Bounce Rates on Google Analytics

google analytics bounce rate pages exits ratesI was just discussing what Bounce Rates were in Google Analytics and thought this could be a potentially confusing term and would be helpful to blog about. I also work with WebTrends .

We have a client that has a site with us that had a high bounce rate and a high exit rate. (50% for some pages) Anything above 20% would be something worth looking into in my opinion, but the differences change depending on the site, product, sales process and design so everyone has their owne level of normal as a benchmark and you try and improve from there.

They wondered if this Bounce Rate was an issue, as many clients would.

The thing is, it may not be an issue to have a high Bounce Rate because if people land on a product description page and then click to buy (or in our case, apply) is this really bad?

Well the qualifier for a Bounce Rate is that they viewed that one page and left. This does not include someone clicking on a link on the page to buy/apply. That would be an exit. They would not have viewed any other page on the site or interacted (clicked) anything else either. This bounce would be from hitting the back button or clicking the x button on the browser.

Exits from the site are considered people who have viewed more than one page and finished their visit. They may click to apply/buy or they may x-out of the window or they may reload the home page. (just a few of many examples) One tricky thing is when someone gets a site that launches a new window for a page you click on. That is typically an exit and new site visit. 

So, is this good or bad? For this client I think it is ok, because they are very stringent about who they are looking to hire and when people see the extensive requirements I am pretty sure most people would realize whether they had a shot at the job or not very quickly and either click forwards in the path to apply (on an Applicant Tracking System application site, (don’t ask, too many sites linked with too many processes)) or back out. It is very straight forward and very few other options are on the page.

How do you reduce bounce rates?

I never hear people talk about strategies to get more qualified traffic to these pages, I just hear about providing more info on the page to help them convert. That is a great strategy and if you can link exact search terms to the appropriate products/jobs with a page designed for one clear desired action then you are doing well. If you can suggest other related alternatives on the same page, maybe on the right sidebar, you are doing even better. If you have an email sign-up that says, not what you are looking for? Sign up here and we’ll email you when new ones come up. Great. But if you have a lot of traffic bouncing even then, you may want to look at the source. What words are your pages optimized for and why do those keywords not match what you’re providing or asking people to do? Maybe search is also not the right medium to find people based on the Google Insights search volume for that term and you are getting similar searches/clicks but not for what you offer. Maybe reel in the search efforts and go for more qualified means of finding these specific people like email, targeted display ads (by content/interest, behavior or location) or offline communication. (gasp!)

Remember Google Analytics (or any analytics package) is not just about a bunch of numbers and bunk. If you can’t figure out what the human behavior is behind the numbers or what the actual user/customer wants they don’t mean much of anything except that your site is up and running.


Chicago CTA Rant – Where are the Busses? Commuting Problems

I have been a commuter in Chicago for about 3 years now. I was initially excited to abandon my car in it’s parking space during the week and walk to the EL train and then to work every day. I have saved a bucket-load of cash not paying for gas or parking downtown since I have worked in that area. I was able to get to work in 1 hour from door to door, and it would be faster if I caught the CTA Train right when I got to the station. It was never more than a 10 minute wait for a green line though.

All these things changed recently when I moved in with my Fiance in Warrenville. (I had been living in Oak Park for the last 7 years) Now I am only tied to downtown Chicago by the METRA trains. Which is very frustrating since the BNSF only comes in to Union Station which is all the F way over west of the loop and not walkable to Michigan Avenue. 

This means you have to fill that gap with more public transport since cabs are too expensive to take every day. Your choices are the CTA elevated Trains which aren’t really by Union Station or Michigan Avenue either or the CTA Buses. Everyone said the Buses were the way to go. And for all the ranting about Metra, the CTA Buses have ended up being far more problematic than the Train. (although the train has been so packed the last 2 days that people have been standing in the isles in all the cars)

This morning for example it was a 1/2 hour wait for a 121 bus by Union Station. WTF? They are supposed to run every 12-15 minutes per the CTA Site. Last night was no better. I caught the 151 bus to Union Station for a change (most days I wait a 1/2 hour for that at 6 pm also) and then there was no Train until 6:50 pm. I spent a 1/2 hour sitting in the train station doing nothing. Where was the 6:20 BNSF?

That is the first time a METRA train has been missing but the CTA buses are there at about a 50% rate . I can walk to the train station in a 1/2 hour, but if I can get a bus it only takes 15 minutes (even stopping on every block). But if I knew there would not be a bus for a 1/2 hour I would just F-ing walk.

I get to start working from home on Fridays this week. I won’t miss the 1.5-2 hour commute each way.

How have your experiences been with Chicago CTA & METRA commuting?

Bolingbrook, IL Red Light Speed Cameras – Tickets

I just found out that there is a town in the Chicago suburbs (Bolingbrook, IL) that is ticketing people via camera for running red lights when they just don’t stop completely behind the white line at intersections or don’t stop completley behind the white line before making a right hand turn on a red light. You don’t know it’s happening and you just get a $100.00 ticket in the mail. This is ludicrous. Those types of things don’t endanger anyone and aren’t worth ticketing usually. It’s that these local towns have heard how much money that is made by these Bolingbrook red light cameras (between $20,000 and $30,000 dollars a month of $100.00 tickets) when they are approached by the camera companies (who want to make sales) and since they always need more revenue for their pet projects and their budget, they always say yes and install them. Then they get all the revenue benefit of a property tax or sales tax increase without the public debate of a tax referendum. Sneaky bastards!

Take action today and make sure your town doesn’t end up like Bolingbrook, IL.These high priced and ridiculous red light camera tickets are going to keep people from paying what they need to in order to meet mortgage payments and afford health-care. Bolingbrook government and police should be ashamed of themselves for taking advantage of good citizens like this. I am not going to spend any money there at all anymore. They don’t deserve my sales tax dollars. They are acting like mafia, just taking whatever money they want for reasons that would otherwise be considered an invasion of privacy.

Thanks to the comment from Dennis I found this Tribune article about a lawsuit regarding the cameras around Chicago. It cites the truth that we all knew that these cameras were installed by Red Speed for revenue reasons and not safety purposes and how Bolingbrook and Schaumburg have both shut them down. I live near Warrenville though, and they choose to leave theirs up, which is scary to drive through every day, but they also publicly state that they review all photos by hand and only write tickets if they see something illegal and they don’t just let the system automatically write tickets. Those seem more reasonable.

And for all the politicians that like to rally support around the idea of keeping people from running red lights: Who ever runs red lights? If this is a problem how come I have never seen it happen? If this was an issue, the people who live there would be asking for help controlling it, but nobody ever sees red lights run because it doesn’t happen, and in fact there is no red light running problem at all. It is just a thinly veiled excuse to tax people without their approval by vote or referendum by dishonest politicians. Bravo to the Trib or printing this.