Thanh Nguyen
WordPress & Matomo Freelancer

Everything you ever wanted to know about the bounce rate

The simple definition of bounce rate, an often misinterpreted indicator
Table of contents

What is the bounce rate?

The bounce rate is a metric that corresponds to the percentage of visitors who come to a page on your website without taking any action, and then leave the site. This means that these visitors :

  • Do not click any internal link (link to another page on the site) ;
  • Do not click an external link (link to a page outside the site);
  • Do not click any buttons.

And that’s all. These are the only three points to bear in mind. We can say that these visitors aren’t interested in your content.

Still, we can discuss some nuances.

Optimizing the bounce rate

Let me be straight, the only way to optimize the bounce rate is to encourage visitors to stay. This requires improvements in terms of presentation and, above all, content. Content is, and always will be, the key.

So let’s take note, and see what we can do.

User engagement

This refers to Google Analytics 4 and is based on the amount of time a visitor spends on your site. Google considers that a user can be considered an engaged user if they stay on your site for at least 10 seconds, even without performing a single action.

I’m sure you agree that 10 seconds can be less than the time it takes to fully load a page. Fortunately, Google lets you modify this value.

So we’ve seen above how bounce rate is defined, and how it represents visitors’ disinterest in your content. But what about those who scroll down your page and then leave your site? Can we consider that they may have read part of or whole of the page content ?

Let’s resume the observations:

  • Google Analytics 4 integrates the notion of user engagement based on session duration;
  • Matomo doesn’t, and worse still, assigns a duration of 0 seconds to each visit session for those that are not subject to any action on the part of the visitor.

We’ll see that, for Matomo at least, it’s possible to fine-tune the bounce rate and, by the same token, the average session duration.

Refining the bounce rate in Matomo

The simplest way to refine the bounce rate consists in considering that the visitor who scroll through the content of a page should not be taken into account in the bounce rate.

Thanks to Matomo Tag Manager, you can observe this user behavior and send the information to Matomo. This also has the effect of increasing the session duration, which, even if the visitor leaves your page without clicking on anything, will no longer be equal to zero.

In a future article, I’ll explain how you can refine and lower your bounce rate thanks to this “user engagement”.

I’m Thanh Nguyen, I build fancy and ergonomic websites since 1998 and Zidane’s double in the World Cup final.

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