Bounce rates and exit rates measure the point at which a visitor clicks away from your site. These numbers are sometimes overlooked—or even ignored altogether—but they can help you identify weak spots on your site that could be affecting the other analytics you measure.
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What’s the difference between bounce rate and exit rate?
Whether you measure the bounce rate on a web page or the exit rate, you’re counting the number of people who leave your site. The difference lies in what they can tell you about your site’s effectiveness.
The bounce rate measures the percentage of people who go to a page and then leave without visiting any other page. It doesn’t matter if the visitors stayed 30 seconds or 30 minutes—every bounce counts. Depending on the page’s content, that may not necessarily be bad. If a visitor lands on a page with your address and hours, that may be all the information they need. When additional action is expected, though, it can signal a problem.
The exit rate indicates where people exit your site after visiting multiple pages. While this number includes all interactions, from orders and form submissions to simple views, it can reveal an issue with the site. A high exit rate from a content page won’t set off warning bells. On the other hand, a high rate on an order page—particularly among those who don’t make a purchase—means something may be wrong with the page.
Why does it help to measure bounce and exit rates?
Like other metrics, bounce and exit rates should be analyzed to determine how well your site is performing. These rates measure the same thing—the point at which a visitor leaves your site—but the numbers don’t always tell the same story, particularly from one page to another.
In a perfect world, everyone who comes to your site would stick around and visit multiple pages. However, people enter your site for all sorts of reasons. Some may come looking for a simple answer to a question, find it on the first page they see, and move on. That’s okay—it means the page was optimized for that kind of search.
A landing page, by contrast, is meant to be an entry point and not a quick pit stop. If the bounce rate is high on that page, it may signal a problem either with the message or the usability of the page. You may find, for instance, that the bounce rate is high because the page loads slowly.
The exit rate can identify similar issues, and can help you understand why visitors decide to leave your site. There are some pages will naturally have high exit rates, like order confirmation pages or “thank you” pages that visitors land on after filling out forms. This isn’t a cause for concern, and shows that your customers are leaving after making valuable conversions.
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Sometimes, though, a high rate is a sign of a problem. A high exit rate on pages that are intended to encourage additional actions can mean that something is causing your visitors to leave before converting. For example, if your product pages have high exit rates, you may need to make sure that the order process is working or rework some of the sales copy.
In short, a high bounce or exit rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as it occurs where it should. The only way you’ll know is if you regularly measure both.
Which number is more important?
The correct answer to the question of bounce vs. exit rate is this: it depends. Ideally, you’re measuring both on every page of your site, but that doesn’t mean both numbers matter on every page.
The bounce rate matters most when the page is supposed to be the first stop visitors make. Scan your site and highlight the pages that call for a next step, such as clicking a link for more information. A low rate means they’re taking that next step—regardless of the eventual outcome—while a high rate means the page needs improvement. In those cases, keep a close eye on the bounce rate to see if your optimization efforts are working.
You should also monitor exit rates of all pages except those that are meant to come after conversions. Where do you want people to end up on your site? This is the page where people should be leaving, particularly if they’ve taken the desired actions beforehand. But if visitors are leaving on other pages instead, this can help you see how visitors are engaging with your site—and what you can do to improve.
Over time, measuring bounce and exit rates will not only help you identify weak spots on your site, but also refine them to improve other metrics like conversion and revenue.
Want more insight on your site’s performance?
Bounce rate and exit rate are both important metrics, and can reveal where people are leaving your site and why. Start paying attention to these numbers, and you’ll have a better idea of what you need to do to optimize your website and improve both rates over the long term.
Keep in mind, though, that these are only two of the hundreds of metrics you can measure on your site, and many are important for having a full understanding of your online presence. If you’d like assistance monitoring and analyzing your site, don’t hesitate to contact us! Our expert team of Internet marketers can help you get all the information you need about your site, then use it to improve your SEO and overall performance.