Google Analytics offers a world of insight into how visitors interact with your website. Not to be confused with Google Search Console, it’s a free website analytics solution offered to webmasters by Google.
While you can use it to see how much traffic your website generates, Google Analytics provides deeper metrics like bounce rate and exit rate as well.
When using Google Analytics to track visitor engagement on your website, you’ll probably see data for its bounce rate and exit rate. But what does this data mean for you as a blogger?
In this post, we’ll break down what both of these mean, and how you can use them to increase engagement and rankings to your blog.
What Is Bounce Rate?
Bounce rate is an engagement metric in Google Analytics that reveals the percentage of your website’s visitors who only viewed one page — the page where they entered your website — during their session. These visitors don’t navigate to other pages. Rather, they leave or bounce from your website after viewing a single page.
Google Analytics records all single-page visits as a bounce. Once a visitor’s session has ended, Google Analytics will record his or her visit as a bounce unless the visitor viewed at least two pages.
If your website pulled in 20,000 visitors last month, 4,000 of whom only viewed one page during their session, its bounce rate for that month would be 20 percent. Visitors who view two or more pages during their session aren’t recorded as a bounce, so they won’t increase your website’s bounce rate.
What Is Exit Rate?
Exit rate, on the other hand, is a page-specific engagement metric in Google Analytics. It shows the percentage of visitors who leave your website from a particular page, regardless of how many total pages they viewed during their session.
Each page on your website has its own exit rate. In Google Analytics, exit rate is the percentage of visitors whose session ended on a particular page. If 10,000 visitors accessed a specific page on your website last month, 500 of whom ended their session on that same page, the page’s exit rate for that period would be 5 percent.
Visitors won’t stay on your website forever. Even if a visitor views a dozen pages, he or she will eventually leave. When the visitor leaves your website, the last page in his or her session will receive the exit.
With that said, Google Analytics may record visits as both a bounce and an exit. A visitor who access your website’s homepage and immediately leaves, for instance, will contribute to a higher site-wide bounce rate as well as a higher homepage-specific exit rate.
Is a High Bounce Rate Bad?
Because it indicates a lack of engagement, a high bounce rate can be worrisome. After all, you probably want to visitors to move around your website after landing on it. If a large percentage of your website’s visitors leave after viewing only one page, your website’s conversions may suffer.
You can’t move visitors through your online conversion funnel if they are unwilling to click internal links and view other pages on your website. Assuming a visitor enters your website from its homepage, he or she may need to access three or more other pages to trigger a conversion. A high bounce rate means visitors are quickly leaving rather than moving around to other pages, so it may harm your website’s conversions.
A high bounce rate may also be a symptom of a larger problem, such as 404 errors. If you change the URL of a popular page on your website and fail to set up a redirect, all links pointing to that page will guide visitors to a 404 error page.
Unfortunately, 404 error pages typically don’t contain any links, so visitors won’t have the option of navigating to other pages. When a visitor enters your website from a 404 error page, Google Analytics will record his or her visit as a bounce.
A high bounce rate isn’t bad for all websites, however. It may, in fact, prove beneficial. If you’re using pay-per-click (PPC) to drive paid search traffic to a monetized landing page, a high bounce rate may result in increased revenue. PPC landing pages are usually small, with many of them consisting of a single page. With only one or a few pages, PPC landing pages naturally have a high bounce rate.
Furthermore, if you’re trying to get visitors to click third-party ads on your website, you’ll want them to leave. An ad click is a type of conversion; it just occurs on a different website rather than your website. Visitors who click third-party ads on your website will leave, but they’ll increase the amount of ad revenue your site generates.
Is a High Exit Rate Bad?
Like with bounce rate, a high exit rate usually indicates a lack of engagement. Visitors who don’t find the information or content for which they are looking will leave your website, thereby increasing the exit rate of their last-viewed page.
A high exit rate may indicate a technical problem that prevents visitors from using a page on your website. If a page loads slowly or not at all, visitors may exit it. Google Analytics doesn’t care why visitors leave your website. If it sees a visitor leave your website from a page, Google Analytics will increase the exit rate of that page.
Some pages will have a higher exit rate than others. E-commerce checkout pages, for example, tend to have a substantially higher exit rate than other pages.
Many e-commerce checkout pages use payment gateways that direct shoppers to a secure third-party website where they can enter their payment information. When a shopper is ready to check out, he or she must follow the link on the checkout page. The shopper will then leave the e-commerce website to complete the order, making the checkout page’s exit rate higher.
Although they are both engagement metrics, bounce rate and exit rate aren’t the same. Bounce rate is a percentage-expressed measurement of how many visitors leave your website after viewing only one page, whereas exit rate is a percentage-expressed measurement of how many visitors leave a specific page on your website. You can track both bounce rate and exit rate in Google Analytics.