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March 17, 2016

Does Bounce Rate Matter on New Websites?

We recently launched a website for Milima Ranch, a private getaway in Western North Carolina. The new website is clean and engaging, evoking the peaceful experience staying on the property provides.

A week or so after launch, we received an email from our client with an analytics question. As part of the project scope for Milima Ranch, we had configured the Google Analytics data to feed into the website’s Dashboard. After reviewing these reports, our client had questions about her bounce rate. We decided to share our response in this blog post in an effort to clear up a murky concept.

Tracking your website bounce rate is important. But, like all analytics data, the information needs to be taken in context. According to Opitimize Smart, “bounce rate is one of the most misunderstood metrics in Google Analytics”. This metric tells you the percentage of sessions on your site that only completed one action. Typically this means how many people arrived on your site and then “bounced” or left without visiting other pages, filling out a form, clicking a link, etc.

While bounce rate can be extremely helpful in gauging the effectiveness of landing pages, there are important nuances to remember when reviewing the data:

  • This measurement is not as helpful on a newly launched site that hasn’t had much traffic or enough visitors to provide an accurate average.
  • Most experts rarely give “good” and “bad” numbers for metrics as every site and industry is unique and too many variables come into play to assign one rate across the board.
  • It can take as long as 90 days to get an accurate measurement of your site metrics, especially for newly launched or low-traffic websites.
  • It takes time for the major search engines to crawl the entire site a few times.  Spiders don’t always hit every single page in one pass.
  • By default, Google Analytics only tracks when a page is loaded. There’s no differentiation between a visitor that stays two seconds and one who spends 10 minutes reading and reviewing a specific landing page without clicking to another page in your website. This is because Google Analytics doesn’t track the visit length of a single page. If a call to action or other “Event” (such as clicking through to another page or filling in a form) doesn’t take place, Google considers the visit a bounce.

Your website’s bounce rate is based on averages. If your site is new or you’re just beginning to garner traffic, the reported rate will be shallow and a small occurrence can cause a big change. Google Analytics is a wonderful tool for tracking your website engagement and effectiveness. Just keep in mind that these statistics take time to stabilize and find a true average.

We work hard to support our clients in expanding their business reach and reputation. Our goal is to build long-term relationships with our clients. If you’re looking for assistance with a website project, please complete our inquiry form to schedule a FREE consultation.