Bounce Rate Vs Exit Rate: 7 Things You Need To Know

Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate – what’s the difference and which is more important?

These two metrics are often confused with each other. But they measure very different things.

In this article I’ll explain the key differences between bounce rate and exit rate. I’ll also discuss some other metrics closely related to bounce rate.

I’ll also answer the much-debated question: does bounce rate have an impact on SEO?

Let’s dive in:

1. What Is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors to your site who arrive at your site on a particular page and then navigate away, or ‘bounce’, from your site after only viewing that single webpage.

1.1 Bounce Rate Definition

A bounce is only recorded if a user exits from the same page they entered your website and does not interact with any of the components on that page (e.g. doesn’t fill out an opt-in form, doesn’t leave a comment etc)

The key characteristic of a bounce is that it is always a one-page session.

1.2 What Does High Bounce Rate Indicate

A high bounce rate is usually a negative for most websites. It indicates that there was nothing else on your website that was relevant to your visitor.

A high bounce rate on a home page is particularly worrying since a home page is often designed to distribute traffic to the rest of your site.

1.3 High Bounce Rate Is Not Always Bad

However, high bounce rate is not always a bad signal.

Some pages, such as lead capture landing pages, deliberately contain no links to any other page so that the visitor is entirely focused on completing the action that the page is targeting (i.e. submitting an email address). This kind of page will inevitably produce a high bounce rate.

Similarly, a blog post that exactly answers the question that a searcher typed into Google will often have a high bounce rate. Far from being a negative, a high bounce rate in this situation indicates that your content delivered what your visitor wanted. The searcher found what they wanted and then left.

1.4 Industry Standards for Bounce Rate

Some industries or types of website by their nature have higher bounce rates than others. Here are some typical bounce rates by industry, provided by MonsterInsights:

  • Retail Sites: 20 %– 40%
  • Simple Landing Pages: 70% – 90%
  • Portals: 10% – 30%
  • Service Sites: 10% – 30%
  • Content Sites: 40% – 60%
  • Lead Generation sites: 30% – 50%

Conversion XL notes that blog sites typically have higher than normal bounce rates. Compared with service sites, with a typical bounce rate of 10% – 30%, blogs typically have a bounce rate of 70% – 90%:

bounce rate vs exit rate

1.5 Where to See Your Bounce Rate

To see your bounce rate, login to Google Analytics and then go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages:

bounce rate vs exit rate

2. What Is Exit Rate?

2.1 Exit Rate Definition

The exit rate for a particular page is the percentage of people who left your site from that particular page. For any given web page on your site, exit rate is the percentage of your visitors who left your site from that page.

Whereas bounce rate only records visitors who entered and existed your site from the same page, exit rate includes single-page and multi-page sessions. Exit rate is not concerned about where a visitor entered your site, only with the page from which they exited.

2.2 What Does High Exit Rate Indicate?

As with bounce rate, a high exit rate is not necessarily negative. It may simply indicate that the visitor found what they were looking and then left your site.

However, a high exit rate on a page that is intended to take your visitors further into your site is a sign that something is wrong. High exit rates on particular pages often indicate a problem in your conversion funnel.

2.3 Where to See Your Exit Rate

To find your exit rate in Google Analytics, go to Behavior> Overview:

bounce rate vs exit rate

You can also find your exit rate by going to Behavior >Site Content > All Pages:

bounce rate vs exit rate

3. Bounce Rate Vs Exit Rate: a Comparison

Bounce rate and exit rate are often confused with each other, so here are some differences between the two.

  • Bounces are always one-page visits whereas exits can be more than multi-page visits
  • Bounce rate refers to the first page a visitor lands on when entering your site, while exit rate refers to the last page a visitor is on before they exit your site.
  • Exit rate is the percentage of visits where a particular page was last in the session, whereas bounce rate is the percentage of visits where that page was the only visited in that session

4. Bounce Rate and SEO

Google has repeatedly denied that it uses bounce rate recorded in Google Analytics as a ranking factor in their algorithm.

And there are good reasons to believe this is the case.

Firstly, it would create an uneven playing field, since about half of all websites in the world are not registered with Google Analytics.

Secondly, as we have seen above, high bounce rate is not necessarily a negative – it may simply mean that your page perfectly addressed the searcher’s query.

Thirdly, standard bounce rates vary enormously between industries.

Rand Fishkin, formerly of Moz, once ran an interesting experiment. He got hundreds of volunteers to click on the bottom listing on Page #1 of the SERP for a given search query and asked them to immediately click away from the site.

But the experiment produced no predictable change in the sites' SERP ranking, suggesting that it is indeed the case that bounce rate does not affect SEO.

However, LarryKim of Moz analysed content on their own site and found that there was a detectable relationship between bounce rate and SERP ranking: pages with higher bounce rate ranked lower in the SERPS:

bounce rate vs exit rate

And backlinko, in a study of over one million Google search results, found a clear correlation between bounce rate and Google ranking:

bounce rate vs exit rate

So, despite what Google has stated, the evidence is that bounce rate does play a role in where your page appears in the search results.

But there’s another metric, ‘Return To SERP’, that plays an even more important role in the Google SERP rankings than bounce rate.

5. Bounce Rate and Time On Page

Bounce rate does not record the amount of time a visitor spends on your page before exiting your site from that page.

Someone might spend 20 minutes reading your long-form article, and then leave your site, having only visited that one page.

And that’s one of the reasons a high bounce rate is not necessarily negative.  ‘Time on page’ or ‘dwell time’ is almost certainly one of the metrics that makes up Google's ranking algorithm.

6. Bounce Rate vs. Return to SERP

There’s another metric that also records time on page, and Google watches this one like a hawk.

It’s called ‘return to SERP’ and it measures the time a visitor spends on your page before clicking back to the SERPs.

A return to SERP is a bounce but unlike other bounces it’s a bounce that is always negative.

Put simply ‘return to SERP’ records the amount of time a visitor spends on your page before returning to the SERPs.

The reason a high ‘Return to SERP’ is bad for your search rankings is it tells Google that your page did not answer the visitor’s search query. And since Google’s main concern is improving the match between search query and search results, a page with high ‘return to SERP’ will quickly move down the search results.

7. Bounce Rate and Pogo-Sticking

Pogo-sticking is when a searcher clicks on a SERP listing, realizes the page doesn’t answer their query, and quickly clicks back to the search results.

Pogo-sticking is what happens when a page has a high rate of 'return to SERP’. Whereas a bounce can be positive or negative, a high incidence of pogo-sticking is always negative.

No one knows exactly how short a visit has to be to trigger the pogo-sticking algorithm. But it's clear that the shorter the interval between arriving on your page and returning to the SERPs, the more likely this algorithm will be triggered.

Google tracks pogo-sticking by recording short clicks and long clicks. Short clicks are where a visitor clicks on search results and quickly clicks back to the SERPs page. Long clicks indicate a satisfied searcher.

Thirteen Ways To Reduce Bounce Rate

So now that we’ve covered what bounce rate is and how it differs from exit rate, dwell time, return to SERP, and pogo-sticking, you maybe wondering how can reduce bounce rate.

Especially since the evidence indicates that there is a correlation between high bounce rate and lower search engine rankings.

However, before attempting to lower your bounce rate it’s important to understand if your bounce rate is positive or negative. If a high bounce rate is simply the result of your visitor finding the information they wanted, then there’s no need to reduce your bounce rate.

If, on the other hand, a page has a high bounce rate AND visitors to that page are not completing the actions that the page is designed for, then you may want to look at ways of reducing your bounce rate on that page.

1. Improve the Readability of Your Content

Break your text up with headings, bullet points and images. Nothing turns visitors away quicker than large, dense blocks of text.

2. Give Your Page a Single and Clear Call toAction

Every web page should have a purpose, something you want the visitor to do, for example:

  • sign up to an email list
  • share a page on social media
  • write a comment
  • leave a review

Make it clear to your visitor what you want them to do by including a clear call to action (CTA).

3. Optimize Page Load Time

According to Kissmetrics 47% of people expect a web page to load in less than 2 seconds. Use the tips in this article to make your web pages load faster.

There are some more tips for reducing page load time in this excellent article by Ankit Singla on 17 Effective Tips To Reduce Blog Page Load Time.

4. Go Easy on Distracting Sidebar Widgets

Keep those flashing, brightly colored widgets in your right sidebar to a minimum. After all, you want your visitors to read your content, so don’t distract them.

5. Optimize for Mobile

Check in Google Analytics to see if you have a high bounce rate on mobile devices. If so, optimize your site for mobile.

6. Write Shorter and Sentences and Paragraphs

Paragraphs and sentences on the Internet need to be much shorter than in print media.

Keep your paragraphs to no more than three sentences and try to keep your sentences to 65 characters or less.

7. Mix Up Your Content

Use a mix of different types of content along with your text. Use plenty of images and include one or two YouTube videos on the topic of your web page.

8. Use Relevant Keywords

Make sure your web page is ranking for relevant keywords. If your page is getting traffic from irrelevant search queries, that’s going to result in a high bounce rate.

9. Avoid Aggressive Popups

Most people find popups that load as soon as you arrive on a page annoying. If you use popups, make sure they are exit-intent only.

10. Use Internal Links

Encourage your visitors to explore your site by sprinkling your content with relevant internal links.

11. Ensure That All Links Open in a New Tab

Make sure all your links open in a new tab – if your links open in the same tab, your reader will lose your page as soon as they click on a link.

The best WP plugin for ensuring that all your links open in a new tabor new window is OpenExternal Links In a New Window.

12. Improve the Readability of your Copy

Run your web page copy through an app like Readable, or Hemingway.

13. Use Transitions

Transitions are short sentences that link one paragraph with the next.

They keep people reading and stop them bouncing away. For more on how to use transitions, see my guest post on SmartBlogger.

Conclusion

Bounce rate and exit rate – they are similar metrics that are easily confused. But they measure different things.

  • Bounce rate measures exits from single-page sessions, whereas exit rate measures exits from all sessions (single- and multi-page).

  • High bounce rates are not necessarily negative - they may indicate that the searcher found exactly what they wanted on the first page they visited.

  • Nevertheless, high bounce rates are generally to be avoided. There is a well-documented relationship between high bounce rates and low search engine rankings.

  • Bounce rate refers to the first page a visitor lands on when entering your site, while exit rate refers to the last page a visitor is on before they exit your site.

  • Exit rate is the percentage of visits where a particular page was last in the session, whereas bounce rate is the percentage of visits where that page was the only visited page in that session.
  • Bounce Rate does not record the amount of time a visitor spends on your page before exiting your site from that page, whereas exit rate does

This post was most recently updated on July 10th, 2020

Rob Powell
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4 thoughts on “Bounce Rate Vs Exit Rate: 7 Things You Need To Know”

  1. I just started to work in a company and I wanted to learn about SEO (on-page), so I was searching for an article on the internet and I got your article and I must say it helped me a lot to understand what are the differences between bounce rate and exit rate. Thank you very much for this lovely article.

  2. I am very pleased to learn the true concept behind the major differences in between bounce rate vs exit rate, I was searching like this, to the point guide and luckily Google landed me on the right page.
    Appreciate Rob Powell, for this master powerful guide and i do love to share the same strategy on my YouTube (MR VYAS) channel blogging community, once again very thankful

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