Semalt Advice On How To Calculate Audit And Improve Bounce Rate For SEO Success

Understanding how users see your website or landing page is essential to designing a successful website. To truly know this, we must develop ways to measure users' attention or engagement.

Regularly, we see bounce rates being used as a key performance indicator (KPI) to measure how interesting or engaging a site is to users. 

However, we must ask ourselves, is the traditional understanding of bounce rate still accurate and valid enough to be used as an indicator? Considering how the web, search engines, and users have evolved up until this moment, should bounce rates matter as much as they used to? 

In this article, not only will you learn why bounce rates are not used as a Google ranking factor, but you will also see bounce rates in a new light and with an improved understanding of what they really mean. 

What Is Bounce Rate?

The key element in a bounce rate is bounce. A "bounce" is when someone visits your site but leaves without any further interaction with your site. The bounce rate is a statistic showing you the percentage of visitors who "bounced" without clicking or interacting with any other element or feature on your page. 

The metrics can be applied to an entire website or a specific page. To adequately understand what bounce rate really means, there are two terminologies we should note:

Firstly, we must understand what a session is

According to Google Analytics, a bounce rate represents the number of sessions that trigger a request to the analytics server, divided by the total number of sessions. 

Sessions here means the collection of user visits that took place within a selected time frame. These users may have visited your site before, but that doesn't matter as long as it isn't within the selected time frame. 

You should also remember that every session resets after 30 minutes of inactivity. 

Secondly, we must understand what sends a request to the Analytics server

A request to the Google Analytics server could be triggering an event or viewing a second page. 

How Are Bounce Rates Calculated?

We calculate bounce rates by dividing a single-page session by the total number of sessions. 

For example, 15,000 Semalt readers visit this post (total number of sessions), and 6,000 exit the page without doing anything else on the page. We divide 6,000 by 15,000 and then multiply by 100, which gives us 40%. So, our bounce rate would be 40%. 

Bounce Rates Today

Now that we understand what bounce rate is and how it's calculated let's consider how we use the web today. 

For example, many workers have begun working from home. So on your desktop at home, you open a webpage with every intention of reading its content, but then a friend comes over, and you have to get the door. As you let them in, they come with your favorite hamburger, so you sit on the couch and talk as you eat. 

Now you talk about sports, for about an hour then your friend leaves. You remember you opened the webpage, and you go back to continue reading. At this stage, you are an engaged user, but your bounce rate is 50%. Or you open a link from Facebook, watch the 2 mins video and read its content in 5 mins, then leave. Then, you are an engaged user with a 100% bounce rate. 

At this point, it is clear that bounce rates no longer mean what we originally thought they were. In fact, it is a flawed way to measure engaged users unless you set up events in GA to measure meaningful user behavior. 

How Google Analytics Events influences Bounce Rates

Event is a terminology we use to describe a user's interaction with content other than page loads. These interactions could be clicks on links, sign-ups, scroll depth, downloads, or more. 

These events have significant effects on bounce rates. Google Analytics included a whole section to address this on their event help page.
In it, they explained that the changes you notice in your bounce rate after implementing event measurements for your site are because event measurements like page measurements are classified as an interaction request. 

So let's say you have an embedded video on your page, and you add event tracking to see how often the video is played; once you begin recording the number of times visitors play the video with event tracking, your bounce rate decreases on that page. 

Now, you have a more accurate representation of the quality of visits on that page. 

How to Audit Bounce Rate

Marketers are bound to want low bounce rates site-wide, even not knowing it is a mistake. The main issue here is that they completely disregard the necessary details. 

Good user engagement depends on Google Analytics implementation, the device type, website structure, and content type. Bounce rate only gives insight when observed the right way. here are some steps to help you understand bounce rates better

GA Implementation

On your site, check that the Google Analytics tag is installed. If you enter your tracking code twice, two page views are likely to get passed to you, which can eventually result in a bounce rate issue.

Google's Tag Assistant Chrome extension should tell you if you have your implementation done right. Tag assistant can be downloaded by users. 

To check if your extension has been set up correctly, follow these steps:

Events Reflect Business Objectives

Align your event tracking with the business objectives. In cases where you're dealing with affiliate sites, you should also track the outbound clicks. With informational blogs, you should track page scrolls, file downloads, and internal link clicks. 

Consider the macro and micro conversions to capture a complete and accurate representation of your user's journey. 

When you have confirmed that the Google Analytics tag is installed correctly and that the event tags you've chosen reflect the business objectives, you can conclude this section. 

Here is how to check if event tags reflect business objectives: 

View Bounce Rate By marketing Channel

At this stage, we use Google Analytics to learn which factors influence your bounce rate. In Google Analytics, navigate to Acquisitions and then select the option which says All Traffic Report by Default Channel Grouping. 

In this report, you should be able to see the bounce rate of the site or page by marketing channel. With it, you can also tell if there is an issue or natural growth. 

Explore High Bounce Rate 

The final step in this audit is to uncover which pages are responsible for your abnormal high bounce rate. To do this, you'll need to click on the Channel Grouping you want to analyze. 

Set the primary dimension to Landing Page 

And click on the bounce rate header to sort the table. 

Analysis of this report will show you organic session bounce rates by landing page. Then you go ahead to identify patterns in the content of those pages. 

A good landing page that fully discusses a targeted topic provides visitors with every piece of information they were looking for. Are the pages with high bounce rates related to a blog? It is important to know this because a blog can have anything between 70%-90% as its average bounce rate. However, when a page for lead generation has more than a 50% bounce rate, you should be concerned. 


High bounce rates can easily translate to a user experience issue. We've designed an article to help you fix your high bounce rate issues.

It is important that you remember that the bounce rate you see in reports is easily affected by the marketing channel, tag implementation, event tracking, and content type. Set up Google Analytics in the right way, so it reflects your business objectives. 

If you need to learn more about the subject of SEO and website promotion, we invite you to visit our Semalt blog.