Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate

// // November 15th 2010 // Analytics + SEO

One of the most common Google Analytics questions I get is to explain the difference between bounce rate and exit rate. Here's what I hope is a simple explanation.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who landed on a page and immediately left. Bounces are always one page sessions.

High bounce rates are often bad, but it's really a matter of context. Some queries may inherently generate high bounce rates. Specific informational queries (e.g. - What are the flavors of Otter Pops?) might yield high bounce rates. If the page fulfills the query intent, there may be no further reason for the user to engage. It doesn't mean it was a bad experience, it just means they got exactly what they wanted and nothing more. (I was always partial to Louie-Bloo Raspberry or Alexander the Grape.)

A high bounce rate on a home page is usually a sign that something is wrong. But again, make sure you take a close look at the sources and keywords that are driving traffic. You might have a very low bounce rate for some keywords and very high for others. Maybe you're getting a lot of StumbleUpon traffic which, by its very nature, has a high bounce rate.

Bounce rate is important but always make sure you look beyond the actual number.

Exit Rate

Exit Rate

Exit rate is the percentage of people who left your site from that page. Exits may have viewed more than one page in a session. That means they may not have landed on that page, but simply found their way to it through site navigation.

Like bounce rates, high exit rates can often reveal problem areas on your site. But the same type of caution needs to be applied. If you have a paginated article - say four pages - and the exit rate on the last page is high, is that really a bad thing? They've reached the end of the article. It may be natural for them to leave at that point.

Of course, you'll want to try different UX treatments for surfacing related articles or encourage social interactions to reduce the exit rate, but that it was high to begin with shouldn't create panic.

Exit rate should be looked at within a relative navigation context. Pages that should naturally create further clicks, but don't, are ripe for optimization.

(Extra points if you get my visual 'bounce' reference.)

But There's More! I've developed the Ultimate Guide to Bounce Rate to answer all of your bounce rate questions. This straight-forward guide features Ron Paul, The Rolling Stones and Nyan Cat. You're sure to learn something and be entertained at the same time.

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Comments About Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate

// 13 comments so far.

  1. Christina U. // May 23rd 2011

    Hi,
    Here’s one for you: how can a partocular page on my site have a 100% bounce rate and a 25% exit rate at the same time?

  2. aj // June 03rd 2011

    Christina,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. So a 100% bounce rate and 25% exit rate at the same time is actually possible.

    Bounce Rate is determined on entrances while Exit Rate is determined on all traffic. So, in this instance everyone who lands on that page bounces, but only 25% of users who find that page (but don’t land or enter on that page) leave the site from that page.

  3. Max Ivak // June 11th 2011

    >So a 100% bounce rate and 25% exit rate at the same time is actually possible.

    yeah, it is possible.
    I did some math and here is one example.

    Imagine you have 600 visits to the page.
    Group 1 – 100 visits are from google search engine, that means this page is a landing page in this case.
    Group 2 – 500 visits from visitors who visited this page after visiting other pages of your site.
    These two groups are totally different groups of visitors.

    Then, all 100 visitors form the first group exited your site after visiting the page. So bounce rate is 100%.
    But only 50 visitors from the second group (500 visits) exited your site from this page.
    Doing some math, we get exit rate = (100+50) / 600 * 100% = 25%.

    read an example here:

    http://maxivak.com/difference-between-bounce-rate-exit-rate-google-analytics/

  4. Marco // August 12th 2011

    My main PPC landing pages have rather high bounce rate, slightly over 50%, and it bugs me to hell. Exit rate is just as high, but then again, in this case, it’s the bounce that matters most. Testing testing testing. I am sure I can get this down to at least 30%. *Sigh*

  5. mastiya // September 25th 2011

    I have 35% of bounce rate, all the visitors bounce 1 page to another within website.

    I have very low exit rate, is it a good sign for seo ?

  6. Zeeshan // October 21st 2011

    A high bounce rate or exit rate is definitely a sign of bad times ahead. Hence the sooner it is addressed, the better it is. Ideally bounce rate should vary between 20-25%.

    Also here’s an interesting article explaining about the difference and importance of bounce and exit rates http://goo.gl/7gq84

  7. AJ Kohn // October 24th 2011

    Zeeshan,

    Thank you for your comment, though I’d disagree with the general proscription that high bounce and exit rates are always a bad sign. Nor do I believe that the ideal bounce rate is between 20-25%.

    Bounce and exit rates must be looked at in the context of your site and content. A Q&A site will have a high bounce rate … and that’s okay. Query intent is specific and if the page answers that specific question they probably won’t seek out more information. There are also pages that have natural high exit rates. The simplest example here would be a thank you page.

    So, be careful and make sure you’re really looking a the pages that are problems and not creating a whole bunch of work and effort for nothing.

  8. JIS // November 17th 2011

    I don’t get why you don’t present the slideshare presentation in this post.
    It will double your ranking to this post as well as the presentation in slideshare.

  9. Jorge // February 14th 2012

    Thanks for the explanation. I had trouble finding an article that made sense. Any helpful tips on lowering the bounce rate?

  10. Brent lane // February 17th 2012

    Thanks for this it was concise and that’s what I look for when I Google things.

  11. Aaron Bradley // January 13th 2013

    Thanks for this AJ!

    While – as you rightfully caution – an increase in exit rate may actually indicate a positive trend, in most cases an increasing exit rate is a negative indicator (it shows you’re not continuing to keep a user on site, which is normally not a good thing on pages where exits are not anticipated or desired).

    Despite this, at time of writing the color used in Google Analytics for an increasing exit rate in Google Analytics is green, rather than the red used for an increasing bounce rate, and as one would expect here.

    I think this formatting falls in the “widely known, rarely discussed” category of Google Analytics bugs. I feel fairly confident in calling this a “bug” because no less a person than Avinash Kaushik has labeled it so (http://bit.ly/13sJg6g). :)

    Accordingly, in reports with color formatting where I cite exit rate changes, I reverse Google Analytics’ formatting.

  12. Umair // June 11th 2013

    Hi AJ,

    Any idea what’s the normal bounce rate range in online classified business?

    Thanks
    Umair

  13. Eileen Kahn // August 26th 2013

    If my site is password protected, is it safe to assume that my bounce back rate consists of those individuals who get to the logon page and then do NOT logon on to get to the home page on the site?

    Thank you.

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