Saturday, May 03, 2008

Techie Saturday: Silly vs. focused traffic - how high do you bounce?

Have you ever wondered why you got so many visitors to your website or blog who don't stay very long? Well the benchmark for "silly traffic" is apparently 75%

What is "silly traffic"?

Seth Godin has coined the term "silly traffic" to describe the following
This is a truth of the Internet: When traffic comes to your site without focused intent, it bounces.

75% of all unfocused visitors leave within three seconds.

Any site, anywhere, anytime. 75% bounce rate within three seconds.
Seth's Blog - Silly Traffic
Chokushi Mon - a WIP
pen and ink and coloured pencil on Arches
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

He goes on to clarify what he means by unfocused traffic.
By unfocused, I mean people who visit via Digg or Stumbleupon or even a typical Google search. If your site is spammy or clearly selling something, the number is certainly higher. If you’re getting traffic because you have a clever domain name, it might be even higher. I don’t know of many examples where it is lower.
I guess most people are pretty shocked the first time they realise how many people leave their site within 5 seconds. I guess knowing that the average for those with unfocused intent is 75% probably makes a lot of people feel a lot better about their sites and their traffic.

However what I want to know is what are the average bounce rates for different types of sites and all visitors - not just the casual visitors who arrive without focused intent.

Plus what's the average for art blogs? Does anybody know?

Definitions of bounce rates

There are a number of views about the bounce rate.

Google Analytics provides a definition for a bounce rate which is slightly different to what Seth is highlighting (he's only talking about unfocused visitors). They say it relates to people who arrive and leave from the same page.
Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page). Bounce Rate is a measure of visit quality and a high Bounce Rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages are not relevant to your visitors. You can minimise Bounce Rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy.
Google Ad Words Learning centre defines the bounce rate as
Bounce Rate: The percentage of entrances on the page that result in the person immediately leaving the site. Non-entrance pages always have a Bounce Rate of 0.00%. A high bounce rate indicates that the page is not well matched to the ad or link that is driving traffic to the page.
Wikipedia defines the bounce rate differently again.

Bounce Rate (sometimes confused with Exit Rate)[1] is a term used in website traffic analysis.

A bounce occurs when a website visitor leaves a page or a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs. There is no industry-standard minimum or maximum time by which a visitor must leave in order for a bounce to occur. Rather, this is determined by the session timeout of the analytics tracking software.........

The Bounce Rate for a single page is the number of visitors who enter the site at a page and leave within the specified timeout period without viewing another page, divided by the total number of visitors who entered the site at that page. In contrast, the Bounce Rate for a website is the number of web site visitors who visit only a single page of a website per session divided by the total number of website visits.

Bounce rates can be used to help determine the effectiveness or performance of an entry page. An entry page with a low bounce rate means that the page effectively causes visitors to view more pages and continue on deeper into the website.

This blog defines and highlights the difference between bounce rate and exit rate and also highlights some ways of reducing the bounce rate.

This is a blog post with no answers as yet and more questions!
  • Do you know the average site bounce rate for your website or blog?
  • How does it compare to the quoted 75% of 'silly traffic'
  • Do you know what bits of your website or blog attracts more focused traffic which reduces the bounce rate? For example, do you review the bounce rate for different blog posts?
  • What have you done to reduce the bounce rate for your site(s)?

Note: I've used pen and ink combined with coloured pencils for my drawing - which is a work in progress. Some of you may recognise the scene from my visit to Kew last month. I'm trying to find a way of simplifying the scene and working in a way similar to Hiroshige while at the same time working with coloured pencils in the way I enjoy doing. I guess it's trying to be a development of the style I use for sketching. I don't think I've got there yet - but then we rarely achieve what we set out to do first time around!


  1. This was interesting! I've never paid much attention to bounce rate. My art blog has a bounce rate around 75%. On the other hand I also have a knitting blog. It has a bounce rate of 89%. The increase in rate seems to be from two sources. My use of a yarn named Katrina and I also have a few patterns. I still get people looking for something related to the Katrina hurricane. I get a lot of people searching for patterns. If it's not what they're looking for, they move on.

  2. Ah.. finally I know what "Absprungrate" really is about! :).

  3. Your Japanese garden composition is coming together beautifully, Katherine! I love the way the little building is now framed by the giant tree.

    No time to check my bounce rate at the moment - besides it may depress me ;)

  4. My bounce rate averages out at 48%. My website's home page does slightly better and my blog page does slightly worse but they're percentages are very close.

    My highest bounce rates tend to come from internal pages. For instance, I have a post on cleaning oil pastel paint stains that's got a bounce rate of 65%. I think most readers see the cleaning technique and then rush off to attack the stain!

  5. I've always thought that for blogs bounce rate isn't a particularly meaningful measurement. The reason is that the most compelling content is right there on the top page.

    So, you can't really distinguish between someone who arrives and leaves immediately vs someone who arrives, loves what they see, reads it in detail and intends to come back.


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