Even though bounce rate and exit rate are two of the main metrics featured in Google Analytics, many users still are not sure what they actually mean or how to interpret the data. I have to admit; I was one of these people until I recently started digging into these metrics. I used to look at a high bounce rate and immediately assume that it was a sign of poor performance for a particular page. I also didn’t pay attention to the exit rates of web pages as well.

Well, those days are over. Now that I really understand how bounce rates and exit rates are calculated, I have a new perspective on these metrics and how to use them to learn more about website visitors.

When is it best to look at the bounce rate, and what can it tell you?

  • Effectiveness of landing pages: Bounce rates should primarily be used to learn more about the traffic of landing pages, and more specifically, how relevant those pages are to your visitors. When comparing landing pages, bounce rate will help tell you which pages are encouraging users to visit other pages of your website, and which ones are not.
  • Relevance of landing pages: In general, the more relevant your landing pages are to the visitors, the more likely they will browse through other pages of your website. Are the pages that users are landing on relevant to their interests and needs? Do your pages meet your users expectations?
  • Consider the context: Bounce rate alone doesn’t provide you with the whole story, and can even be misleading at times. For example, a blog with a high bounce rate doesn’t mean that no one is reading your blog. Instead, it means that most readers are only reading that one blog, rather than going from that blog to other pages of your site. In fact, in some cases it’s actually good for a bounce rate to be high. For this reason, it’s a good idea to look at bounce rates alongside other metrics and web page factors, such as the intent of a user on a particular page and the context of that page on your website.

Why You Should Pay More Attention To The Exit Rate Of Your Pages?

Instead of focusing primarily on the bounce rate, here are a few reasons why you should start paying more attention to the exit rate of your website pages, and some tips to help you get started.

  • To understand weaker pages in your conversion funnel: If you notice a page has a higher exit rate than others, it means that people are leaving your site in the middle of the funnel. This can help you pinpoint what is going on at this step, and more importantly, how to resolve it in order to increase leads and conversions. Does that page need to be updated with new, engaging content? Is it user friendly and easy to understand?
  • Improve the effectiveness of forms: Form pages with high exit rates can help you identify which forms your users are not filling out, and why. Are those forms longer than others? Are the questions unclear?
  • Evaluate calls to action: If you notice that users are leaving part-way through the intended path or funnel, that could tell you that your calls to action are not as effective as they could be. Is your call to action not enticing enough? Do you have too many on one page?
  • Remember the context: Similar to bounce rate, a high exit rate on a page does not necessarily mean it is ineffective. The deeper into the conversion funnel a page is, the higher the exit rate may be since each subsequent page requires a higher level of commitment for the user. Since B2B sales cycles typically take place over months or even years, users are going to go to these pages and then leave several times before actually converting. So, while a high exit rate could indicate a problem, it doesn’t tell the whole story by itself. Look at exit rates along with other metrics in order to better understand user behavior of particular web pages.

How do you use exit rate and bounce rate to help you understand your website performance and user behavior?