Why You Should Be Using An Adjusted Bounce Rate If You Are A Blogger

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Bounce rate is the misunderstood metric of the Google Analytic’s family.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a bounce rate, Google has defined it as:

“a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”

In other words, if someone only visits one page of your site (and doesn’t click around) the bounce rate for that particular user is going to be 100%.

That’s fairly easy to understand. But bounce rate can be very problematic which is why an adjusted bounce rate is ideal. Let’s talk about how a bounce rate can cause you problems.

Why Bounce Rate Is Problematic

Bounce rate can be a useful metric when trying to determine if your content is causing the user to stick and click around. The goal is usually to have the user stay on your site longer and see more content.

So then what’s the problem with bounce rate? Wouldn’t the bounce rate be a good metric for determining whether your content was useful for the user or not?

Well, no.

Some argue that a high bounce rate indicates that those who are coming to your website have left after one page because your site has satisfied their query, and they no longer need to look for any more information.

With my blog, I noticed the bounce rate was higher than I had seen in non-blogging sites. So I decided that I’d compare time spent on-page versus the bounce rate. If the time spent on the page was high, yet the bounce rate was high, it likely meant that my users were getting the information they needed, which is why they weren’t clicking around. If the time spent on the page was low (i.e. less than 60 seconds), and the bounce rate was high, then it probably meant my user was not getting any useful information and was leaving a.k.a bouncing.

But comparing bounce rate with the time a user spends on your page actually can’t be done very easily.

How Google Calculates Time Spent On Page

When you have Google Analytics installed and a user comes to your site, Google assigns that user a time stamp of when they arrive. Let’s say they arrive at 10:45.

Related: How To Set Up Google Analytics

When the user clicks on the next page, an event trigger is sent over to the Google Analytics server, and they are given a second time stamp (let’s say the event was triggered at 10:50).

To figure out the time spent on that particular page, Google takes the first time stamp and subtracts it from the second time stamp which gives you the time they spent on your page (in this case it would read 5 minutes).

Now, if that same user who arrived on your site at 10:45 doesn’t click onto another page and leaves, an event won’t be triggered, they won’t be assigned a second time stamp, and Google has no way of calculating how long they spent on your page.

This means that you aren’t able to compare the time spent on a page with 100% bounce rates to determine if your content is satisfying the user’s query. If someone spends 20 minutes on a blog post of mine, and then leaves my site after that, they are going to be assigned a bounce rate of 100% and a 0 second time spent on page, which doesn’t help me out very much.

What Is An Adjusted Bounce Rate

An adjusted bounce rate is an event that is triggered after the user spends a certain amount of time on your page. Once they hit that time, they are no longer given a bounce rate of 100%. You are also able to see how long each user is spending on each page.

As someone who writes blog posts on very specific topics, most of my users come to my site looking for something specific and once they find it they can potentially be done. For example, I have a comprehensive blog post about how to teach yourself graphic design. For this blog post, the users who land on my site are going to get their query satisfied after reading my post (I hope!).

After that, they likely won’t need to click around to read any of my content on social media marketing or SEO because their intent was to read about graphic design.

So now, as a blogger, I want to be able to see the metrics for those people who are spending time on my site whether or not they leave after visiting one page.

The adjusted bounce rate has made my analytic analysis more precise as I am able to see what blog posts are actually performing well, and which ones people aren’t spending much time on.

How To Implement An Adjusted Bounce Rate

To change your Google Analytics to reflect an adjusted bounce rate, add the following code (or get your web developer to add it) into your functions.php file:

(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
ga('create', 'UA-XXXXXXXX-X', 'auto');
ga('send', 'pageview');
setTimeout("ga('send','event','adjusted bounce rate','30 seconds')",30000);

Replace “UA-XXXXXXXX-X” with your analytics tracking code, and change “30 seconds” and “30000” to whichever amount of time you think indicates sufficient engagement with your content.

You will need to keep “30000” consistent with however many seconds you choose to measure. For example, if you choose to measure one minute, you’d write “60 seconds” and “60000”.

Now, when your user spends more than 30 seconds (or whichever you choose) they will not be considered a bounce, and Google Analytics will track their time more closely on your page.

If you still have a high bounce rate after implementing an adjusted one, you know that your content is not fulfilling your users’ search queries and it might be time to re-work your content!

How To Reduce The Adjusted Bounce Rate

If you notice your adjusted bounce rate is still high you may need to adjust your content to reduce it. Depending on the purpose of your website, an ideal bounce rate (not an adjusted bounce rate) is one that is less than 50%.

With an adjusted bounce rate, you will need to determine yourself what you think will be considered high.

Improving your site’s bounce rate could be as simple as making your website more user-friendly, including more internal links or improving your content.

In the paragraphs shown, I’ve included a link to another blog post I’ve written, and have kept the paragraphs short. One quick way to improve your content is by improving its readability and short paragraphs help with that! Blog posts that are easier to read will draw the user in and cause them to stay around longer.

Blog posts that have long paragraphs and poor formatting are harder to read, often causing the user to click the back button as quickly as they arrived on your website.

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