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Careful of that bounce

Have you ever looked at the “bounce rate” on your web pages in your analytics? This represents the number of people who arrive on your site on that page and go no further. It’s actually a dangerous figure, however, because if your site is genuinely efficient, it may be delivering everything the visitor needs in just that page. Who knows how many of your “bouncing” visitors actually came to exactly the right place, found what they wanted, left, and were quite satisfied with the experience? Bounce rate has its uses, but needs to be handled with care.

One thing you might examine is the number of people who arrive at your site after typing in a relevant search term at Google, but then “bounce”. If a page has a specific focus, and its call-to-action means that visitors should do something else on the site, then you’d expect that visitors coming from Google using a search term related to that focus to stick around. A high bounce rate means that the page really needs some work. In the example below, visitors from Google who’d typed in “4-20mA aerospace widgets” tended to move elsewhere on the site, which is exactly what you’d hope would happen.

Conversely, if you’re sending visitors to your site from a fairly general advertising campaign, it might not be as bad as it looks to have a bounce rate of 70% or 80%. Plenty of those visitors will have read what you’ve got to say, which might be as much as you can expect on a first visit.

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