“Not all bounces are bad”


This title is derived from a quote from Cat Young of Solve the Web, who kindly came to the Appletree offices last week to give us a quick tour of Google Analytics. And it was her statement “not all bounces are bad” that stuck the most in my mind.

Let me explain what a bounce is.  It is the action of website visitors who don’t continue further from their entrance page to another page on the website, resulting in leaving the website altogether. This action is recorded as a bounce by Google Analytics, and there is a general consensus that bounces are not a good thing.

But visitors have many reasons for looking at a website. The fact that they leave the website immediately from the same page, sometimes within a few seconds, doesn’t necessarily mean it was the wrong one. Obviously if Google Analytics shows they spent 0 seconds on the site, it was probably more likely to be an errant visit, but consider how long does it take to look up a telephone number, check on an email address, or find out the URL of a blog? This is particularly relevant if all this information is immediately available on the entrance (or landing) page.

Apparently it doesn’t matter how long a visitor spends on that page, 1 second or 1 hour, if they leave the website without venturing to another page it is classified as a bounce. This also means that ‘squeeze pages’ (specially formulated landing pages) for email campaigns and other internet marketing activities are destined to only show up as bounces on Google Analytics. These webpages are especially designed not to contain irrelevant links to elsewhere in case they distract the visitor’s concentration to its purpose. Their main function is to create a conversion: get the visitor to buy something, sign up to an event, or download a file.

Therefore you can see why bounces aren’t all bad, sometimes they are inevitable. If your website is purely for reference purposes, a source of relevant information about your company or your industry, and your webpages are beautifully designed to provide that information easily, effectively and immediately, your extremely grateful visitor will only reward you with a bounce.

Here’s something for you to think about: how do I stop visitors from bouncing? How do I rearrange my navigation on the landing page (which might not necessarily be the index page) to encourage visitors to venture further into the website? What added value to I provide my visitors to encourage this? Would they be adequately satisfied for being diverted from becoming bounces? Are all bounces bad anyway?


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