Google Analytics calculates your bounce rate in an interesting way that leaves many people convinced that it doesn’t matter. But it does!
For Ecommerce sites, lead generation sites and businesses that utilize landing pages for their marketing, bounce rate is an important metric even if it’s overshadowed by conversion rate.
However, because Google Analytics calculates bounce rate in way that doesn’t quite work for bloggers and support sites, it can be easy to write it off and a wasted metric.
How Does Google Analytics Calculate Bounce rate?
Google Analytics actually calculates bounce rate by calculating the time on site and site depth. So, consider a visitor visits your website at 2pm, then clicks a link and goes to another page on your site at 14:00:30 (30 seconds after Two pm). Google Analytics looks at the time that visitor arrived on the first page, the time they clicked that second page and subtracts the first time from the latter time. Thus 30 seconds. Google Analytics does effectively the same thing with pages per visit.
So, a bounce rate in Google Analytics is, simply, when the time on site and pages per visit are zero.
Why Is This A Problem?
The web analytics world considers the higher the bounce rate, the worse performing the site or page is.
This is problematic. If you’re a content based site, like a blogger, people come to consume an article and then, if you’ve done your job right, they leave, feeling like they got value. So, while Google Analytics considers this a bounce, the interaction between the site and the visitor was a positive one.
What Should You Do About Your Bounce Rate?
The easiest thing to do is to ignore it but that’s not going to give you any real benefit.
The more difficult option is to use trigger events when a visitor has spent enough time on your site, or scrolled down the page far enough etc. This effectively tells Google Analytics that it’s not, if fact, a bounce. If you’ve got Google Tag Manager installed, this isn’t terribly difficult but it’s beyond many non-developer people.
The middle road is the one I take.
I consider bounce rate to be a metric that I should keep an eye on, improve when needed and investigate when it wildly changes. See, even for content sites, encouraging more page views often results in happier advertisers and more money for the site.
That’s why Teacup Analytics considers bounce rate in context of past and present performance. Teacup looks at your normal, historical bounce rate. Then each time you look at a Teacup report or, indeed, a segment within a report, your bounce rate is graded against that performance. So, instead of worrying about the raw number, you can note whether it’s out-of-whack in a good or bad way.
So you don’t need to care that your bounce rate is high because your blog is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. Teacup won’t hold that against you. Your average (to you) performing bounce rate will simply be graded a B. Then if a particular channel or visitor segment suddenly spikes to an A+ or D, you’ll know something might be attention-worthy and you can investigate.
If you seriously, very much don’t care, then no problem. You can actually take it out of the equation all together and never worry about bounce rate again. Teacup’s Grading Components section allows you to customize which metrics go toward your report’s grading.
So, Does Bounce Rate Matter, or Not?
Why yes, it does! If you’re the time of site that needs people to click on things, then bounce rate matters as a vital engagement metric.
If you’re a blogger or content site that has advertisers, then bounce rate is worth watching, with the understanding that it’s not important how high or low it is, but whether it’s changing for the better alongside other metrics like pages per visit.