Analytics are extremely useful when it comes to UX audits because they tell you a lot about user experience. Essentially, analytics are the breadcrumbs of clues left behind by your user. Gaining insight into your user’s behaviour, including how they found your website or app and how they reacted, is invaluable. In this blog, we’ll focus on one of the most important metrics in Google Analytics, bounce rate.
So, what does bounce rate mean for my UX? Generally, if your bounce rate is higher, it means that your UX is bad because users are only reaching one page before tuning out. However, if your bounce rate is lower, it means that your UX is good because more pages are being visited by users, which will ultimately lead to more conversions.
Keep reading to find out more about bounce rates and how they affect your UX.
What is ‘Bounce Rate‘?
Put simply, bounce rate is a common web analytics metric designed to measure the percentage of users that visit just one page on your site before leaving. Google’s definition of a bounce rate also indicates that the single page visit does not trigger any events or conversions that are recorded by analytics. This means that no forms are being completed under conversions and no links are clicked on to continue their journey in your funnel.
The higher the bounce rate, the greater proportion of your visitors are only reaching one page before tuning out, and as a result, the worse the implications for your website. If the bounce rate is lower, this is usually for the better because it means that more pages will be visited. This in turn, increases the likelihood of conversions, but not always (we’ll come onto that later).
What does ‘Bounce Rate‘ mean for UX?
Interestingly, bounce rate can be one of the most telling signs of bad UX in many cases we’ve experienced. This is particularly negative because it means that people are leaving upon entering your site via your homepage or landing page.
Here are some of the main reasons why you may have a high bounce rate:
- Content is uninteresting or long
- Call to action (CTA) is missing or not doing its job correctly
- Slow loading
- Bad form and structure
- Not mobile friendly
- Bad links
Naturally, you will want a lower bounce rate because it indicates that more of your content is reached and that your visitors are invested beyond the page they landed on. However, there is more to it than that. In some cases, having a high bounce rate can be expected and not be negative. According to SemRush, the average bounce rate for most websites is somewhere between 26% and 70% and is not considered bad.
Nowadays, most marketers do not worry too much about bounce rates. This is because for certain landing pages, high bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing.
Let’s take a look at blog pages as an example:
Bounce Rate on Blogs
Blogs are often found through organic traffic (found directly through a search engine or through social channels). The visitor may only be interested in the content of the blog post, therefore you would expect to see a higher bounce rate. There is of course room to reduce this by having call-to-actions on pages or ‘similar posts’, depending on whether it is relevant.
Is Bounce Rate Important?
Yes. Bounce rate is important because it is a good way to measure user engagement. However, its usefulness does vary depending on what you want your page to do.
Bounce rate can be indicative of UX issues on your website, but depending on your page and its purpose, having high bounce rates on that page is not necessarily bad. For web pages like product pages and homepages, high bounce rates can be warning that your content, layout or functionality is not meeting your users needs whereas for blog pages, higher bounce rates are not really an issue.
The Culprits For High Bounce Rates
Low Quality Content
Google Analytics to Pair With Bounce Rate For More UX Insights:
What is vital when looking at bounce rate is understanding that it isn’t an all encompassing metric. Looking at bounce rate alongside other metrics/data can show a more complete picture of your users experience and deliver actionable insights:
As we mentioned, not all pages are built equally in what they mean for your bounce rate. By looking through your landing page metrics and insights alongside bounce rate, you can determine which pages require optimisation or redesign. This can help you target where you may need to set up screen recordings and focus your attention if the bounce rates being high/low are indicative of an issue (again, based on the goal of the page).
Bounced sessions with short durations typically tell you that something has gone wrong fast. Here are some things to look out for:
- The page design hasn’t given your user trust
- Buttons might not have been working
- Content might have not been what they were after or too cumbersome
- The user may have miss clicked
Longer sessions usually have more positive connotations. It could mean that the user was consumed by the content and needs time to consider the offer. (Top tip – this is a prime time for retargeting ads.) On the flip side, the page could have been left idle for a long time before clicking off. Session duration alongside the bounce rate can be a good indicator of immediate UX problems, especially when investigated further with screen recording.
Bounce rates can only tell you so much from a metrics standpoint. However, recordings can illustrate the point with exactly what the user saw and experienced.
Using GDPR compliant tools like Smart Look or HotJar, you can see exactly where users are trailing off.
Remember to ask yourself these questions:
- Was there a certain bit of content that people didn’t like?
- Did they see your call-to-action?
- How did they react to your content?
This can help you discover if your longer session durations are delivering more value to the user because of a great user experience, e.g. scrolling through all the content on page.
You could have the perfect website for desktop sessions, but it may not be optimised to different screen sizes and devices. Alongside bounce rate, we recommend checking out the breakdown across desktop, mobile and tablets to indicate if your bounce rate is higher on one in particular.
A lack of page responsiveness can result in pages loading jumbled, glacial loading speeds and difficulty navigating among other big UX red flags that can encourage bounces.
Behaviour flow in Google Analytics, is a great tool for visualising where people go from different pages, giving you a simple way of determining if your funnel is working as expected. If a page crucial to your conversion funnel has a high bounce rate, you will be able to see the drop off in comparison to stages before and after to see if there’s a distinct issue at that point in the process.
Whilst GA4 does not have a behaviour flow report, it does offer exploration templates to follow your user’s journey. You can use your funnel exploration report to track a predetermined path or your path exploration for free-form tracking.
Imagine you have a ‘request a demo’ form on a squeeze page you’ve built (a page designed to get details from a user). Let’s say your bounce rate is incredibly high, but when you compare them to your conversion goals, they don’t reflect the same picture that your bounces do. They are converting on the page but still being counted as bounces.
This could be because event tracking isn’t set up on these pages correctly to not count visits that only had one page load but had an embedded form completed. By ensuring event tracking is set up correctly, you can not only reduce your bounce rate on key pages, but also get a more accurate reading about whether your pages are converting before they leave the page.
Location can make all the difference when it comes to gathering insight from your bounce rates. Is there a large market for visitors abroad to access your products and services and they are unable to access your site due to the language barrier? If this is the case, you may need to enhance UX by offering on-page translations to better communicate your offer.
On top of this, there is also the issue of a website appearing from a search term but the products and services are not available in that country. In this case, more focus on location targeting is needed.
Bounce rate is not amazingly useful on its own. You can’t tell if people are looking at the content, if conversions are happening and the overall bounce rate for your site as a whole is too broad for any use.
However, bounce rates are a great indicator of where UX problems can be and are a great starting point for further investigation when paired with other metrics. High bounce rates can be worrying on most pages depending on industry, services and content purpose, however, it’s not universal. Some pages like blog posts and squeeze pages can be justified in having higher bounces in order to serve their purpose for their audience.
Discover The Reason Behind Your Bounce Rates With PixelTree
PixelTree offers a free, no obligation, 1 hour UX audit to help inform you of the most pressing UX issues to your website, app or digital experience.
Useful Resources on Bounce Rates
Content Square: Bounce rates by industry and device statistics
Neil Patel: Bounce rate demystified infographic
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