Bounce Rate: A new definition
Many analysts do not take the bounce rate seriously enough – nevertheless it has significant value
To gain attention for the bounce rate within the knowledge- and analytics functionalities, its value needs to be adjusted to reflect current reality and today’s internet usage behavior. The proposal for a more detailed check on the bounce rate is to separate it into an active bounce rate and a passive bounce rate. A former and still valid definition of the bounce rate is: “The Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors who visit a site and leave it immediately”. The Bounce Rate seems to be per se a negative figure that needs to be decreased if you want to optimize your website. But: what time frame is taken into consideration for “immediately” within this definition? And is that judgement still valid in today’s website set up?
The opposite seems to come true, emphasising that: The bounce rate can be a key performance indicator if it is observed correctly. In times of Social Media, numerous blog sources, Posts and Tweets and due to shortening time frames to get and convert information into knowledge it appears that you cannot manage all the data and information at all. The value of the bounce rate gets into a more reasonable perspective. Every third internet user feels a personal information overload when surfing through the web. On the other hand the quality of sources and information availability increases.
Well performing landing pages might even increase the bounce rate
It is extremely important to separate the bounce rate in general into two sectors: active and passive bounce rate. A good landing page delivers very detailed and even targeted information that give the visitors (almost) every detail they were looking for, combined with a solid search engine marketing campaign upfront to be able to be forwarded by the search word to the explicit details of the landing page. With such a landing page the visitors are even not “forced” to click another link or button on the landing page.
And within social media-surrounding it is the same phenomenon. Via Twitter links with relevant content sent to a broad variety of recipients, that more or less have the only intent to forward to a specific landing page or a single detail within a website to enrich their knowledge of the communicated topic. That means there is no need or intention to lead the visitor deeper into the website or any other information level. If a visitor was able to get all needed information within one click/page, he will be counted within the bounce rate that is seen as a negative figure, athough he was able to receive all information he was looking for and leave the website with a “satisfied” status.
Bounce Rate as time interval
Earlier discussions about the time interval for a bounce rate were leading to a 10 second or more perspective before the visitor leaves the website again. With the increase of information availability and up-to-speed content the responsiveness has changed a lot. Within five seconds a visitor can read the headline, check a given picture or visualization as well as start reading or cross check the main content. The bounce rate should therefore be analyzed via action and passivity. The time frame of that analysis should ideally be adjusted with the given website or landing page which is of course high maintenance profiling. In general the following rule can apply:
The active bounce rate ends if – after up to five seconds – the visitor leaves the website. The passive bounce rate is generated as soon as the visitor stays longer than 5 seconds on the site, This longer duration should be analysed and judged in a positive concern based on the content of the site. This passive bounce rate delivers insights to the analysts about quality of its articles, products etc.
Engagement as another important criteria cannot be measured in detail with this approach, but the duration also gives an insight into the engagement criteria.
Proposal for a new definition
The bounce rate delivers the percentage of those visitors of a digital platform that only opened one site – it needs to be differentiated in an active bounce rate (ABR) and a passive bounce rate (PBR): ABR shows how many visitors have left the website within 5 seconds or less; the PBR delivers information about the percentage of visitors that stayed longer than 5 seconds on the website.
So, the bounce rate is not simply a negative figure within the web analytics scenario that needs to be decreased ultimately. A visitor scenario of a landing page could be illustrated like this: