Which metric should you optimize for?
Web analytics is not exactly like a title fight. Sometimes it feels closer to a melee, with metrics battling it out for your attention. However, when it comes to obvious optimization “wins” bounce rate and conversion rate are the top contenders.
In The Red Corner: Bounce Rate
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of your website visitors who come to your site and leave without taking further action. Often, it implies that visitors are not interested in what your site offers.
Google Analytics describes bounce rate as “the percentage of single-page sessions.” And in that phrase there lies a hint of an issue. Not every session needs the visitor to visit multiple pages of your site. For content sites, like blogs, this is particularly true.
Before you consider improving your bounce rate, consider making it more accurate by triggering an event or virtual pageview if the visitor watches a video or spends a certain amount of time on the page. Anything that indicates that the visitor was, indeed, engaged with your website.
In The Blue Corner: Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is the percentage of customers who “convert” – usually purchase an item but it’s often other actions like signing up to the site’s newsletter or downloading a file.
To track your conversion rate, you first need to set up goals in Google Analytics.
Optimizing for conversion rate seems like a no brainer but it’s not always so cut and dry. Sometimes the issue is elsewhere and impacts conversion rates which means taking direct action isn’t effective and can even have adverse results.
Should You Focus On Improving Bounce Rate or Conversion Rate?
The answer is a resounding “it depends.” There’s a time when improving your bounce rate is the correct action and there’s a time when conversion rates should take precedence.
When Should You Improve Your Bounce Rate?
If your conversion rate is good – relative to your own overall business goals – then improving your bounce rate is the right thing to do. By minimizing the people who leave your site without taking action, you’ll give your more people the opportunity to convert from visitors to customers.
- Search Engine Watch has 14 ways to improve your bounce rate.
- Neil Patel has 13 ways to improve your bounce rate
- Hubspot has a great infographic about decreasing bounce rate
When Does Conversion Rate Need Your Attention?
If you’re getting an amount of high quality traffic that makes you feel happy, then improving your conversion rate is the most beneficial place to focus. By taking action to convert your existing traffic better, you’ll get significant long term benefits.
If you know you’re attracting the right kind of traffic – people who’re engaging with your site and all it offers, then finding tasteful ways to help them reach your goals will result in more business on an ongoing basis, both from return visitors as well as turning new visitors into customers more efficiently.
Then, all you need to do is attract more of the right kind of traffic and your bottom line will grow in proportion to that.
- Entrepreneur Magazine has 39 quick ways to improve your conversion rate
- VWO has some creative ideas to improve conversions too