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Bounce Rates High? Why?

Most bloggers I know want to reduce their bounce rates. Sometimes it can seem as if it doesn’t matter what the bounce rate for a page actually is, we want it to be lower!


Image courtesy stock.xchng user ColinBroug

While it’s a stretch to expect we’ll hit a zero bounce rate, for most bloggers, it is worth looking at your bounce rates regularly, and trying to find ways to reduce them where appropriate.

While blogging’s about people—not just numbers—bounce rates can give you hints about the ways individuals are using your blog, and where you can help them out. In this post, I’d like to explain that in a bit more detail.

What is a bounce?

You undoubtedly know what a bounce is—a user who lands on our page from an external source, then leaves our blog without looking at any other pages. It’s a “single pageview” usage of our site.

But what does a bounce mean?

  • Did the reader get what they came for, and leave?
  • Were they disappointed by what they saw on your blog page?
  • Did they arrive at the page expecting to see something else?
  • Is the content current and compelling—and clearly so?
  • Is it clear from a single glance at the page what your blog is, does, and delivers?
  • Are there clear paths from that page to other actions or information that are likely to meet the needs of target users?
  • Are the bouncers regular readers who check out all your posts, so each time they just come to the latest one, read it, and go again>

Understanding the possible reasons for the bounce is an important step in doing something to reduce the bounce rate itself. Let’s look at a case study from ProBlogger to see exactly how the diagnosis of reasons for a high bounce rate can go.

The bounces, and the page

On a usual trawl through the site’s stats one month, I spotted this:

Bounce rate stats

These stats were for a single month. As you can see, this page attracted some good views, and almost 95% of them were from new visitors! But the bounce rate was really high, the time on site low, and the average visit duration? Terrible!

My first thought was to visit the page itself. It didn’t take me long to find a few issues—let’s step through some of the main ones I found (note that I’ve updated the post since, so these items have been addressed on the live page):

  • The opening dated the article. This piece has a publication date of 2008, but even if the new visitors didn’t see that, the opening, which would have been fine at that time, was written when I was a Twitter newbie—not ideal these days!
  • This problem was amplified by the outdated Twitter follower number I’d quoted. I mentioned in the post that I had 5500 followers; now that number’s over 160,000.
  • I’d included a link to Twitip in the opening. This immediately pulled readers through to one of my other sites, which doesn’t generate any income. While the content had been valuable, that site’s a bit dated now, due to a lack of regular updates. It certainly seemed smarter to try to keep these new visitors on problogger.com a bit longer, rather than syphon them off to Twitip.
  • Much of the content in the article itself was dated.
  • The post didn’t provide many links to other great articles we have on topics like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social networks, and social network engagement strategies, here at ProBlogger—simply because that information wasn’t available back in 2008 when I’d written the post.

Yep, this page was pretty outdated! But I bet most sites that have been around for a while will probably have a page or two that are in a similar state.

Sources of bouncing traffic

Okay, so I knew I had a problem with the content of the page—and there were plenty of opportunities to improve it. But in order to make the right improvements—improvements that would give me the best chance of reducing that bounce rate by actually meeting individuals’ expectations—I wanted to know what the users were expecting to see when they came to the page. What needs did they have?

So I took a look at the traffic sources for the page:

Traffic sources

This was interesting. For any blog that gets a lot of its new traffic from search engines, you might expect the main traffic source to be Google. And when I first looked at the page in question, I’d imagined that most of the traffic to this page was coming from search and being pulled to Twitip. In fact, the traffic was coming from Twitip.

Understanding how the page is being used

Now I was getting a pretty clear idea of how this page was being used, and why the bounce rate was so high.

Twitip users were following a link from that site to this article. The second paragraph of the post was directing them right back to Twitip. In that case, would they feel that ProBlogger was more of an authority on Twitter than Twitip? Not likely. No wonder the bounce rate was so high!

But, as expected, Google was also among the top three referrers, and that traffic had a bounce rate of more than 90%.

Beyond content

Knowing that this page was being visited mainly by new users, it was worth looking beyond the content itself, to the page’s layout, branding, and design.

This page is laid out in the same way as the others on my blog, many of which—even if they mainly attract new users—don’t have such high bounce rates. This suggests that the layout probably isn’t the problem.

Now, the major call to action—the main point of engagement and interaction—on my blog’s content pages is to comment. Comments had long since closed on this post, so users may have struggled to find their way to other relevant content on the site at the post’s end. I’d included a Further Reading list there, but the articles were no longer current.

Yet, given how outdated the post was, and the tiny average visit duration, I guessed the visitors I was getting probably weren’t making it that far through the post anyway.

Understanding your bounces

As you can see, a little sleuthing can go a long way in helping you to understand the reasons for high bounce rates.

I try not to be thrown into a panic by the numbers alone. When I look a little deeper, I usually hit on more information that can help you take action on the bounces—if indeed that’s what you want.

In the case of this page, we made some tweaks to bring the content up to date an try to draw search traffic more deeply into the site.

But the reality for the high bounce rate from Twitip users is this: Twitip targets a different audience from ProBlogger. While it’s not unlikely that bloggers will read Twitip, that site is at once far more focused (Twitter tips only!) than this one, and more broad (it targets anyone who wants to use Twitter better—which could include casual, social users of the network, right through to online marketers in corporate environments).

So while ProBlogger contains Twitter tips, to try to convert traffic from Twitip into readers of this blog is probably a bit of a challenge. The two audiences want different things. While it was definitely worthwhile updating the ProBlogger post, the Twitip audience, on the whole, probably isn’t going to be interested in what we’re doing over here.

And that’s an important thing to realise: not all bounces are bad, and not all need addressing. Many do and will, and they’re the ones you’re better to spend your time trying to fix. But you won’t be able to work out which ones they are unless you take a few minutes to dig into the facts behind the bounces in the first place—to think about the individual users behind the numbers.

What do you do about your blog’s bounce rates? Have you been able to lower bounce rates through any specific tactics? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. So true: not all bounces are bad.

    I’ve found that providing related posts can help reduce bounce rate. Also, if search engine traffic has high bounce rates, then it’s useful to check what keywords were used to get to your site. The keywords may give an idea of the intention of your web visitors. And it could be that their intention doesn’t match the information you presents. Sometimes you can do something about it, sometimes you can’t.

    Great post!

  2. I think Bounce Rate will become one of the most important SEO ranking factors .But the bounce Rate is not always bad. Some sites simply list links to other sites.

    For instance, there are a ton of design related sites that are filled with posts that simply link to another site page containing freely available design resources.

    I agree that you want to keep your bounce-rate down as low as possible, but in many cases, it is unavoidable and actually intended to be high.

    • I completely agree with Troy; it is hard for bounce rates to go down. We cannot reduce them to zero even if we wanted to. If you link someone to another site, it is only logic if he clicks on the link and he is redirected to the other site, where he will probably get what he is looking for or maybe he will be linked to yet another site. We can try various techniques to keep bounce rates as low as possible, but we can never really eliminate them to zero.

    • I wrote a post specifically about the points you raise here guys, which may give you more insight into bounce rate as a ranking factor (which it isn’t) and how to track clicks on links to other sites which would normally be classed as a bounce. Take a read – http://www.tone.co.uk/5-common-bounce-rate-myths-debunked/

  3. Hi Darren,

    Nice post on bounce rate and i believe bounce rate can be reduce by proper interlinking of the pages . No matters what is the source of traffic , Only thing matters who well you interlink all the pages in your site.

    Any way , Thanks Darren for such nice post.


  4. I’ve been doing some work on getting my bounce rate down recently – it had been hovering around 82% and a couple of tweaks have dropped it down to around 75% already.

    One of the simple changes I made that seems to have been effective is adding a block for “related posts” at the end of posts, alongside another block which asks readers to share the article with their social network friends; I wrote about the social sharing block on my site :)

  5. i think most of people search for similar content when they move out of that landing page and when they don’t find their type of content on your website. they move on to next website.

  6. I think bounce rate will never be a factor for SEO at all, not to talk about it being the most important.

    It would be inapropriate, as often best sites are those who solve something in just one page.

    I hate sites who require clicking and clicking to find what I was googling for.

  7. It’s been five months since I started my blog pollutionpollution.com. Initially its bounce rate was 40% when its daily visitors were less than 100 but now its daily visitors have hit the mark of 500 but bounce rate is alarmingly at 79% with unique visitors 90%. I applied following tactics but yet to see any results; I personalized the contents more by involving readers in them; I placed an amazon book store on pollution; I made the design so simple and I made two internal links in each post. Let’s see what happens to my blog’s bounce rate in days to come. I am now thinking to put a video bucket as a separate section about pollution related videos

  8. Great points here I feel, for anyone who has been blogging for some time. It’s definitely important to review old posts every once in a while – dated information is certainly my main reason for leaving a site along with pop-up ads. Or realizing I’ve been sent to an old post when I’m looking for the latest on a subject (and perhaps I’ve even read that particular post before). Bounce may not be bad, but then again it may be.

  9. Hi Darren!

    Thanks a lot for coming up with such an encouragement. Every blogger wishes the rate to be at the lower level since it hurts and the only thing to be done is comprehending how the pages are being used. My problem was with the content of the page and due to your inspiring and advising site I bet I have got plenty of opportunities to improve it. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  10. This sounds so helpful Darren. I also never knew what bounce rates meant till it happened to me and I could know I to control that by reducing them! Comprehending your content bounce rates is the best thing. I’m glad you dropped by on time to lay a hand. It sounds very encouraging and helpful information to me. I look forward into applying such advice.

  11. It sure was a helpful post Darren. My bounce rates are usually high for some pages. After reading this, a got an idea about how I can understand my bounce rates better. Thanks.

  12. I appreciate the fact that you brought up this topic Darren! Bounce rates are normally very high on my site and I have been thinking of a way to reduce them. I have doubt that they will go to zero; especially because we blog by redirecting. Maybe we should come up with new originals in our sites, but again that is quite a task and we have to deal with bouncing readers. I am glad I passed by today; your post will be of great help. Thanks!

  13. That’s why titles and meta descriptions are so important.

    If you’re not writing content that’s related to your title and meta description with links to other highly related content, you’ll get a high bounce rate.

    No point in getting traffic from readers who leave frustrated

  14. Nice post to analyze Bounce rate I was having a bounce rate of 70% & I was looking how to lower this value.

  15. Nice Article.

    I hope, Bounce rate takes major role in getting good search engine rankings. It’s always good to have less bounce rate.


  16. One thing to remember is how bounce rate is arrived at; all bounces are not necessarily bad. Leaving aside exit tracking for the moment, consider your Google Analytics bounce rate. Analytics tracks your progress from the page you’re on when you take an action (e.g click on a link) that calls another page. So it then knows how long you spent on the previous page. If you simply leave the site without taking an action, Google has no way of knowing how long you spent on the page you were looking at.

    But Analytics has to put that page you were looking at somewhere in its stats. It gets around this by putting all single page views (bounces) in the shortest time frame, while admitting that this may not be accurate. So that large number of short duration bounces may not be a fair representation of what’s actually happening on your site. People MAY be spending quite a while reading that one page.

    Still, we all want people to stick with our site, and we’d all like to up our page count. Some webmasters in the past achieved this by splitting up their content into multiple pages that forced you to click from one page to another to make sense of the article. This could be very effective, if frustrating for the reader. But the drawback with this tactic these days is that it obviously reduces the content of the pages, and may result in Google deeming them too “thin” to be worthwhile – not a desirable outcome…

    Tony Page

  17. Bounce rates also reflect the mindset of the internet browser. I ran a test on my site once with users surfing the site. One thing I noticed was that some surfers hit an article and either

    A: commented on what he read in the title only,
    B: fly right by the content and hit the source link, blowing off my hard work.

    It was pretty disappointing to watch this happen, but insightful none-the-less.

    This test almost lent itself to using obscure titles to force users to read.

    (Nice to see a new post from the man himself! We don’t get enough of that.)

  18. Great piece Darren, shows not only the importance of watching bounce stats and drilling in, but also just how much value there is in our stats in general. My guess is that 3/4 of bloggers only occasionally look deeply at their stats, I know I have been guilty of that in the past…especially when things get particularly hectic. At the very least, looking closely at the top 20-30 top visited pages and examining traffic source, page time, bounce rates, keywords, etc…are something we should make a regular process rather than an occasional afterthought.

  19. Bounce rate is quite a critical factor for bloggers to consider especially as it pertains to SEO. However, two good ways to get your bounce rate down is;

    1) Write longer and higher quality content
    2) Implement a “related post” system into your blog

    The two aforementioned ways would significantly reduce your bounce rate.

  20. I write a recipe blog, and I find that often, Pinterest will pull in more traffic than google. But I also find that the more traffic I get from Pinterest, the higher my bounce rates goes. I could be wrong, but I think this has a lot to do with the type of user I’m getting from Pinterest. Having used Pinterest myself extensively, I know from personal experience that people will often click through to the one page/recipe, and then leave because they got what they came for. I’ve clicked through in this way myself, then I immediately go back to Pinterest. So it’s a double edged sword. More traffic, but more bounce too.

  21. I used to run an autoblog before where I had a bounce rate of 60% with about 4000 unique visitors a day. It was an autoblog so I didn’t care, but one day I changed the layout of the theme and the bounce rate went back by 20%.

    Never really understood why. Could you come up with an explanation?

    • I think the friendly layout keeps the visitors easily browse more content and maybe due to the quality content from autoblog source

  22. A terrific post on problematic bounce rates which I have had a problem with on my site. Much of my traffic comes from Twitter, and I suspect that this is because of the issue you describe with Twitip.

    So, I have had moderate success of late by cutting ads from the top of my page. Everyone gives the advice that the upper left hand corner is supreme for ads, but it is also supreme for your content. If you want your content to be read, you must have a bit of faith that the reader will stick around for a while, placing your ads in the right margin or between posts. Your layout is a great model. I appreciate the example and the ideas.

  23. Thanks for the Tips and Guide.
    as i am New Blogger, this will help to make My Bounce rate much Lower.!

  24. Matthew Needham says: 10/23/2012 at 7:02 pm

    I read an article here (which now seems to have been removed) by Maria Peagler talking about a zero % bounce rate which prompted me to go to Google Analytics to have a look. I was quite stunned to see that my bounce rate was 4.02% in the last month, which I put down to focusing on keeping the content evergreen – with the ulitmate goal that the content is more useful 1 year from now than it is today, thanks to comments from readers.

    Interesting post, which got me thinking, thanks.

  25. I love this kind of topic! Delving deep into the psychology of internet users and seeing why they do the things they do. When you look a little deeper into why bounce rates are high you can get some really interesting insites into your audience.

  26. I recently had my bounce rate go up because I combined a popular 3-part post into 1 post. So now visitors to that post don’t need to visit 3 pages to read the whole thing – they only need to visit 1. An interesting situation where an increased bounce rate is not a bad thing.

    There are also situations where a high bounce rate is great because it means people found exactly what they wanted on the page they landed on. A low bounce rate might not always be a good thing – it could indicate that people are frustrated clicking around to different pages because they can’t find what they want – and maybe they leave angry because they never find what they’re looking for. I’d rather have a happy bouncing visitor than an upset high page view visitor!

  27. Thank you so much Darren. The only solution I came up with was adding few links at the end of my posts under related posts section. But, it’s not working in my case. But, this strategy sounds great. It will take some time, but I am sure that good analysis and few smart changes will give a much better result. Thank you!

  28. Thanks for sharing Darren. I think another reason a lot of bloggers get high bounce rates is because they make the mistake of having adwords link to their home pages instead of landing pages relevant to their ads.

  29. This is such a helpful post but as a new blogger I’m still not that familiar with stuffs and I have a problem with my blog as it’s not showing up in search engines, whenever I type the full name goodnightcarolina.blogspot.com, it just doesn’t show up. What do you think is the problem and what should I do about it? Does anyone know where I can find a page views widget that doesn’t automatically show I have 2 million plus views because my blog is new and that’s just isn’t true. Thanks so much for the help

  30. Thanks for this post Darren. It got me looking at my blogs stats and I found another interesting aspect of the numbers that is another aspect or level on the “Bounce” subject.

    I looked at my Entry vs. Exit stats and was surprised. There are a few pages that had really high Entry numbers and exceptionally low Exit values. By contrast the reverse also applied with other pages.

    It got me thinking. What is it about the posts that kept people on the site as opposed to the ones where they said “I’ve seen enough.” I plan to take your method & review each of the posts that were good at keeping people around & see if I can modify the others to improve their perceived value to the readers.

    Thanks for the insight as it was both valuable and enlightening.

    All the best….John

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