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How to Improve Bounce Rate with Analytics

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Bounce rate

A deep dive into site analytics can improve bounce rate, which is one of the best metrics for measuring how an audience interacts with a website.

Analytics are essential to understanding and attracting more visitors — and figuring out ways to get those visitors to come back again.

The three main standards for Web analytics are unique visitors, visits and page views.

Those three metrics get the most prominent display in audience software such as Google Analytics.

The unique visitor number of course reveals the size of the audience. The visit number, which is always larger than the uniques number, shows which ones come back again. Page views is an indicator of how much of the site they consume.

Note that unique visitors and visits are industry standard terms. Google now refers to them as users and sessions.

Two related and important metrics are bounce rate and pages per visit. They reveal quite a bit about a product and its audience

Why Bounce Rate is So Important

In Google Analytics, bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to any page, often from a search engine, and leave again without clicking to any other page.

Bounce rate measures the performance of an individual page, while pages per visit is a measure of overall site use.

A typical site has visitors who range from viewing a single page to as many as five to 10 pages in a single visit.

Think of bounce rate as equal to one page per visit. A site with a high bounce rate will have a low pages per visit number and vice versa.

Knowing the bounce rate of key pages makes it easier to zero in on problem pages to figure out how to make them more clickable.

Analytics will identify the average bounce rate for a site as well as the bounce rate for every individual page.

Improving the bounce rate of the most popular pages will improve overall site performance. So publishers can make a good start by reviewing and improving the 10 most popular pages on the site, then focus on the next 10 and so forth.

Over the 30 days prior to this writing, the most popular page on one of my sites had a bounce rate of 22 percent, the second most popular had a rate of 25 percent and, unfortunately, the third most popular had a rate of 72 percent.

My efforts to improve bounce rates on individual pages has paid off, but not in all cases. Some seem to resist the effort no matter how much effort and experimenting go into them while others improve quickly. So content and visitor intent clearly impact the rate.

Tactics to improve bounce rate include:

  • Putting links within articles (within limits)
  • Testing and changing site navigation
  • Increasing site speed
  • Optimizing for mobile

The last item is worth emphasizing. Publishers should look at the difference in bounce rate for all three platforms — desktop, mobile and tablet — as well as the rate from various audience sources.

Which Leads Us to Pages Per Visit

Dividing page views by visits will provide pages per visit, a number that is even more revealing than just raw numbers for uniques, visits and page views.

Pages per visit and time per visit are very much related for obvious reasons. PPV says a great deal about the quality of the product such as:

  • Download speed
  • Usefulness of the content
  • Prominence and relevance of related links
  • Attractiveness of design and graphics

Large sites and sites that emphasize any kind of search tend to have higher pages per visit.

I have worked on news media sites that have a PPV upwards of six to seven and higher and have also seen sites that average less than two.

Sites with a strong brand — a name that is memorable and content that has ongoing usefulness — will get higher PPV.

Sites in categories with high competition like online marketing blogs (such as this one) tend to get lower numbers.

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