AGBeat reported on a study by InMotion Real Estate Media regarding bounce rates on CRE website pages. They offered some good solutions to improving site experience for users but there was no context as to what is considered an acceptable bounce rate. Plus, bounce rates are interesting but of limited value without more data.
First of all, the “… bounce rate for a page is only meaningful when it initiates the session.” Here is the example from Google explaining how it’s calculated. Pay attention to page C which was viewed 4 times during the sample period:
Monday: Page B > Page A > Page C
Tuesday: Page B > Exit
Wednesday: Page A > Page C > Page B
Thursday: Page C > Exit
Friday: Page B > Page C > Page A
Page A: 0% (no sessions began with Page A, so it has no bounce rate)
Page B: 33% (3 sessions started with Page B, with one leading to a bounce)
Page C: 100% (one session started with Page C, and it lead to a bounce)
Just because you have a high bounce rate on one page doesn’t mean the page is a dog. People could be viewing the page regularly – they’re just not starting on that page.
Where bounce rates are very useful is when you use landing pages for specific purposes – like a page you create for use within an email, print ad or other marketing piece. A high bounce rate means the visitor didn’t take the bait and left the page instead of continuing on to the offer or to find out more information. In other words, no conversion.
For CRE, a deal is the ultimate conversion but you could also consider someone using a contact form, downloading something or signing up for a mailing list as one if those goals are important/meaningful. Instead of bounce rates, though, actual action counts are more telling than a page’s bounce rate.
Back to the survey data… In general, the bounce rates collected hover around 50 percent or less. Most SEO “analysts” considered that pretty good. Though not stated, the bounce rates were tallied from all, not just search, visitor sources.
- CRE home pages average a 35 percent bounce rate.
- CRE property listing pages (search interface) average a 42 percent bounce rate.
- CRE property detail pages average a 55 percent bounce rate.
- CRE contact pages average a 51 percent bounce rate.
- CRE service pages average a 41 percent bounce rate.
Search sources, however, are the only ones that really count when it comes to bounce rates. Pages accessed directly should have relatively low bounce rates. Same for referral traffic, but if those are high, you need to weed out some of the sites linking to yours. Or maybe just ignore those bounce rates. How many times have you clicked on a site link just to see what is there?
One thing not mentioned in the survey was the bounce rate for blog posts. These tend to be high especially if you have a lot of regular visitors reading the newest post and bouncing off. You’ll see the same behavior from tweets or other social media links.
For non-blog pages with consistently high bounce rates you’ll need to look at the keywords used to get to the page to see what’s going on. If the search terms were only tangentially related to what’s on your page, it’s safe to ignore them/factor them out of your bounce rates. No search engine is perfect at delivering the right pages and no visitor is always precise in the search terms they use.
There are even some circumstances where a higher bounce rate from search sources may not be a bad thing. If a visitor came to your site on the contact page and bounced, for example, it’s likely your contact page has been indexed/came up in a search. I can’t think of one CRE website that makes a visitor sign in or fill out a form to get an office address or phone number. So likely the visitor found what they wanted and left.
If the bounce rates are high on pages with what should be relevant search keywords, then you’ve got some work to do. That’s when you can consider the other reasons pointed out in the article – slow page load time, poor design/content or lack of “engagement” opportunities – useful advise for any effective website. But in the overall scheme of things, don’t worry too much about bounce rates without digging deeper.