There was a time when bounce rate and average time on page were “nice to know” metrics. They showed up in your website analytics, but you probably paid far less attention to them than other SEO data points.
Times, they are a’changin’. Bounce rate and average time on page have valuable information to share with regard to website performance and user experience — and B2B marketers and web designers building and maintaining sites are paying close attention.
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What Do Bounce Rate and Average Time On Page Mean?
Hubspot’s definition of bounce rate is, “the percentage of people who land on a page on your website and then leave without clicking on anything else or navigating to any other pages on your site.” In practice, bounces look like this: Someone finds one of your blogs on a search engine results page (SERP), clicks through, reads the article, and then exits your site without visiting any other pages.
Average time on page is exactly as the name suggests — the average amount of time visitors spend on a particular page — and it reveals if they are actually reading your content. For instance, if the average time on page for a lengthy blog post is only 10 seconds, it’s safe to assume that most visitors aren’t actually reading the post.
What Are Good Numbers For Bounce Rate and Average Time On Page?
Many factors influence bounce rate and average time on page, such as what kind of traffic your site is attracting and the SEO that’s been done.
The page type and the content it contains are also factors. If the page is largely informational without many links to other parts of your site, then a high bounce rate and low average time on page may not be too alarming. The opposite should hold true if the page is, for example, mainly a directory of links to your products and services.
Mobile devices. You're probably among the 81% of adults in the U.S. who own a smartphone and know how difficult it can be to do extensive research on a small screen. People are likely to bounce sooner when using a mobile device rather than a computer or tablet.
Popular blog posts. Blogs with high SERP rankings and social media shares attract a lot of traffic that want answers to specific questions. Once they’ve found those answers, most people bounce to other sites for additional perspectives.
Some pages are more in-depth than others. A disproportionate amount of time may be spent on different pages, for various reasons. For example, pages with a single CTA are likely to have a much higher bounce rate than those offering multiple CTAs, links, and other similar in-depth content. Your landing pages should have very low bounce rates, since ideally visitors would be getting there from a CTA on your site, and taking another action on the page, such as filling out the form.
Structural issues. If your bounce rate exceeds 70%, look at your pages from a visitor’s perspective. Where is the user experience failing? Are there any obvious errors like 404 pages or content that doesn’t align with meta descriptions?
My Metrics are Horrible! What Do I Do?
Don’t panic, but do investigate how you can remedy a high bounce rate and/or low average time on page:
Check your site’s page-load speed. If you have a ton of large, high-resolution images, pages may take too long to load. People are impatient and will abandon pages with excessive load times.
Make sure site navigation and page links are user-friendly. Your main site navigation menu should appear on every page except landing pages, and each page should link to related articles/content so users can dig deeper into your site, no matter what page they first enter through.
Review for SEO. Use proper keywords, page meta descriptions and titles throughout your site.
Provide engaging (and relevant) content. It will help you see the largest improvements because visitors will be more likely to read what you have to offer. It’s great to generate a large number of visitors, but if they aren’t sticking around, you’re missing opportunities to convert them to leads.
(More) Best Practices to Improve Bounce Rate
Use short paragraphs and section headings to keep text easily digestible.
Don’t use pop-ups, they’re annoying. If you can’t help yourself, make them exit intent pop-ups. They appear when a visitor’s cursor moves outside the upper page boundary (indicating their potential exit from the site), and are far less likely to cause bounce.
Improving your website's bounce rate and average time on page will ultimately improve your SEO. Check out our SEO Survival Guide for even more ways to improve your SERP rankings and website performance.
Posted by Jonathan Stanis An engineer by training, Jon focuses on the technical delivery of an effective inbound marketing program. He builds client website plans that solve for conversion potential and utilize smart user experiences. He is also responsible for analyzing and monitoring the success of inbound projects. Jon fits the definition of being a "whole brain marketer" because he is both a strong writer-designer and a deeply analytical thinker.