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Meet the author:
Jill Olkoski

Jill has a MA in Clinical Psychology, a BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

She currently owns Aldebaran Web Design in Edmonds (near Seattle WA) and enjoys educating her clients on topics related to small business website design.

In Jill's previous life, she spent 17 years in the engineering and quality organizations of a Fortune 100 tech company.


Bounce Rate: A Great Quality Metric for Small Business Websites

February 17th, 2008

bounce.jpg Bounce Rate has become my very favorite metric to watch when looking at website traffic statistics. This article explains what bounce rate is, how it’s measured, what bounce rate statistics look like, and what the bounce rate is trying to tell you to do.

Bounce rate is typically defined as the percentage of visitors who leave after visiting only 1 page on your website. If 100 people visited your home page, and 50 of them left after only viewing your home page, then your bounce rate is 50%.

Why is Bounce Rate Important?

Because bounce rate can tell you something about the quality of the particular webpage or particular traffic source. Let’s look at some example from my own website traffic statistics:

Bounce Rate For Different Pages On My Website.

You can see that my home page has a bounce rate of 42.3% while my Citysearch click fraud article has a bounce rate of 50.7%. (I’ve just changed the look of my home page, so we’ll see if this rate changes for the month of Feb). Blog articles often have higher bounce rates than “regular” website pages. Look at the different bounce rates for your webpages and investigate what the differences are between pages with low bounce rates and pages with high bounce rates.

Bounce Rates For Referral Sources.
You should also look at the bounce rate for the different traffic referral sources, especially if you are paying for this traffic. Notice that for my website, Google US has a bounce rate of 52.9%, while traffic from websites of my clients has a bounce rate of 34.7%. This makes sense, doesn’t it? If you are using pay-per-click advertising, be sure you’re watching the bounce rate of traffic from your ads, because a higher bounce rate means either your ad isn’t attracting the right buyers, or your ad’s landing page isn’t good enough to capture them.

What Should Your Bounce Rate Targets Be?
Obviously, the lower your bounce rate is, the better. Looking at the web traffic tracking statistics of my clients, the lowest bounce rate for a home page is around 22%. Remember, other things can affect your bounce rate – such as whether folks are searching specifically for your business name (ie: “Ahimsa Dog Training”) or generic keywords (“dog training seattle”). If people are looking for your specific business, due to your advertising efforts, your home page bounce rate will be lower.

I found an article that reported different bounce rates for different types of websites. The following is a quote from their blog:

“Retail sites driving well targeted traffic 20-40% bounce. (One vendor told us anything above 33% should be a flag)

Simple landing pages (with one call to action such as add to cart) I’ve seen bounce at a much higher rate, anywhere from 70-90%.

Content websites with high search visibility (often for irrelevant terms) can bounce at 40-60%.

Portals (MSN, Yahoo groups etc) have much lower bounce rates in our experience 10-30%.

Service sites (self service or FAQ sites) again usually lower 10-30%.

Lead generation (services for sale) 30-50%

Bounce rates on a blog is something I think is misleading. By their very nature a blog is a long list of posts and articles. I think bounce could quite easily be 80-100% on blogs because people tend to be reading one article or post at a time. However that doesn’t mean that people aren’t finding value which is why i think it’s misleading.”

The above guidelines are based in this one company’s experience, so your bounce rate may differ, but I think it’s a fair guideline to use.

J. Olkoski
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.

One Response to “Bounce Rate: A Great Quality Metric for Small Business Websites”

  1. Click Fraud and Invalid Clicks - My Pay-Per-Click Nightmare » Articles From Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle WA Says:

    […] This is false advertising. Jill and I found that well over 80% of the clicks on these ads were bounces—the person would click on the ad, see that I don’t work anywhere near Puyallup, and bounce away […]

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