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Common misconceptions; bounce rate vs exit rate

Common misconceptions; bounce rate vs exit rate

Bounce rate in your Google Analytics reports does not lie, but it can be misleading. This is a basic post to help you understand bounce rate vs exit rate and what you should expect on your website or blog.

Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate

Bounce rate

These are visitors to your website that exit without visiting a second page. Bounce rate can be used to measure effectiveness of your keyword choice, if you have a very high bounce rate, maybe look at keywords and meta description. You should aim to match content as closely as possible to the user query.

Exit Rate

Exit rate is given to each page on your website based on the amount of people who leave your site through that particular page. You can use exit pages to identify weak steps in a conversion funnel. You can then make changes to see if the figure improves or worsens.

Please remember that certain webpages will have a high exit rate; eCommerce final checkout stage.

Bounce Rate Scenarios

Bounce rate can be misleading, here are 3 scenarios where the action by your visitor would be counted as a bounce.

  1. User types a new URL into their browser and leaves the page.
  2. User visits from search, clicks on the back button.
  3. User closes the browser window.

Here are two common scenarios that can inflate your bounce rate;

Users clicks an external link

If a user visits your website, and the first link they click on is external, this is counted as a bounce. This is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if he click was on one a paid advert. If you run a website that allows users to login via a third party service (eg login with Twitter), then this click can count as a visit to an external site. If this is the first click once the user arrives on your site it, the click will be counted as a bounce.

Incorrect tracking cookie configuration

If your website tracking code has not been setup correctly, you may find that you have inaccurate figures. For example; if you pages have different tracking ID’s, going from one page to another could be recorded as a bounce or exit. This is a rare and relatively easy to solve, but if you are having problems fixing this yourself, you can use the services of an auditor to verify that everything is set up properly.

What is a good bounce rate for my website?

How long is a peice of string? The average bounce rate for a website is about 40%. This figure is quite meaningless because good bounce rate depends on a number of variables;

  • Industry & niche.
  • Brand awareness & reputation.
  • Type of website.
  • How far the visitor has come with their query.

When is a high bounce rate acceptable?

Bounce rate is not always nesecerely a bad thing. This can be hard to understand when you are new to analytics. If you are not careful you may find yourself spending time and effor trying to reduce the bounce rate of pages that generally attract high bounce rate.

Contact pages

Contact pages tend to have high bounce rates. This is because a large number of visitors to contact page are looking for basic contact information like a phone number or email address (an assumption, but safe to assume they are not looking for products or other content)

Checkout pages

You do not want traffic from search engines landing on empty checkout pages. This is not a big problem, but you will inevitably get a small amount of traffic landing on, and immediately leaving your checkout pages. As a result the reported bounce rate will be high. A high exit rate on a checkout page is not a good thing.

High traffic blogs

Yes Really! On high traffic blogs that are monetised with Adsense, affiliate window, or other similar CPM advertising model, a high bounce rate can be a good thing; If a user lands on a post they are interested in that hosts adverts on the post page, and subsequently clicks on one of these adverts, that could be viewed as a bounce if they are taken to the new page in the same window. In this case, a bounce could mean that visitors have clicked on paid advertising, which will be checkable.

User is not ready to purchase

Remember that the reason for your website’s existence is to serve your potential customers, whether you be a blog or eCommerce site. Not all visitors will be in the buying state of mind. Some people are quick to make this decision whilst others like to repeatedly look at options, and test your cart before making a decision. You will get both types of visitors, accept it.

Don’t let bounce rate deceive you

A 100% bounce rate is not always a bad thing. A page with 100% bounce rate could mean that one person bounces from that page while everyone else went on to other site pages and found what they are looking for.


Bounce rate and exit rate can be used effectively to target content problems You can use Google custom segments and dashboards to make tracking bounce rate vs exit rate in Google Analytics. Here is a link to 15 advanced segements you can add to your analytics account, and a post from blastam on a custom segements

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