Monday, March 10, 2008

Typical Bounce Rates: Survey Results

Bounce rate has become one of the most talked about web metrics, and a lot has been written about what this metrics means and how it should be interpreted and used. I also wrote about Bounce Rate in my post called Bounce Rate Demystified.

This post is about the follow-up question "Ok, I understand what bounce rate is and see the importance of it, now tell me, What is the typical Bounce Rate?"
To answer this very question, I conducted a survey to understand what Bounce Rates to expect for various types of sites. The sites were classified under 6 categories, ecommerce, Product Information, Lead Generation, News/Media, Branding and Other. Other was a bucket for sites that did not fit other 5 categories, some of the sites included in “Other” where social networking, online gaming, travel search engine, tool/utility, bank and training, customer support. Since most of the sites have more than one purpose, respondents were asked to select only one category to classify theirs sites based on the main purpose of the site.

Let’s jump into the results.

Bounce Rate Range

The table below shows the minimum and maximum bounce rates for the six categories. Bounce Rates ranged from 3.24% – 85%.



Average Bounce Rate

Average bounce rate of 80 sites who responded was 40.58%.



Average bounce rates were above 30% of all the six categories. News/Media sites had highest average bounce rates. This is what I had expected too, considering how users consume or reach media sites. A lot of visitors reach a news/media site via a link from another site, blog post etc. Once they read the article/news they go back to the sources that lead them there.

Bounce Rates on Top Entry Page

Top entry page is the page where majority of the visitors enter the site. The following chart shows the bounce rates on the top entry pages of various types of sites.



For all the site categories, average bounce rate on the top entry page was lower than the average bounce rate. News/Media had the highest bounce rate on their top entry pages. Again, as I said above, visitors enter news/media site via link from another site, blog post etc and go back to the source after reading the news/story.

Bounce Rate on the Home Page

Before the proliferation of the search engines there used be one entry page to the site and that was called home page. Almost all of the visitors entered the site though the home page. Today visitors enter the site via various pages and a lot of them might not even see the home page during their visit as I saw with some of my clients and wrote in my blog post "Homepage – How critical is it".
The following chart shows the percentage of sites that have Home page as the top entry page. The survey showed that Homepage is still the top entry page for majority of the sites.





Except News/Media site other categories of sites had a higher Bounce Rate when the home page was the top entry page. I think when user enter a News/Media site via home page they know the brand name and are coming to look at what is currently available and use home page to dive deeper into the site.

One of the possible reasons for a higher bounce rate, when home page is the top entry page, is that the home page in most of the cases is very generic and shows up in search engine results pages for keywords that might not be on the home page any more. For example an eCommerce site might have showcased an iPhone on the homepage when the site was indexed. A user searches on iPhone and lands on the sites homepage. Guess what? The site is no longer showcasing iPhone and now the product that they are showing on homepage is a Blackberry instead. What does the user, who is looking for iPhone, do? Most likely, Bounces, resulting in higher bounce rate. Considering this very impact, I had written an article called Follow the Search. Check it for a tip on how to lower the bounce rate on home page.

Search and Bounce Rate



Search, paid or organic, is one of the top traffic drivers for most of the sites. The bounce rate on Paid Search was higher for all the categories except for News/Media. This is alarming considering you are paying for all the visitors. The worst of all were Branding sites. I am sure when you talk to the marketing (or campaign managers) they will say that mission was accomplished since the user did come to the site even if they left without going any further. I agree that a visitors was exposed to brand but there is more that a marketers needs to think about than just getting visitors on the site (this is a topic for another post so I won’t go in details in this article).

News/Media site showed higher bounce rate for organic search then paid and lower than paid search. Again, as mentioned above possible reason is that when visitors find a new or story via search they come to a specific story and then leave after reading it, while visitors coming by paid search are either driven to home page or a landing page and expect to dive into at least another page.

Landing Pages and Bounce Rate

The question is do landing pages affect the bounce rate? Should you have a landing page? Except for lead generation sites, majority of all other site categories did not have unique landing pages for their campaigns.





As most of the sites have a Paid Search Campaigns (PPC), I used PPC to understand if Landing pages have an impact on the bounce rates. All three categories that answered the question about landing page and PPC campaigns showed that having a unique landing page for each campaign dramatically decreased the bounce rate. There was a drop of over 25 percentage points in bounce rate when unique landing pages were used as compared to when no unique landing pages were used. I hope this gives you are reason to start thinking about having unique landing pages for your campaigns.

Summary

  • Remember every site is unique so will have a unique bounce rate. Bounce rates ranged from 3.24% - 85%
  • Paid search has higher bounce rate than organic search, unless you have a news/media site.
  • If you top entry page is Home page then you can expect to have higher bounce rate. Using Behavioral Targeting can make your homepage a unique landing page on the fly and hence result in reducing bounce rates.
  • Landing page make a significant impact on the bounce rate. Consider having a unique landing page for every campaign you run.

Questions? Comments? or to get a PDF of this article, email me at batraonline@gmail.com

Sponsored Message: Reduce Bounce Rate and Increase Conversion Optizent UnBounce. Convert any page into a unique landing page on the fly.

20 comments:

  1. Wow, fantastic post, thanks so much for collecting and publishing the data with your analysis!

    Just a couple of minor things - the 'Bounce Rates on PPC Campaigns' labels might be the wrong way around? Also, it's interesting to see whether the home page is the top entrance page or not, but I like to compare say entrances for *all* product pages, or blog posts, or articles or whatever to home page entrances, and then you get an even better look at the importance of other types of pages vs the single home page, but I understand that would have been a difficult thing to survey.

    Thanks again!

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  3. Luke,

    Thanks for the feedback. I fixed the graph.
    Let me see if I have the data to provide the information that you are looking for.

    Thanks
    Anil

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  4. Great to have some publicly available figures like these. Thank you so much for compiling them.

    I'm not sure there ever really was a time when the home page was the starting point for all visits, though. I used to track traffic back when Analog was the first tool of choice and can remember having to make this point to site owners back in 94-95. Even then the effect of deep links, as well as the likes of Lycos and Alta Vista, was quite marked.

    I think Luke's right to suggest combining all the product pages (or blog posts, or news items, articles etc) together and then considering how they rank as landing pages. And how they bounce.

    On the e-commerce sites I know, the product pages combined are the top point of entry and also have higher bounce rates. They tend to be used by new visitors as part of their research process when they are pogoing back wards and forwards from search engine results pages.

    It would be great to extend the survey if possible, or include this if you repeat the exercise at some point.

    But this is still great.

    Thank you.

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  5. Great study thanks so much for sharing the results!

    I manage the analytics for a fair number of lead generation sites. The sites are real estate specific sites with search being among the primary functionality on site.

    For this group of sites I find the opposite of your findings re: paid search bounce vs organic bounce. Paid searchers coming to the sites I manage are consuming 10 to 20 times the typical viewer.

    My guess is this has to do with the search task orientation of the visitors for this industry.

    Again, great work and thanks for sharing it!

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  6. Robbin Block12:27 PM

    I'm teaching a class tonight through Biznik Seattle on how to get visitors off your home page and deeper into the site. I was just looking for bounce stats yesterday. I found some, but this is more in-depth. Thanks for your great timing.

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  7. Amazing content! Thanks so much for selflessly sharing.
    Few questions:
    1. Which geo did you target for this study - USA, UK, EU, APAC?
    2. What was the research methodology employed for this study & what was the sample size?

    Please help & thanks again! :)

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  8. That was very intresting
    thank you
    Steve

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  9. That's incredibly useful information; thanks. I was wondering where we fell in relation to the same category, and you answered all of my questions!

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  10. Anonymous8:50 AM

    This has been so helpful. I had to find out information on this topic and had no idea where to look. I am so thankful that you did this survey and shared your findings.

    -Eric

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  11. Nadeem Chaudhry11:47 AM

    Great post, I was looking for data on bounce rate. Thanks for putting this together.

    Nadeem

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  12. Great article. I do also have proof that PPC campaigns have a higher bounce rate than SEO campaigns.

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  13. Hey Anil, great post! I have always wondered how my sites compare to others. Having the site categories broken-out like that really helps put things in perspective.

    It would be easy to see this information, see that your site is around average, and then be satisfied with that. Even if your site is within average ranges, it doesn't mean you should stop optimizing for a lower bounce... I know I won't!

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  14. Good article. Something interesting to analyze would be bounce rate by specific areas, like travel guides.

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  15. Hi Anil,

    Regarding your earlier point on:
    "Paid search has higher bounce rate than organic search, unless you have a news/media site."

    To add on,not all paid search have the tendency to drive higher bounce rate,reasons for paid search campaigns driving higher bounce rate could be due to:

    1. Non targeted approach - Keyword
    Through targeting of overly generic keywords and messaging which might lead to the tendency to drive the higher bounce rate.

    2. Non targeted approach - Landing page Targeting
    Improper targeting of landing pages with the keyword intent which ultimately leads to the higher bounce rate and to add on the increase in cost per acquisition.

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  16. Hi,

    Fascinating post - it has set me off comapring my own bounce rates against some of the data here !.

    Is there any further data about country of origin of the visitor i.e. does where you come from affect bounce rates ?

    Thanks

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  17. Thank you for putting the information up in a straight forward way. This is like the 5th site i've been to and none of the others gave a straight answer as to what an average bounce rate was.

    I think I'm going to go to several of your pages to help with yours. thanks.

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  18. My eCommerce site has been teetering back and forth between 30 - 40% bounce rates and I've always wondered what the average is. I'm hoping to lower it in the near future by doing some testing of new design/graphic treatments to the UI

    Thanks for the post

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  19. I thought my bounce rate of 90% was excessive, now I know it is!

    Thanks.

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  20. This article was very helpful. Our bounce rate is around 37% I think still some room for improvement. But this helps....it stinks knowing so many people show interest and leave the page. Thats like walking into a store and walking out with nothing.

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I would like to hear your comments and questions.