Dive into Google Analytics: Bounce Rates and Exit Rates

GAnalyticsFor those of you using Google Analytics, you’ve probably aware that there are a lot of reports that contain the metric for Bounce Rate, but you may have never really paid attention to it, or had any need for it.

For those of you who have used it, or plan to use it, you should know that the Bounce Rate numbers in Google Analytics can be really confusing.

What exactly is Bounce Rate?
When you click the little help icon beside “Bounce Rate” in the column header, you’ll see:

The percentage of single page visits
resulting from this set of pages or page.

So let’s see. According to that definition, a bounce is basically when someone lands on one page of your site, and then leaves the site without ever visiting any other pages. Okay. Seems to make sense. Now let’s look at some stats.
gastats

I like to start out on the Content > Top Content Report. On the Top Content Overview page, I see a bounce rate of 27.58%. Wow. That seems sort of high. Or maybe not? I don’t know. So let’s look at stats the most visited page on the site.

more stats

33 percent! That seems really high doesn’t it? Especially for a page that can should be visited via other pages on the site. But what numbers are they using to get 33%?

Lets study this “Bounce Rate” a little more to find out. Here’s another definition from Google Analytics support pages:

Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page). Bounce rate is a measure of visit quality and a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. You can minimize Bounce Rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy.

Ok. I’ve highlighted the key words in the definition above. Entrance pages and Landing pages.

So lets look at landing pages then. To do this, I’ll check out the Top Content > Top Landing Pages report.

Landing Pages

Cue Angels Singing
Though the numbers changed a little bit between my screen shots, I can see exactly how the Bounce rate is being calculated.

Duh! That seems so obvious now. I sure hope I’m not the only one who was a little confused by this.

So now that you understand Bounce Rate, lets get to work on improving it. And by improve, I mean make it lower. Unless, of course you are TRYING to get people to leave your site (via adsense, etc..). In that case, you can work on increasing it.

Exit Rates
Exit Rates don’t need nearly as much attention, because (at least to me) the definition is much more straight forward.

Top Exit Pages: From which pages do people exit your site? The significance of an exit rate varies according to each page. For example, it may be common for visitors to exit your site from a receipt or “thank you” page because they have completed a conversion activity. In contrast, a large number of exits from a non-goal page (from a funnel page, for example) may indicate that the page is confusing or that it generates user errors.

So in the case of exit pages, a high number of exits could be considered a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which page it is. If it’s your Goal page (checkout, etc..) then it’s a good thing. If it’s your home page, or landing page, then it’s probably a bad thing.

So go ahead and dive into Bounce Rates and Exit Rates, and hopefully I can come up with a good topic to talk about next time.