What is a bounce rate? Find out how this e-commerce metric affects SEO and how to reduce it.

One of the most important metrics for our online shop is the bounce rate . Don’t have a clue as to what we’re talking about?

Or maybe you know what it is but it’s not clear how you can improve it in your online shop.

Well pay attention because this article is going to tell you everything you need to know so that your bounce rate percentage doesn’t leave you worrying ever again.

Let’s get to it!

What is bounce rate?

Bounce percentage or bounce rate is the number of people out of every hundred that leave the website without clicking even once.

Is a metric that measures two variables:

  • The number of pages that a user visits within your site.
  • The amount of time a user spends on your site.

At first it was thought that this statistic only took into account the time that a user spent on your site. It was estimated that when a visitor stayed beyond 30 seconds of time, they were no longer factored into the “bouncers”, but this affirmation is incorrect.

It doesn’t matter if a reader spends 5 minutes reading about your new product—if they don’t visit any other post or page afterwards, they will be figured into the bounce rate.

So why is this metric so important?

Essentially, for two main reasons:

  1. The bounce rate is an indicator of if a user likes your website: if a person doesn’t interact with your store or they leave right after arriving, something must be wrong.
  2. Google takes this variable into account regarding how your website’s positioning: if you still haven’t started working on your SEO strategy, it wouldn’t hurt for you to take a look at this post.

But there is a lot more behind this metric and we are going to find out what it is.

How to know if your bounce rate is high

In order to assess if your bounce rate percentage is high or not, we’ll give you some reference as to what the average parameters in your sector.

In general, and as an example estimation, you can use these figures:

  • 30% for an online shop
  • 70% in a blog
  • 20% on a corporate website
  • 20% on landing pages

In an e-commerce, an acceptable bounce rate should never surpass 30%. The average is quite a bit lower than in a blog since users usually look at various products each time they visit a store.

Look out! These figures must be analyzed carefully—each sector is different, just like each search intent is. We’ll learn more about that later.

Bounce rate and SEO, what’s the connection?

The traditional view on the bounce rate is that the lower, the better.

The truth is that this sentence, at least with regard to organic traffic, is not correct at all.

The total bounce rate, as we see it within the analysis tools, should not be considered good or bad.

Imagine that someone enters your website looking for a specific piece of information or data. He or she enters, reads about what they needed and leaves without clicking. Your website solved what they were looking for, their search intent. Google will never punish you for satisfied users, no matter what bounce rate you may have.

It’s not always better to have a greater amount of time spent on your website.

For Google, a perfect result is one that responds to the users in the most comprehensive way possible, but not the longest. As always, it’s best to keep it short and sweet.

In addition, Google’s algorithm keeps growing and it is starting to include some behavior patterns to justify some bouncing. Have you ever heard of pogo sticking?

Pogo-sticking, when users bounce on every page

The navigation behavior of a normal user looking for information on the Internet is as follows:

  1. Type the search into Google or the search engine that they are using.
  2. Click on the result that catches their attention (one of the first three results, normally).
  3. Have a look at the website to see if’s what they were looking for.
  4. Go back to the result page without clicking on anything, that is to say, they bounce.
  5. Go to a new website and have another look.
  6. Bounce again back to the results page.
  7. Look at one more result…

This way of going through different results, jumping from one to the other, is commonly known as pogo-sticking. A pogo is each jump from the result page to one of the websites.

For each keyword, or search intent, there is an average percentage of pogo-sticking. That is to say, the average number of results that users visit before finding the one they they are happy with.

That means that some bouncing is normal.

Is that a bad thing? Not at all.

Dwell time, the time that the bounce lasts

Once you have measured the average number of bounces that happen after each search, why don’t we measure the time that the visit lasts until users go back to the SERP?

That’s what the Google team thought, and from that moment on the so-called dwell time has been taken into account.

The word dwell means living or staying, therefore dwell time is the time that users “stay” (or live) in a website before going back to the results page.

In this case, a longer time is always better.

Later we will see different strategies that we can use to get a user’s attention so they don’t go back to the SERP, nor sooner nor later, but first let’s take a look at how to measure the bounce rate.

Where to check what your bounce rate is?

You only need to enter in your Overview of Audience reports in your Google Analytics dashboard.

In this tab you will find the rate you are looking for and the two factors that determine it: time spent and number of pages visited.

It’s very important for you to analyze these 2 metrics since they are the ones that are going to tell you what exactly is working and not working in your shop.

Should we get all this information and do nothing about it? That would be a horrible mistake.

The overall bounce rate itself doesn’t tell us anything. Let’s see why.

The bounce rate is a piece of information that can teach us a lot

By only looking at the total bounce rate number you are missing out on a huge learning opportunity.

As we already mentioned in this post about web analytics for e-commerce, behind the metrics is where the insights hide.

Let’s see it with an example—have a look at this Analytics Table:

If you look only at the total bounce rate, 69.23%, you might think that everything is under control.

However, after a deeper analysis, you find out that the bounce rate from users using Internet Explorer is really high, almost 100%. The conclusion is clear: this website has a problem with Explorer that you’ll have to solve.

We can do the same thing by analyzing it with each device or traffic source to look for information that could mean an error.

This is another table, obtained by filtering traffic by source. You can see that the bounce rate from direct traffic is a bit higher than the rest. You can also see that the bounce rate from organic visits is less than 60%, which is quite good.

It is not always easy to find the reason for a bounce.

In that case, we should go to Behavior/Site Content/All Pages. There you will be able to see every metric broken down by URL and can find out which pages retain users the longest.

TIP

Pages with a 100% rebound rate are probably showing a 404 Error, which is to say, they show only an error and the site isn’t shown. Looking for this percentage is an easy way of finding them on big websites.

Pageviews and Pages per Session

You already know that the number of pages visited and the bounce rate are related. You also know that having a high % of bounce is not a bad thing, or a weird thing. So now let’s talk about pageviews.

Technically, the number of pages that users visit is the number of different URLs in a given period of time. As Google itself explains, if users refresh the page, it counts as a new visit.

The interesting metric here is the result of dividing pageviews into the number of sessions. The number of pages per session shows the average number of URLs that users visit.

If the bounce rate were 100%, the pages/session figure would be 1, right? Here we also want the number of pageviews to be as high as possible. The fact that users click on another page doesn’t mean that we didn’t solve their search intent—we might have captured their interested and then they decided to keep surfing our website.

What does a very low number of pages visited indicate?

Sometimes we find extremely low figures for pageviews. However, the average time users spend on them is high. This shows some symptoms of some very typical problems:

  • A possible navigation problem or that it’s difficult for the user to find what he or she is looking for.
  • A design that isn’t very clear or isn’t very attractive .
  • A lack of options in the shop for the user to interact with.
  • Absence of a CTA or call to action.

Imagine an e-commerce shop with a blog, like this one. A low figure for pages per session doesn’t mean that the content is bad.

If users came through Google and they read the post for an average of 4 minutes, but the bounce rate was high, the problem wouldn’t be the quality. The problem would be that the post doesn’t lead to users reading related posts or that it doesn’t have a good call to action.

Think about how online newspapers, blogs, or any other websites normally offer you related articles at the end—or even throughout the post on the sidebar.

This means a new click and a new page visited. That’s especially important when you want to use the number of pages per session as a business argument to gain advertisers.

And a short length of time spent?

In addition to the lack of incentive to keep reading, the following situations can also happen:

  • A poor content strategy.
  • A lack of content in certain parts of the website.
  • A bad interlinking, or internal linking, strategy among the different parts of your website.

Once you have your diagnosis, let’s see how you can solve the problem.

Strategies to reduce your bounce rate

Now that you know what bounce rate is and what it’s based on, let’s see how we can reduce it. Our goal is for the user to interact with your shop more and for he or she to stay there for more time. Let’s go over some ideas for each of these two situations.

Ideas to improve your number of pages visited:

  1. Install widgets in the sidebar that shows everything you have displaying your shop’s categories, all the brands that you carry, etc.
  2. Always have an internal search engine like Doofinder in order to make it easier for the user to find the products or contents that they desire.
  3. Show the most sold products or your posts that have received the most comments.
  4. Offer complementary products and use cross-selling.
  5. Include tutorials and related items on your product cards.
  6. Improve your shop’s navigation and the overall user experience.
  7. Don’t overlook the usability of the mobile version of your shop since more and more people are making purchases from their smartphones.
  8. Use interlinking. If you mention one post within another one, linking to it means you are adding extra information for readers in case they want to do some deeper reading. We are doing it right now by recommending you this post about content marketing.
  9. Paging: This is a trick that may worsen your user experience, but it is very popular, especially on fashion websites. It is about creating content in list form and including each bullet point as a new URL. This way, when users click “next”, a new page is loaded.

The risk here is that if the new page doesn’t load quick enough, readers will leave the page and your bounce rate will increase.

Ideas to increase the time spent on your site:

  1. Evaluate your content strategy: have you defined your buyer persona ? Are you adding real value to your target audience?
  2. Include videos in your articles: not only will users be able to better visualize your products, but you can also take advantage to show all the different benefits that just aren’t quite clear from a photo alone.
  3. Really make use of your product cards this is the perfect place for you to talk about all the benefits of your product that a customer might not think of, so take advantage and explain how it feels to use your products or give some tips on how to get the most out of them.
  4. Image galleries: Instead of adding just one image, add a gallery with at least 5 or 6 of them so users have to swipe through them. A video may be associated with taking a long time, whereas a gallery is something between a picture and a video.
  5. Interactive content: This could be a quiz, a game, or any other strategy used to make users interact for more time.

And if you want the figure that you see for bounce rate in the Audience/General tab to decrease overall, we’ll share a few tricks with you.

How to fix your bounce rate

There are people who don’t like going to Analytics and seeing high bounce rates. Even after having read this post and knowing that it is not necessarily a bad thing, they still just don’t like it. ;)

If you are one of those people, there are three actions that you can try, though some of them are a bit advanced.

  • Defining the time after which a visit is no longer a bounce: For example, if you think that after spending 5 minutes on your page it should no longer be considered a bounce, you can modify this time.
  • Defining that a visit is not a bounce after scrolling: You can also define that if users scroll past a certain part of the page, it is not considered to be a bounce.
  • With goals: This doesn’t modify the rate artificially, but it can help you. Set up a goal in Analytics with the factor you want to consider (5 minutes on the page, for example). This way you can find out the percentage of goal achieved for a specific URL along with its bounce rate.

If not, you can always spend a few minutes analyzing the information shown by this data and have a look at the segmented bounce rate as we mentioned before. Your business will surely thank you.

Is everything clear?

Taking this advice into account will not only help you reduce your bounce rate, but it will also help your website positioning with Google.

And what does all this translate into?

It means increased sales for you!