What is the bounce rate in Google Analytics

Our truth about a good bounce rate

Help, my Google Analytics bounce rate is 50 percent! Is that still a good value or is it already bad?

The question of a good bounce rate is comparable to the question of the right clothes. The answer is: It depends! Something different is recommended for the job interview than for the beach or for the first visit to the in-laws.

So far, so unclear.

Unfortunately, the question "What is a good value for the bounce rate?" do not answer with a simple phrase. Because some websites have a very high bounce rate and are still considered successful.

But one after anonther.

In order to be able to evaluate whether a bounce rate is good or bad, one should first know how it is calculated in the first place.

What does bounce rate really mean?

The term “bounce rate” suggests that it is measurable how many visitors immediately bounce off a website and how many actually occupy themselves with the content for longer. Many believe that a high bounce rate is an indication that the site scares users off.

That can be the case, but it doesn't have to be.

A website doesn't know exactly what the user is doing. Does he read the content carefully or is he standing at the coffee machine? There is (yet) no technology to precisely record actual consumer behavior.

How is the bounce rate calculated?

And because this technology does not yet exist, Google makes do with the bounce rate. Put simply, Google Analytics divides all users into two groups and measures the percentage of both groups:

  1. Users who only have a single interaction (Google Analytics hit) with the website and then disappear
  2. Users who have more than one interaction with the website

Let's say 100 users visit a website. 30 of them look at the page (hit = page view) and leave it again without having clicked on an element on the site, such as a link, an image, a graphic or anything else. The other 70 users interact with the website and thus generate a second Google Analytics hit. In this example, the bounce rate is 30 percent.

This is just a very simplified example, Google Analytics can use other variables to assess the bounce rate.

Is a 50 percent bounce rate normal for my website on Google Analytics?

A single session counts as a jump for Analytics - and thus leaves out the fact that a user can be completely satisfied with his visit.

That is, in a sense, the birth defect of the bounce rate. The numbers are neither unambiguous, there a “jump” does not always mean “dissatisfied user”. The numbers are still valid in a strictly scientific sense, if only because some users use tools to prevent tracking by Google and other services.

Even so, the bounce rate is a valuable indicator for website operators. And it comes like this:

A high bounce rate is bad if ...

  • The success of a website is based on the fact that users interact with the site, for example buying products, subscribing to newsletters or asking for an offer
  • a website initially wants to offer the user an overview of a product group in order to then bring him to a detail page. Example: a user is looking for blue jackets. If he finds the right jacket, he clicks on the jacket's details page - a success. But if the overview only shows red hats instead of blue jackets, he leaves the page again.

A high bounce rate is good if ...

  • The site does not require any further interaction from the user in order to be considered successful: Wikipedia, for example, or a blog for professionals. Someone googles a matter, lands on the corresponding Wikipedia entry or blog article, reads it completely from A to Z and closes the tab with satisfaction. Measured length of stay by Google: zero seconds, the visit counts as a jump.

So is a high bounce rate bad for sites like Wikipedia or blogs? No, of course not, the site did its job 100%: One user read through the entire content.

So whether a bounce rate is good or bad depends on the type of page.

Highly specialized pages with real content may have the highest possible bounce rate (for example instructions, how-tos, product tests, experience reports, etc.). Pages that users are supposed to distribute to other pages are more likely to be viewed as successful with the lowest possible bounce rates.

A high bounce rate is bad for pages of a certain type

The reverse only applies to content pages: A low bounce rate is okay here, because this is definitely desirable. Interaction-oriented sites should rather not have a high bounce rate, as they then do not serve their purpose.

So for each of your pages, ask yourself: What do I want to achieve with the site? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can also decide whether or not you can live with your bounce rate.

In our Whitepaper to increase the length of staythere is an easy-to-use 5-point system that can be used to define which bounce rate and length of stay is appropriate for each page type in your project.

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Sascha Albrink

I have been a passionate online marketer since 2002 and have been advising companies on all aspects of search engine marketing since then. My specialty is SEO consulting with a focus on the strategic development of SEO growth concepts.