What is bounce rate and is it important?

Bounce rate is a metric that’s been bouncing around since 2007 (pun intended, don’t worry).

Over the years, bounce rate has sparked its fair share of confusion – especially with the recent transition from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4.

Bounce rate in UA: The OG definition

In UA, bounce rate was the metric used to gauge the percentage of single-page sessions on your website. In simple terms, bounce rate measured when a user landed on a page and then exited the website without taking any other action or navigating further.

An abnormal bounce rate either way (100% or 0%) could signal issues with GA tag implementation. This fact was once useful as a debugging metric – but the change from UA to GA4 has impacted this.

GA4’s take on bounce rate: It’s a big change

With the arrival of GA4 and the end of data processing in Universal Analytics on 1 July 2023, bounce rate disappeared. In its place, the concept of an engaged session was introduced. This is defined as a session lasting longer than 10 seconds, and featuring a conversion event, or involving at least two page views or screen views. 

According to Google: “The engagement rate is the percentage of engaged sessions on your website or mobile app. The bounce rate is the opposite of the engagement rate. The bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that were not engaged.”

In a nutshell: the engagement rate gives you a percentage measurement of how many people visited your website or app and engaged with it in a meaningful way. The bounce rate measures the percentage of people who visited your website or app and had no meaningful engagement with it.

Why the shift in GA4’s bounce rate definition?

In the years since UA first started, web design and user behaviour has changed dramatically. The change in GA4’s definition of bounce rate aligns with this. Traditional bounce rate metrics struggled to capture the value of single-page visits where users did engage meaningfully with content, such as watching a video, reading content, and completing a call-to-action – all on a single page.

GA4’s approach to bounce rate aims to accurately reflect modern online behaviour, considering factors like video engagement, longer session durations, and various interaction types that may not involve navigating to multiple pages.

So, is there bounce rate in GA4?

While GA4 initially removed bounce rate from its default reporting capabilities, it is still accessible in your customised reporting. 

  • Sign into you’re Google Analytics and head to your Reports.
  • Choose the report you’d like to customise and click Customise Report.
  • In Report Data, click Metrics

What is bounce rate and is it important?

  • Click Add metric (near the bottom of the right menu).
  • Type ‘Engagement rate’
  • Type ‘Bounce rate’
  • Click Apply.

What is bounce rate and is it important?

How to improve your bounce rate in GA4

  1. Google PageSpeed: Optimise your page’s speed to enhance user experience and potentially improve organic search rankings.
  2. Match user intent: Make sure your page content aligns with the intent of the visitors landing on it by analysing keywords and user expectations.
  3. Add video content: Incorporate engaging videos to extend user session durations beyond the 10-second threshold.
  4. Create an internal linking strategy: Improve SEO and user engagement by strategically linking to relevant content within your site.
  5. Optimise for conversions: Include clear call-to-actions (CTAs) to guide users toward your business objectives.
  6. Google E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This provides readers with a reassurance that your website is trustworthy and encourages them to stick around.

Bounce rate in 2023 and beyond

GA4’s redefined bounce rate offers a more accurate measurement of user engagement. While bounce rate alone may not serve as the ultimate KPI, it remains a valuable metric alongside others like engagement rate and average engagement time.

Your goals and KPIs will determine whether you choose to highlight engagement rate or bounce rate in your reports. Both metrics offer useful insights into user engagement, allowing you to tailor your reporting to showcase improvements in user experience and site performance.

As we navigate GA4, understanding these metrics can significantly impact how users interact with your website. When this data is harnessed and used to make improvements to your website, it will lead in the long run to a more positive and engaging online experience for your users.

Source: Moz

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