How To Analyse Your Bounce Rate In Google Analytics


This post is a triumphant return to my How To style of blog posts. Along the same vein of bounce rate talk as yesterday’s post on why your website needs a primary purpose, I’m going to take you through how to check some of your bounce rate vitals in Google Analytics.

You are using Google Analytics, right?

Bounce Rates On Your Dashboard

The default view on your dashboard if you haven’t customized it too much will include a little panel showing some of your overall vitals. A little something like this:

Checking Your Site Wide Bounce Rate

This particular statistic is your averaged site wide bounce rate. It actually means less than you think, let’s dig a little deeper.

Finding Out Which Sites Send Visitors That Click Around

The next most important page you’ll want to check is your traffic sources page (All Traffic Sources) which will provide you with a table of all your traffic sources (the websites that send you people). By default this page shows you the total number of visitors per site sorted by visitor.

What we want to do is sort by bounce rate which will give us a much more meaningful statistic to work with. Clicking on the heading for bounce rate will allow you to change between ascending or descending order.

What you then want to do is find the best traffic sources – the ones that offer you the least bounces for the most traffic.

Sorting Visitor Source By Bounce Rate

Scroll down the page to find those sites that send you simply great traffic. I have a few that send me traffic that click around, spend time reading my articles, and subscribe to my stuff. Those are the sites I want to work with and comment on the most.

The Weekly Bounce Rate Breakdown

Over time you’ll notice that your traffic will ebb and flow. Mine fluctuates weekly and depending on what niche you’re writing in, and when your visitors get the most time you’ll find yours does have some form of fluctuation.

To view which days offer the best change of getting visitors with time on their hands to have a look around your site check out the Bounce Rate page found under Visitors -> Visitor Trending. It will give you a breakdown of visitors over time and you can adjust the period as normal to get snapshots of weeks or days at a time.

Bounce Rate Over Time

More Bounce Rate Info To Be Found

There’s loads of bounce rate material coming on Code My Own Road, so stay tuned. This is a topic that we’re going to go deep on.

Google Analytics is seriously a must have tool for this kind of investigation. The WP-Stats plugin for WordPress is good, but it doesn’t give the extra detail you get from Google’s package. There’s heaps of plugins to help you install it in WordPress such as Ultimate GA, or Joost De Valk’s Google Analytics for WordPress (highly recommended).

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter because you’ll receive a free copy of my eBook on how to lower your website’s bounce rates. I take you through a case study of how I did it for one of my customers.

Go get control of those bounce rates, people!

Josh Kohlbach

Josh is a software entrepreneur from Brisbane, Australia. He spends most of his time helping e-commerce store owners. This is his personal blog where he shares his thoughts and other tidbits on online business and life in general.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Love it. I’m an analyst new to Google Analytics and eager to learn more about it.

    So the problem I have with sorting bounce rate in the order you suggest is that people that send me one visitor that happens to click around is going to be my best bounce rate. That source is not necessarily sending me the most quality traffic. There just isn’t enough data there to make that assertion.

    I found it was a bit more helpful to go to the Comparison view, sort descending by Views and then compare bounce rate. Like, for example, it’s PAINFULLY obvious doing it that way that stumble upon sends lots of traffic, but people flee as soon as they come.

    1. You’re too right Lynda, that’s another great way to view the data. I’ve got a post coming up tomorrow on how to find your best sources of traffic with GA – it has a workaround for the 1’s and 2’s problem when viewing sources and also some other notes that will help you. Check out advanced filtering in the mean time.

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. Ohhhhhh. Truly, I cannot wait. I wish there were more hours in the day; I’d gobble up all I could about Google Analytics. Do you know of any good books on it?

    1. Sorry I haven’t actually read any good guides on GA, I’d be happy to hear about any recommendations anyone has! Everything I’ve learned has been self-taught by reading guides around the internet and experimenting 🙂

  3. Thanks for this tutorial, Josh. I’m late to the party but GA perplexes me and any light you can shed is welcome.

    1. Thanks Charleen, yep it can be quite a challenge interpreting the data correctly, more so than it suggests at first glance.

      Thanks for the comment.

  4. Thanks for the post, I once read a few way that you can use the advanced search facilities to analyse bounce rates and how to pin point areas for improvements.

    I also wrote a brief blog on bounce rates bounce rates but I found this technique works really well:

    use the advanced search under the keywords section to filter out “bounce rate” that is “greater than” 0.6 (which is 60%) this will help to identify all keywords with a high bounce rate.

    1. Hi Hannah, thanks for the comment – Advanced search in GA can get really powerful when looking in depth at these kinds of analytics. A lot of people tend to gloss over analytics as just a measurement of how many hits you’re getting. It’s so much more than that. I like your article and especially the point you made about language differences, I encounter that all the time as an aussie.

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