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How Is Bounce Rate Calculated in Google Analytics?

Posted on : 29-12-2008 at 0519 hrs
Author : Rif Chia

Bounce Rate is a metric used in the measurement of a site's visit quality. High bounce rate generally indicates that the entrance pages of a site are not relevant to the visitors and in most cases, aren't compelling enough for a visitor to navigate to other areas within the particular site.

The key to lowering a site's bounce rate is to make the visitors happy in terms of content, usefulness, etc. Yes! Make your users happy and this will lead to social bookmarking, recommendation, re-visits, linking, higher pageviews per visit, etc which eventually helps in lowering your site's bounce rate.

  Bounce Rate

Now that we have understood the definition of bounce rate, we will take a look at how bounce rate is actually calculated in Google Analytics by answering some common questions about bounce rate metric.

1) Does the duration of a visit affects bounce rate?
No. Bounce rate is calculated based on the actions performed per visit and time has no effect on the calculation of bounce rate. Example: A visit that lasts for 29 mins with only one pageview is considered as a bounce. However, a visit that lasts for only 10 seconds with 2 pageviews is not considered as a bounce.

2) How long does a session lasts in Google Analytics?
Like most web analytics, Google analytics' session is able to tolerate 29 mins of inactivity. A single session will start upon landing on a site. If the user chooses to leave the site and navigate to another website, the session will still continue for a maximum of 29 mins. As long as the user returns to the initial site and makes a click, it will not be considered as a bounce.

3) Is opening an external link in a new window considered a bounce.
This will depends on how the external link strategy is handled. Eg. In normal circumstances, if a visitor entered a site, clicks on an external link and leaves the site. It will be considered as a bounce. (Provided the user does not come back within 29 mins, see above.) However, if the user clicks on an external link that is handled by your script which sends a HIT back to GA before directing the user to the external site, it will not be considered as a bounce.

4) What is Event Tracking by Google Analytics and how is it related to Bounce Rate?
Event Tracking is a new method available in the ga.js tracking code that you can use to record user interaction with website elements such as advanced AJAX, Flash, Flex, Video etc and it handles complex scenarios more intelligently. Eg. A visitor views a 15mins video at a site with GA Event Tracking enabled and leaves immediately upon finishing the video. Most web analytics tools will consider that visit as a bounce because no other actions are performed. However GA will not consider it as a bounce, in fact it can accurately compute the duration of the visit, etc.

I hope this post has provided clarification on the calculation of bounce rate in Google Analytics and most web analytics tools. If you have additional questions about bounce rate or other useful information, please comment below.


Tags: Google, Tools


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