Google Analytics Key Metrics – Bounce Rate

Check your website bounce rate regularly – here’s why….

Google Analytics has a huge amount of information but perhaps one of the most important elements for understanding how your dental practice website is performing is called ‘Bounce Rate’. In today’s blog we’ll take a quick look at bounce rate, why it’s helpful and what to do if the data you’re seeing is adverse.

What is Bounce Rate?

A web pages bounce is recorded in Analytics when a user lands on a page but then ‘bounces’ elsewhere immediately with out viewing any further pages on your site. This is typically found when a user uses Google to search for a product or service, clicks on a link but then quickly navigates elsewhere – often back to Google to try again.

Immediately we can see that the bounce rate is great indicator of how engaging/useful a page is for a user – pages which are interesting will typically create long dwell times and encourage users to view other pages within the same site. Pages which hold no interest for the user will typically exhibit much higher bounce rates.

The bounce rate of a website is aggregated in the headline performance figures within Google Analytics, but importantly you can also drill down to bounce rate at the page level. So it makes sense to look closely at these figures, particularly for those pages on your website which you deem to be most important.

Bounce rate and Google ranking

An engaging web page is not just important to help grab the attention of your site visitors; it’s also extremely important for Google search positions too. Although Google hasn’t confirmed directly, there are plenty of studies which indicate that Google likely uses bounce rate to indicate the quality and usefulness of a web pages for uses, and then promotes those pages in the search results which perform well. Conversely, pages with high bounce rates are pushed back. So here we are not just considering user experience, but Google ranking too – and it makes sense that both of these should work hand-in-hand.

What figures should I be aiming for?

Here are some rules of thumb to be kept in mind when assessing your web page bounce rate:

  • bounce rate < 40% – generally good performance
  • bounce rate 40% – 50% – acceptable performance
  • bounce rate > 50% – consider optimising the page to improve performance

There are exceptions to this – for example pay-per-click landing pages are typically configured so that they don’t link elsewhere on a website. This is to try encourage immediate contact directly from the landing page itself. Here of course, you can see extremely high bounce rates. The other notable exception is with traffic from social media. Even where that traffic is directed to a discrete landing pages, very high bounce rates are typical, often well in excess of 90%. This is because a large majority of social media visitors are just curious, rather than specifically seeking a service – and hence their interest tends to be lower.

What causes high bounce and what actions can I take?

There are several main reasons why a web page may exhibit high bounce rate as follows:

  • dull, uninteresting content which does not answer the users questions quickly
  • slow page load speed
  • annoying pop-ups, auto-play videos and background music
  • confusing navigation
  • old-fashioned and uninspiring
  • lack of “social proof”, no patient testimonials etc

Unfortunately these are characteristics you will find in many websites, even new ones. However, there are things you can do to improve:

  • critically review your page content – if you were the user, what would you want to see?
  • incorporate attention grabbing features, for example a patient testimonial, video, clear benefits of treatments etc
  • check the page load speed and improve it – ask your web designer to help
  • is your page truly mobile-friendly – check and improve it
  • incorporate an offer where it’s valid to do so
  • review your page navigation structure – is it intuitive and easy to use? Confused users go away quickly!

Summary

Web pages with high bounce rates do not serve users well and are increasingly believed to fare less well in Google. Using the free Google Analytics program, you can easily see the bounce rates for all of your website pages and determine where to take action for those which are not performing well. It is quite usual to see the bounce rates for web pages progressively degrade over time as information becomes stale – stepping in at that stage makes sense to keep your site fresh and engaging for your users and for Google’s search engine too.

Take time to check in to Google Analytics periodically or make sure your SEO team reports bounce rate in their monthly reports.

If you need help with this or any aspect of the performance of your practice website, please call the web optimisation team at Dental Media for no-obligation assistance on 01332 672548.