Bounce Rate vs. Exit Rate? What’s the difference?

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately from people trying to figure out their web metrics on Google Analytics. It’s not surprising given how similarly they sound so here are the definitions:

Bounce Rate vs. Exit Rate: What's the difference?

Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors that land on a particular page, visit no other pages in your site and leave your site completely. So here’s an example: I do a search for “website designer in seattle” and I arrive at this site. Without clicking anything, I leave this site to go somewhere else. I “bounced.”

Exit Rate is the percentage of visitors that leave your website from a given page based on the number of visits to that page. Hey, that sounds a lot like “bounce rate,” right? The difference is that the visitor may have been to other pages on your site before exiting. Here’s an example: I do a search for “website designer in seattle” and I arrive at this site. I look at the portfolio, read a few articles, go to the contact page and fill out the form. Then I leave. I “exited” from the contact page. On the other hand if I had done a search for “BaraltDesign contact info” and landed on the Contact page and left immediately, it would have been a “bounce.” Capisce?


The Real Question: Why should you care?

Bounce Rate and Exit Rate are definitely important parts of your online marketing process. Since I deal with mostly small to mid-size businesses, I find Bounce Rate as related to organic searches to be a pretty good indication of how the user-interface of a website is stacking up to the competition. Here’s an example: if 94% of the visitors that have come to this site via a search for “web designer in seattle” land on the home page, and leave right away without even glancing at my portfolio, I have a Bounce Rate of 94% — I’m in trouble, right? On the other hand, Exit Rate can be important as well.  If I’m paying AdWords to lead visitors to a landing page selling typewriters and users are making it two pages into the process, but exiting right before they actually purchase one, then I know I have to look at that page and figure out why the Exit Rate is so high, make changes and hopefully get more conversions. Conversions=$$. And that makes everyone happy.

There is so much great information that you can get out of your web metrics if you know how to read them!