What Is Bounce Rate?

by Daniel in 42 Comments — Updated Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Today I was going to write about why new websites can display very misleading bounce rates, but I realized I had never covered the bounce rate concept before, so I’ll stick to the basics today, and expand on the topic over the coming weeks.

If you already know the term, consider this post a refresher.

What Is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is a very important metric for website owners. It basically tells you what percentage of your visitors are “bouncing” away after landing on your site (e.g., they just visit one page and leave before clicking on to a second page inside your site). A bounce can occur for several reasons, including:

  • The visitor hit the “Back” button on his browser.
  • The visitor closed his browser.
  • The visitor clicked on one of your ads.
  • The visitor clicked on one of your external links.
  • The visitor used the search box on his browser.
  • The visitor typed a new URL on his browser.

All the actions above would cause the visitor to leave your site. Provided he did any of these actions right after arriving at your site (and before clicking on to a second page), it would be counted as a bounce. In fact the formula for finding the bounce rate on your website is:

Bounce rate = Visits that left after one page / Total number of visits
For example, if during a certain month your site received 120,000 visits, out of which 80,000 bounced after visiting just one page, your bounce rate for that month would be 80,000 divided by 120,000, which equals to 0.66 (or 66%). Notice that you can calculate the bounce rate of your whole website or of single pages inside it.

Obviously the lower the bounce rate on your website, the better, because it means that visitors are getting engaged by your content and design, and that they are clicking to visit a second (third and so on) page on your site.

How do you know the exact bounce rate on your site? A web analytics program like Google Analytics will automatically track the numbers for you.

Next week I’ll talk about what is considered to be low and high bounce rates, as well as about the misleading numbers you can get from new websites. Stay tuned.

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42 thoughts on “What Is Bounce Rate?”

  1. Excellent. I always wondering what a Bounce Rate was; I originally thought that it was a page that didn’t work, but couldn’t never figure out what was wrong with it. Now I know what’s really going on and hopefully can find a better way to entice my visitors to stay and click awhile 😉

  2. I have a question. What bounce rate is considered best, average and worst. If my my blog’s average bounce rate is 0.33 does it mean that the bounce rate is 33% or what? How can I curb the bounce rate?

  3. Your ideal bounce rate will depend on what you want your site to do. For the most part, clients want to engage on their sites, so a high bounce rate is a bad thing, bloggers also want engagement so a high bounce rate not ideal (I do understand that you can get false bounces…), so this is generalization.

    I also have one client who only wants a website for surface level credibility… They want the customer to call them. We’ve made the phone number blazingly prominent… and guess what people visit the site and make a call. High bounce rate – successful site in the eyes of the client! I’m interested if Google is using bounce rate as a determinant in ratings… anyone got more info on that?

    I used to advise clients to ensure a lower bounce rate (40% or less), before investing in banner ads, other click throughs, pay per click etc. I’ve changed my language a little – make sure your site does what you want it to do… 🙂

  4. As I am a new blogger I’m having trouble understanding this. I only have 46 views on my blog and my bounce rate is 0.00%. If the lowest is the better I shouldn’t have 0.00% of bounce rate?
    Should it be 100% because I don’t have much views?

  5. Thanks for the useful post! I have been getting a ~65% bounce rate according to my google analytics and I wasn’t sure what that meant. Thanks for clearing it up. Mind telling us what the bounce rate for this site is?


  6. Basic but very useful guide for new Bloggers… more over the real value of a site is determined by bounce rate… It’s easy to get visitors from search engine or any other method but hard to make them stay …

  7. Very informative post, thanks a lot for explaining. I’ll be sure to check out your suggestions on how to reduce bounce rates to our sites.

    Christian Guico.

  8. Thanks for the basics. I have a couple more questions:

    1. It is my understanding each post should include some internal links and external links. If this is true, then why would it be considered a “bounce” if the person goes to one of the external links? Seems to me that would be a good thing.

    2. Most of my posts are over 1000 words. So, it would make sense that people might need to go to something else and not go to another story. The comment above about the amount of time actually spent on a site does sound fairer. Are they figuring this into the statistics somehow?

    Thanks, sometimes I think it is better to just write your best stuff and not worry about all this. But, if there are only a couple people reading it, it doesn’t matter how good or useful it is, it is not reaching an audience.

  9. Bounce rate is important but only if looked at correctly. Let me elaborate.

    First of all on a site, external links, ads or other similar items should be tagged as events in GA, goals, or something similar. This will eliminate those bounces (because they are not) and allow you to understand what works.

    Second, if you have a blog and use GA you should add a timer to the bounce rate to be any visit shorter than 30 seconds. By default GA has no timer and if I can read the whole article without changing pages then leave you have a false bounce.

    Lastly, bounce rate like time on site need to segmented properly to understand what it means. Does a longer time on site mean that your visitors are reading or just confused by what they see? Does a high bounce rate show you that the page design sucks or that the content cannot hold it’s own?

    Analytics is my passion, ask me about it.
    [email protected]

    • Interesting points Massimo, and I agree.

      I would only say that a click on an ad or on an external link is still considered a bounce, but it sure is much more useful if you can different such bounces from “hard bounces”, which is when the user hits the “Back” button on his browser or closes the tab.

  10. My bounce rate for the last 30 days is 59.18% and my average time on the site is 3 minutes. I think that’s pretty good. It shows that at least almost half of the people who visit my site click through to read more articles.

    I think I could do better though. Looking forward to reading more on what you think the ideal bounce rate should be. 🙂


  11. My bounce rate has gotten a lot better since I started my site, but the numbers can fluctuate depending on the post, though I do feel much more consistent than I did two months ago.

  12. So I visit one of my usual blogs, read today’s entry (always right on top on the main page) and then go on to the next blog on a different site, I’m contributing to the bounce rate, right? Does time play a factor at all, such as I’m on the site for 5 minutes before moving on? Most of the blogs I read I’ve read almost everything they’ve posted, so I wouldn’t be jumping around on the site, but I’d feel bad contributing to a high bounce rate (which I’m guessing affects ad rates…).

    • Yes you would be contributing to the bounce rate.

      Time plays a role in some web analytics programs. That is, if you stay 5 minutes it won’t count as a bounce any more, but Google Analytics does not work like that.

  13. This is something I never paid too much attention to, but it makes a lot of sense.

    Do you find there’s a big overall difference in bounce rate from sites that people keep coming back to as loyal readers (your blog for example) and a site that relies mostly on seo to attract visitors?

    Looking forward to reading more about how we can encourage visitors to stick around for a while.

    • Each type of website will have its own “natural” bounce rate, yes. Sites with a large amount of RSS subscribers might have a higher natural bounce rate because many visitors will come via RSS, read the post and be gone.

  14. Hey Daniel,

    Nice informative post. I always do keep a check on them and try one thing or the other to reduce bounce rates. Can you suggest on ways on how to reduce bounce rates?


  15. Hey Daniel,

    Bounce rate is something that I keep an eye on. There are tweaks you can do within your blog to decrease it.

    Thanks for bringing this up!

  16. Can you talk sometime in the future about the difference between bounce rate and %exit? How is % exit measured differently from bounce rate? Which of these numbers is better to look at?

    My bounce rate % is usually slightly higher than my %exit.


    Mary Hunter

  17. To be honest, unless I am looking for more than one thing on a site (Youtube and Wikipedia are great examples) I will leave the site for somewhere else. It’s nothing against the site, or it’s content, it’s just the way I browse.

  18. Really Great Post Daniel. Very Useful for beginners.

    Bounce rate is one of the most important factor to be considered.
    I’ve have a bounce rate of 30% and i’m really happy with it.

    Anyways, Thanks for sharing this great Post.

    Looking forward to reading more posts about bounce rate.

  19. I’m thinking that the bounce rate for a Blog might be higher than for a static website. The reason I think so is this: People might be drawn to a blog by ONE article that has scored high on google. Having found what they are looking for, the reader moves on. Could this make sense?
    Bounce rate on my blog is 68%, and I DO write timely and valuable articles (at least I think so…:-)….


  20. Hi
    This is a defination helps me to clear what exactly bounce rate.Also my some misconception about is now correct

    Thanks For Sharing

  21. In Google Analytics, if someone visits a site and views only one page, no matter how long it takes them (5 mins to read it or 5 seconds to skim it and decide the content is not what they are looking for), then that is a bounce.

    GetClicky (a GA alternative) tracks bounce rate differently. If someone stays on a page for over 30 seconds then GetClicky doesn’t see that as a bounce.

    I would say GetClicky is a fairer system.

    I have seem dramatically different percentages from both sets of data on the same site.

    • The trouble with this is distinguishing between someone who reads the content and one who opened it in a tab and checked it later.

      If someone opens a bunch of pages (one of which is yours) and moves through tabs over the course of 5 minutes, they would register as a non-bounce. If they get to your tab after 5 minutes and close it, they weren’t really there for 5 minutes.

      Tabs are ubiquitous now, so GetClicky’s way seems like it would produce a lot of false positives.

    • Getclicky in nice I just used it now. My bounce rate was 72% in GA now in GetClicky its 28% with average time 4m 32s. That’s amazing! As Stephen showed one problem I don’t think many ppl leave their tabs open for more time if they so I don’t mind my to consider my bounce rate 38% rather than 28%. 🙂 because that’s also better!

  22. My lowest bounce rates always seem to come from search hits. Forums and stumbleupon are about the same at 70-90%.

    Search varies between 40 and 60%. But this is also with sites that have historically had very little content, so things may be skewed a bit.

  23. It’s interesting to know about bounce rate. My blog’s bounce rate is 72%. I think it’s because near about 98% of my blog posts are lists posts referring other sites.

  24. Some times it makes a difference on what type of site you have, if you have MFA site, high bounce rate is something people prefer to have.

    Many personal development site have low bounce rate, if writing is good and relevant! while I think I know plenty, I am looking forward to this series expand!

  25. My bounce rate is high overall, about 74%…but my average time on site is 3 minutes. It’s high b/c google only sends me traffic via long tail dating keywords that are sometimes not related at all to the content. Eh what are you going to do? It’s a brand new site. It will take a while before google trusts me.

  26. Looking forward to the expanded stuff. I was wondering recently how to track those visitors who just leave off as they arrive. Thanks for this and the forth coming articles, I am staying tuned.


  27. Bounce Rate of my blog is approx 70% (monthly basis). I think it’s on the higher side. Strange but my bounce rate was approx 50% when I started blogging 🙂 I’ve heard a few bloggers claiming a bounce rate of as low as 20% !
    Just curious to know what should be considered as a high bounce rate…


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