As search engine marketers, we’re constantly evaluating the success of our campaigns using various metrics like search engine referrals, traffic from links, conversion rates, and various breakdowns by source of traffic etc. For some of these – we use some visitor engagement metrics and bounce rates as a way to determine whether the type of traffic we’re getting is the right kind. In practice however, our efforts only have so much influence over site performance because we don’t control page design etc.
As detailed in this MarketingProfs article – bounce rate is a very good indicator and diagnostic tool. It can be a good starting point in getting the team on board to design to solve problems and improve site performance. I’ve talked about and used bounce rates when working with clients and their developers on redesigns, and in making some changes to sites.
Some key takeaways as I read through the article:
- Bounce rate wonâ€™t have all the answers, but it helps you quickly focus on what’s important, show where you are wasting money, and what content on your site needs revisiting.
- Segment & measure your bounce rates by traffic source, referring keywords & specific page on your site among others
- Use the siteâ€™s overall bounce rate vs the bounce rate by source or keyword as a way to judge performance
- “It is hard to get a bounce rate under 20%. Anything over 35% is a cause for concern, and anything above 50% is worrying.”
That last bullet is a nugget of gold – but dangerous to take at face value. Clients always want to know what’s good and what isn’t. I always tell clients to not worry about averages and to focus on improving their own numbers. While having some sort of acceptable benchmark in mind is worthwhile – you can’t judge your own site on numbers like this. For example – one of our very niche B2B clients has an overall site bounce rate of well over 90%, but it’s acceptable. Why? Because they own and market themselves under a very short domain that’s an acronym for their company name, but it’s also a oft-used acronym for a major brand. They acquired the domain years ago, and get tons of type-in traffic that immediately realizes they’re on the wrong site and leaves. It makes for tricky traffic analysis, and you can’t easily segment those visitors out. I know I know – they should sell it. Believe me – I’ve told them so. I’m sure the brand would gladly pay through the nose for it.