Bounce rate is one of the most common metrics to look at when analyzing a website and making improvements. It refers to people leaving the site without digging in further: It’s an important number to know for your brand, but it’s also commonly misunderstood and misapplied. Today, we’re going to cut through the confusion by talking about what a bounce rate is, when it’s bad, and how to learn more about bounce rates in your industry!

Take a Look at General Statistics on Bounce Rates

Before diving into deeper comparisons, it’s useful to take a look at more general industry statistics provided from companies that have already gathered the data. It’s a great way to see how industry bounce rates differ, and what reasons may be behind the changes. We recommend this Hubspot infographic as a good place to start. For a bird’s eye view, let’s take a look at general industry bounce rate information:

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  • Lead Generation sites: This is an important one for B2B companies – sites that sell specific services and service packages. These tend to see a bounce rate between 30% and 50%, higher than retail sites, which indicates a greater need to make sure visitors stay around within the first few seconds.
  • Service websites: Service websites refer to sites where users can accomplish something (financial management, portal logins, etc.). They tend to have low bounce rates around 10% to 30%, because when people show up here they usually know exactly what they want.
  • E-Commerce/Retail sites: E-Commerce websites are companies that have online stores, anything form Best Buy to Amazon. Their average bounce rate is around 33.9% these days, although there’s a lot of variance here depending on how efficient the site is (Alibaba does very poorly, Amazon does very well, etc.).
  • Landing Pages: Landing pages with one call to action tend to have a higher bounce rate, from 70% to 90%. This may be due to people rifling through different sites very quickly, or just due to a large amount of old sites and landing pages with horrible SEO.
  • Content/News: These sites see a 40% to 60% bounce rate. It’s a bit higher because these sites get a high page ranking across search engines, but don’t necessarily have the information that users want.

That’s information you can start using to make changes and build expectations. For example, perhaps blog bounce rates are so high because people are used to quickly surfing over blog posts until they find something that interests them. If your blog bounce rates are lower than the average, that means your blog is effectively engaging readers instead of just mildly entertaining them. It’s also interesting to note how high landing page bounce rates are: Landing pages should be carefully constructed to draw people to a specific topic or product with good SEO. That high bounce rate means there are a whole lot of poor landing pages out there – and plenty of room for yours to shine!

For even more generalized statistic research, we suggest Conversion Voodoo’s piece on industry bounce rates, which takes a look at web stores, news sites, and more.

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When a High Bounce Rate is Okay

Conventional wisdom says that users “bounce” when they only spend a few seconds on your webpage, which is a sign that it wasn’t what they were looking for. This can be true, but it’s only part of the story. Technically, a bounce occurs when a viewer visits a single webpage on your site, doesn’t click anything else, and then leaves. It doesn’t show how long that visitor spent on the page, just that they take any other actions there.

That means there are a variety of situations where a high bounce rate is fine, even to be expected. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Blog posts and other single visit pages: Some pages aren’t made to take visitors anywhere else in the site. They’re designed to be consumed, and then it’s natural that the visitor will head elsewhere. High bounce rates in these situations usually means that the page is working as intended, sharing news or answering questions.
  • Single-page websites: These aren’t as common as they once were, but many contractors and small businesses still use them. In these cases, there’s just nowhere else for visitors to go. Single-page sites are so unique that it’s helpful to consider them in a separate category, where not all metrics will apply.
  • Website structure: This is getting a little technical, but sometimes a bounce rate is high because methods used to measure bounces can’t detect how people navigate around a site. We see this in websites entirely made with Flash (these websites won’t be around much longer anyway, as Flash is losing support across browsers) and other interesting situations.

When a High Bounce Rate is Bad

On the other hand, there are occasions when a high bounce rate is a bad thing. In these cases, you absolutely want people to stay on your site and move on to additional pages, whether to look at products, fill out forms, explore services/pricing, or what have you. A high bounce rate is an ominous sign when:

  • You have a call to action: A call to action on a page (one that leads to a different page on your site) means that you want visitors to stay long enough to click it. A high bounce rate on that page means that people are ignoring your call to action.
  • The page is important to navigation: If the page doesn’t have a lot of content itself but rather is meant to direct visitors to other unique pages, that means people don’t like what they see and are leaving instead. This could be due to poor SEO, or bad website design.
  • Visitors leave without looking at your content: Obviously, this is a bit harder to judge, but in some cases the content on the page is not what visitors were actually looking. Sometimes this is due to visitor error, but it’s often related to poor SEO practices and deserves a closer look. Many times you can find out a lot more information by looking at the average time a visitor stays on a page. This won’t tell you everything, but it will give you a better idea if people are just rejecting the page’s topic, or if they’re staying long enough to look things over.
  • Mobile optimization issues: A higher bounce rate on mobile devices indicates that the page may be poorly optimized for mobile. If a mobile user gets a weird, blown-up version of the page or images/text that just are centered properly, they will leave without a second thought, which is where these bounces come from.

Finding Your Industry Bounce Rate

There’s another very important part to bounce rates, and that’s comparing them within your industry. Different industries have different goals, content, website structures, buyers, and more: This leads to drastically different bounce rates, and what may be normal for one industry could be a major warning sign for another. But how do you find the bounce rate information for your industry?

Fortunately, the easiest way is through Google Analytics. The Audience tab in Analytics allows you to select your industry, location and company size to help narrow down comparisons for benchmark data. This is an incredibly useful tool for all sorts of examinations, but it will compare average data with data from your website so you can see how the two compare. You can then tweak the results by adjust the channel, device, and other types of data to gain more information. There are also collections of industry data that you may be interested in reviewing.

Again, average bounce rates are only useful as a general comparison tool. You will need to study bounce rates from page to page to really build up some useful results. Fortunately, once you’re finished you will have very valuable data for a long-term SEO and website improvement plan.

Improving Bounce Rate

There are many, many ways to improve your bounce rate on a page if it doesn’t seem satisfactory. It’s best to talk with an SEO expert in your industry to see what your best moves. Common solutions include:

  • Better calls to action: Your calls to action may need to be more obvious, higher up one your web page, or just more friendly to visitors. Study your CTA click-throughs to see which may be contributing to bounce rate problems!
  • Better ads: If ads are accidentally misrepresenting what your webpage offers, you’ll get high bounce rates from that source, a sign that you need to change the ad to be more specific or accurate.
  • Better SEO: If your keywords and metadata are doing a poor job of representing your content, then organic traffic will see high bounce rates. This is a sign that it’s time to review your metadata and incorporate better practices so that searches return accurate results.

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Note: This post originally published in June 2016, this post has been updated to reflect current industry best practices as of September 2019