How to Lower Your Google Analytics Bounce Rate and Identify Website Visitors That Bounce

18 April 2019 by

Bounce rate is one of the most misunderstood metrics hiding in your Google Analytics reports, and if you don’t have a grasp on what it means, you’re missing out some key insights that can help you improve your website and convert more leads.

This misunderstanding leads to some big problems for marketers today, in that:

  • They don’t know what a good bounce rate metric looks like
  • They struggle to identify and solve the reasons behind high bounce rates
  • They don’t have any insight into who is bouncing away from their website

Because of that lack of clarity, too many marketers treat their Google Analytics bounce rate as a throwaway metric.

That leads to one of two scenarios. Either they ignore bounce rate completely and hope for the best or they run with some vague notion of “We need to lower our bounce rate!” without any concrete reasons or plans for doing it.

But statements like that raise more questions than they answer. Do you really need to lower it? If so, how low should it go? And what will you do to get it there?

To answer these questions and solve these problems, this article will:

Note: Want to see the companies that bounce away from your website, plus info about what they looked at and how long they spent on the page? Sign up and give Leadfeeder a try—free for 14 days.

How to Ground Your Bounce Rate in Reality

Simply put, the definition of bounce rate is the percentge of website sessions when a vistor views only one page before leaving your website.

Google Analytics calculates bounce rate as the number of single page sessions divided by total sessions in a given time period.

And a session is defined, “…as a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame. For example, a single session can contain multiple page views, events, social interactions, and e-commerce transactions. You can think of a session as the container for the actions a user takes on your site,” Google’s Help Center explains.

Understanding where your bounce rates come from is great, but it only goes so far.

It doesn’t help you gauge whether the bounce rates you see in Google Analytics are “good” or “bad.” Identifying targets for your bounce rate involves a lot more nuance than “low bounce rate is good and high is bad.”

Bounce rates vary across page types, attribution channels, and industries—so what’s good for you might be unreachable for another brand and a great bounce rate for your blog might be way higher than your pricing page. That’s why you need to ground your goals for bounce rate based on realistic benchmarks for each of these factors.

Pro Tip: While you can find all of that data and turn it into a reasonable bounce rate goal for your website, the Google Analytics Benchmarking feature makes it easier. Compare your bounce rates to other websites in the same industry, location, and with similar traffic levels.

Bounce Rate Across Industries

Here’s a look at average bounce rates across 24 different industries:

A bar graph depicting the average Google Analytics bounce rates across 24 different industries.

Note: Data from ConversionXL

There’s a 21% swing between the highest and lowest average bounce rates here. So, if you’re running an e-commerce store, a bounce rate of 60% isn’t very good—but if your website is a blog about tea, a 60% bounce rate is pretty good.

Bounce Rate Across Page Types

Here’s another chart that showcases how bounce rates vary by page type—which can be one of the most important factors in setting reasonable goals.

A chart depicting the average Google Analytics bounce rates across different types of websites and page types.

Data from ConversionXL

Some pages (like landing pages and blogs) naturally tend toward higher bounce rates, and that isn’t a bad thing.

Your landing pages, for example, push visitors to do one, central thing—the Call To Action, or CTA. Visitors typically only have two options: convert (i.e. by filling out a form or downloading an asset) or bounce. Unless your conversion rate is through the roof, you can expect higher bounce rates there.

Content, on the other hand, tends to attract visitors who are looking for specific information. Once they find it, they bounce.

Bounce Rate Across Traffic Sources

The third factor in defining realistic bounce rates for your website is the traffic attribution channel. Where do website visitors come from to get to the page?

A bar graph depicting the average Google Analytics bounce rates across different traffic channels.

Data from ConversionXL

As the data shows above, traffic from email tends to boast the lowest bounce rates (which makes sense because email subscribers are already familiar with your brand), while social media traffic is on the higher end. So, if you’re promoting a web page heavily on social media, for example, you can expect to see a higher bounce rate.

The Fourth Factor: Improvement

A less-talked-about consideration that should factor into your goal setting process is where you are currently. Benchmarks can tell you what’s possible and reasonable, but it’s always good to strive for improvement over hard numbers.

A philosophy of continuous improvement will serve your website well whether your bounce rates are much higher or lower than similar pages in your industry.

3 Reasons Your Bounce Rates Are Too High and How to Solve Them

Now that you have a realistic picture of what your bounce rates can and should look like, are they too high today? There are all kinds of reasons your bounce rates may be through the roof, including things like:

  • Misalignment with search intent
  • Unclear or missing next steps
  • Poor page design

The good news is there’s often a simple fix that can boost your website bounce rates—as long as you understand the root cause. Let’s talk through those three common problems and how you can solve them on your site.

Problem: Your Site Content Isn’t Aligned with Search Intent or Meta Info

When they see high bounce rates, many marketers jump straight to page design—which can create a real bounce rate problem. Should you rearrange content? Get rid of an overlay? Add another button?

But the bigger (and tougher) problem that causes visitors to bounce has to do with their intent—particularly search intent.

The page needs to fulfill whatever promises you’ve made in search results, or display ads, or social media posts. If it doesn’t, people will bounce like crazy, no matter how well-designed and speedy your page is.

From a search perspective, there are a few reasons for a mismatch, such as:

  • Your SEO title or meta description makes promises the page doesn’t keep.
  • Your page ranks for a keyword but doesn’t match the intent of people searching for that term.
  • Searchers expect a particular (read: different) format.

When you build a web page for search, it’s easy to focus too much on selling the page—convincing search engines to rank the page and people to click on the search result. But that can yield high bounce rates if the page doesn’t live up to the expectations you’ve set.

The fix is simply to do research beforehand and take search intent (as evidenced by what’s currently ranking for the term) and format into consideration—before building the page. Then ensure your meta title and description are equally compelling and accurate.

Problem: You Aren’t Giving Visitors a Clear Next Step

When people start visiting your page and then disappearing off your website, ask yourself this: Are we telling them where to go next? If the answer is no, it may be because:

  • You haven’t mapped each page or piece of content to the buyer’s journey, so you don’t actually know where you want visitors to go next.
  • You haven’t made it clear and easy for them to get there.

To lower bounce rates across your website, you need to tell visitors where they should go from each page, then make it easy for them to get there. If visitors are searching for something and you give them the answer, they don’t need to click anywhere else. That’s where showing them additional related content on your website and tying your product and marketing pages in contextually comes into play.

Whether your marketing conceptualizes the buyer’s journey via a traditional marketing funnel, a flywheel, or an ABM model, every web page and piece of content you produce needs to fit into that model.

When it does, there’s an obvious next step you should be pushing visitors toward.

Problem: Your Page Design Scares Visitors Away

Finally, on to your page design. One of the best ways to undercut a web visit from an engaged visitor is to make it hard for them to consume your page. They’re interested in the information you have on the page, but your website is putting up barriers between them and that info.

  • Pop-ups and overlays
  • Slow page load speed
  • Copy or page layout that isn’t designed for the web
  • Design that doesn’t work on mobile

All of those things can cause high bounce rates on an otherwise A+ web page because they hurt the user experience—but fixing them is simple.

For pop-ups and overlays, for example, it’s all about making the box navigable and easy to close. You can also consider timed or exit intent pop-ups, so visitors can get what they came for before you make an ask.

How to Identify Visitors Who Bounce

In some circles of the web, there’s a misconception that someone who bounces away from your website is probably a low-quality lead—but that isn’t always the case.

As we discussed earlier, top-of-funnel pages and content don’t convert people immediately, so bounces are common. That doesn’t mean those people won’t come back or that you shouldn’t invest in converting them. Secondly, that attitude assumes all your web pages and content are capable of converting 100% of your target customers. It’s a nice thought, but not exactly realistic.

If a company you know is a good fit bounces off your page, for example, it can be an indicator that that specific page isn’t compelling enough or speaking to the right audience. That’s why knowing who is bouncing away from your site helps contextualize your website’s bounce rate and give you better insight into what the metrics say about a given page.

Note: Want to see the companies that bounce away from your website, plus info about what they looked at and how long they spent on the page? Sign up and give Leadfeeder a try—free for 14 days.

Using Leadfeeder to See Which Companies Bounce Off Your Website

By setting up a Custom Feed in Leadfeeder to target single-session visits, you can see the companies that bounce off of your website, and you can get details like:

  • Which page they viewed
  • How long they spent on the page before bouncing
  • Whether they’ve visited your website before (or since)

To set up a Custom Feed for bounces, head to your dashboard and click the blue ‘+ Create new feed’ button.

Setup a custom feed for bounces in Leadfeeder.

Once you give the new feed a name, set the filter for ‘Page views per visit’ to ‘is less than’ and ‘2’ and click ‘Add’.

You can set it up to show you those who visit your site less than twice.

Our example Custom Feed is called “Bounces”

If you want, you can even get more granular by adding additional filters to the Custom Feed.

  • Filter by ‘Visits’ to see companies who’ve visited your website multiple times, but only viewed one page each time.
  • Filter by ‘Visit length’ to see if companies are hard-bouncing or reading the page first and then leaving.
  • Filter by ‘Page URL’ to see bounces from a specific page, or from a subsection of the site (like your blog, for example).

Custom filters let you setup specific criteria to see relevant leads.

Once you’ve defined the Custom Feed and saved it, you can set up email and Slack updates to get notified when new companies bounce.

Context is Key to Improving Your Google Analytics Bounce Rate

There’s a lot bounce rates can tell you about your website. But if you don’t ground them in reality and add context to the numbers, bounce rate can easily become a throwaway metric that you track, but don’t really do anything with.

By setting informed and realistic benchmarks, you can start to better understand why visitors bounce and take steps to continuously improve your website and content.

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