impact SEO. But if a high bounce rate is due to poor relevance or poor content of your landing pages, then bounce rate can be a helpful signal for you of those underlying problems which do impact SEO directly.
How to Check Bounce Rate in Google Analytics
Navigate to the Behavior - Site Content - Landing Pages report. At the top is a line graph tracking users over time. You can add “bounce rate” as a metric to plot along with users to see its trend. Scrolling further down you see summaries by landing page - where bounce rate is one of the key metrics for each landing page. Note that in the example videos we are using the Google demo account which is of a Google property.
Besides cutting data by landing page, you can also cut it by traffic source (or many other dimensions GA provides).
In this dataset, it looks like there is one landing page in particular (/google+redesign/shop+by+brand/youtube) that gets a lot of traffic and has a rather high bounce rate compared to the rest. If you know that this page is not one that expects additional interactions to be successful, it isn’t necessary to investigate further. Otherwise, you can drill down to the page of interest and check the trend over time and dissect performance across different dimensions. It would be worth checking on this particular landing page to make sure it’s optimized and relevant, particularly for traffic from Youtube.
While bounce rate can be a bit difficult to interpret, it can tell you a lot about your site’s and your traffic’s performance, making it very important that you know how to read it and can drill down to understand what’s driving performance.