Google Analytics has been one of the most popular and versatile tools for monitoring online marketing metrics for many years.
While it has usually expanded the metrics it provides and the data it gathers, Google Analytics recently changed in the opposite direction: it removed bounce rate as a metric.
Why did Google Analytics do this, and does it mean that bounce rates are no longer an important marketing metric?
Let’s answer both of those questions and more in a detailed overview of bounce rate, what it means, and how you use it.
Bounce Rates Explained
“Bounce” is a digital marketing term that refers to a specific action: when a visitor loads a web page for a short amount of time (usually just a couple of seconds), then clicks away.
They “bounce” from your site to a competitor or back to Google to look for other options. Put another way, bounce rate is the proportion of visitors who visit your landing page (or any other page you wish to measure this metric for) and don’t stick around long enough to make a purchase, fill out a form, etc.
Bounce rate is calculated with a simple formula:
Bounce Rate = Visitors who reach a page / Visitors who click away within a few seconds
The exact amount of time a visitor spends on your site before it no longer counts as a bounce depends on your website and analytics provider.
Generally speaking, a higher bounce rate is considered to be bad. It means that a greater proportion of your visitors are finding your website but don’t find it attractive or engaging enough to stay on for too long.
A lower bounce rate means that those who do find your website are interested enough to stick around to learn more about your brand.
But as we’ll see, this good/bad dichotomy doesn’t tell the whole story in a few important ways.
Why is (or Was) Bounce Rate Important?
For quite a long time, Google Analytics and practically any other analytics toolset measured bounce rate because it tells you one critical thing: how attractive or “sticky” your landing page is.
Successful digital marketing broadly hinges on two major goals. The first is attracting visitors to your website.
The second is convincing them to answer a call to action, that is, make a purchase, sign up for a subscription, or do something else that results in a boost for your business.
It follows that if you measure bounce rate, you can try to determine how engaging your content is and how good a job your website is doing at convincing people to stay after your digital marketing has brought them there.
Bounce rate can help up you determine:
- Whether your landing page website copy is attractive and persuasive
- Whether your page loads too slowly or incompletely
- Whether your page is understandable and navigable for your visitors
It’s the same reason that any good business software comes with critical features like customer tracking, receipt tracking, and more. It’s important to measure how your customers are interacting with your brand to better understand how to improve.
Why did Google Remove Bounce Rate as a Metric?
Things have clearly changed in recent months, though, because Google Analytics recently removed bounce rate from its metrics page.
This means business owners who use Google Analytics tools can no longer look at their bounce rates unless they have third-party software collecting metrics as well.
This is partially because Google has gradually integrated its other business platforms with Google Analytics.
In doing so, Google discovered better ways to determine issues with customer retention, page speed, and more.
But why did the bounce rate specifically get the boot? Simply put, bounce rates can be a little confusing and not altogether helpful.
The metric just tells you that people bounce away from your page. It doesn’t tell you why people decided to click away. By itself, the metric just leaves you to speculate about the reason for the bounce.
For example, someone might choose to click away from your website because they weren’t genuinely persuaded by your marketing copy but decided to take a quick look against their better judgment.
Perhaps your webpage loaded too slowly for their liking, which may mean you need to seek expert services to improve your design.
Maybe they couldn’t find what they were looking for on your landing page because it was confusing, or the wording turned them away from your brand.
The point is, if you only look at bounce rate, you’ll never know. This makes bounce rate an ultimately limited metric when analyzing your website’s performance and brand marketing.
Metrics to Consider Instead
Although bounce rate is no longer measured or provided by Google Analytics, there are still plenty of other metrics you can consider when analyzing the strength of your website and revamping it for better performance.
For example, you might try to audit the checkout process to ensure payment and all related functions work smoothly.
According to recent statistics, 71% of online customers prefer to pay with a credit or debit card, so if your payment portal doesn’t feel and look secure, you might be losing people there.
You can also examine alternative analytics metrics like:
- Average time spent on page per visitor. The longer this metric, the more likely it is people are being persuaded by your landing page’s copy, design, or other elements.
- Click-through rate for products or pages. The click-through rate tells you how many people reach your landing page, then click through to another part of your online business instead of clicking away from your landing page.
- Which pages get the most customer attention. This can help you determine where you should focus your website revamp efforts.
- Activity levels. This can tell you how active visitors are on your website, which is useful when combined with metrics about what they’re doing while they’re there.
- Most active hours. Find out the hours during the day when your website receives the most traffic and from where.
Remember that bounce rate can still be an important metric if you collect it using a third-party analytics software tool.
The big thing to keep in mind is that Google no longer considers bounce rate to be as important as other marketing traits or metrics.
You should use bounce rate in conjunction with those metrics, not by itself, to draw conclusions about your visitors and your site’s performance.
The digital marketing sphere is constantly evolving, and we must grow with it. Bounce rate remains a vital marketing metric if used properly.
Just don’t rely on bounce rate to tell you everything you need to know about your visitors or what they think of your landing pages.
Instead, take a page out of Google’s book and focus on metrics that may provide more in-depth analytical information.