Why is my website bounce rate so high?

September 25, 2015
Denver, CO

If you’ve checked your Google Analytics and you’re like the vast majority of websites on the Internet, you’ve probably noticed that your bounce rate is very high. In the 80% plus range.

Bounce rate is a statistic that refers to the number of visits to your website that immediately leave without delving deeper into your website.

This can be very disheartening. You spent good time and money to build a website and very few people are sticking around to enjoy it.

There are lots of reasons why REAL people bounce off your website. They might not like your website, your content, your stance, your products, or maybe you just don’t have what they’re looking for.

But this is NOT the reason why your bounce rate is so high.

The two main reasons why your bounce rate is high are 1) you don’t have a lot of real traffic on your website, and 2) those irritating spammers have created spambots that hit your site in far larger numbers than real people, and they have a 100% bounce rate.

Let’s address the first one first: you have a low volume of real traffic.

Several people have asked for my advice about their high bounce rate over the past year. After I checked their Google Analytics, I noticed that their non-spambot visits were very low…less than 50 during the previous month.

In order to draw conclusions about a set of data, we need a statistically significant sample size. That means we need a large enough volume of traffic on your website, at least several hundred real visits, to draw any conclusions about the data.

With fewer than 50 visits, we don’t have enough data to say whether your bounce rate is high or not. If you have 1,000 real visits with an 80% bounce rate, we’ve got a problem. But an 80% bounce rate with 10 real visits is meaningless.

In fact, Google Analytics is pretty useless for low traffic volume websites. If you’re not paying a marketing or SEO company to drive traffic to your site, stressing out about your analytics is a waste of perfectly good stress hormones. Use those to get more traffic on your site instead.

Now let’s look at reason number two: you have more spambot visits than real visits.

A spambot is a piece of malicious software that unscrupulous programmers have written to wreak havoc on computers and the Internet. They do lots of bad things, one of those being to hit websites looking for security weaknesses.

You may have heard of Semalt. They were one of the first spambots to appear legitimate and, until recently, accounted for the majority of spambot visits on our websites. We added code to our websites and client sites to block them and a few others so they wouldn’t ruin our analytics data.

Over the past few months, however, we’ve seen dozens more of these spambots hitting our websites, and more popping up each week. In fact, there’s an international database of spambots that numbers in the thousands. There are simply too many to block using our old method.

Google Analytics does have a way to filter spambots out of the analytics results, but that doesn’t keep them from hitting your site. It just hides them from the reports. It’s defined here: http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2014/08/07/bot-spider-filtering-google-analytics/.

One of our clients asked us to check her bounce rate last week. In the prior 30 days, her website had 244 visits…240 of those were spambots with nearly a 100% bounce rate.

With only 4 real visits, bounce rate is not something to worry about. But having only 4 real visits is a good cause for concern if you’re hoping to generate business from your website. Might be time to think about a marketing or SEO campaign…

So that’s the ugly truth about bounce rate, and Google Analytics in general. If you don’t have a lot of real traffic on your site, agonizing of your website’s stats isn’t a very good use of your time.

Let us know what you think.

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