Is Google Analytics’ Bounce Rate Correct?

google-analytics-fuq-bounce-rate-really

Google Analytics is a great tool, no doubt about it. It’s also pretty complex and therefore the F.A.Q. list will be big. Most of the questions will have an answer in the Google Analytics Help Center, but there will always be questions you probably won’t find the answers at all. I call them F.U.Q. – Frequently Unanswered Questions.

Let’s take a look at the bounce rate report. Mainly, bounces are defined as a single page visits to your website. Bounce rate will apply to your landing pages (the destination URLs of your PPC or banner campaigns or search results in search engines, emails, etc).

If you have content that is accessible only by login into your account or if your checkout pages are accessible only from previous pages, how can they have bounce rates? How can a page that is not accessible without coming from a previous page have a “bounce rate”? It should ony have an exit rate, isn’t it?

If the order confirmation page or the thank you page is only accessible after visitors log in into their accounts there shouldn’t be any bounce rate! Really? Take a look at the Top Content report and see if any of your secure/checkout pages are displaying bounce rates:

Bounce Rate for a Checkout Page

Bounce Rate for a Checkout Page

On a recent conversation with Avinash Kaushik, I asked his opinion on the issue and he was kind enough to share some of the thoughts in a nice post (one step ahead of me) . I just added some ways to minimize the fake bounce effect:

- bookmarks (make sure your secure pages or password restricted areas are not directly accessible by typing their URLs in the broswer). You can also use Awstats to predict a “added to bookmark rate”.

- internal traffic (make sure to exclude your internal traffic from data collection)

- email or other marketing campaigns (do not set your checkout or restricted pages as landing pages for your marketing campaigns)

- organic traffic (make sure you exclude those pages in robots.txt and also in meta tags)

Other reasons that may influence the bounce rate on “unbounceable pages” can be:

- visits longer than 30 minutes (when visitors spend more than 30 minute on those page and then reload the pages they will start having a bounce rate).

- cookie and privacy settings changes while visitors are navigating on your website.
To fix them you need to dig deeper and identify the reasons. If any page has a bounce rate bigger than 0% then it means the page is a landing page and you should be able to find it in the “Top Landing Pages” report (not always, but in this account that page is there):

Landing Page Report of the Same Checkout Page

Landing Page Report of the Same Checkout Page

While the Bounce Rate report shows 1737 unique page views with a bounce rate of 25.25%, the Landing Page report shows only 49 entrances to this page. So, something must be wrong. Either our client’s account is not setup properly, or Google Analytics has a bug, I can’t tell at the moment.

If you encountered the same and you found a solution for it, let us know.

Pitstop Media offers ROI based internet marketing services results oriented web analytics services. With the use of Google Analytics we’ve helped companies reduce paid advertising cost by 148% while we increased their conversion rates by as much as 410%. Let us increase your conversion rates, too!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (5 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
Is Google Analytics' Bounce Rate Correct?, 9.2 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

About

Traian is Founder and Director of Search Marketing at Pitstop Media Inc. He has more than 11 years experience in helping small and medium businesses generate and convert organic traffic from search engines. Connect with Traian on Google+

 

9 Responses to “Is Google Analytics’ Bounce Rate Correct?”

  1. Avinash Kaushik said:

    Feb 10, 09 at 3:55 pm

    I totally forgot the Visit greater than 30 mins! That is a good one, thank you for adding.

    I am going to update my blog post with that.

    Thank you,

    Avinash.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  2. Feras said:

    Apr 15, 09 at 12:44 am

    Hi there,

    I provided a link below for more details on the subject. But in summary, since a bounce is “single page visit”, the proper report to view/analyze bounces is the top landing pages report, not the top content report. I would even say that not paying attention to what the “bounce rate” really means in the top content report, could lead someone to the wrong conclusion and really mess up their analysis (you could be spending hours troubleshooting a page that is totally fine).

    http://www.e-nor.com/blog/index.php/web-analytics/problems-with-the-bounce-rate-in-the-top-content-report/

    Thanks,
    Feras

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  3. John Rajkumar said:

    Feb 16, 10 at 2:34 am

    I’ve spent a lot of time struggling to bring my bounce rate down to acceptable levels which I’ve gathered from related articles is around 25%.
    I achieve this rate easily with returning visitors however I’ve been focusing only on new visitors and it is proving to be very difficult to bring that down below 50% and on paid campaigns its closer to 70%, is this a general trend ?
    Doesn’t it make sense to split the bounce rate into new and returning visitors?

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  4. John Rajkumar said:

    Feb 16, 10 at 3:56 am

    Just an addon to the thoughts above, would it be fair to reduce the bounce rate of new visitors by the return visitor bounce rate to get a ‘true’ bounce rate for new visitors?

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  5. TraiaN said:

    Feb 16, 10 at 10:39 am

    it makes sense to analyze the data in new and returning visitors terms. btw, make sure you look at the bounces and not only at the bounce rate. Rates can sometimes be misleading.

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  6. TraiaN said:

    Feb 16, 10 at 10:40 am

    anyway you can reduce the bounce rate is going to be beneficial. If you can find “bugs” on your site by looking at return vs new visitors, go ahead, do it.

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  7. Renuka said:

    Jan 14, 12 at 7:58 pm

    In my case i have 4-5% Bounce Rate and sometimes 0.0% is it true ? all this happened after i changed my blog template.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  8. Jamesm said:

    Mar 22, 12 at 2:58 pm

    Did they release another update to the way google ranks websites? Ive noticed over the past few days some websites seem to bounce from ranks one to page two etc. This high rate of fluctuation makes me wonder what bases determine a websites’s rankings and whether changes in the results are determined by changes made in Google’s system or within the websites itself. If I had to guess, I believe this determination is based on a combination of changes both within Google and persistent tweaking of a website that could keep it balanced somewhere on page one.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  9. Vivienne Delenick said:

    Jun 22, 12 at 5:47 am

    Several minutes of time setting it up.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)