As a newbie it really bugged me that despite the ‘decent’ amount of visitors who were coming to my website from Google search, most of them simply ‘bounced off’. I was constantly checking Google Analytics and my Bounce Rate was around 80%. It was quite disappointing to see that 8 out of 10 people were simply not interested. So I started digging into what Bounce Rate actually means. What is a high bounce rate and should I be worried about it, how to lower it?
What Is A High Bounce Rate In 2019 and How To Lower It?
I found that Bounce Rate can be very misleading and that I should not worry about it too much. The average (=good) bounce for an affiliate site (review site) can be very different from what is generally considered to be acceptable for a non-affiliate website.
According to my research and advice from fellow affiliate marketers, the average bounce rate for a WordPress based affiliate site is somewhere around 60-70%, depending on a lot of factors ie. Type and length of the content (later on that).
How does it look like in numbers?
|Bounce Rate For Blogs – Personal Blog|
|Something is off||<20%|
|Worse than average||60-80%|
|Something is off||>90%|
|Bounce Rate For Blogs – Review Site|
|Something is off||<25%|
|Good / Average||60-80%|
|Worse than average||80-90%|
|Something is off||>90%|
To understand what’s behind the numbers, we must understand what bounce rate is.
In this post:
- What is Bounce Rate
- How Bounce Rate Is Calculated – Simplified
- Average Website Bounce Rate
- Good Bounce Rate for a Blog
- How to Lower the Bounce Rate of Your Blog
- Should Bounce Rate Bother You At All?
What is Bounce Rate
In a very simplified way, bounce rate is the number of single pageview visits compared to all pageviews.
What makes it difficult is the way Google measures pageviews and interactions on a page, but to keep it simple let’s just stick with page view.
If your visitor comes to your website, reads the whole article and then leaves, your bounce rate will be 100%.
It sounds terrible, right? But actually, your visitor could have found everything they were looking for, you had written a comprehensive, high quality article on the topic, you had a strong call to action button. The viewer did not hesitate to click on the call-to-action button which took them to another site through an affiliate link.
Should you be sad that your bounce rate is 100%? Absolutely not.
How Bounce Rate Is Calculated – Simplified
Again, keeping it simple, based on the analogy of the example above let’s see what bounce rate you’d get depending on the number of pages that viewers click onto, without leaving your site (ie. in one go)
This is way off of how bounce rate is being calculated, but makes understanding it easier: if your visitors read three entire pages in one go, your bounce rate would be 33%. But even if they read five articles one after another, the bounce rate would not go below 20%.
Obviously, user behaviour in real life will be much more complicated than this. For the sake of this example, let’s assume that half of your visitors will only read one post, 30% will read 2, and 20% will stay for three posts.
The average page viewed per user would be 1.7 (10 users, 17 pageviews), while the bounce rate would be 70.5% ((1-5/17)*100)
70.5% still sounds ‘HIGH’, doesn’t it? But looking behind the numbers, the picture is completely different…
Average Website Bounce Rate
What makes it frustrating for beginners, is that wherever you look you find, that average bounce rate for a ‘successful’ website is around 45-55%. Although, as I was doing my research the most up-to-date statistics I could find on this was from 2013, and I think we can agree that the internet and the way people use it, have changed A LOT since 2013.
The way bounce rate is calculated by Google probably has changed a lot too…
What also changed, is the way google displays search results to a search query. In an ideal world, only those would click on your website who searched the specific keyword you target and they would stay for 2-3 more posts (to keep your bounce rate low, of course).
But if you search ANYTHING and look at the results, you’ll see the maybe half of the first page results would include the exact search phrase you used.
That’s because Google tries to find the most relevant results, almost irrespective of HOW you searched (what exact search phrase you used). This would ultimately lead to people coming to your site who were looking for something else. So don’t worry about it.
In my experience, about 40-50% of the people visiting my websites actually look for something else (based on the search queries they use)…
Good Bounce Rate for a Blog
So, what is a good bounce rate?
It depends. (Sorry)
In general, very-very average across all types and lengths of content and other factors, based on my findings the numbers should look something like this.
If you write a personal blog, and one post is often based upon the previous one like chapters of a book, then you’d like your audience to stay longer and keep reading.
If you are reviewing a product and would like your visitor to go straight to Amazon and buy that product, then you need completely different goals in terms of what ‘good’ bounce rate is for you.
So, as you can see there are a lot of factors determining what should be a ‘good’ bounce rate for YOUR website.
Type and Length of Your Content
I have already touched on the type of content above, and you should also consider how long your posts are.
You probably have come across sites that have a page for every paragraph and you must keep clicking ‘forward’ to read the next one. Very annoying, but it probably keeps the bounce rate low.
If you have a ‘normal’ site with 2000-word long posts, one thing to consider is how long it takes for a viewer to read the whole post. Let’s say 5-7 minutes. If you expect them to read 3 articles in a row, that may take up to 15-20 minutes. If you have longer posts, it can take up to half an hour for your reader to read 3 articles.
User Behaviour, Browsing Habits
If you think about how long you spend on one site – ANY site – it is probably very rare for you to spend half an hour on one website.
What happens more often is you save a site to favourites, or bookmark certain pages to come back later. For a single pageview session…
All of which will push the bounce rate up, but it does not mean that you have poor content or people are not interested in what you have to say.
Bounce Rate on different devices
You should also consider what device your readers use to view your website. Browsing on mobile usually means a 5-10% higher bounce rate. If you look at your Search Console, you’ll notice that probably more than half of your visitors come through a mobile device.
The answer is simple: some people don’t like reading a lot on mobile screen, or they only do when they have a few spare minutes to check on something quickly.
Different source, different bounce rate
Touching a bit on the demography and the behaviour of different age groups, you should also consider where your traffic comes from (and what are the typical attributes of that audience).
On Facebook, for example, you find a flood of information that changes all the time. Between two cat videos and holiday pictures, the viewer stumbles upon a link to your website and clicks. If your post is not capturing their attention in the first 3 sentences, they would probably just leave and keep scrolling for more content on their facebook wall.
Compare this to the viewers coming from a Google Search, in other words, specifically looking for a piece of information…
Demography and Bounce Rate
They also say that the attention span of the younger generation is getting shorter. Although this has been said for probably centuries now, it is certainly worth considering that in the world of Snapchat, TikTok, Insta stories, Vine etc. it is becoming harder to get your voice heard through all the noise. If you can’t stand out within 15 seconds, you probably will remain ‘invisible’ for younger audience.
How to Lower the Bounce Rate of Your Blog
Having said all that, I still wanted to decrease the bounce rate of my review site from that 80-odd percent. Here’s what I suggest you can do too (providing that you have good, engaging content).
Tips To Decrease Bounce Rate
Create content in line with the title. It may sound obvious, but many writers go off the tangent and don’t stay focused on the keyword/topic.
Create a short summary in the first few paragraphs. Answer the question you asked in the title.
Don’t leave your readers hanging. There is nothing worse than spending minutes reading through a post just to find out at the end that it was not the one that had answered you question. People come for answers, give them answers.
Don’t make titles too click-bait-y, you won’t make up to the promise. People who feel cheated won’t stay and won’t come back
Open links in new tab. Especially external links.
Rich internal linking, related posts (keep users reading content on your site).
You can use a plug-in in wordpress to suggest related posts, or just simply link to other posts of yours when it makes sense.
Reduce distraction (ads, banners etc.), avoid pop-ups if you can. You won’t gain much, unless you have tens of thousands of visitors.
Did it help? Yes, but don’t expect a massive change. I managed to reduce the bounce rate by 5%,, but it took only a week for the effects to become visible. Could have been better, but considering that it was a review site, I was not too bothered about my bounce rate anymore.
Should Bounce Rate Bother You at All?
Paying attention to your bounce rate is not a bad idea, but don’t be overly obsessed with it. There are so many variables, and as a beginner, you have more important things to focus on.
Bounce rate is only an indicator and not a target. When a measure becomes the target, it ceases to be a good measure. What I mean is that the best way to focus on improving the bounce rate is by looking at your content, user behaviours, engagement, interactions. If these are alright, it will increase pageviews, internal clicking, time on site etc which will be reflected in the bounce rate.
Unless the Bounce rate is alarmingly low or extremely high, you should just keep writing great, helpful content.
Does Bounce Rate Affect Ranking?
There’s no way to say that with all certainty, it probably is not. Or if it is, it is only a ranking factor indirectly. It is so easy to ‘manipulate’ bounce rate by the way your website is built up, I can’t imagine that bounce rate has a huge weighing in how ranking is determined.
Indirectly, through click-through rate to other sites on your website, time spent on your site and other interactions on your site it probably matters, but only as an indicator that something might be wrong…
And the focus is not really on the actual number, but in looking for changes. Once you have enough content and people keep coming to your website, the Bounce Rate will average around a number. What you don’t want to see is a sudden change – in either direction – of the average bounce rate. If you do see it going one way or another, you better dig yourself deep into trying to find the reasons for that.
Lesson learned: it is worth checking the bounce rate of your site. Once you have established what is normal for you considering all other factors – including pageviews / session, time spent on site etc. – comparison to OTHER websites does not make much sense.
Leave a comment: what is YOUR bounce rate? What type of website do you have?