Defining Google Bounce Rate
Web metrics help bloggers and other website owners to analyze and track their site visitors. One of the most popular web metrics is bounce rate.
Google bounce rate is the percentage of visitors viewing only a single page before leaving your site or closing their browser window.
Bounce is thought to be bad and to indicate low interest on the part of your visitors.
According to Google, “a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.”
Using Bounce Rate
Bounce rate can measure a site’s relevance, the desire of your visitors to place an order or to obtain additional information.
If you buy Pay Per Click advertising, your bounce rate may be one of the factors that determines the position of your ad relative to other ads.
Common wisdom dictates that bounce rate should be no more than 40 to 60 percent. Most blogs miss this range.
70 to 85 percent is typical, and bloggers are baffled.
Experts would probably agree that either the blog or the traffic was too unfocused. You will probably not be surprised to learn that I do not concur with the experts.
Blogs Are Different
Blog posts aren’t merely landing pages. Each and every one is a main attraction.
The following examples demonstrate that bounce rate cannot effectively measure your blog’s relevance to visitors.
Consider first your blog’s most loyal subscribers. They come and read your every post.
Let’s suppose that:
- 10% leave a comment
- A different 10% click through to a related post
This appears quite healthy to me, yet your bounce rate is 80%.
Now consider your blog’s best search engine visitors. They land on your post and read it with interest.
Let’s suppose that:
- 5% leave a comment
- A different 5% subscribe
- A completely different 10% visit a related post
This seems quite good to me, yet your bounce rate is again 80%.
Visiting a single page, i.e. your post, reading it and moving on is reasonable behavior for a blog visitor. How can we expect the bounce rate to be much lower?
Bounce rate is clearly not as useful a metric for blogs as it is for landing pages.
Gauging Blog Readership
If we cannot adequately assess our readership using bounce rate, what are alternative metrics?
We might instead look at our trend in:
- Quantity of good comments
- Size of our subscriber base
- Amount of direct traffic
- Number of quality backlinks
- Google PageRank
- Yes, even our bounce rate (smile)
Incidentally, the Google Analytics metric “Avg. Time on Site” is equally problematic, since it doesn’t factor into the average visitors who view only a single page.
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