While making changes to our google analytics events for our web portal software discoverize, we managed to drop our bounce rate to zero. In this post I share what how we fixed the problem and why I think that bounce rate can not be part of google’s search ranking algorithm.
What Exactly is Bounce Rate?
We all know, the lower the bounce rate the better, but what does it actually represent?
Google analytics defines bounce rate as the
percentage of session, in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page.
(Check here for a more in depth explanation: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1009409?hl=en)
Basically it means, that after arriving at your site, the visitor does not go to another page or converts for you (for example newsletter signup).
Usually you would want your bounce rate to be as low as possible – because you want your visitors to convert in some shape or form. Be it by buying something, linking or commenting on your blog post or subscribing. There are exeptions to this rule – because a high conversion rate can mean that your visitor has found what she was looking for – wikipedia is a great example (unless you are actively procrastinating 😉
How We Dropped our Bounce Rate to Zero
Our discoverize portals usually have bounce rate around 40% – which actually is quite a good number for travel related sites. A couple of weeks ago it suddenly dropped by about 50%:
Naturally we wanted to take credit for improving our software and encouraging more interactions with our portals. However we had not deployed any changes in that period that should have affected the bounce rate this much.
So we dug deeper to find out what could have gone wrong. And pretty quickly we found that the bounce rate on our detail pages had dropped to zero (for example a glamping detail page: http://glamping.info/glampingunterkunft/blockhutte-auf-camping-via-claudia):
So this definetely could not be right… After going through our git commits we quickly found where the mistake came from:
We had added an google analytics event that would trigger as soon as the detail page was opened. A glance at the google analytics events documentation showed that these events count are interpreted as as user interactions. This means that these visits even though not triggering any real interation from our visitors did lower the overall bounce rate.
How to Prevent Events from Affecting Bounce Rate
Luckily there is a pretty easy way to fix this – via David Walsh:
ga('set', 'nonInteraction', true);
More on tweaking your events and bounce rate in David’d Blogpost: https://davidwalsh.name/analytics-bounce-rate
Sadly, our bounce rate is back to normal:
Why Bounce Rate Should not Affect Your Search Rank
Our inadvertent drop in bounce rate show that you could manipulate your bounce rate very easily. So it seems reasonable to asume that bounce rate should not be part of google’s search algorithm.
How to Really Improve Your Bounce Rate
If you want to increase your visitor’s interactions with your site and convert them to customers, readers or fans check out this post by quicksprout with a great infographic: