I’m currently reading Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik, although I’m only 5 chapters in, so far it’s extremely provocative. Avinash provides an example of how Pages/Visit and Avg. Time on Site do not always correlate: people view lots of pages, can’t find what they’re looking for and spend little time on the site. Or vice versa. Similarly Bounce Rate and New Visits can correlate, say in a downward trend, as your site may be drawing in more retuning visitors and thus a lower bounce rate.

Here at Silkstream we have access to over 100 of our client’s analytic’s reports, spanning a multitude of business sectors – quite an insight for trending. Of those, we proactively manage numerous PPC campaigns and organic strategies. One metric of universal importance is Bounce Rate (percentage of single-page visit or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.).

There is one site under our management has always had an unusually high bounce rate (almost 70%).


screen grab of website with high bounce rate

Looking at the above site, there were a number of, what appeared, contradictory trends over the past 3 month period; the Avg. Time on Site had an upward trend of almost 27%, conversely the Pages/Visit had spiked downward and Direct Traffic had increased by almost 300%. In addition the Bounce Rate was spiking upward too – to an alarmingly high 69%.

This coincided with the website authors amending the format of their “top stories” upon the home page and other main landing pages.  The size of the opening paragraph (the Standfirst, in publishing parlance) for each “top story” was increased from 50 to 100 words.

You could more or less get the entire gist of the article by merely reading the rather large introduction – not really necessary to click though to the whole story.

The penny finally dropped. Visitors were book-marking landing pages, skimming the lead-stories and not bothering to click through to the main article. I wonder how many news-based websites have a similarly high bounce rate?

From this I’ve established 3 things:

  1. A high bounce rate doesn’t necessarily mean the site’s content isn’t satisfying the visitor;
  2. We must devise a strategy to incentivise the visitor to click through to the main articles and engage them with other relevant articles; and
  3. Move onto chapter 6 of Web Analytics 2.0 ASAP.


1 Comment

  1. We do wedding photography and find that stats are often misleading as a casual visitor brought to our site by Google images, may not be looking for a wedding photographer at all, many will be there just to see a particular wedding, and others will be actively researching their Big Day, so of course Bounce Rate, number of pages visited and length of time on the site will vary from 1 second and one page to over half an hour and 30 pages. When the average is calculated it doesn’t show the true picture unfortunately, as the many short visits dilute the overall performance.