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Bounce Rate and Average Time on Page: More Analytical Ammunition

July 9, 2013

Posted by Sam Lowe

website-analytics-ammunition-bounce-rateLet's say that you fire up your analytics tool for your website at minimum once a month. You probably look over some of the metrics to get a feel for what kind of traffic your website is getting. Visits and page views are most likely held in high esteem and I’m sure you’re looking at where the website traffic is coming from, too. All of that search engine optimization (SEO) work you did a few months ago better be paying off, right?  

There might be a few analytic components you’re overlooking, though. Have you paid much attention to the bounce rate that your site is experiencing or maybe even the average amount of time visitors spend on your pages? 

If not, you’re not alone. Bounce rate and average time on page often get overlooked and are not considered “important” analytics by many since they haven't been educated on what they mean and their importance. The truth, though, is that both of those metrics give you a deeper insight into how visitors are interacting with your site. 

What Do Bounce Rate and Average Time On Page Mean?

Alright, let’s get some definitions out of the way so we’re speaking the same lingo. The technical definition of bounce rate from Google is, “Bounce rate is the percentage of visits that go only one page before exiting a site.” This means that a visitor is landing on one of your pages and doesn’t go anywhere else on your site. An example of this would be someone finding one of your blogs on a search engine results page (SERP), clicking on it, reading the post, then not visiting any other pages on your site. Bounce rate is a good metric to see how much interaction visitors have with your site. 

Average time on page is much easier to understand. This is just an average of the amount of time all visitors to a page spend on that particular page. Pretty self explanatory, right? What we’ve got here is a good metric to see if visitors are actually reading the content on your pages. 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…unless you have the speediest readers on the web. 

What Are Some Good Numbers For Bounce Rate and Average Time On Page? 

There isn’t a golden number for bounce rate or average time on page. Also, many factors can go into these metrics, such as what kind of traffic your site is attracting and the SEO that’s been done. To get an idea of the variations in bounce rate, take a peek at the chart below which was pulled from some analytics research infront did.

industry_bounce_rates

In general, a good bounce rate would be anything under 50%-60%. A large factor influencing bounce rate is what kind of page you’re looking at and what the content is on that page. If the page is largely informational on a topic without many links to other parts of your site, then a bounce rate above 60% wouldn’t be out of the norm. However, if the page is mainly a directory of links to, say, products you make or services you offer, than you should see a much lower bounce rate than 60%. 

Your ideal number for average time on page will vary from page to page, as well. As mentioned before, a short average time on page for a blog post or a page with lots of content is suspicious and definitely not good news. You’ll need to use your intuition for each of your pages to figure out how long you think someone should be on the page. If someone is spending, on average, 30-45 seconds on a page, consider that a good start. Try just browsing the web with your morning coffee and have a stopwatch going (sounds crazy, I know, but consider it an experiment). Start and stop it for each page you go to. This will give you a good idea of how much time you’re spending on certain types of pages – and you might be surprised at how little time you spend on a page. 

My Numbers are Horrible for These Metrics! What Do I Do?

Don’t panic! Some crafty work can easily remedy a high bounce rate and/or low average time on page. 

If your bounce rate is high, the first place to look is your site design. Make sure that links are easily identifiable, relevant, and intuitive on each page. Main site navigation links should be located on every page of your site, with the exception of landing pages. The aesthetics of your site should also be up-to-date since an ugly or out-of-date site can cause a user to turn away instantly. Unfortunately, your flashy confetti animations on the sidebars are not as attractive as they were last decade.   

SEO is another place to look if your bounce rate is through the roof. Make sure that you’re using relevant keywords, page descriptions, and titles throughout your site. It’s great to generate a large number of visitors, but if they aren’t sticking around you’re missing opportunities to engage them further.     

Finally, look at how long it takes to load pages on your site. If you have a ton of large, high-resolution images, pages may take too long to load. People are impatient and will most likely hop off your page and go onto the next one if the load time is excessive. 

The same tricks can be used to improve your average time on page as well (except for the page loading time issue). In addition, writing amazing (and relevant) content will help you see the largest improvements, since visitors will want to stick around and read what you’re offering on your site. 

Now that you know what bounce rate and average time on page entail, you have a few more metrics to add to your arsenal. These two metrics should give you more insight into how users are interacting with your site and what they’re doing. Use this information to better tailor your site to visitors’ behavior and enhance your SEO.

SEO Survival Guide From Weidert Group



Topics: Search Engine Optimization, Analytics & Performance



whole brain marketing blog author
Written by Sam Lowe

Inbound Marketing Project Manager