Analysing Bounce Rates & Satisfaction Rates

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  • October 23, 2009
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Most people are in broad agreement that the brand update is about maximising satisfaction rates and making sure as many of your visitors find what they were looking for at your site rather than having to go to Google and search again.

However some people are looking at satisfaction rates and thinking about bounce rates but they are a totally different thing.

First of all lets look at how Google defines bounce rate:

Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. The more compelling your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert. You can minimize bounce rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy.

To view the bounce rates for your website, go to the Bounce Rate report under Visitors > Visitor Trending > Bounce Rate.

My definition of satisfaction rate:

Satisfaction rate is the percentage of people who find the information or products they were searching for at your website without having to return to Google and perform any further searches.

So while on the surface it’s easy to think that the brand update is just about minimising bounce rate and maximising conversion rates we can see that bounce rate is quite a flawed metric when looking at satisfaction rates. Take Wikipedia for example, they probably have a huge bounce rate because every page gives pretty much the answer to every question somebody might have about the topic they were searching for. The visitor searches for a topic and arrives at a page giving a huge amount of information about that topic – they have no reason to click onto another page or to revisit Google and search again.

Wikipedia visitors have a high bounce rate and a very high satisfaction rate. Contrary to what Google says above about landing pages sometimes the best & most relevant landing pages can have high bounce rates.

Obviously it’s important to fight for the second click but if Google is looking more at satisfaction rates than bounce rates informational sites need to focus on giving away as much information as possible first and worry about increasing visitor retention later.

Sometimes visitors from social sites can skew bounce rates dramatically even though they were satisfied with the content so it’s important to segment when looking at bounce rates.

Bounce rates

Engagement rates

We use a product called Click Tale to show engagement times rather than just time on page and this week they’ve been explaining why Google Analytics isn’t the best way to measure engagement.

Like most traditional web analytics services, Google Analytics records a “Time on Page”, denoting the time a visitor spends looking at each page in your website. It does this in three stages:

It records the time your visitor opens the first page.
It records the time your visitor opens the next page.
It subtracts these two times and calls the result “Time on Page”.

So unless a visitor views a second page the time on page will always be zero. Even with the new time on site goals it’s hard to see engagement times in Analytics.


You can see the difference in data between Google Analytics and Click Tale below.


Google Analytics noted the visit, but could not give us any qualitative or quantitative data about our time on the site.


ClickTale, on the other hand, was able to show us the bounce, the time spent on the page and the exact time spent engaging with the content. What’s more by clicking on the “Play” button, you can watch a video of the entire browsing session.

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