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Less bouncing is better


My bounce rate is down. It's gone from an average of 50.39% to just 4.32% since we launched our new web site. For those of you wondering if we have introduced space hoppers or pogo sticks onto the site, let me explain: bounce rate is a very important web metric.

"Bounce rate" measures the percentage of people who come to your website and leave "instantly". So if somebody visits your site, and leaves straight away, you define that as a bounce. The definition may vary, but the principle is simple enough, and most web analytics tools include this figure.

There are two slightly different definitions of a bounce:

  1. The percentage of website visitors who see just one page on your site.
  2. The percentage of website visitors who stay on the site for a small amount of time (usually five seconds or less).

The first definition is the standard definition in tools like Google Analytics - where a visit to a single page is classified as a 'bounce'. Other tools (we use Clicky) measure bounce in terms of short visits to a site. Page load time is an important factor in ensuring people stay on any page of course - if it takes too long to load, they'll be off! Of course, some pages on a site perform better than others in terms of holding attention - the home page should have your lowest bounce rate.

Identifying which pages draw traffic further into your web site is one of the key exercises in using web analytics to improve the way your web site performs. At the same time, identifying poorly performing pages with a high bounce rate lets you know you where you need to change the content, perhaps amend the design, and perhaps add more relevant calls to action.

Ultimately, it boils down to this: - people will stick around when your site is interesting and leave when it is not. So bounce rate, unlike many web metrics, is easy to understand, hard to mis-understand and something that can be readily applied to improve your online efforts. The lower the bounce rate, the better the quality of your visitors: - they are interested. A low bounce rate also reflects the quality of your site: - few people leave if it engages them, and answers the right questions.

Image: renjith krishnan /