Measuring your analytics bounce rate is an important but deceptive metric. At it’s highest level, bounce is one measure of how sticky your website is. But depending upon your analytic program, bounce rate can be calculated in a variety of ways.
Analytics Bounce Rate Default
Google Analytics is a very powerful and free tool that should be set up on every website, in my humble opinion. OK, maybe I’m not so humble. GA provides important insights on how the search engine measures your site’s performance. For most businesses, GA is sufficient although GA Premium and Adobe SiteCatalyst have their place if you have a need for enterprise-level metrics.
The downside to using Google Analytics’ bounce rate default calculation is that it penalizes sites where you typically have regular visitors who consume regular content like a blog post. They land on the site, read the post, and then leave. In GA’s eyes, it’s technically a bounce. From a business perspective, not so much.
An Alternative Measurement
For many of my clients, I modify the analytics bounce rate setting to 10 seconds. So if a visitor is on the site for 11 seconds or longer, it’s not a bounce. Human behavior is fairly predictable as it relates to online search. If your content matches the promise of the meta description, then the greater likelihood they’ll stick on the page. Therefore, they haven’t bounced.
The downside? If they land on your page but get distracted (like answering a phone call) and then leave, it won’t be counted as a bounce.
So what’s the right answer?
Your bounce rate setting really depends upon your business and how visitors consume your content. Do you have a daily blog that has a popular following? Then adjusting your bounce rate is probably the way to go. However, if you have prospects that tend to do in-depth research as part of their buying process, you’ll also want to pay particular attention to average page views and the length of time during a visit.
In this video Avinash Kaushnik, a verifiable Google Analytics God, describes why he thinks bounce rate is the “sexiest metric ever” as well as brilliantly dumb. He defines bounce rate as: “I came, I puked, I left.”
Bounce rate is one piece of the puzzle. To make the right strategic decision, we suggest you consider several key metrics.
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