Why is my bounce rate high?

Bounce rate is a metric provided in Google Analytics which provides an indication of user engagement with a page or website.

Bounce Rate

Generally, Bounce Rate is accepted to be “the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page” as described in Google’s help docs. However, this isn’t strictly true – more accurately, Bounce Rate is a measure of users who left a page or site without registering an “engagement”. Knowing this can have a profound effect on how we view Bounce Rate.

Engagements in Google Analytics fall into a few categories:

Ecommerce Items
Ecommerce Transactions
User Defined

As such, Bounce Rate attempts to give a measure of user engagement with a page or site. A high Bounce Rate indicates lower engagement levels, as visitors are leaving the page/site before making an interaction. While, Non-Bounced Users are those who have engaged with the page.

Why is my bounce rate high?

There are a number of reasons why a Bounce Rate may appear high. Before investigating possible usability factors it’s always worth checking the technical implementation for any errors that may be causing ambiguous data.

If your technical implementation is sound and Google Analytics is correctly reporting a high Bounce Rate it’s time to dig a bit deeper. Specifically, analysing what might be causing this particular user behaviour.

Every once in a while, we have queries regarding Bounce Rates on certain pages such as the contact page or a general information page. While most people associate a high Bounce Rate with a negative user experience, you have to consider the context the user is accessing the page and the content available.

In the case of a contact page, visitors are often arriving on the page, collecting the information they require and leaving again very quickly. Although this would report a high Bounce Rate, raising concerns, it’s actually a positive experience, rather than a negative.

Nevertheless, in reality, Bounce Rate across other areas of a site often indicates a poor user experience. Here are a few common reasons that may result in a high Bounce Rate:

Speed – if your page is taking a long time to load all its elements you may find Google Analytics is registering a visit but in fact people are leaving before the page has finished even loading. Try running your page through Google Page Speed Insights or YSlow to learn more.

Poor Mobile Experience – if you’re receiving a lot of traffic from visitors using mobile devices but your website doesn’t have a responsive design then people will find the site hard to use (and then leave). Learn more about why mobile matters.

Poor Navigation – if users simply can’t find where to go next then you’re going to have a lot of frustrated visitors leaving a page or site very quickly.

Trust – a lot of factors influence how ‘trustworthy’ your site may appear to visitors. Ultimately, the design of your website and your credibility as a brand should instil a level of trust in users so they feel comfortable accessing your website, viewing other pages or even making a purchase. If this isn’t the case they will leave in a hurry!

Can’t find what they’re looking for – one of the biggest culprits in this area is users not feeling they’re in the right place or can’t find what they’re looking for on the page. Similarly to poor navigation, if a visitor doesn’t immediately feel they’ve arrived in the right page or can’t easily find where to go to next they’ll start looking for an alternative website. Structuring your site content is extremely important to address this issue.

The examples above provide a few frequent mistakes that often result in a high Bounce Rate which we hope you’ll find helpful. However, if you’re still experiencing issues but can’t determine why, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help figure out the problem.


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