Bounce Rate refers to the number of visitors who come to your site and then leave again without visiting any other pages on your website.
Bounce rate is normally expressed as a percentage of the number of visitors to your site in a given time period. A high value may indicate that your website has a problem, since it means that a high percentage of visitors are only viewing one page on your website before leaving. There are some websites where this is normal behaviour, but in most cases, you probably want visitors to stay and view more than one page.
Why do website visitors bounce?
Visitors may bounce for a variety of reasons:
The site (or the page they landed on) doesn't have what they were looking for. They clicked away, probably back to the search page they came from.
The page has all the information they were looking for. They got what they wanted and clicked away.
The website doesn't have a compelling conversion message. You simply didn't ask them to stay around.
The design of the website was confusing or inappropriate. The information they wanted may have been there, but they couldn't find it or - worse - couldn't be bothered to look for it. So they clicked away.
The information on that page (or some of it) was wrong. They clicked away as fast as they could.
It's important to note that the overall bounce rate for your website is not necessarily that informative, especially if you plan to spend some time on reducing the bounce rate. You may need to segment your traffic and examine the bounce rate at a more detailed level before you can draw any useful conclusions about why your visitors are bouncing.
Analysing your bounce rate
Some useful ways to segment your traffic to help you further analyse your bounce rate could include the following:
New versus returning visitors. For example, repeat visitors may have a higher bounce rate than new visitors because they drop in to view one page (such as your latest blog article) and then leave again. The high bounce rate among returning visitors may then skew the site's overall bounce rate upwards.
Paid visitors vs organic search visitors. It is common for visitors arriving through paid search to bounce if the page they land on does not reflect the content of the ad they clicked. If this is happening you are wasting money on paid search, and should spend some time looking more closely at the design of your paid search campaigns.
By Landing Page. Google Analytics provides a report that shows you the top landing pages on your site (i.e. the pages where visitors arrived on your site) and the bounce rate for each of those pages. By examining the individual bounce rates for each landing page, you can identify whether any pages have an unusually high bounce rate, and then examine those pages to identify the reason for the high bounce rate).
By Keyword. If you haven't done a good job of optimising the content on your site for the right keywords, Google may be bringing in search traffic for keywords that aren't appropriate. In this case, visitors to the site will spot that pretty quickly and disappear.
By identifying patterns in the bounce rate on your site using these and other segments, you can then get to work on reducing the bounce rate on the site.