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Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and "bounce" (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.
A bounce occurs when a web site visitor only views a single page on a website, that is, the visitor leaves a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs. There is no industry standard minimum or maximum time by which a visitor must leave in order for a bounce to occur. Rather, this is determined by the session timeout of the analytics tracking software.
A visitor may bounce by:
Updated more accurate measure of bounce rate is:
Bounce Rate = Total Number of Visits Viewing One Page Divided by Total Number of Visits Greater Than or Equal to the Average Variable Page Load Speed.
A commonly used session timeout value is 30 minutes. In this case, if a visitor views a page, doesn't look at another page, and leaves his or her browser idle for longer than 30 minutes, they will register as a bounce. If the visitor continues to navigate after this delay, a new session will occur.
The bounce rate for a single page is the number of visitors who enter the site at a page and leave within the specified timeout period without viewing another page, divided by the total number of visitors who entered the site at that page. In contrast, the bounce rate for a web site is the number of web site visitors who visit only a single page of a web site per session divided by the total number of web site visits.
Bounce rates can be used to help determine the effectiveness or performance of an entry page. An entry page with a low bounce rate means that the page effectively causes visitors to view more pages and continue on deeper into the web site.
According to Inc.com article: "As a rule of thumb, a 50 percent bounce rate is average. If you surpass 60 percent, you should be concerned. If you're in excess of 80 percent, you've got a major problem."
Interpretation of the bounce rate measure should be relevant to a website's business objectives and definitions of conversion, as having a high bounce rate is not always a sign of poor performance. On sites where an objective can be met without viewing more than one page, the bounce rate would not be as meaningful for determining conversion success. In contrast, the bounce rate of an e-commerce site could be interpreted in correlation with the purchase conversion rate, providing the bounces are considered representative of visits where no purchase was made.
While site-wide bounce rate can be a useful metric for sites with well-defined conversion steps requiring multiple page views, it may be of questionable value for sites where visitors are likely to find what they are looking for on the entry page. This type of behavior is common on web portals and referential content sites. For example, a visitor looking for the definition of a particular word may enter an online dictionary site on that word's definition page. Similarly, a visitor who wants to read about a specific news story may enter a news site on an article written for that story. These example entry pages could have a bounce rate above 80% (thereby increasing the site-wide average), and they might still be considered successful due to having served their purpose.