If you use Google Analytics to keep track of your website’s performance, you’ve surely got to know many various metrics. However, some terms might not always be clear, or they are sometimes difficult to tell apart. That often happens with bounce rate and exit rate because, basically, both of them indicate a similar occurrence. Of course, there’s a reason why these metrics are not thrown into the same sack – let’s discover what it is!
What is bounce rate
A bounce happens when a user enters a particular web page and leaves without visiting other pages of the same website or interacting with it (for example, by leaving a comment).
Bounce rate is the percentage of such single-page sessions happening on a particular web page – visits that started and ended on that page.
How to calculate bounce rate:
bounce rate = bounces / entrances x 100%
What is exit rate
An exit is pretty simple to explain – it takes place when a user leaves the website from a given web page (after already browsing through other pages of that website).
Exit rate is the percentage of multiple-page sessions that ended on a particular web page – visits that didn’t start on that page.
How to calculate exit rate:
exit rate = exits / page views x 100%
Difference between bounce rate and exit rate
Both bounce rate and exit rate indicate how often the users leave a particular website’s page. The only difference lies in whether this web page is the first one on the website the users visited (bounce rate) or not (exit rate).
To facilitate the understanding and give it a more visual example: imagine a person (user) holding a ball (which, in this scenario, is a web page visit), who stands in front of a house (that represents your website). Now:
- if he throws his ball into one of the rooms (single web page), which bounces back to him right away, and he doesn’t step foot in other rooms of the house – we’re dealing with a bounce;
- if he takes his ball to various rooms (website’s pages), and after entering one of them, he immediately leaves the house – we’re dealing with an exit.
I bet the house’s owner would undoubtedly wonder what is wrong with these two rooms, right? That’s precisely the effect that our mysterious metrics are supposed to induce – both bounce and exit rates aim at revealing which pages make users leave the website most often. This knowledge lets you inspect the reasons for such behavior. When you analyze your bounce and exit rates in Google Analytics, you can draw appropriate conclusions and take the right actions. For instance, sometimes all your web page needs are some basic SEO or UX improvements, which you can introduce yourself. In other cases, it might be a more complex issue that requires expert help. But sometimes, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about, since some kinds of pages are meant to be left. How come? Let me explain in the following paragraphs.
What is an acceptable bounce rate
While structuring your website, you should be mindful of the stages of your desired audience’s journey through your web pages. There are some digital places you want users to reach – for instance, a contact form or product page (and even better – a basket where they can place an order). And after ending up there and doing what you’ve encouraged them to do, they will inevitably leave. But is it a bad thing? Absolutely not! After all, they’ve already done what they came to your website for (in this case, to make a purchase or to leave their contact details for you to reach out to them and offer your help with some specific issue). And that’s also what you’ve been guiding them toward (through all the other web pages of your website or diverse off-site actions), right? This makes such places a “natural” spot to say goodbye, which will likely achieve a high bounce or exit rate.
In the case of blog posts, the bounce rate might be relatively high, because people often go there only to find an answer to that particular question they typed in their search engine, resulting in finding a link to your article. So, to elongate the user’s journey through the sea of your content, you can consider applying various CTAs and internal links in your texts to interest them with what else you have to offer.
To provide you with a more detailed answer to what is a good bounce rate, allow me to recommend this CXL’s article in which they elaborated on this question, dividing the metric’s average values by the website type, industry, channel, and user’s device.
The situation gets more complicated when you try to say what is a good exit rate, since – as we’ve already established – some pages throughout your website are destined to be exited, consisting of the final step of users’ journey throughout your website. So, if you see high exit rates in your analytical tool, ask yourself if it’s one of these cases before you start panicking.
Bouncing to conclusions
The best thing to do to improve bounce and exit rates (apart from improving all the technicalities and structure of your website – like its load speed, UX, and clear navigation path) is to make sure that your content meets the users’ search intent. The essential rule here is pretty simple: don’t rank for phrases your content doesn’t cover. And I mean it. Don’t choose keywords like “Which is the highest glacier in the world” just to write “It’s hard to tell as the ice melts”. It’ll only disappoint users, as it won’t provide them with an answer to their questions. And yes, it’ll soon increase your website’s bounce and exit rates. Think about it: in a social gathering, to be seen as a specialist in your field, you’d rather stay out of topics for which you cannot give a proper answer, right? So just apply the same rule to your digital content 😉 .
Remember that the metrics’ purpose is to show you how your efforts are paying off and how’s your website doing. Don’t just try to improve these for the sake of having breathtaking numbers in your analytical tools – learn as much as you can about what they indicate and try to exploit them wisely to improve your digital content’s performance and your audience’s relationship with it!