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What Is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is a term used in website traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who “bounce” away to a different site rather than continue on to other pages within the same site. A bounce occurs when a website visitor only views a single page on a website, then leaves without visiting any other pages before a session timeout occurs. There is no industry standard for the session time limit; rather, this is determined by the analytics tracking software. The formula used to calculate bounce rate is: Bounce Rate = Number Of Visits Viewing Only One Page / Total Number Of Visits A visitor can bounce by:
  • Clicking on a link to a page on a different website
  • Closing an open window or tab
  • Manually typing a new URL
  • Clicking the “back” button to leave the site
  • Session timeout
Bounce rates can be used to help determine the effectiveness or performance of an entry page. An entry page with a low bounce rate means it effectively causes visitors to view more pages and explore the site more deeply. Ideally, a given page’s bounce rate should be as low as possible; that being said, bounce rates lower than 20% are very difficult to achieve, simply because some people may arrive at a page in error. Most sites should average between 40% – 70%; it isn’t possible to convince everyone to stay, but an average higher than 70% indicates something wrong. While bounce rate can be a useful tool, its value tends to be questionable for information- and news-based sites. This is because these types of sites tend to attract visitors looking for reference material, such as headlines or research data – and when they find what they want, they will often either depart the site immediately or leave the page open long enough for the session to time out. In fact, sophisticated users may well bookmark a page inside the site, which then becomes their personal entry page – they arrive via their bookmark, look over the page, then bounce right off. The page in question is doing its job, but may still have a bounce rate above 80%, pushing up the average for the entire site. In these instances, metrics such as returning visitors might be more informative.


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