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What is Bounce Rate? - Definition, Average & Formula

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Do you know what it means when someone bounces off of a website? In this lesson, we'll discuss what a bounce rate is, the formula for figuring your own and some average rates by industry.

One and Done

Does this example sound familiar? Tabitha receives an email from her favorite retailer informing her of their big semi-annual sale. One product, in particular, catches Tabitha's eye. She clicks on the image and is directed to the retailer's website. She checks out the product's availability and price before venturing off to other parts of the Internet to read news headlines and update her Facebook status.

On Tabitha's end, it is simply curiosity that takes her to the website. Once she arrives at the page of interest and checks out the wares, she's off to other web endeavors. On the back end, for the retailer and its e-commerce team, Tabitha's visit has contributed to the website's analytics. These numbers help businesses measure the browsing behaviors of web visitors and the success of a website in capturing interested viewers.

One stat is of particular interest here, and it's the focal point of this lesson.

What's a Bounce Rate?

Contrary to how it sounds, bounce rate has nothing at all to do with a ball, a court or anything related to sports. Rather, a bounce rate is one type of web metric that shows website owners the percentage of people who leave a website after a single-page visit. Tabitha, from our lesson opening, has contributed to her favorite retailer's bounce rate by checking out only one page of interest and then leaving the website. How does a bounce happen? A couple of ways:

  • Arriving at a page and clicking the ''back'' button on your web browser
  • Closing a browser window after arriving at a webpage
  • Leaving a specific webpage to go to another website

The bounce rate figure is concerning for many website owners because, of course, you typically want people to stick around your site, check out other pages, make a purchase, or sign up for something cool. People who bounce off your website are doing none of that - at least not in that visit. They came, saw and conquered (if conquered means leaving your website.)

For many website owners, a bounce rate (expressed in a percentage, which we'll talk about shortly) could be indicative of a low-quality page, a visitor who didn't find what they were looking for, or content that doesn't fit the visitor. For example, if you are looking for a page about spring planting and arrive at a site that details the best fall flowers to plant, you'll probably bounce off that page pretty quickly because it's not the information you were looking for. However, a bounce rate doesn't have to be all bad. If, for instance, you've set up a page merely to collect email addresses and offer a free download, it stands to reason that your bounce rate will be pretty high - yet, you've accomplished your purpose.

The Bounce Rate Formula

So, now you're curious. How do you figure out your own bounce rate? You don't need fancy analytics programs or algorithms, although those can be handy. All you need are two pieces of information:

1. The number of website visits with only one page view; and,

2. The total number of website visits.

That's it! An easy calculation of a bounce rate looks like this: Website visits with only one page view divided by the total number of website visits.

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