Tuesday, March 18, 2014

4 Reason Why Your Bounce Rate Might Be Wrong

Bounce Rate is generally defined as single page visits. These are the visits that leave the site without going any further than the landing page.  A very common approach to landing page analysis is to start with Bounce Rate and see if it is a problem before diving deeper into the page/site. However, the number that your tool is providing you might be wrong. Relying blindly on the number provide by your Web Analytics tool might lead you into the wrong direction. Below are 4 reasons why your Bounce Rate might be wrong
  1. In Page Actions – If you have certain actions, such as video plays or windows that popup with JavaScript then the chances are that you are not tracking them as valid site interactions. In this case, even though the visitors will take one of the desired actions i.e. watch the video or click on a link to launch the popup window to fill a form etc., your Web Analytics tool will count these visits as single page visit, thus inflating your Bounce Rate.
  2. External Links – If you have a lot of external links on you landing page e.g. “Like Us On Facebook”, “Buy this book on Amazon” etc. then you are purposely taking visitors out of your landing page but you might not be counting these clicks as valid site interactions thus inflating your Bounce Rate, as explained above.
  3. Profile Configuration:  If you build a tracking profile of only select few pages on your site then any views of pages outside those select few are counted as “external links” (see above). For example, if you have 3 pages on your site, home.html, products.html, services.html but your profile only tracks home.html and products.html, then a click to services.html from any of these pages will be counted as an external link and hence counted as bounce if those were the only two page views that happened in the visit.
  4. Spiders and Bots – For a long time Spiders and Bots were not a big issue for JavaScript based Web Analytics solutions, as very few spiders/bots executed JavaScript tags but now more and more of spiders/bots execute JavaScript thus inflating your visits counts. Many of these spiders only execute one page on the site, thus inflating your Bounce Rate as well.  Spiders and Bot seems to be an even bigger problem when major source of your traffic is Banner Advertising (Display Advertising) or Paid Search Ads.  See below for an example of a bot that might be messing up your Bounce Rate.

Now that you know that your Bounce Rate might be wrong, do your own calculations and come up with the right number before you start redesigning your Landing Page.  Recently, I came across a situation where all of the above applied. The Web Analytics tool reported that the landing page had over 90% bounce rate, after adjusting for above factors, we ended up in 50%+ range, which is still a little higher than industry average but not as bad as it initially looked (see average bounce rate).  A Bounce Rate of 50% calls for different analysis and actions than a Bounce Rate of 90%.

Read More Bounce Rate Posts