When it comes to exit rates and bounce rates, it’s very easy to get confused.
However, they do have subtle differences that make each valuable metrics to use and better understand what’s happening on your website.
What’s the difference?
As far as definitions, exit rate is the percentage of exits on a page, while bounce rate is the percentage of single-engagement sessions on your website.
In other words, the exit rate reflects the number of people who exit your website after landing on a page and compares it to the total number of views the page generated.
On the flip side, the bounce rate is calculated from the number of “bounces” compared with the total number of pageviews on a page. “Bounces” happen when a visitor arrives on a page of your website and then exits without visiting another page on the website or interacting with any of the elements on that page.
A visitor can bounce in several ways, including (but not limited to):
- Clicking the “back” button, navigating back to a previously visited website
- Closing the browser window entirely
- Typing another URL into the address bar of the browser
Exit rates and bounce rates still sound pretty similar? Here’s a key difference: The exit rate is tied to the visits that were the last in the session, while the bounce rate is tied to the visits that were the only one of the session.
So, exit rates are calculated regardless of what a visitor did previously on your website, whereas you can consider bounce rates more of a “one and done.”
Simply put, all bounces are exits, but not all exits are bounces.
To dig deeper, check out Google’s definitions.
Which rate is more important?
But just as with every other type of metric, the context matters.
For instance, you might expect a high bounce rate on the contact information page of your website. It’s not a bad thing for someone to arrive on a page like that and then call or email you. (In other words, the preferred continued interaction with you is no longer measurable through your website.)
Of course, in general, a high average bounce rate on your website could signal visitor dissatisfaction (a possible reflection of your content, loading speed, website design and so on). A high exit rate, on the other hand, would generally reflect problems in your conversion funnel.
Consider an ecommerce website, for example. The visitor may arrive on the homepage, then navigate to a category of your products, ultimately clicking on a particular product and perhaps even adding it to the shopping cart. But, in the end, exits the website without making the purchase.
Therefore, while a visitor was originally interested in making a purchase from you, something happened along the way. Of course, what that might be could include (but is not limited to):
- The price of the product
- Your shipping options
- The design of your shopping cart page itself
So, if one rate was going to be more important to you, it likely comes down to what your goals are. Plus, if one rate is significantly higher than the other, that should be a red flag for your attention.
How to reduce your exit and bounce rates
The following could be aspects of your website that could be addressed to help reduce your exit rate:
- Poor website and/or page design that can confuse your visitors
- Distracting content (such as music, obnoxious pop-ups and so on) can turn off your visitors
- Slow loading speeds can especially cause mobile visitors to give up and leave after about 3 seconds
- Difficult navigation can lose your visitors who have a reason for being on your website but can’t find what they’re looking for
Consider the user experience in every aspect of your website. You need to give them a reason to purchase and convert into a customer (usually the ultimate goal for most). However, you also want to give visitors a reason to stay on your website longer.
Remember that there is always room for improvement on every page of your website.