Is Your Website Bounce Rate Related to Content Marketing?

Is Your Website Bounce Rate Related to Content Marketing?

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Whenever small businesses see their website bounce rate, it’s always a source of panic.

Maybe you’ve heard that website bounce rate doesn’t matter, or maybe you’ve heard that it matters for some things and not for others, or maybe you’ve been taught to believe that your bounce rate is one of the most important metrics for a website.

Whatever your background, chances are you’ve thought about what your website bounce rate means to you. This data is usually never where you want it to be, so it’s a natural cause for concern.

So what does bounce rate have to do with content marketing specifically? Is it really a cause for concern? In short, bounce rate the way you’re probably thinking about bounce rate doesn’t really matter when it comes to content marketing specifically. It just doesn’t. However, there are ways to make this data more meaningful for you.

How Website Bounce Rate is Defined in Google Analytics

When Google Analytics calculates bounce rate, they’re calculating how often someone visits one webpage and then does not interact with that page. Interacting with a page could mean clicking an internal link to go to another page, clicking a buy button or a coupon, commenting on that page, signing up for your newsletter or other downloads, etc.

If a visitor clicks the back button, types in a new URL into their browser, clicks an external link within your content, closes their browser entirely, or stays on your page without any interaction for at least 30 minutes, it counts toward your bounce rate metric.

Why This is a Problem for Your Content Marketing

Let’s say you’re looking at your content webpage by webpage (so article by article). You may see that some articles have a higher bounce rate than others and immediately assume that the articles with the lower bounce rate are more successful and therefore “better.” This could cause a Webmaster to try and mimic the content of the pages with the lower bounce rate, which essentially could change a content strategy completely based on data. While this analysis is usually a good thing, bounce rate data simply isn’t something that should be so influential.

Why? If someone were to read your content all the way through and spend 15 minutes on the page, but did not interact with the page, it would be counted as a high bounce rate. This isn’t fair because someone spending a lot of time on your page really reading what you wrote means you wrote great content. It may have a 100 percent bounce rate, but in reality this is the content you should be trying to mimic in the future!

As a Webmaster, you shouldn’t have to look at website bounce rates of individual pages against the time spent on pages and then try and determine which metric is more accurate all on your own. There are ways to tweak your data so that the bounce rate metric can be used in a more meaningful way.

How to Adjust Your Bounce Rate for Better Content Marketing

This is a cool tip that Outbrain recently reported on that first opened our eyes to how to make bounce rate work for us. All you need to do is add a line of code to your Google Analytics tracking script so that you can trigger an event when readers stay for a minimum amount of time (whatever time you think is appropriate). If you think a bounce should only be counted when someone stays on a page for 20 seconds or less, you can make that happen.

According to the Outbrain article, the following two codes can make it happen:

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You will, of course, still have access to the “old” website bounce rate metric, but this will be a new event that you can use in place of that metric to better analyze your content marketing. Simply visit your Reporting tab and then go to Behavior > Events to see your new metrics (or event).

In the end, you have to remember that someone staying and really reading a piece of your content is meaningful. It may not be quite as exciting as if someone interacted with the page, that doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future. If you created content that captivated them enough to read the entire thing, that helps your brand visibility, reputation, credibility, and trustworthiness — all things you need for someone to return to your website (and then do their interacting later).

What do you think about website bounce rate and content marketing? Is there another way you like to look at this metric or another event you like to create?

Bouncing Ball Photo via Shutterstock

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