Why we use adjusted bounce rate

Why we use adjusted bounce rate

October 21, 2015

Bounce rate is a really useful metric for measuring the performance of the content on your website, however it can also be very misleading. We adjusted it on our site in order to improve the data we were seeing in Google Analytics, and we recommend it as something you should do too.

What is bounce rate?

Let’s start by taking a look at what ‘bounce rate’ actually is; Wikipedia defines bounce rate as “the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave, rather than continuing on to view other pages within the same site.”

In short, if I type in ‘digital agency bath’ and see Corvita at the top of the page, click through and find that the true focus is web design, I might very well jump to the back button. The bounce rate in this case is 100%. However, if I click through and realise that web design is a smaller part of the overall offering and continue to browse through their pages, I have failed to ‘bounce’ and in doing so have engaged with the content on the site.

Bounce rate is a very simple metric, and it is this simplicity that can cause it to be a very misleading metric to measure site performance by.

Why is it a problem?

Visitors are invited to make different journeys through websites, not least when they are on a single page website. The home page of the Corvita website is designed to give people the information we believe they require based on the keywords we are targeting, and then invites them to dive in deeper if they wish to know more about a certain area of the business. In this case, visitors may find the information they require before continuing any further through the site, and as a result might copy our email address or telephone number and give us a call. This means that the visitor has bounced; and yet they have contacted us.

In the same vain, you might read this blog post on your phone or tablet via social media, and having read the article, where are you likely to go next? Almost certainly back to the social app. Having engaged with the content though, is this really a bounce?

Why did we adjust it?

For the very reason suggested in the previous paragraph; when is a bounce not a bounce? We want to track something with greater complexity than a simple bounce rate can deliver. If a visitor is reading a blog post, they are likely to have spent more than a few minutes engaging with our website (just as you might have done if you are still reading now!), and so we don’t consider them to have bounced. If you have a one page website, your bounce rate theoretically could be 100%, but it is silly to believe that means no one is engaging with your content. 

So we adjusted the bounce rate on our site; we assumed that if a user has visited our site and engaged with our content, they would spend more than 15 seconds on the site. The result of this tweak has seen our bounce rate drop considerably, which gives us a much better understanding of how people are engaging with our content.

We’re always happy to chat about how we can help improve your digital marketing, so please do get in touch; we’re happy to answer any questions.

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