Bounce rate

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Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate)[1] is a term used in web site traffic analysis. It essentially represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who "bounce" away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.

The formula used to calculate bounce rate is:

Bounce Rate = Single Page Access/ Entries


[edit] Definition

A bounce occurs when a web site visitor leaves a page or a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs. There is no industry-standard minimum or maximum time by which a visitor must leave in order for a bounce to occur. Rather, this is determined by the session timeout of the analytics tracking software.

A visitor can bounce by:

  • Clicking on a link to a page on a different web site
  • Closing an open window or tab
  • Typing a new URL
  • Clicking the "Back" button to leave the site
  • Session timeout

A commonly used session timeout value is 30 minutes[2]. In this case, if a visitor views a page, doesn't look at another page, and leaves his browser idle for longer than 30 minutes, they will register as a bounce. If the visitor continues to navigate after this delay, a new session will occur.

The Bounce Rate for a single page is the number of visitors who enter the site at a page and leave within the specified timeout period without viewing another page, divided by the total number of visitors who entered the site at that page. In contrast, the Bounce Rate for a web site is the number of web site visitors who visit only a single page of a web site per session divided by the total number of web site visits.

[edit] Usage

Bounce rates can be used to help determine the effectiveness or performance of an entry page. An entry page with a low bounce rate means that the page effectively causes visitors to view more pages and continue on deeper into the web site.[3] analytics specialist Avinash Kaushik has stated:

"It is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying."[4]

This measure however needs to be interpreted relative to a websites objective. On an ecommerce site, where the sole aim may be to sell product online, then bounce rate is a primary concern and useful measurement. Information sources, or sites which drive the customer to make contact via email or phone may see bounce rates up much higher. This may not be a bad thing as they are only viewing one page of the site (but contacting the company).

[edit] Caveats

While bounce rate is a useful tool for e-commerce sites, it is of more questionable value for sites such as news and information, where many visitors go to scan headlines and conduct research, and can find what they want immediately on the entry page. Indeed, for any kind of informational site, sophisticated users are likely to bookmark a page within the site, which then becomes their personal entry page, check it (e.g., for sports scores, the price of pork bellies, etc.), then bounce right off. The page will have done its job, but might still have a bounce rate above 80%, bringing up the average for the whole site. For such sites, metrics such as returning visitors vs. new visitors might be more informative.

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