Our client’s often ask us ‘Is there an industry standard bounce rate?’ To be fair, it is a reasonable question to ask. I wish we could say ‘yes, your site is performing above the standard’, or ‘unfortunately your site is falling below the standard bounce rate’, however, at the risk of disappointing anyone, our answer is ’No there isn’t’.
What are bounce rates?
It is understandable why the question keeps getting asked. Bounce rates are an indication of your sites’ relevance to users by allowing you judge the percentage of visitors who enter your site (or a page) and then leave the site without viewing other pages within the same site, hence the term ‘bounce’.
So why is bounce rate so important? For visitors to leave rather than browse your site, they clearly do not find the content engaging or relevant. However, judging what may influence your bounce rate can be incredibly tricky due to the number of factors involved.
Page purpose/relevance, user engagement, traffic levels/quality, design, ad messaging, load times etc. are but a few of the dimensions to be considered when addressing the bounce rate figures of a site.
It is this diversity of factors that make it virtually impossible to compare bounce rates of one site (or page) to another. The question to be asked here is why are visitors leaving and not engaging with your content, what is your site not doing to capture the attention of visitors, how can you determine what doesn’t work and then improve it?
Measuring acceptable bounce rates
There is a lot of argument over what an acceptable bounce rate is – some people suggest that if you have a bounce rate over 40% you clearly have problems, whilst others push it further to suggest that even a bounce rate of 20% is too high.
According to Google the average bounce rate for most sites falls in the range of 40% – 60%. If this is to be considered as the scale then if your site bounce rate is below 40% you are doing well and if it’s above 60%, and not a natural exit page, then you definitely need to find out why.
There have been several indications regarding industry specific bounce rates, for example the info graphic by Kiss Metrics sums up bounce rates by industry and highlights several ways to improve your bounce rate. However, despite the hint at industry standards, the best way to know if you are doing better or worse is to set your own baseline and compare your performance over time.
To measure page performance we use the site-average to compare client bounce rates and identify over or under-performers. A comparison of user engagement metrics for a single landing page against the average for all similar landing pages is often more accurate and instructive than an industry comparison.
Don’t just focus on other sites; start improving your own site
It is certainly important to address key landing pages with high bounce rates. That said, even pages with low bounce rates can benefit from additional testing. There is always room for incremental improvements.
Tried and tested methods of evaluating and improving web page performance include heuristic usability reviews, user testing, landing page optimization audits and AB and multivariate testing. So, rather than spending your resources researching industry standard bounce rates and comparing your site against a competitors, start investing time and resources into targeting increasing conversions and revenue.
Bounce rates are affected by many things and there is no blanket answer that can be applied to all websites to say “When your bounce rate reaches X you have fallen below/above the industry standard…” Each website is different, each situation is different, and analysing bounce rate data requires a hands-on approach – focus on your own results and invest in usability evaluation and testing.