How to manage bounce rate

Before going into the question about managing bounce rates of your blog or site, it will be better to understand what bounce rate is, especially for those who are new to it, or those who really never cared about bounce rates.

One of the sources that explains bounce rate is the Wikipedia article on bounce rate, which I read quite some time back and find it remains more or less the same now. Anyway, it explains bounce rate as ‘a term used in web site traffic analysis… It essentially represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site…’ and gives the formula for calculating bounce rate as:

‘Bounce rate = total number of visits viewing only one page / total number of visits’.

According to Google, ‘Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.’ Google also advises as to how you can minimize bounce rates by ‘tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run’.

I feel the above advice is not practical, as you can only know which landing pages have high or low bounce rates only after quite some time. At that stage, how can you re-do the landing page to match each keyword and ad that you run, unless you want to rewrite the entire page or post? It may be practical for small static sites that are used for selling your products or services. For larger sites, you have to engage SEO professionals who may optimize the whole site for you. Moreover Google does not specify what high bounce rate is and what low or desirable bounce rate is.

Wikipedia quotes ‘Google Analytics specialist Avinash Kaushik’ as having stated, “My own personal observation is that it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying. I stress that this is my personal analysis…”

A more practical and insightful advice can be found if you read the article, What Is High, Normal And Low Bounce Rates? by Daniel Scocco, the founder of DailyBlogTips, who writes, ‘If you don’t have many ads on your blog and your priority is to grow your traffic and audience, then your bounce rate should be between 40% and 70%…’ Scocco also opines that ‘if you have exceptionally engaging content and a very user friendly design’ you can get your bounce rate below the 40%.

Bounce rate is one of the few metrics that caught my attention when I started my first website way back in 2006, a friendship and dating site offering free services. Then, it was my pet project and I was hell-bound to improve its performance. I had enough time to sign up for e-mail newsletters, visit top SEO forums, and read articles. I tried to follow all the tricks and hacks offered by top-level SEO professionals. But the site’s bounce rate always hovered around 50% to 60%, and it continues to do so. After sometime, I stopped worrying about bounce rate.

I started some blogs initially as a support for my main site. But I also experimented with all sorts of SEO tips and tried them on a few blogs. And I have placed AdSense ads in my blogs and sites. Also, I continued to monitor bounce rate, though I stopped doing anything to reduce high bounce rates.

Recently, that is a few months back, I noticed in my Google Analytics account that one of my blogs showed bounce rates as low as less than 1%, and another showed a bounce rate around 7%. However, though it surprised me, it did not give me any reason to celebrate, as my other metrics, including earnings from them, remained the same.

I think, the very low bounce rate might be because of the change in the algorithms used by Google, and they keep on changing, though you can never know what changed, and why.

In view of the above, though I endorse the highly researched opinions of Daniel Scocco, personally I feel that a bounce rate between 50% to 70% is not bad, as long as your Return on Investment (ROI), and other targets are good. Also, I feel a very low bounce rate, though desirable, cannot get you anything extra, including an improved page rank, though, low bounce rate is a very good indicator of how much your visitors are interested in your site, and how many pages they visit.

If you have your own experiences and observations about bounce rate, feel free to use the comment box and share it with our visitors.