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Is High Bounce Rate Always Bad? Yes and No!

Bounce rate is determined by the percentage of users leaving the landing page without interacting with any other pages. So, is this really a bad thing? It depends.

I’ve heard a lot of questions raised by developers, marketing managers as well as CEOs regarding high bounce rate. There seems to be nothing wrong in the beginning to discuss about the bounce rate, soon or later they started discuss about the root cause of the high bounce rate and how to improve it.

This is when I would jump in the conversation. First of all, we shouldn’t look at bounce rate with any negative impression, or apply any performance indicator on top of it.

I would give some simple examples but first you have to understand what bounce rate means for these two different websites:

  • Website A: dictionary website
  • Website B: a hosting startup

For website A, a typical use case would be users searching for a meaning of a word. The users will then landed on a specific page, get what they want and leave.

Most of the user will contribute to a 100% bounce rate here, but high bounce rate means a great performance indicator for website A.

For website B, a typical use case would be users landed on the homepage, visited the Blog, F.A.Q, customer stories, eventually sign-up or leave. In this case, a low bounce rate means positive user engagement most of the time but not always.

For website B, user A, this user can be an existing hosting customer, or a new user from search engines landing on a blog post regarding “How to solve a server configuration error”. In case the blog post is not helping them, they would search and browse through all the related blog posts and F.A.Q hoping to get some clue to solve their problems. They ended up leaving the website with disappointment but someone might be yelling and celebrating for a low bounce rate and “great” engagement.

This explains why some blog post have 80-90% high bounce rate where some blog post has a 50-60% low bounce rate. Even for a same blog post, two different users with different intentions will leave a high or low bounce rate depending on their intentions and expectations.

Conclusion

As you can see, measuring bounce rate with any performance and UX indicator will be inaccurate from time to time. Investigating a high or low bounce rate with different segments is not even enough to come out with a solid conclusion.

Two users from organic search landed on the same page with different keywords might have totally different intentions and expectations. Instead of spending time digging on bounce rate, investing on conversion tracking and keyword analysis would be more effective for improving your website UX and performance.

Pei Yong Goh

By Pei Yong Goh

All the web stuff.

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