Bounce Rates Are Misleading

The best way to take the steam out of a traffic driving ship is to examine your bounce rate. When analyzing your analytics data it’s important to take in as much data as possible, but some statistics are more misleading then others. A bounce rate is defined as, “the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page.” Your bounce rate is a metric that in my opinion, depending on your site’s function and setup, is useless data.

Gavin O’Mallery recently wrote an article discussing Google Analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik’s stand on website metrics. O’Mallery echoed that quality should be measured and a low-bounce rate is one of those indications. A low-bounce rate would indicate that viewers are either submitting forms or visiting another page. Is this a true indication of quality?

I would venture to say that blogs typically have a bounce rate anywhere from 60-80% because of the site’s function. Blogs that do better than this baseline more than likely have related articles listed after their posts or some kind of annoying pop-up e-mail sign up list. If viewers don’t move onto another post or sign up is that visit considered a poor quality result?

PPC marketing is generally the service that is the biggest advocate for low-bounce rate pages. However, if a you find yourself on a page without the ability to navigate how likely are you to fill out the form in front of you? It’s like being stranded on an island with the ability to call a taxi and be on your doorstep in two seconds. If you force the action how much quality are you truly generating?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to track every consumer’s buying decision from start to finish. If you are willing to accept this cold fact then you will be more likely to have a successful business. Micro managing and analyzing every consumer interaction is not as important as simply having those interactions. Therefore, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that a visitor may visit your site, viewing only the page they enter on, leave, and at a later date return to purchase or convert. Of course your analytics system wont be able to tell you what the deciding factor was between those dates, but a conversion is a conversion no matter how its been obtained.

Eyeballs will always equate to potential even if you can’t quantify it. When your examining your analytics data make sure to look at the entire purchasing or converting picture. Don’t let a high bounce rate discourage you or cause you to make drastic changes. If you are conveying your message on your landing page and visitors choose to exit after that you’ll have to trust, if they like what they see, that they will come back.

2 thoughts on “Bounce Rates Are Misleading

  1. Hi.

    Here is a post that you might find to be helpful:

    http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2007/08/standard-metrics-revisited-3-bounce-rate.html

    Here is a relevant excerpt from the end of that post:

    – – – –
    An Exception :

    There is one obvious case where bounce rate might not cough up as many insights. I am thinking of blogs.

    They are a unique beast amongst online experiences: people come mostly only to read your latest post, they’ll read it and then they’ll leave. Your bounce rates will be high because of how that metric is computed, and in this scenario that is ok.

    You don’t want the bounce rate to be 98%, new visitors to your blog will still come and look around and read different posts etc. But I would not worry if my bounce rate for this blog is 50%. Maybe at 75%. :)
    – – – –

    Hope this helps.

    -Avinash.

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