KPI Series: Bounce Rate Edition


Ahhh the classic bounce rate, a submerged iceberg of potential actionable insight, invisible from the surface and disguised by its seemingly straightforward and simple nature. This KPI may not have the hype of the Klout score or the complexity of the social network footprint, but if you use analytics tools to look past the icecap floating on the surface, you’ll see that your bounce rate holds great potential to help you understand your business.

A bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits onto your page that are immediately followed by an exit, according to the definitions adopted by Google Analytics, WebTrends, Yahoo! Analytics, etc. However, another more aggressive definition bases it on the time period spent on a page. For example, 5 seconds or less on a page before exiting = bounce.

Generally speaking, your bounce rate indicates the efficacy of your site by showing you what percent of your web traffic is actually engaged with your website. However, depending on who you are and what industry you operate within, your bounce rate can indicate very different things.

Average Bounce Rate By Industry

B2B- 30-50% bounce rate . You’re offering services to businesses, and your visitors are looking to meet a specific need with a long-term, possibly costly contract. The goal of your website is lead generation. Your visitors are likely doing some research into the companies that could meet their need, so if they’re bouncing it’s likely an issue with your content or your website design. Possibly your services aren’t relevant to them or the combination of your content and design doesn’t make you seem credible. In this case, you can revamp your website to keep businesses there, or you can change your content and keywords so that SEO won’t direct viewers to your site who find your services irrelevant.

Content websites- 40-60% bounce rate - If your bounce rate is high, it’s likely that there’s a problem with your SEO, or perhaps your content is skewing your organic search optimization and directing traffic to your site as a result of irrelevant keywords.

Retail sites- 20-40% bounce rate. This relatively low average bounce rate is likely due to the vast amount of navigating options on an e-commerce site. The viewer can check out your products page or click on several different products on your site. A high bounce rate could be equated to your viewer closing out of your website to research your products or compare prices on another site.

Blog- We can assume that a blog would have a relatively high bounce rate, because viewers have no real reason to navigate around unless it’s to jump between blog posts. A loyal viewer checks in every once in a while to read new posts then bounces. A first time visitor may navigate around a little and read several posts. You can use Google Analytics to segment your bounce into New Visitor vs. Returning Visitor. If even first-time viewers are bouncing, then you could have a problem.


Factors that Affect Bounce Rate

Search Terms- Make sure your content keywords reflect the actual information on your website in order to make your organic search optimization more specific and effective. A visitor who doesn’t want to be there is just as good as no visitor at all.

Design & Functionality- Your website should be fast, easily navigable, and inspire trust at first glance. If your website looks like a toddlers finger painting, then your visitors will puke and bounce.

Links to External Sites- Links to external sites often distract viewers and lead to an early exit. Your high bounce rate could be due to a link on your page for the external company blog.


Tips to Improve

Manage Consumer Expectations- make sure your page titles, headlines, advertisements, and anything else that may have directed your consumer to your site aren’t misleading.

Storytelling- Get consumers hooked on your products and on your site. Get them interested in you to keep them cruising around from page to page.

Measure Your Bounce Rate From Different Traffic Sources. Use your analytics tools to see which “Referring URLs” are directing low quality traffic to your website- namely the traffic that bounces. You can use this tool to see if a certain email campaign or affiliate website is directing traffic that immediately bounces and potentially re-evaluate your relationship.

Bounce Rate By Keyword Referral- Use your analytics tool of choice to figure out which keywords are clearly irrelevant to your consumers. You can keep this in mind when you’re bidding on keywords or constructing your next SEO campaign.


Never fear! A sky-high bounce rate doesn't necessarily mean that all is lost. By taking a microscope to your bounce rate, you can spot out what problems are hindering your website effectiveness, whether they be web search issues, content issues, or design issues. With a more accurate view of the ways your consumers interact with your website, you can make sure that your website is never again a one-stop shop.