In my recent posts, we’ve considered metrics that home improvement companies should use to judge the performance of their Web sites. If you haven’t read them, check out my posts on page views and visitors.
I’d now like to consider another metric: Bounce Rate. This is one of the most interesting metrics for any Web site, and not because it has a funny name.
Bounce Rate measures the percentage of visitors who land on your Web site . . . but then never visit another page. In simplest terms, these are visitors who come and go without clicking anywhere else on your Web site.
At first glance, high Bounce Rates are bad. Low bounce rates are good:
- A Bounce Rate of only 20% is spectacular. Pat yourself on the back.
- A Bounce Rate of 40% is reasonable. You could probably do better, but it depends on your goals.
- A Bounce Rate of 50% is cause for concern. You have some work to do.
Let’s consider an example.
MadisonHomeImprovement.com launched many years ago, but its owner never did any real search engine optimization work on it. 70+% of its visits are as a result of visitors searching Google on a version of their company name—using terms like “madison improvement”, “madison home improve”, “madison home improvements” or “madison home improvement contractors”.
This tells us that the Web site hosts only the most focused visitors, likely homeowners who knew exactly what they were looking for (Madison Home Improvement). I’d expect the Bounce Rate on a Web site like this would be extremely low—perhaps in the 20% range.
When these sorts of visitors find what they’re looking for in a Web site, they click around on the Web site to review multiple pages. Given that Bounce Rate counts visitors who click to another Web site after reviewing just one page, most of Madison’s visitors would drive the Web site’s Bounce Rate lower.
But . . . a low Bounce Rate doesn’t necessarily win the home improvement war.
Why? The vast majority of visitors to Madison’s Web site already know of the company. Perhaps they read about it in print ads or saw it in TV commercials, and are checking the company out online. So Madison’s Web site isn’t connecting the company to anyone who doesn’t already know about the company, and its low Bounce Rate reflects that.
Now let’s consider a second fictional company, “Tacoma Home Improvement.” Unlike Madison, Tacoma has done search engine optimization work on its Web site. As a result, the company gets more traffic from more Google searches on more keywords.
However, the Bounce Rate of Tacoma’s Web site is 40%. That’s higher than Madison’s Bounce Rate, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here’s why.
Tacoma’s Web site attracts a much wider spectrum and higher volume of visitors. Not only does it host visitors searching on “Tacoma Home Improvement”, it also hosts many visitors searching on hundreds of other terms like “Washington state windows”, “WA window contractor” and “Windows + Tacoma, WA”.
Many of Tacoma’s visitors haven’t yet zeroed in on exactly what they are looking for. They are curious, but not decisive.Therefore, we’d expect that the Bounce Rate for this Web site will be higher than the Bounce Rate for Madison.
So, Madison’s Bounce Rate is 20%. Tacoma’s is 40%. Who’s doing better?
At this point, you need to consider other factors. If Madison hosts 200 visitors per month at a 20% Bounce Rate, the company hosts 160 visitors who don’t bounce.
On the other hand, Tacoma may see 500 visitors per month to its Web site on account of all of its investment search engine optimization. At a 40% Bounce Rate, the company hosts 300 visitors each month that don’t bounce.
So, my vote would go to the Web site with the higher Bounce Rate—Tacoma’s.
So Bounce Rate can indeed be meaningful metric. . . if you consider it in the context of other Web site metrics.