What I Love—and hate—About Bounce Rates

A boy on a pogo stick to show Bounce Rate

Whether we’re pitching a new client or trying to convince those with whom we already work about the good we do, many of our go-to tools are metrics. With content marketing, we rely on analytics to measure what we do and prove positive results. That’s why I love bounce rates.

Until I don’t.

The thing about bounce rate is that it’s super helpful—in theory.

Let me explain.

We produce some pretty cool content for our clients. Blog posts, infographics, ads, eBooks, whitepapers, landing pages. And because we track what we do, we can show how what we did was received from the point of view of the user.

So if we create a blog post, for example, and the bounce rate is 60 percent, we might be pretty satisfied. Wait, in case you don’t follow, that’s not a D-, it’s way worse. The simple metric indicates that 60 percent of people didn’t convert, didn’t take the next step. So it’s more like a 40. While that percentage may sound horrible, getting 40% to stay and read what we write is actually really good. Even better? I know that the real number is higher.

This is why I hate bounce rate.

Let’s say my team creates a single blog post that answers your question. You want to know what’s wrong with your college website or how to use social media to attract applicants. You click on a link and—ta da—you find a blog post that is what you’re looking for. But. The post exactly answers your question, so well in fact that you click off and get back to work. You take no other action. You don’t check out the website or further link internally. In Google’s mind, you bounced. Which is a bad thing. You skew the awesome results of my content to zero.

Thanks a lot.

See where  I’m going?

If bounce rate is based on single-page sessions that trigger no additional onsite actions—which it is—then even the very best content often doesn’t get counted. So that content that is spot-on to the human who received it could be counted as off-the-mark from the not-quite-so-human Google algorithm.

It’s a hit against content that’s too good.

That’s why at ESM Digital, we take a holistic approach to marketing. We don’t produce anything just to satisfy metrics; we produce content that actual people might care about. Want to know how to create content that satisfies both the user and the Google gods? Contact us now.

~Linda Emma