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High bounce rate doesn’t always mean a site is bad

A business website is an important promotional tool. Regardless of industry, target audience members are searching online before making purchase decisions. Business owners are smart to carefully analyze the success of their website. One metric that website owners pay attention to is the bounce rate of the site, which is the rate at which a website visitor lands on a page of a website and then leaves (bounces) without visiting another page of the website. If the bounce rate is high that’s a bad thing, right? Well, not all of the time.

Website owners worry about bounce rate because they see it as a reflection of the quality of their site. If a visitor lands on a page (often the homepage, but not always) and then doesn’t go to another page, they assume that they didn’t like what they saw and quickly left. What they need to remember is that bounce rate doesn’t calculate the amount of time that was spent on the page. If the browser sits idle on a page for 30 minutes that is considered to be a session time out, and is a “bounce”, but a visitor could spend 10 minutes on a page and then not go to another page. That doesn’t mean that they had a bad experience, it just means that they found all that they needed on that one page. If you are optimizing your website properly, there’s a good chance that a visitor will land on the page that is most relevant to their needs, and not need to look any further.

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The importance of the bounce rate can depend on the industry that you are in, website goals, and how the website is set up. For example, a high bounce rate for a local restaurant isn’t something to worry about since most information can be found on one page. Someone that is looking to order take out will land on the homepage, find the phone number, and then exit the page or “bounce”. If someone is looking for the menu and searches for “Family Restaurant menu” and is directed to the menu page, they will check it out, and then “bounce”. These bounces don’t mean that the website wasn’t useful or didn’t serve its purpose. It just means that the visitors could find all that they needed on one page.

Bounce rate is more important to pay attention to if the site is more of a sales tool than an informational tool. If you offer a variety of services or products, a visitor is going to need to spend some time reading and researching on the site to find what suits their needs best. If the site isn’t converting, a high bounce rate could be part of the problem and you may need to reevaluate your content, navigation, and internal linking structure.

Depending on the purpose of the website and the size of the website, bounce rate isn’t always an indicator of a poor website. When a visitor lands on a simple website, they will probably find what they need on one page. Instead of worrying about the bounce rate, look at other metrics that are better indicators of the success of the website such as traffic and visitor growth along with business success.

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