Sudden jump in bounce rate for no apparent reason?

by Oliver Lawer 14 replies
Really struggling with this one.

To cut a very long story short, we tried out Google Optimise. Since then the bounce rate (even on the baseline page) jumped from 3% to 85%.

Discontinued Google Optmise, but the bounce rate still remained high.

Read that it can be causes by duplicate analytics code, but I have done a search of the home page on developer and only one code on site.

Done cross browser checking. All fine.

Any ideas of where to go next? Bounce rate has been hovering around the 85% mark for nearly two weeks now.
#search engine optimization #apparent #bounce #jump #rate #reason #sudden
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    Originally Posted by Oliver Lawer View Post

    Really struggling with this one.

    To cut a very long story short, we tried out Google Optimise. Since then the bounce rate (even on the baseline page) jumped from 3% to 85%.

    Discontinued Google Optmise, but the bounce rate still remained high.

    Read that it can be causes by duplicate analytics code, but I have done a search of the home page on developer and only one code on site.

    Done cross browser checking. All fine.

    Any ideas of where to go next? Bounce rate has been hovering around the 85% mark for nearly two weeks now.
    When you refer to Google Optimize, you are talking about Google's own service, https://www.google.com/analytics/optimize/, or you are talking about something else out there?

    If it is Google's service, what were you testing? Were you doing A/B testing of different pages? Does discontinuing the service stop the A/B delivery of pages? I'm not sure.

    Also, it could just be a coincidence that this started when you started using Google Optimize.

    Where are the bounces coming from? Organic search, paid ads, Facebook traffic, etc?

    I have seen cases in the past where a webpage started ranking for a high volume keyword that was similar to what they were targeting, but wasn't really relevant to their page.

    It was like the difference between someone searching for "styles of dogs" and "doggie style". The words are similar, but they mean two completely different things.

    So if the bounces are just from traffic that is not relevant, it's not really a big deal.

    You need to dig into the traffic a little more.
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    • Profile picture of the author Oliver Lawer
      Thank you.

      "When you refer to Google Optimize, you are talking about Google's own service, https://www.google.com/analytics/optimize/, or you are talking about something else out there?"
      - Yes, Google Optimise, their own service.

      "If it is Google's service, what were you testing? Were you doing A/B testing of different pages? Does discontinuing the service stop the A/B delivery of pages? I'm not sure."
      - We ended the experiment first in Optimise, then removed the extra code.

      "Where are the bounces coming from? Organic search, paid ads, Facebook traffic, etc? "
      - All sources, including organic (which is one of the highest)

      "I have seen cases in the past where a webpage started ranking for a high volume keyword that was similar to what they were targeting, but wasn't really relevant to their page. "
      - No adjustments in SEO. No changes made to H1s, H2s, Meta etc
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      • Profile picture of the author DABK
        But are you ranking for a new keyword that's got lots of impressions and clicks?

        Originally Posted by Oliver Lawer View Post


        - No adjustments in SEO. No changes made to H1s, H2s, Meta etc
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  • Profile picture of the author Quenton Fyfe
    This sounds very strange.

    My first reaction is that 3% bounce rate wasn't real in the first place - it's WAY too low - I don't think I've ever seen a bounce rate as low as that.

    85% I have seen - it's quite high - you'd certainly want to improve it if possible - but it sounds more real than 3% - so I wonder if there was something configured wrong before, rather than now.

    Here are a few things I'd look at:

    Did your A/B test change all your pages? What range of bounce rates are you seeing on different pages? Have they all changed at the same time?

    How do bounce rates from different traffic sources compare?

    How have your pageviews per session changed? What about Average Session Duration?

    How has your time on page changed?

    If this is a real change in bounce rate, I'd expect to see big changes in these other metrics too.

    Assuming you're using Google Analytics, I think I'd try installing another analytics program as well - such as Piwik - to double check what's going on.

    Hope that helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author isaacsmithjones
    Now obviously, I haven't seen the site myself, but perhaps it is possible that the split testing script has increased the loading time, which is causing people to leave? Also, if you are split testing, have you made sure the tracking is in both versions of the page?
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    What about your conversions? Have they changed?

    If the site is still converting at the same rate, I would guess the 3% bounce rate wasn't real like someone mentioned above.

    A high bounce rate is not always a bad thing by the way, but a change like that is odd.
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  • Profile picture of the author KylieSweet
    Proper way of reading a bounce should be like this, 20% below is really bad while 70% onward is also a bad signal, 26 to 40% is excellent, 41 to 55% is average.
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      So, according to you, if I have a affiliate site and every visitor just goes and buys what I promote from the page they land, that's bad. But if they land, go to another page, then don't buy, that's awesome?

      Originally Posted by KylieSweet View Post

      Proper way of reading a bounce should be like this, 20% below is really bad while 70% onward is also a bad signal, 26 to 40% is excellent, 41 to 55% is average.
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      • Profile picture of the author KylieSweet
        Proper way of reading a bounce should be like this, 20% below is really bad while 70% onward is also a bad signal, 26 to 40% is excellent, 41 to 55% is average.

        Originally Posted by DABK View Post

        I have a affiliate site and every visitor just goes and buys what I promote from the page they land, that's bad.
        You said that, and I didn't mentioned that on my post, so therefore you think its bad. Its really awesome because you have no idea what really bounce rate is.

        Originally Posted by DABK View Post

        But if they land, go to another page, then don't buy, that's awesome?
        Its really amazing because that's a sign of high bounce rate dude. Now you are learning.
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        • Profile picture of the author DABK
          Precisely, I said it, you did not.

          But, what's your response? Really. If I send visitors to a my sale page where I ask them to call me for an appointment and if all visitors call me for an appointment but never visit any of my other pages, I have 100% bounce, but I'm happy. The sales page is doing an amazing job. Yet, according to you, I'm doing badly.

          Same kind of scenario: I am an affiliate. I send people to a page where there's a link to the vendor's page. If all visitors go to the vendor's page from my landing page, I get 100% bounce... which, according to you is bad but, according to me and anyone who's been an affiliate, is awesome.

          So, what gives? How can a low bounce rate when I need and want a high one be good and vice versa?

          Yes, I know what high bounce is. I don't know why you say that having a high bounce rate is always bad, that around 50% is okay and all that. Explain. Don't get an attitude, don't call me names, just explain why you wrote what you did.

          Originally Posted by KylieSweet View Post

          You said that, and I didn't mentioned that on my post, so therefore you think its bad. Its really awesome because you have no idea what really bounce rate is.



          Its really amazing because that's a sign of high bounce rate dude. Now you are learning.
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      Originally Posted by KylieSweet View Post

      Proper way of reading a bounce should be like this, 20% below is really bad while 70% onward is also a bad signal, 26 to 40% is excellent, 41 to 55% is average.

      That is one of the dumbest things I have read all month.
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      • Profile picture of the author KylieSweet
        Proper way of reading a bounce should be like this, 20% below is really bad while 70% onward is also a bad signal, 26 to 40% is excellent, 41 to 55% is average.

        Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

        That is one of the dumbest things I have read all month.
        And your post is the most crappiest thing I've ever seen. Do you think your post will make you a king of this forum? A person that is always right? If you have nothing to say kindly don't post trash.
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        • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
          Originally Posted by KylieSweet View Post

          Proper way of reading a bounce should be like this, 20% below is really bad while 70% onward is also a bad signal, 26 to 40% is excellent, 41 to 55% is average.

          And your post is the most crappiest thing I've ever seen. Do you think your post will make you a king of this forum? A person that is always right? If you have nothing to say kindly don't post trash.
          You do understand that nothing you said makes any sense, right?

          Why would a bounce rate under 20% be really bad? That is based on what?

          How do you know a bounce rate of 41-55% is average? Where did you pull that from?

          Why is 70% or higher a bad thing? If I have a site with an email opt-in, and someone comes to the page, opts in, and never visits another page on the site, that is going to register as a bounce, but they did exactly what I wanted them to do. How is that bad?

          If I have an ad on a landing page that I want people to click on that takes them to another site, those will register as bounces, but, again, how is that bad?

          If I am a plumber and visitors land on my home page and then pick up the phone to call me, that is also a bounce. How is that bad though?

          Do you understand why your comment makes zero sense now?

          It looks like you just picked some random numbers with nothing to back them up.
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  • Profile picture of the author Oliver Lawer
    Thank you for all the replies.

    I fear you are right MikeFriedman. I did find two copies of the analytics code. One in the header, one in the footer (and one in the backend, but that didn't seem to be doing anything).

    I'm almost certain it's now correct as I removed every bit of code I could find and checked by sending test traffic in analytics. It didn't record the activity. Pop the code in the header and it works again. This would indicate there is only copy of the analytics code.

    I also had to educate myself on bounce rate. I always thought it was someone who came on the site and left immediately, but I understand it's just where they haven't had a second interaction (never left the entry page).

    I've restarted the Google Optimise. Interestingly (we are a video production company), when I remove examples from the home page, we get the bounce rate down to 45%. The highest is with the most examples on the home page (75% bounce).

    I guess the measures we're interested into discount things like load time (which bounce rate does bugger all in helping you to define if this is the reason visitors are bouncing off), is the time on site and number of pages visited.
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