Refining Bounce Rates Through Timeouts

bounce-rate-changesSome weeks back we stumbled upon an interesting post from the Google Analytics team discussing a simple event that would modify your bounce rates. The event institutes a 15 second timer that at its end will invalidate a visitor as being seen as a ‘bounce’. A simpler explanation: if you’re on the site for more than 15 seconds, we don’t count you as a bounce.

So, we decided to give it a try on UFHealth.org and see how it affected the reporting for our bounce rates. We had some amazing results:

Locations

We’re quite proud of our location pages. While simple in content and layout, we think they do an effective job in getting folks the critical content they are most interested in when looking up a hospital, practice, or other facility.

Prior to the above rate changes, locations overall had a bounce rate around 50%. After the modification: 13%

Dropping your bounce rate by 75% would be a pretty impressive task, and while that’s not quite what occurred here, we think the new bounce rate number reflects a page that effectively meets the main requirements the majority of folks coming to the site have.

Providers

Our provider pages went from about 50% to 16%. Quite similar to the location pages.

Health Topics

From a 75% bounce rate, to 25%.

Reflecting on the nature of this content type, it ended up painting an entirely different picture around the behavior of our users. Health topics are some of the longest, most-detailed pages. They contain hundreds of words with lengthy descriptions of various medical conditions. Before this revision, we thought we had a serious problem with this content type. Now, it just seems like folks were busy reading the content.


In general, we can now use bounce rate data that is more reflective of our users’ behavior, and help guide us in making better design and content decisions in a bid to reduce those bounce rates even further.