Let's say that you fire up your website analytics tool at least once a month. You probably look over some of the metrics to get a feel for what kind of traffic your website is getting. Visits and page-views are popular statistics, and I’m sure you’re looking at where the website traffic is coming from, too. All of that search engine optimization (SEO) work you did a few months ago is hopefully paying off, right?
There might be a few website analytics you’re overlooking. Have you paid much attention to your site’s bounce rate or the average amount of time visitors spend on your pages? If not, you’re not alone. Bounce rate and average time on page often get overlooked and are not considered important analytics. However, the truth is that both of these metrics give you deeper insight into how visitors interact with your site.
What do bounce rate and average time on page mean?
Alright, let’s get some definitions out of the way so we’re speaking the same lingo. The technical definition of bounce rate from Google is, “Bounce rate is the percentage of visits that go only one page before exiting a site.” This means that a visitor lands on one of your pages and doesn’t go anywhere else on your site. An example of this would be someone finding one of your blogs on a search engine results page (SERP), clicking on it, reading the post, then not visiting any other pages on your site. Bounce rate is a good metric to see how much interaction visitors have with your site and if your content draws them into the site to learn more.
Average time on page is even easier to understand. This is just an average of the amount of time all visitors to a page spend on that particular page. This metric will tell you whether visitors are actually reading the content on your pages. For instance, if the average time on page for a lengthy blog post is only 10 seconds, it’s safe to assume that most visitors aren’t actually reading the post.
What are meaningful numbers to shoot for?
In general, a good bounce rate is lower than 50 to 60 percent. A large factor that influences bounce rate is the type of page and the type of content on that page. If a page is largely informational without many links to other parts of your site, then a bounce rate above 60 percent wouldn’t be out of the norm. However, if the page is mainly a directory of links (for example to products you make or services you offer), then you should see a much lower bounce rate than 60 percent.
The ideal number for average time on page will vary from page to page, as well. As mentioned before, a short average time on page for a blog post or a page with lots of content is suspicious and not good news. You can use your intuition for each page to determine how long someone should be on the page. If someone is spending 30-45 seconds on a page on average, that is a good start. To get a feel for timing, try browsing the web with your morning coffee and have a stopwatch going. Start and stop it for each page you go to. You might be surprised at how little time you spend on a page.
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My numbers are horrible for these metrics! Now what?
Don’t despair! A few smart tweaks can easily remedy a high bounce rate or low average time on page.
If your bounce rate is high, the first place to look is your site design. Make sure that links are easily identifiable, relevant, and intuitive on each page. Main site navigation links should be located on every page of your site, with the exception of landing pages. The aesthetics of your site should also be up-to-date since an unattractive, distracting or out-of-date site can cause a user to turn away instantly.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is another place to look if your bounce rate is through the roof. Make sure that you’re using relevant keywords, page descriptions, and titles throughout your site. Even if you’re generating a large number of visitors, if they aren’t sticking around you’re missing opportunities to engage them further.
Finally, look at how long it takes to load pages on your site. If you have a lot of large, high-resolution images, pages may take too long to load. People are impatient and will most likely hop off your page and go to the next one if the load time is excessive. (Check your page speed with Google's tool)
The same tricks can be used to improve your average time on page as well (except for the page loading time issue). In addition, writing amazing (and relevant) content will help you see the largest improvements, since visitors will want to stick around and read what you’re offering on your site.
Now that you know what bounce rate and average time on page entail, you have a couple more website analytics to add to your arsenal. These two metrics should give you more insight into how users are interacting with your site and what they’re doing. Use this information to better tailor your site to visitors’ behavior and enhance your SEO.
Learn more about using website analytics to track leads, and to see which marketing channels are most effective at generating customers at the lowest cost, by downloading our free ebook, “How to Unlock the ROI of Your Marketing with Analytics”.