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What is a good bounce rate and exit rate ...and why this matters

When measuring page performance there are many metrics to consider. How Often someone lands on the page, how long they stay on the page and how often they leave the page. We will examine this last part as it tends to show a lot more right out of the box as to what is going on with a page and why it might or might not be performing well.

One thing we have to remember, a high bounce rate is not always bad. We tend to think the site or a certain page is performing poorly if its bounce rate is more than say….80%!.  But in fact some pages are expected to have a high bounce rate and exit rate. A form’s thank you page for example, would naturally be the last page of a user visit (see our article about how to track this page more). 

Moz (https://moz.com) have released a fantastic video to help explain these points:
Ok so we know that in some cases a high bounce rate is good and a high exit rate may be the result a conversion, great. This is where context comes into play. We must be careful to not interpret data on a single endpoint alone.

So we need to understand these two and how they can be used for interpreting user behavior. While they may have some crossover, an Exit Page is the result of a bounce but the two metrics similarities really end there.

Simply explained:
Exit Rate (or Exit Percentage) is the percentage of users where the user session ended on that page. So how many times users exit from a particular page.

And Google on Exit rate: The percentage of exits from the property that occurred out of the total pageviews.

ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/dimensions-metrics-explorer/
To calculate the Exit Rate, analytics takes the total amount of exits from each page in relation to the total number of page views for that particular page. The Analytics divides the exits by the number of page views and calculates the percentage.  
Bounce rate is a bit more nuanced. 
First here is Google again on the explanation of Bounce rate: The percentage of single-page session (i.e., session in which the person left the property from the first page). 

ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/dimensions-metrics-explorer/
Essentially, Bounce rate is measured by how often a session starts with a page and that user session ends with that same page.  Simply, when a user starts on Page A and leaves from Page A Or the session ends (30 minutes be default) on the same page where the session started. 
Let’s look at two sessions in one day. 

Homepage > Exit
Homepage > Contact > Thank you > Exit

Here the user lands on the Homepage, possibly from an organic search and then leaves from the homepage after a few seconds. This is a bounce and it generally proves that the user had no contention of visiting your site. However the next session starts from the homepage, lets say a direct link and the user clicks to contact, fills out a form and is redirected to a thank you page by automation of the form and then, having completed the task they set out to do, leaves the site (ending the session). 

And here is the summary of the two sessions in relation to our topic:
The homepage would have a bounce rate of 50%
And the thank you page would have an exit rate of 100%

So what do we gain from this knowledge?

The homepage bounce shows us that 50% of users leave from the homepage. Of course this is only two sessions, we would need to see a number of sessions over days or weeks to really gain any insight beyond the fact that one user left the site as soon as entering because they quickly realized the site was not what they were looking for. 

We can also learn that the thank you page has a hit and that we can see a conversion here.

So the path to the conversion led from the homepage and ended with an exit from the thank you page. In the course of many sessions a high exit rate here would not alarm us as most users would probably leave after completing the form.

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