What Does Bounce Rate Mean? Google Analytics Explained

A shinobi pointing at a computer screen with analytics graph

In the first of a series explaining the key metrics in Google Analytics that show how your website is performing, we look at bounce rate, including what it means and why it’s so important to pay attention to.

It’s no good asking yourself, “what is a good bounce rate?” if you don’t know the answer to the question, “what does bounce rate mean?” But this is where a lot of people begin.

In this blog post, we teach you the definition of bounce rate and explain how it can help you create a more effective – and profitable – website. We’ll also look at how to work out whether your bounce rate is good or bad, and show you how to find out what a good bounce rate is in your industry using Onalytics’s free website grading tool.

The Definition of Bounce Rate, According to Google

Google defines bounce rate in its Analytics Help Centre. But to properly understand bounce rate, we must divide this into two parts: firstly, what is a “bounce”? And secondly, how is the rate calculated?

What Is a Bounce?

According to Google, a bounce is a single-page session on your site. The easiest way to think of this is that a single user opens one page on your site and then closes that page without taking any action.

Google Analytics sees this as a single request to the server and registers it as a bounce if there are no further requests during that session.

The visitor could spend 10 minutes reading that page, and find it tremendously useful. But if they leave before visiting another page or triggering another event, they are considered to have bounced.

As you can see from this, not all bounces are created equal. Perhaps a visitor lands on your website, phones you from the number at the top of the page, and becomes a customer. If they don’t visit another page or trigger an event, they’ve technically bounced.

Meanwhile, another visitor arrives on your site, is too impatient to wait for it to load or is put off by the design and leaves without even considering the page content. They too are a bounce.

Whilst bounce rate isn’t a conclusive metric to describe your website’s performance, it is still very useful. High performing sites rarely have a high bounce rate, whereas low performers usually do.

How Is Bounce Rate Calculated?

Simply put, Google Analytics takes the total amount of single-page sessions and divides it by all sessions taking place on your site. This gives you a bounce rate percentage.

The bounce rate tells you what proportion of your site’s visits involved no interactions after the page was opened. Your users left your site without doing anything — they didn’t view your product pages, they didn’t read your blog, and they certainly didn’t buy a product.

Within Google Analytics, you’ll see your overall bounce rate — this is the percentage of users leaving across all pages and regardless of where they came from — your bounce rate for individual pages, and your bounce rate for different devices, such as desktop and mobile.

Book cover of How To Get To The Top of Google 2021

Get to the top of Google for free

Download a free copy of our bestselling book,
"How To Get To The Top of Google"

Why Is Bounce Rate Important?

Knowing your bounce rate is vital because it can tell you if a significant amount of people are not using your website in the way you want them to. Presumably, you don’t want users to leave your site without doing anything!

When it comes to analysing bounce rate, it’s all in the details. You can see bounce rate for each page, each device people use, each traffic source, each geography, demographic… This can give you key insights into how well your website is optimised — or not — for different segments of your visitors.

For example, if your bounce rate is notably higher for pages visited on mobile devices, you might want to look into how well your website is optimised for use on mobile devices. You should also be asking why users are less likely to engage with your content on a mobile than they are on a desktop.

Is it down to what that individual page offers — perhaps it’s too text-heavy to hold a mobile user’s attention — or is there something fundamentally wrong with how that page presents on a mobile device?

What Is a Good Bounce Rate?

Knowing the factors that influence bounce rate, and what typical bounce rates are for competitors in your market is so important, as it allows you to begin to define what a good bounce rate is for your site.

Normally, this is not possible. It is difficult to get a handle on what a good bounce rate is because Google Analytics only presents you with data for your own site.

However, there is a solution…

How To Tell If You Have A Good Or Bad Bounce Rate

We’ve built a free tool called Onalytics which compares your bounce rate – and overall website performance – against other sites in your industry.

It’ll show you how your site stacks up against competitors in a range of metrics, from visitor engagement to conversion rate. As well as showing you a clear report highlighting your website’s strengths and weaknesses, it’ll also give you actionable tips on how to improve areas of weakness based on the data collected from hundreds of websites,

You won’t be left scratching your head about what the figures on your report mean, because we score them simply — it’s either “Good”, “Okay” or “Poor”. Each one comes with a plain English explanation too, so even if you’re a complete beginner to digital marketing, you’ll get recommendations that you understand.

Your data might look good in isolation, but once you’ve compared it to the competition, you’ll have a much better idea of where you stand in your industry and, by extension, what you need to do to improve.

Grade your site now — it’s as simple as filling in your email address and connecting your Google Analytics account! Get all the insights you need from Google Analytics in plain English and develop a plan of action to improve your bounce rate.

Book cover of How To Get To The Top of Google 2021

Get to the top of Google for free

Download a free copy of our bestselling book,
"How To Get To The Top of Google"
Menu