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A high bounce rate can be an indication that there is an issue with your website. Since the home page tends to be the top landing page for most sites, understanding what is causing the bounces on this specific page should be your top priority.

What is a bounce rate?
A bounce rate is a web analytics term that indicates the percentage of site visitors that leave a landing page, in this case the home page, without navigating to any other pages on your site. In other words, these are single-page visits in which the web visitor left your site from the entrance page.

When is a bounce rate considered too high?
Generally a bounce rate over 35% is cause for concern whereas more than 50% is an indicator that you have issues that needs to be addressed. For ecommerce sites, the acceptable percentage is even lower.

Google Analytics: Dashboard Report > Overall Bounce Rate

Note: In Google Analytics, or in your web analytics program, ensure that you drill down into the reports to get the data for this specific page.

Since all websites are not created equally, the reasons for bounce rates will differ widely. Reasons can include:

Wrong design
Likely the most common reason for an immediate departure is due to website design issues. Sites that are visually unappealing, lack credibility and/or have annoying features (i.e. flash intros, repetitive music, slow loading time) can experience higher exit rates than those without these design flaws.

Wrong site
Another reason for new site visitors to leave after just viewing a single web page is when it is the not the right site. For example, you may not be the only company with “your name” on the Internet. There are actually several businesses called “WebFuel” – in many countries. This is even a larger issue for those companies using acronyms which are very competitive terms on the web. Visitors going to your site in error will result in increased bounce rates.

Wrong landing page
Lack of relevancy between what the web searcher is looking for and the page that was served up. For example, your Google AdWords campaign sends all the paid search traffic to your home page rather than a specific landing page related to the keywords and ad. Irrelevant pages result in high click-aways (leaves the site).

Searcher success
Web visitors are information hunters. Exiting via the home page can be high if what the visitor is searching for is found on this entrance page. For example, it may be as simple as a phone number – so there is no need to visit any other pages. This however may be difficult to determine (unless you move this information to the contact page and the high exit rate drops).

A high bounce rate on a blog site is typical if the posts are published on that page. Web visitors simply read the latest entry and leave. If your percentage of returning visitors is high, you have visitor loyalty. This scenario is actually not a red flag.

How high is your bounce rate – and should you be concerned?