This post may contain affiliate links, I receive a small commission if you make a purchase with this link.

Bounce Rate: Your Website’s Warning Sign for User Engagement

Bounce rate represents the percentage of single session visits to your website.

While not a direct ranking factor, a high bounce rate can indicate low-quality content, a poor user experience, or technical problems.

However, the situation is more nuanced because certain types of websites typically experience high bounce rates, which is considered normal.

Let’s explore bounce rates and discover ways to reduce them, keeping visitors engaged on your website.

Table of Contents

What is a Bounce Rate?

First of all, let’s define what bounce rate is according to Google:

google bot

bounce is a single-page session on your site. In [Google] Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.

Source: Google – bounce rate

So, from Google’s definition we can understand a “bounce” to be when a user visits a page on a website from the Google search page or elsewhere and then “bounces” back to the previous page or exits the website.

The bounce rate is the % of sessions that are single session.

Is a high bounce rate bad?

Not necessarily. A rapid bounce indicates that the visitor didn’t read the article, which is a negative indicator. However, if someone visits a single page, spends several minutes reading the entire content, and exits by clicking on an affiliate link or ad banner, it would be considered a successful interaction by most bloggers or website owners.

Wouldn’t you agree?


average bounce rates for dictionaries, portals, blogs and generally websites that revolve around news and events

Source: Custom Media Labs – Bounce Rates

Bounce rates differ substantially between different industries, for instance e-commerce and retail websites will typically have much lower bounce rates around 20-45%.

Bloggers should expect high bounce rates. This isn’t surprising considering once a visitor has read your article, they are probably finished with your website unless they spot something else to read.

In the next section we will discuss common reasons for high bounce rates.

Common Causes of High Bounce Rates

man with laptop with bouncing balls surrounding him

By high we mean higher than normal for that type of website. Here are some common causes:

  1. Slow loading: Website visitors expect a page to load in a few seconds, if your page is slow to load they will leave and go somewhere else.
  2. Misleading descriptions: If your web page is not what a visitor is looking for because the title, meta description, or even search intent doesn’t match your content, the visitor will bounce.
  3. Low-quality content: This can mean the content is thin (too few words), doesn’t answer the query well or has poor grammar or spelling. Many factors can lead a visitor to think the content is low quality resulting in them bouncing. Consider improving your content if you suspect the quality is low.
  4. Broken link: Most blogging software (such as WordPress) will display a “Page is missing” error message for a broken link. This is still registered by your analytics software as a page visit and will affect your bounce rate.
  5. Not mobile-friendly: Visitors may leave the site if your theme or layout is not mobile friendly. Check for mobile usability issues on your website and fix any issues you find.
  6. No CTA (Call to Action): No clear call-to-action on your page resulting in visitors leaving the site without taking any action.

As mentioned already, a high bounce rate doesn’t automatically mean something is wrong. You should check other metrics such as average session time and time on site to see if visitors are reading your content.

In the next section we will discuss ways to reduce your bounce rate if you consider it too high.

How to reduce your Bounce Rate

bouncing balls

Typically methods that improve and enhance user engagement will result in reduced bounce rates. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Speed up your website loading (for instance choose a fast loading theme)
  2. Use easy to read fonts that are large enough for all age groups and use high contrast colors
  3. Use a sidebar or footer widgets with recommended posts to keep visitors on your site
  4. Better, simpler navigation (include archives, categories, search and recommended posts)
  5. Include recommended action on the page (e.g. a Call-to-Action button or link)
  6. Use a mobile friendly design
  7. Use high-quality images and videos (but don’t forget to use an image compression plugin)
  8. Use social proof, such as customer reviews and testimonials
  9. Provide people-first, useful, reliable and relevant content

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. Your high bounce rate might be attributed to only a few pages on your site. You can check the exit rates to identify problematic pages (exit rates will be explained later in the article).

If all of your pages are suffering from high bounce rates it’s likely to be a site-wide issue such as:

  • slow loading website
  • problems in readability (font is too small, low contrast difficult to read text)
  • low quality content (too few words, poor spelling or grammar, text is difficult to read)
  • formatting issues (not enough white space, not enough images, no subheadings, links etc)
  • website is not mobile friendly and visitor can’t navigate on a mobile device (links are too close together)
  • navigation is missing or difficult to use, no recommended posts, no sidebar or footer areas

Fixes for site-wide, technical issues such as slow loading website:

Find a mobile friendly, minimal, fast website theme (for WordPress I recommend GeneratePress). Don’t use too many plugins as each additional plugin will slow down your website.

Use an image compression plugin to shrink your images (and optionally crop them). Imagify is a good service and is free to use.

Keep in mind that not all your readers have perfect eyesight or vision. Opt for a larger font size to ensure that readers of all ages can comfortably read your content.

Use an SEO audit tool to find issues that could affect user experience on your website. These tools can check 100+ issues per page. Recommendation: SE Ranking

If you find individual pages causing a high number of visitors to “bounce” or exit your site do the following:

Check the content quality.

Is the content well written?

Does it have enough high quality images?

Have you included enough white space between paragraphs?

Do you include internal and external links?

Consider doing a web audit on your site to identify issues with your content. Use SEO tools to help you identify issues.

You can also use AI to help you improve readability and clarity of your website. AI can also make a good proofreader. See below for some recommended articles on AI:

Low bounce vs high bounce – does it matter?

It depends on the purpose of your website.

If each article is a standalone piece of content meant to inform a reader then a high bounce rate is fine.

If, however, you want and expect a user to do something else after reading your article such as:

  • Click on a Call-to-action (CTA) button, (e.g. join our newsletter, sign up for a free ebook)
  • Purchase something from your website (ecommerce, retail website)
  • Fill in a contact form or get a quotation from you

Then a high bounce rate is bad.

For ecommerce sites or retail/service website it is usually bad to have high bounce rates.

Track your bounce rate

bouncing balls and symbols

You will need to track your bounce rates using analytics software. Google Analytics is free to use but can be difficult to customize.

For a simple analytics set up you can use Clicky. You need to add one script tag to each page and then you are done! It’s not as comprehensive or powerful as Google Analytics but I find it easier to use.

One word of caution. Check how your analytics software defines bounce rate. For instance, Clicky considers visitors who stay on the page for 30 seconds or less to have “bounced”. Single session visits of 30+ seconds are not considered bounces.

Check how your analytics software defines “bounce rate”

Bounce Rate and SEO

Bounce rate is not a direct ranking factor for Google.

It can, however, affect other ranking factors that search engines use for ranking such as:

A high bounce rate, along with other signals, can indicate your content is not engaging users resulting in lower rankings.

Monitoring your bounce rate is a good idea. To see if individual articles have quality issues look at exit rates which I explain in the next section.

Conversely, low bounce rate content could be a sign your content is well received by visitors and you should produce more content like that.

What is the difference between bounce rate and exit rate?

Before explaining the differences let’s explain what exit rate means.

What is exit rate?

Exit rate measures the percentage of visitors who leave a website from a particular page.

So, it’s a measure of – for a specific page – how many visitors leave your website.

It can indicate low quality content for that page. Or perhaps it could mean you don’t have enough internal links or recommended posts from that page resulting in a visitor going elsewhere.

It’s the last page visited before exiting your website.

Bounce rate refers to the first page visited on your website because it tracks single page sessions. Exit page, on the other hand, can refer to any page on your website and tracks the last page visited.

Both are useful for understanding user engagement on your site. Bounce rates, in addition to user engagement, can indicate site-wide problems such as a slow loading website, not having a mobile friendly site or other visual layout issues.

A high exit rate on a particular page can indicate quality issues or lack of internal links that a visitor can follow.

Both bounce rate and exit rate are valuable metrics to track and help you understand user engagement on your site.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this article and informative.

In summary:

  • bounce rate is the % of single session visits
  • a high bounce rate can indicate low quality content or problems with the website
  • for blogging or news website a high bounce rate is normal
  • bounce rate is not a ranking signal for SEO purposes
  • track your bounce rate using analytics software (such as Google Analytics or Clicky)

Thanks for reading. If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it with your network by using the social media sharing buttons below. Thank you for your support!

Leave a Comment