Ben Young
Ben Young
November 7, 2022

Bounce rate measures the rate at which people leave a webpage without further engaging with it. Bounce rate is calculated by taking all visits to a page and seeing what percentage left the webpage without taking further action.

Bounce rate = visitors that left without taking action / total visitors .

This is an important measure to understand how effective the web page or its content is in serving the visitors expectation. The analogy is, the visitor is like a ball, bouncing off your webpage. If it is not a good experience they bounce quickly.

Bounce rates can vary depending on how visitors landed on the webpage. Paid traffic sources tend to have higher bounce rates, than organic or traffic from newsletters. This is because less of the people visiting are familiar with the website. Similarly bounce rates can vary by device.

If you are new to Bounce rate, these posts might be helpful:


Why is Bounce Rate important?

Bounce rate is important because it helps uncover customers that have not had their expectations met. High bounce rates, mean companies need to acquire more customers, at a higher cost. It is a valuable feedback loop, on traffic sources and the page content. It can mean one or the other (or both) is not doing its job.

An analogy is, it is like churning customers, customers that walk into a store and walk right back out. That is subpar and inefficient. Drives up costs and also wastes resources.


How does measuring Bounce Rate work?

A piece of tracking code is placed on the website that a company wishes to track. This enables tracking of bounce rate for each individual user. As users arrive on that page, their web browser, loads the tracking code. This then observes how a user engages in the page and records it in their database.

With Bounce rate, the tracking code is looking to see how the user engages in the page. And if they don’t engage, it then gets registered as a bounce.


Example of the Nudge analytics dashboard
Example of a dashboard which would show a bounce rate


Related reading:


Google Analytics Bounce vs Nudge Bounce

Traditional analytics have measured bounce rate by if someone does not click another link. They are deemed to have bounced. This was more appropriate in the old days of the web. And did not factor the amount of time someone spent on a page.

Increasingly today, people have multiple tabs open, they open tabs in new windows, they read a piece of content and hit the back button .So Nudge updated the metric, to reflect, if someone reads the content or engages with the page, they didn’t bounce.

This distinction is important, as in many use cases, seeing if someone engaged with the URL is most valuable. This was the original intent of Bounce rate, it just needed updating.

Bounce rate also helps with traffic optimization or PPC efforts. Because if a traffic source is driving consumption of the page or content, that is valuable and should be optimized toward. Often agencies will use Bounce Rate as a KPI.


Read more:


What can cause a high bounce rate?

A high bounce rate is caused when a user isn’t getting the experience they expected. It is all about expectation management.

Common reasons of a high bounce rate are:

  • They accidentally clicked an ad and weren’t expecting to land on the page.
  • The landing page doesn’t reflect what users expected when they clicked through.
  • The URL is slow to load, so they give up.
  • Something unexpected happens, like a pop up, or expanding unit. This can scare users away.
  • Mobile devices tend to have a higher bounce rate in general.
  • High bounces rates could actually be a result of bad analytics implementation itself.
  • Slower connection speeds of visitors to a web page.

Customers are not afraid of the close tab button or the back button. So if you are experiencing high bounce rates, do examine, is the page delivering on the expectations of users. And secondly, check that your analytics has been implemented correctly. Convoluted or complex set ups can create unintended consequences.


High bounce rates can cause analytics discrepancies

High bounce rates can also cause discrepancies in analytics, because not all the tracking codes have loaded before the user has visited. This can be an invisible tax, where companies need to acquire more customers, because they aren’t hitting their numbers. Simply focusing on reducing bounce, can lower costs and increase conversion rates.

Read more in our Guide to Analytics Discrepancies


Bounce rate affects other metrics too

When troubleshooting bounce rate and analytics, it’s worth understanding how bounce can impact other metrics.

For example, bounce rates have an impact on other metics like:

  • Attention, more people leaving pages quickly, decreases overall attention.
  • Conversion rate, if less people are staying, there are less people available to make a conversion
  • CPC, as companies need to spend more, or bid more, to get the same number of clicks
  • Reach, the number of people that a company reaches.

If there is a high bounce rate, this typically does push cost per clicks up when it comes to advertising. As the advertising platform rewards better experiences for their audiences. The same goes for SEO, search engines monitor to se if a user clicks on an article and stays there, or comes back to seek other results.

This is why Bounce rate is so often used as a KPI, as it is a simple way of incentivizing quality experiences for customers. It is often adopted by advertisers and content marketers.

Imagine two scenarios, Scenario A where they optimize for 10,000 page views. And Scenario B, where they optimize for 10,000 page views, with a low bounce rate. Scenario B is better set up for success.


Benchmark your Bounce Rate

You should have an understanding of your own natural bounce rate. They way to find your natural bounce rate, is to look at the bounce rate of search traffic or organic traffic on your URLs. This should give you a natural bounce rate.

When you buy traffic, typically it has a higher bounce rate. But using the natural bounce rate as a benchmark, you can try get as close to that as possible. And in certain circumstance it is possible, especially for highly targeted traffic.

You can then use this benchmark, as a yardstick, to analyze and improve URLs or content that is above your accepted bounce rate.

For example, the bounce rate benchmark at Nudge for 2022 was 25%. Yours might be higher or lower.

You can then use this as a yard stick to measure the quality of new pages, and fix those that are below your benchmark.


Pages matter

Depending on the URL visited and the purpose of that page, it will impact the observed bounce.

  • Generally a homepage will have a higher bounce rate when promoted, than say a targeted landing page or a piece of content.
  • Promoting a hub of articles, will have a higher bounce than promoting one individual piece of content.
  • Exit pages will always have a high bounce, i.e. thank you or success pages. Contact pages.
  • Navigation pages, tend to have lower bounce, because the user is navigating from one part of the website to another.

This is why you need to observe your overall Bounce rate but to also dive into individual URLs to see how they are performing. Averages can hide the nuance of these pages.