In the world of website analytics and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), one of the most feared things a website owner can hear is “you have a high bounce rate.”
A high bounce rate actually shouldn’t be feared, and in many cases can point to having well-written content and loyal readers.
How so? I hear you say… I’m glad you asked…
What is bounce rate?
When someone visits your website and leaves without interacting with your site further, that’s known as a ‘bounce’. Google define ‘interaction’ as when someone visits another page.
So basically, if someone lands on a particular page of your site and then leaves before clicking to another page, it is counted as a bounce.
That person must have come from an external site (eg Facebook) or directly by typing your site URL into their browser.
The problem with the bounce rate metric
In almost any SEO, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Marketing article, any mention of a high bounce rate is often met with negative connotations.
Articles with titles such as “10 ways to improve your bounce rate” or “High bounce rate: why your landing pages suck” suggest an issue, that in reality, may not exist.
When can a high bounce rate be OK?
Now – a consistent high bounce rate across your entire site is certainly something that requires a closer look.
Here, though, are some examples when a high bounce is not only ok, it may actually be good:
You’re reading this article (thanks).
You may well read this article and then hit the back button or cruise off to another website. I’m totally ok with that and appreciate your patronage.
The thing is, you’ve just bounced. Even if you stay on this page for 10 minutes, read the article twice and tell your mates how awesome it is, you’re still counted as a bounce unless you click to some other area of our website.
A high bounce rate on your contact page is great!
Another common occurrence of this is a potential customer Googling for your phone number.
Google will send that prospect to your contact page and that prospect will then call you. They’ll then become a customer while buying stock over the phone.
And then they’ll close their browser and bounce.
Repeat visitors are often a big part of bounce rate
Meeum has a moderately high bounce rate. Is it because our SEO is bad? Nope. It’s because people come back to our site multiple times.
Some of our workshops are thousands of dollars. People don’t usually drop that sort of cash without having a good think about it.
Now, most of the time a prospective customer does indeed click around our site, looking at multiple workshops, a few articles and our about us page to make sure we’re legit. Often then to the testimonials page and then back to the original workshop they came to look at.
And then they close their browser window.
And that’s not a bounce.
But tomorrow, when they go back to the workshop page and read it again, and then close it, it WILL be a bounce. And the next day or so as well.
Even when they come back and buy a ticket to a workshop, it’s still counted as a bounce if they don’t click around a bit. You can visit any workshop page on our site and buy a ticket without leaving the page.
This is the same for anyone who runs any sort of e-commerce sites. People bounce before they pounce.
When a high bounce rate is probably bad
Now, the previous paragraphs are just a few small examples of when it might be ok to have a high bounce rate on certain pages.
This shouldn’t put you in a false sense of security if you have consistently high bounce rates across your site, particularly on your home page and any category page (ie: a page that lists a bunch of content like an article listing page).
A consistently high bounce rate can point to other issues, such as site speed problems, poorly structured code, misleading titles and description, or poorly written content.