Be Sure You’re Looking At Bounce Rate For The Right Thing

Bounce rate is a great metric of how much your visitors like your site, however it can also be completely misleading when taken out of context, especially for business-to-business (B2B) companies. Let's put this bounce rate thing into perspective by looking at what the heck bounce rate is and then seeing how you can use custom segments in Google Analytics to gain the perspective your business needs.

First, the definition.

Google (and pretty much everyone else) defines bounce rate as:

…the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.

Basically it means you're a one-hit-wonder, and no one wants to be one of those. And if you think you're numbers are sad take a look at this one:

Dempsey Marketing Bounce Rate March 2012

That's the bounce rate for my site (blog and all) for the month of March. But if you think that number is going to make me run to a corner and cry you'd be wrong. Why? Because that bounce rate actually means very little to me. The one that counts the most, or I should say the three that count the most, look like this:

Dempsey Marketing Bounce Rates That Count

Those bottom three are the ones that I focus on. What are they for? Those are bounce rates for people that viewed my portfolio pages, product pages, and service pages respectively.

Here's the thing. Most people, when visiting a blog, do one or more of the following:

  1. Read a single post
  2. Leave a comment on said post
  3. Share the post on social media

Based on that list most of the visitors to your blog will bounce fast, creating a larger bounce rate and perhaps affecting your self-esteem a  bit. But not to fret my friend – if your blog is part of your business site, and not the entire site, stop looking at the overall bounce rate.

Instead, create custom segments for the most important pages of your site. These could be your product and services pages, client pages, case study pages or others. “Most important” is determined by what actions on your website indicate interest. This is especially important if you get most of your business offline or via the phone, which is the case for a number of my clients.

So before you have a heart attack looking at that high bounce rate, put it in perspective with some custom segments.


  1. I have bounce rate over 51% on my blog and website, do i need to worry?

  2. I have bounce rate over 51% on my blog and website, do i need to worry?

  3. I have bounce rate over 51% on my blog and website, do i need to worry?
    <a href=”” title=”html email marketing”><b>html email marketing</b></a>

  4. gwleckythompson says:

    Agree with everything here – just wanted to mention a couple of things. One, that I usually use the Average Visit Length alongside Bounce and New Visitor data to get the real picture, and two, that a lot of the time the Visitor Flow can help show where the ‘leaks’ are occurring. I have a bunch of articles, blogs, etc. on this if anyone’s interested (start here :

  5. Ok, Robert..the facts are good, but how does one get to see the “other Bounce rates” What did I miss?Do we have to set something up?

    • I just Buffered you also.
      What are the Points?
      New system different from  the old membership?

      •  @ChuckBartok hi Chuck so a few answers for you.
        I stopped using CommentLuv and the standard WordPress comments and am now using LiveFyre. Great stuff.
        As for how to see the other bounce rates, what you’ll want to do is set up custom segments for your major pages. Then you can filter the data in GA for each of these segments and see the bounce rates like I have here.

        •  @RobertDempsey Problem with CommentLuv? Is there a section to see How to set up Custome segments.And “curious minds want to know”…what is benefit of LiveFyre?

  6. CCAnsbjerg says:

    Great post Rob. I’ve always considered that any bounce rate under 75% is good. 
    I like your approach. Focusing on specific pages, the ones that actually generate business and/or money. Silly me, I hadn’t seen it this way before.

  7.  @RobertDempsey I caught your post on my G+ stream. I use your drill down routine and cross-match it against my Jetpack top posts to see which SEO articles appeal to my readers. What I’ve noticed in GA dashboard is the visit duration of “socially engaged” readers and which social network generates the most “social shares” and “social signals”. This is a moving target for me still. 

  8. markwschaefer says:

    Superb insight. Through Alexa, I was comparing bounce rates with other bloggers to see if mine was unusual and we’re all about the same.  You’re right that you need to drill down and look at your residents, not your visitors.

    •  @markwschaefer I know for certain that you have a lot more pages than your blog Mark. I wonder how those are doing compared to your blog.
      Thanks for your comment and for stopping by!

Speak Your Mind