Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits to your website (according to Google Analytics). It can be an infuriating number to track if it’s constantly above 80% as it tells the site owner that they’re content is not engaging enough to keep visitors around.
I cheated and brought mine down from 80% to 12%. Here’s how:
My website bounce average has been 80% for quite some time now. Maybe that’s good enough for a blog-like site like this as a big portion of the traffic comes from Google and visitors either get an answer to whatever they were looking for or don’t (and go back to Google to look at alternatives).
Looking at the segment of visitors who do 1+ pageviews then the situation is quite good – average pageviews per visit is 3.7 (up from average 1.5) and time on site to 4:27 (up from 00:51 seconds).
Finding my site’s true bounce rate
Inspired by Gael Breton’s Google Analytics: A Few Cool Tips On Advanced Segments I tweaked the tracking code on my site with the following (full code example in the original post):
setTimeout('_gaq.push([\'_trackEvent\', \'NoBounce\', \'Over 5 seconds\'])',5000);
It tells Google Analytics that anyone who spends over 5 seconds on the page, even if they only look at one page and then leave, is not a real bounce. 5 seconds is long enough to read the headline, scan the top of the page and make a leave/stay decision.
The result? My site bounce rate plummeted from 80% to 12%.
Maybe 5 seconds is too short (I’m going to test with 10 or 15) but other than getting the timing right I can’t think of a downside to finding out the true bounce rate.
Combining this with other engagement metrics in Audience > Behavior menu in Google Analytics gives you a more accurate picture of how well your site is performing.
KissMetrics has a good post Bounce Rate Demystified making some good recommendations how to bring the % of one-page visits down and Brian Clifton’s Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics is one of the freshest books on getting the most out of Google Analytics. Justin Cutroni’s “Rethinking Blog Metrics” is another interesting read, I’ll probably end up testing ideas from there as well.