What Is Bounce Rate & How To Audit It

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Much emphasis is placed on achieving a ‘low bounce rate,’ yet this metric remains widely misunderstood within the realms of SEO and digital marketing. This article delves into the intricacies of bounce rate, highlighting its complexities beyond surface interpretations.

We will uncover why bounce rate defies straightforward measurement and provide insights into effectively analyzing it using Google Analytics 4 exploration reports. To grasp bounce rate’s significance, it’s crucial first to define ‘engaged sessions’ as outlined by GA4.

What Is An Engaged Session?

In GA4, an engaged session is defined by meeting any of the following criteria:

  • Lasting at least 10 seconds.
  • Including a key event (previously known as conversions).
  • Involving at least two screen views or pageviews.

To illustrate, if a user visits your homepage and departs without triggering a key event, this results in a 100 percent bounce rate for that session.

Conversely, if a user navigates to a second page or completes a defined key event, such as signing up for a newsletter, the bounce rate for that session would be 0%.

What Is Bounce Rate In Google Analytics?

Bounce rate represents the percentage of unengaged sessions and is calculated using the following formula:

(total sessions/unengaged sessions)*100.

Reducing the bounce rate isn’t just about visiting a second page; it also involves triggering key events.

In Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you can designate any event, whether built-in or custom-defined, as a key event (formerly known as a conversion). When this key event occurs during a session, it counts as a non-bounce visit.

Here’s how to set any event as a key event:

  1. Navigate to Admin.
  2. Under Data display, go to Events.
  3. Find the event you’re interested in and toggle “Mark as key event” to turn it blue.

How To Change The Default Engaged Session Timer In GA4

As a marketer, you might need to adjust the default 10-second timer for engaged sessions to better suit your project’s needs.

For instance, if you have a blog article, you may want to set the timer to 20 seconds. For a product page where users typically spend more time exploring details, you might increase the timer to 30 seconds to more accurately reflect user engagement.

To change the timer:

  • Navigate to Data streams and click on the desired stream.
  • In the slide popup, go to Configure tag settings.
  • In the second slide popup, click Show more at the bottom.
  • Click on the Adjust session timeout setting.
  • Change the Adjust timer for engaged sessions to your desired value.

What Is A Good Bounce Rate?

So, it’s not as simple as saying, “ has a bounce rate of 43 percent, and has a bounce rate of 20 percent; therefore, performs better.”

For example, if you search for what’s on at the cinema and land on a website where you have to navigate through five pages to find the showtimes, the website might have a low bounce rate but a poor user experience. In this case, a low bounce rate is misleading if considered good.

Additionally, measuring the bounce rate for an entire website can be problematic when you have various templates with different designs and track key events (conversions) differently. This variation makes it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from the bounce rate alone.

In most cases, this indicates that your marketing is effective and well-targeted, with visitors engaging with your content and seeking more information.

Keep in mind, while bounce rate itself is not a ranking factor, user engagement with deeper page navigation can be an important signal to Google, as noted by Google’s Pandu Nayak during hearings.

Therefore, it could be beneficial to track the number of sessions with two or more pageviews in GA4, and consider this as a key performance indicator (KPI) in your reports.

How To Set Up A Custom Audience With Multiple Pageviews Per Session

If you want to identify how many visitors have more than two page views in a session, you can easily set this up in GA4.

Here’s how:

  • Navigate to the Admin section.
  • Under Data display, go to Audiences.
  • Click the New Audience button on the top right corner.
  • Select Create custom audience.
  • Name your audience.
  • Set the scope to “Within the same session.”
  • Choose session_start.
  • Click Add condition and select “page_views” with the parameter “Event count” greater than one.

This setup will include all users who viewed more than two pages within the same session in your audience.

You can also create audiences with different levels of granularity, such as sessions with exactly two or three pageviews or more than three pageviews.

You can later use your custom audiences to filter your standard reports.

How To Do Bounce Rate Reporting And Audit

Next time your boss or client asks, “Why is my bounce rate so high?”—first, share this article with them.

Second, conduct a thorough bounce rate audit to understand the underlying issues.

Here’s my approach to doing it:

Bounce Rate by Date Range

Examine the bounce rates on your website for a specific period. This is the simplest way to report on bounce rate.

To do this:

  • Navigate to Explorations in the right-side menu.
  • Click on ‘Blank’ report.
  • From Metrics, choose “Bounce rate.”
  • Set Values to “Bounce rate.”
  • Under Settings (2nd column), choose the visualization type “Line chart.”
  • Select the desired date period.

If you observe spikes in the chart, it may indicate a change made to the website that influenced the bounce rate.

How To Analyze Bounce Rate On A Page Level

When running a lead generation campaign across multiple landing pages, evaluating which pages convert well or poorly is crucial for optimizing performance.

Another useful application of page-level bounce reports is for A/B testing.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Navigate to Explorations in the right-side menu.
  • Click on Blank report.
  • From Metrics, choose Bounce rate and Sessions.
  • From Dimensions, choose Landing page + query string.
  • Under Settings (second column), choose the visualization type ‘Table.’
  • Set Rows to “Landing page + query string.”
  • Set Values to “Bounce rate” and “Sessions.”
  • Set the filter to include pages with more than 100 sessions (to ensure the data is statistically significant).
  • Select the desired date period.

Tip: Instead of creating a new blank exploration report, you can add another tab to the same report and change only the configuration.

If we don’t filter by session count, we’ll see bounce rates for pages with only one or two sessions, which aren’t informative.

After completing the above step, repeat the process for each channel to achieve a comprehensive understanding of which content and traffic sources generate the most or least engaged visits.

How To Analyze Your Bounce Rates By Traffic Channel

Bounce rates vary significantly depending on the traffic source.

For instance, search traffic often results in a low bounce rate, whereas social and display traffic tend to yield higher bounce rates.

Therefore, it’s essential to evaluate bounce rates at both the channel and page levels.

The bounce rate tends to be higher from social media and display channels compared to “inbound” channels due to these factors:

  • Users on social media are typically browsing their feed and not actively seeking what we’re promoting.
  • Users encountering banner ads on other websites are often not actively seeking what we’re promoting either.

In contrast, inbound channels like organic search and paid search generally have lower bounce rates because users actively search for and are interested in what is being promoted.

Thus, you engage them during the “doing” phase of their buyer’s journey, based on the specific search term.

To explore each aspect further:

  • From Metrics, select Bounce rate and Sessions.
  • For Dimensions, opt for Session default channel group.
  • In Settings (second column), use a Table for visualization.
  • Configure Rows to display Session default channel groups.
  • Configure Values to show Bounce rate and Sessions.
  • Choose your desired date range.

Here’s a quick task: Create a line graph to visualize the bounce rate of your organic traffic.

Next, delve deeper into the data to identify patterns or reasons why certain pages or sources exhibit higher or lower bounce rates.

Present your findings in a clear format, share them with relevant stakeholders, and treat yourself to a well-deserved coffee break.

Do You Have The Right Intent?

Sometimes, you may come across web pages that appear in search engine results for terms with multiple meanings.

For instance, I recently found a page on a website I oversee that ranks at the top for the search term ‘Alang Alang’ (the name of a villa), even though ‘Alang Alang’ is also the title of a film.

The villa page experienced a high bounce rate, partly because some visitors arriving on the page were actually seeking information about the film rather than the villa.

By conducting keyword and competition research, you can promptly ascertain if any of your pages rank well for keywords that may have multiple interpretations.

Once identified, you have three choices:

  • Adjust your keyword targeting entirely.
  • Remove the page from search engine results.
  • Revise the title and meta description to clearly communicate the page’s specific content, ensuring searchers understand its relevance before clicking.

How To Increase Website Engagement

Now that you’ve identified the issue, you’re ready to implement some changes.

These recommendations may not apply universally, as they are based on your study’s findings, but they should provide a solid foundation:

  • Enhance design and user experience.
  • Optimize conversion rates.
  • Strengthen calls to action.
  • Enhance copywriting.
  • Develop compelling content.
  • Promote special offers effectively.
  • Accelerate page loading times.
  • Refine targeting for paid advertising.
  • Review and adjust keyword targeting for SEO.
  • Ensure landing page messages align with targeting.
  • Introduce live chat to guide visitors towards their objectives.
  • Prioritize marketing channels with lower bounce rates.

It’s crucial to track custom events as “key events” (conversions) in order for Google Analytics to classify actions like newsletter sign-ups as non-bounce events, even if the user doesn’t navigate to another page afterward.

Is High Bounce Rate Bad?

Understanding bounce rate isn’t a matter of simply categorizing it as “high” or “low.” It varies depending on multiple factors, and there’s no definitive answer to whether a high bounce rate is inherently bad.

If you’ve correctly defined your ‘key events’ (conversions) and configured GA4 settings according to your objectives, a high bounce rate (over 90%) should raise concerns because it suggests visitors aren’t sufficiently engaging with your website.

However, default GA4 settings may not provide reliable data, as discussed earlier.

Avoid assumptions. Conduct thorough research and ensure your GA4 account is properly configured to accurately track ‘key events.’

Now, take action and tackle your bounce rate head-on!

Original news from SearchEngineJournal