Google Analytics 101 for Bloggers: What’s a Bounce Rate?

If you have a writing resume site, freelance blog, or any other kind of online destination, you owe it to yourself to install Google Analytics to properly track and measure your success on the web.

Once you’ve got Google Analytics up and running, one of the first things you will notice is a statistic called the Bounce Rate. For seasoned bloggers, this is a very well-known term, but if you are just getting started, the Bounce Rate is something you need to get literate on, with speed. Aren’t you glad we’re here to help? I’ll try to wipe the self-satisfied grin off my face.

The Bounce Rate in GA is used to identify how long your visitors actually stay on your website. This metric is probably the only one you can rely on as an across-the-board way to view how well you do on the web. Why? It’s simple. Bounce rate determines what some call the “customer experience”. If you land on a website and see that it’s not what you wanted and leave quickly, you’ve BOUNCED.

People bounce for a variety of reasons. Some traffic isn’t “quality” traffic and the people who find you aren’t your target audience. Other times it’s your target audience coming in, seeing things aren’t done quite right or not to the level of their expectations and they leave. If you get 500 visits per day, but you have a bounce rate of 75%, you have a large majority of your traffic landing, peeking, and departing quickly. What is the bounce rate for the entry pages on your website? Your main page?

Bounce rates can help you identify what you do right—lower bounce rates on popular pages may be telling you that they liked what they read. Higher bounce rates on other content could be a hint that you need to shift focus on a blog to the approaches that ARE working.

Here’s the rub–new bloggers should not interpret early stats from Google Analytics until they’ve had time to accumulate and show the big picture on your traffic over time. You can’t rely on the initial stats to tell you much. In my view there’s a need for an accumulation of data to properly show trends and habits of your readers. Let the process work over a period of weeks and months. Pay attention to the trends and try experiments with your content over that time to see what works or causes readership spikes and what doesn’t.

Using GA takes time, but it’s well worth the investment. Check out this great video for more information on the importance of the Bounce Rate data.