Metric analysis

Why bounce rate is no longer an important metric

PHOTO: unsplash

For years, I have had to explain the meaning of different metrics found in marketing analytics reports. Bounce rate was one of those terms. But it looks like my days of explaining bounce rates are coming to an end. After more than a decade of including bounce rates in its reports, Google has eliminated the metric from its Google Analytics reports.

The latest version of Google Analytics puts more emphasis on events. This begs the question for analysis reports: Is bounce and bounce rate monitoring no longer valuable? To answer, let’s cover what bounce and bounce rate is, the history of bounce in website design, and what you need to consider as you move forward with your marketing strategy.

What is bounce and bounce rate?

A bounce is a type of website visit in which a browser loads a web page for a brief moment, then leaves the page and actually leaves the site. A bounce is recorded in analytics reports as a visit or session that triggers only one request to the analytics server – the loading of a web page in a browser, such as when a user opens a single page on your site, then quits without triggering any further requests to the Analytics server during that session.

Bounce rate is the percentage of visits in which a bounce occurs. Marketers have typically monitored this metric in their website analytics, reporting the bounce rate for an individual website or page.

Related Article: 8 Tips To Minimize Bounce Rate On Blog Pages

How is the bounce rate measured?

Each analytics solution measures bounce rate slightly differently, depending on how the tags measure a visit to a website page. Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics share a similar definition of bounce. But each calculates the bounce rate in a slightly different way.

Google measures the bounce rate in the Universal Analytics version of Google Analytics as a percentage of all site sessions (site sessions are visits). In a single page session, a bounce is a single page visit that triggers a single request to the Analytics server and creates a session duration of zero seconds, with no subsequent calls following that single page request. Analytics calculates session duration to zero because there is only one button request.

Adobe Analytics considers a bounce rate as a single visit to a domain out of the number of visits. The main difference with Adobe is the way it refers to visits as entries. Entries are the number of times a given dimension is saved in Adobe Analytics. Similar to Google’s treatment of a visit, a single record of a dimension without any other interaction in a website or app is treated as a bounce.

Related article: How Google Analytics Tech Report Can Inform an App Launch or Marketing Strategy

Has the bounce rate metric ever mattered?

Marketers have traditionally treated bounces as a bad event. But the severity depended on the site and the cause of the rebound.

Common causes of bounces and bounce rates were poor content or technical issues when loading a page. To determine the actual cause, one had to investigate the content or run page load tests to see if a specific page element was the culprit.

Given these dual causes of bounces, the need to monitor the bounce rate in reports depended on the type of site in question. If a site encourages people to view more than one page, a high bounce rate is bad. For example, a home page for an e-commerce website. If it is a gateway to other pages on the site such as product pages, a low bounce rate is desirable. A high bounce rate in this case means that a high percentage of people only check your homepage before they leave, suggesting that the content is not encouraging visitors to check out the product pages and potentially perform. a purchase. These visitors arrive at your store, change their mind, and turn around.

A single page website is a different scenario. Since single page sessions are naturally expected, a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily an indicator of poor content. For example, blogs often have pages with high bounce rates because people share articles using the direct URL, rather than sharing the homepage and mentioning the article title.

Related article: Who Owns the Company’s Website?

It is difficult to attribute the cause of the bounce rates

The cause of an increased bounce rate can cause some confusion, which is part of why Google chose to remove bounce rate as a metric. Over the years, Google has integrated its other platforms with Google Analytics, introducing other ways to better determine page speed issues without focusing on bounces and bounce rate.

The other reason behind elimination is that reporting the bounce rate can sometimes be a distraction. Marketing analysis is about measuring trends that show people’s engagement with your content. Bounce rates can help identify an engagement problem, but they only offer part of the answer. The focus on site activity through page events can guide more productive discussions about site activity that can potentially benefit a marketing or business purpose. Focusing on event-triggered behavior may better refine strategic choices with digital ads, social media, and marketing content rather than the diagnostic nature that bounce rates introduce.

Does Google Elimination Mean the End of Bounce Rate Analysis? In some ways, yes, but technological changes will point the way. For example, recent insights from the metaverse indicate that a major change in analytics will be needed: Reports will have to reinvent diagnostics and metrics, as users will interact with things other than pages in a browser.

But for the immediate future, the bounce rate remains a useful diagnostic measure – with limitations. Its role is diminishing. Your focus for analytics reporting will always be centered on metrics that show how your app or website is performing to visitors, whether they are customers, leads, or engaging donors. The source of these metrics will change.

Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana, a digital analysis consulting firm for small businesses. It examines data from web analytics and social media dashboard solutions, then provides web development recommendations and actions that improve business marketing strategy and profitability.