If you want to reduce your bounce rate in Google Analytics 4, you have come to the right place.
We’re going to explore what bounce rate is, what contributes to a high and low bounce rate and how to encourage users to stay on and engage with your website, blog or app.
I’ll also take you through a step-by-step process to identify which pages on your site are most vulnerable to bounces before going over how to protect against this.
- Most Important Statistics for Bounce Rate in GA4
- ‘Empty’ Engaged Sessions
- Data Distortion
- Comparing with Other Sites
- Step 1: Create a Master List of Pages
- Step 2: How To Increase Average Engaged Time
- Step 3: How To Increase Internal Referrals
- Step 4: How To Increase Conversions
What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics 4?
Before we try to decrease the bounce rate of your website, app or blog, let’s define it.
GA4 bounce rate is the inverse of engagement rate (the percentage of sessions that are “engaged”).
An engaged session means a user performed at least one of the following three actions:
- Spent longer than 10 seconds on the page (web) or screen (app)
- Navigated to a second page/screen
- Completed a conversion event
A user is considered to have “bounced,” then, if they 1) left your website/app in 10 seconds or less 2) without navigating to a second page 3) or completing a conversion event.
Personally, I like this better than the Universal Analytics bounce rate definition:
“Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.”
The GA4 definition is more specific and gives us a clearer path to improve it.
Most Important Statistics for Bounce Rate in GA4
In addition to bounce rate, understanding the three statistics that determine bounce rate is key to our plan to lower your bounce rate.
Average Engagement Time
Engagement time is counted whenever a user has your website in the foreground of their screen.
If your website is open in the background of someone’s comptuer, the engagement timer is paused until they bring it back to the foreground or the session is ended.
Multiple Page Views
A simple way to determine whether someone has changed pages on your website is if the URL changes. (Don’t worry – Google keeps track of this for you.)
Typically, the more pages a user visits in a given session, the better.
An exception would be if they erratically navigate from one page to another, unable to find what they seek, before leaving the site.
Google Analytics 4 conversions are events that you have marked as conversions. Since this is different for every website, the best way to see this for yourself is to go to Configure > Conversions in your GA4 dashboard.
You can mark any existing event as a conversion by going to Configure > Events and toggling the button at the end of the row to the right so that it turns blue.
Also see: Google Analytics 4 Conversions Explained
How Bounce Rate Works in GA4
To understand bounce rate, you have to understand the factors that determine whether a user “bounced” from your site.
You may be asking: If we can just look at pages with the highest bounce rate, why analyze other stats?
To illustrate the importance or paying attention to all three factors – not just bounce rate itself – let’s look at four scenarios of different sessions on your site as tracked by GA4:
At first glance, you may think, “Wow, three engaged sessions out of four. Not bad.”
Let’s dig deeper, though.
This is just about the worst-case scenario. The user left your site/app in four seconds without visiting a second page/screen or converting.
This is also the only one of the four sessions we’re analyzing that would be considered “bounced.”
A little more time on the site, but they still only visited a single page. And didn’t convert.
Nonetheless, it’s an “engaged session” by definition.
Yes, it’s possible to visit three pages in nine seconds. But for a user to do so and leave your site is almost certainly a bad sign if it wasn’t accompanied by a conversion.
Even so, this also counts as an engaged session.
If I’m running a website, this is the only scenario of the four that gets me excited. Even if it didn’t have a conversion, I would still be encouraged.
Anytime a user spends more than a minute on your site while visiting multiple pages, it’s a positive sign. In internet time, 1 minute and 24 seconds is an eternity.
The overall engagement rate of these four sessions is 75 percent, meaning the bounce rate is 25 percent. Again, this sounds great in a tweet, but until I get more sessions like scenario D, I’m not satisfied.
If session B had spent 17 seconds less on the site, it would have been a bounce.
If session C had left after seeing one page instead of three, it would have been a bounce.
Session D, however, has a nice “anti-bounce moat.”
I don’t just want to help you lower your bounce rate by a little bit. I want to help you create what I call “anti-bounce moats (a term I made up – take it or leave it).
Any session where two of a page’s three key statistics meet the following criteria has an “anti-bounce moat”:
- 33+ seconds engagement time
(11 * 3, since 11 seconds is the minimum engaged time to trigger an engaged session)
- An internal referral to another page in the same session
- A conversion on the page
Further down on this page, I’m going to show you how to identify vulnerable and under-performing pages, and how to boost their engagement rate and lower their bounce rate.
Bounce-Rate Analysis Warnings
Important: We’re not trying to lower bounce rate just for the sake of it. Here are some things to be aware of as we go through this process.
‘Empty’ Engaged Sessions
Bounce rate is a statistic that helps us identify pages where little time is spent and little action is taken. But be careful!
Just because all your users spend 5 minutes on each page and read 10 pieces of content per session doesn’t mean they’re having an impact on your business.
Imagine a brick and mortar toy store where visitors strolled the aisles for an average of two hours and looked at 100 items each, but no one ever bought anything.
That business’s “bounce rate” would be very low, but it would soon be out of business.
In other words, what’s important is that your site/app visitors convert. That they take actions that earn you money, directly or indirectly. (If earning money is your goal.)
If part of your revenue comes from display ads, more time on site and more views certainly help. But many websites and apps don’t use display ads as their primary source of income.
A small data sample can distort your analysis.
For example, imagine these two scenarios on an app:
1. A screen (equivalent to a page on a website) that only three people have seen in the last 30 days with an average engagement time of 55 seconds.
2. A different screen on your app that 1,000 people have seen in the last 30 days with an average engagement time of 40 seconds.
The first page might seem more engaging, but the sample size is too small.
So far, three people have seen screen 1 for a total of 165 seconds (an average of 55 each). If two more people view that screen for five seconds each, we’re suddenly looking at an average engagement time of 35 seconds.
Don’t get excited about a page with super high averages when a small number of users have seen it, nor frustrated about a page with super low averages in the same situation.
Comparing with Other Sites, Blogs, Apps
All three of the factors that determine whether a site is engaged or “bounced” on Google Analytics 4 can be manipulated.
I’m going to explain why, and hopefully convince you not to put stock in what others say their bounce rate is compared to yours.
Public vs. Private Data
People sometimes share data publicly. It could be at a conference. In a tweet. Or a simple text message.
But unless someone also shares full-screen screenshots of their GA4 dashboard along with all their property settings, don’t believe them.
You can’t see a GA4 dashboard unless you’re given access, which means you can’t confirm it, either. So don’t be concerned when someone shares a statistic that makes yours pale in comparison.
They might be lying. Or worse, they might not even understand the data their quoting.
Aside from those factors, here are some more specific ways people can manipulate their dashboard.
By default, a GA4 session must last more than 10 seconds to be considered “engaged.” But you can change that.
And so can your competitors.
What if someone running content strategy at an industry peer is told by their boss that bounce rate needs to go down 10 percent?
They could do the hard work (like you) of trying to lower user bounce rate. Or they could simply set the engagement time to 2 seconds, assuring that nearly all their visitors would be considered “engaged.”
Comparing yourself to this competitor would probably drive you crazy.
Multiple Page (or Screen) Views
You could manipulate the number of views on your site in a couple ways.
One is with redirects where Google counts each page as a separate view. This could happen if someone goes to your site from a search engine and is redirected to a second page after a few seconds.
Another scenario would be with infinite scroll. While there’s nothing wrong with implementing infinite scroll on your site, it often triggers additional page views when a user reaches the end of a page or article without realizing it, and the following page is accessed.
Conversions on your site are determined by you. As mentioned before, conversion events should have a direct – or at least closely correlated – affect on your bottom line.
Google marks the “purchase” event a conversion by default in GA4, and that can’t be changed. (And rightfully so.)
What about “add_to_cart”, though? Someone could add an item to their cart without purchasing. Yet you still might consider this important enough to mark as a conversion. (Most people do).
That’s fine, so long as you’re aware that this will likely increase your conversion rate.
Marking an event like “page_view” as a conversion, though would be ridiculous. Nearly every user would “convert,” and your conversion rate would be through the roof.
So when someone gives you a conversion rate for their website that’s much higher than yours, don’t fret.
Even if they have the same exact conversion events in place, it’s still not likely a fair comparison.
A website that sells $80 shoes is likely to have more conversions than one that sells $15,000 espresso machines. If you’re the espresso seller, you probably have far fewer conversions than your shoe-slinging friend.
To be clear, I’m not recommending you do any of these things to lower your bounce rate. That would only dilute your data.
My goal is to make you aware of ways others can inflate their numbers, giving you undue reason for concern.
Determine what makes for a low (and high) bounce rate for your site, and let that be your measuring stick.
As we go through the different data points, we’re going to compile a list of “worst” pages. I recommend recording them in a spreadsheet along with their corresponding statistics.
None of these tactics can be applied blindly to any platform. You, as the expert of your domain, are the key to this analysis.
For the sake of simplicity, from here on I’ll talk in terms of pages/websites, but know that this strategy can also be applied to screens/apps in almost every case.
How To Lower My Bounce Rate Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
We’re going to use a two-step process to lower your bounce rate:
- Determine the lowest performing pages, not just in terms of bounce rate, but also engagement time, internal referrals and conversions
- Deploy tactics on the pages with the highest bounce rates to increase engagement time, internal referrals and conversions
Step 1: Create a Master List of Pages with Highest Bounce Rate etc.
Your master spreadsheet is going to have six columns. Here they are in order from left to right:
- Page type
- Page title
- Bounce rate
- Averaged Engaged Time
- Internal Referrals
- Conversion Rate
While you can certainly sort your pages by the worst bounce rates and work on them first, filtering by the other three columns and following the tactics were about to go over will allow for hte most targeted, effective progress.
Step 1A: Determine Page Types
Your bounce rates will likely vary by page type. Before beginning your analysis, determine the different types of pages on your site, and which ones you want to analyze.
News website example
- Section pages (i.e. Local News, Sports, Business, Government, A&E)
- Article pages
- Video pages
- Photo galleries
- Miscellaneous (subscriptions, signups, bios)
Business website example
- Blog posts
- Product pages
- Checkout page
Step 1B: Choose Date Range
The more content your site has, the shorter the date range you can choose here.
I would recommend analyzing at least 28 days’ worth of data. If you don’t get a lot of traffic, though, consider analyzing everything within the last year.
Maintain the same date range throughout all steps of the analysis.
Step 1C: Determine Analysis Size
The number of pages you want to analyze for bounce rate depends on two things: the size of your site and the section(s)/page types (see step 1A) you’re analyzing.
I like to start with a maximum sample size of 100 pages for each of the four statistics we’re going to look at (bounce rate plus the three statistics that determine bounce rate).
If you want to do more or less, that’s fine. For the rest of this exercise, I’ll be operating under the asumption of analyzing 100 pages in each category.
If this doesn’t completely make sense, it will soon.
Another option is to select the most important pages on your website and perform that following process only on those pages, even if they not amount your highest “bouncers”.
Step 1D: Create Bounce-Rate Report in Explore
1. Go to the Explore tab on the left sidebar of your Google Analytics 4 dashboard. Open a new Blank report.
2. In a new tab, add the Page Title dimension to ROWS and add the following four metrics to VALUES: Bounce rate, Average engagement time per session, User conversion rate and Views.
3. In the Tab settings column, change “Show rows” to 500
4. Add the following filter:
- Views >99*
*By only looking at pages with 100 or more views in the selected time period, we eliminate outliers.
Adjust this number as necessary for your report to surface more or less pages.
Ideally, your report should have less than 500 rows so that you only have to sort and export one time, as in the following steps.
5. Sort the Bounce Rate column from highest to lowest. (The arrow to the left of Bounce rate should be pointing down)
6. Export the report to a CSV or other spreadsheet format
If you have less than 500 rows in your report, skip to step 8.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the engagement rate and user conversion rate columns, respectively.
If you don’t have any conversions set up, or if they’re new, you can skip the conversion rate analysis.
You should now have two or three exported spreadsheets.. We’ll get back to them in a moment.
8. Open a second tab in the same Exploration
9. Add Page referrer and Page Title to ROWS and change “Show rows” to 500 again
10. Add Stream name to COLUMNS
The stream name dimension itself isn’t that important. What we’re trying to accomplish is minimize the number of columns, since there’s a 20-column limit on the report.
This allows us to ensure we’re capturing the total number of referrals from each page to other pages.
The only way this wouldn’t work is if you have more than 20 data streams. (The limit is 50.) In that case, consider using a dimension like languages or something else that doesn’t generate more than 20 columns.
11. Add Views to VALUES
12. Add the Views >99 filter again
13. Add another filter where Page referrer contains “yourwebsite.com”
This will ensure that we’re only looking at internal referrals in the report
14. Add one more filter where Page referrer does not exactly match “https://yourhomepage.com/”
Since your homepage will likely be responsible for an outsize number of referrals, we’re going to eliminate it from this report.
You can do this for any other pages on your site – like section home pages – that may skew your data.
You can also use the “contains” function to only include certain types of posts, like articles. To do this, you need to have something in your URL that allows you to distinguish those pages from the rest.
15. Sort the data by ordering the totals column from lowest to highest
16. Export the report to a CSV or other spreadsheet format
You should now have two exported spreadsheets (unless you had more than 500 rows in your reports, in which case you’ll have exported four separate ones).
17. As you look through the page titles, you can eliminate that don’t make sense to analyze such as “Page Not Found” or any other pages you’re not concerned about optimizing.
18. Optional: Combine the spreadsheets into one using the VLOOKUP function.
All set? Now it’s time to do the fun work of creating anti-bounce moats on a page-by-page basis.
The first column in your spreadsheet – bounce rate – is mostly for tracking purposes. Save the master spreadsheet so that you can look back on your progress for the specific pages where you’ll be making the following changes.
Step 2: How To Increase Average Engaged Time GA4
The best way to increase average engaged time on your site is to give users a reason to spend more time there. The foundation of that is original, quality content.
User the following tactics on the pages that have the lowest average engagement time in your master spreadsheet. Pay special attention to those with 10 seconds or fewer of average engaged time, and work up from there.
Start by sorting the pages in your data from lowest engagement time to highest. These will be listed in seconds, so your prime targets are any pages that average 10 or less, moving up from there.
- Deliver on Promises
- Go Deep with Content
- Be Original
Deliver on Promises
Think about what a user might expect when coming to your site, depending on how they got there.
When you share a link on social media, does your post accurately preview/tease what the user will find on your site?
This can be improved by making sure the accompanying text you put on your post matches the content. The link preview that social networks generate also plays a role.
You can usually see this before publishing your post, but the headline and description, which are pulled from your site, should match the content.
What about when your link appears in search results, does a user find what they expect when clicking through?
If someone has opted in to receiving your emails, you’re already in a strong position. Here’s a high-level view of the steps they go through to get to your site.
1. Subject: Is it engaging enough to entice users to open the email?
2. Top of the Email: This could be an image and/or intro text. Just like with the subject line, you want to provide enough useful and intriguing information for the reader to continue reading/scrolling.
3. Body/Primary Email Content: If a user has come this far – opened your email and scrolled down to see more – you’re doing great.
If you’re able to get them to click through, does your site’s content deliver on what’s promised in the email? If so, they’re likely to spend more time on your site.
Go Deep with Content
When I say “go deep,” I’m talking about quality, not quantity. Providing a lot of quality content, however, will in turn boost your quantity.
Here are some ways to go deeper on your website:
- Interview people: Don’t just share your opinion and experience on a topic. Share others’, too.
- Be Visual: Use quality, original screenshots and photos. Not only will they break up blocks of text, but they also make it easier for others to retain information.
- Give examples: Like we’re doing here. Don’t just tell people they need to increase average engaged time to lower bounce rate. Give them specific examples of how to increase engaged time.
Think of it this way: If you’re providing the same information on a topic as 100 other websites, there’s a 1 percent chance users will come to you and not a competitor.
That percentage goes down significantly if you don’t have as much credibility or authority as your competitors.
But what if you’re the only one providing the information on your website? You have just wiped out your competition simply by providing useful content that can’t be found anywhere else.
That doesn’t mean users are guaranteed to flock to your site in droves. You still have to put in the work of promoting your content, building links and more. But it does mean that they’re more likely to stay once they do find you.
Step 3: How To Increase Internal Referrals GA4
There’s some overlap here with increasing engaged time. That’s because the more high-quality and original your content, the more likely it is that users will want more of it.
When users want more of your content, they’re more likely to navigate to additional pages.
What I want to talk about here, though, is facilitating user navigation in practical ways. This is primarily done with internal linking.
When applying these tips, start with the pages that have the fewest outgoing internal referrals. Make it as easy and attractive as possible for people to get to additional pages on your site.
Start with those that refer the fewest users to additional pages and work your way down your list.
- Quality Anchor Text
- Connected Content
Quality Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text that takes you to the page you’re clicking on. For example, the anchor text in the previous sentence is “Anchor text”.
Not only is anchor text an SEO-ranking factor, but it also gives users an idea what they’re about to click on.
Try to use concise phrases that people would also search for on Google to find that content.
Since the headline of this article is “How To Lower My Bounce Rate Google Analytics 4 (GA4)”, that would be the ideal anchor text for any other page that links to this one. (That goes for both internal as well as external links.)
But even things like “lower bounce rate GA4” or “how do i improve my bounce rate?” would be great anchor texts to link to this page.
This website has a lot of Google Analytics 4 content. It’s natural, therefore, to connect lots of information on this page to other pages on the site.
This article is about how to practically lower your bounce rate. But I also wrote something explaining what bounce rate is, exactly. So that’s a natural piece of content I’m going to link to here in case someone wants to review the fundamentals of bounce rate before putting these tactics into practice.
For example, if you run a gardening website and you write about “How To Plant Vegatable Seeds”, you would also want to link to your article about “Where To Buy Vegatable Seeds.”
Don’t link to other pages just for the sake of it – think about what would be most useful to the reader.
In addition to linking within the body of your article, use “Read More”-type callouts. Not only do they stand out, but they break up the text, making it easier on your readers. Here’s an example:
Read More: Google Analytics Bounce Rate (GA4)
Step 4: How To Increase Conversions GA4
Finally, we come to the third and final element of increasing bounce rate/lowering bounce rate: conversions.
These should be the most important and valuable events on your site. The ones that have a direct – or indirect but strong – affect on your bottom line.
When applying the following tactics, start with the pages from your master spreadsheet list that have zero conversions. Then work your way up to pages with single-digit conversions, and so on.
- Increase Conversion Opportunities
- Make Conversions More Accessible
- Follow Up with Users who Fall Off
Increase Conversion Opportunities
As mentioned above, we don’t want to create conversion events just for the sake of getting more conversions.
If you don’t have any conversion events set up yet, that’s OK. But start thinking about ones you could create. If users can purchase products on your site, some of conversion events should be obvious.
If not, consider newsletter signups, account signups and blog subscriptions.
In fact, having fewer conversion events – even just one – can be an advantage just starting out. You’ll know exactly what your No. 1 priority is for your users.
Make Conversions More Accessible
Perhaps you do have conversion events on your site, but they’re not easy to find.
While it may not make sense to put newsletter signups on every single page of your site, you don’t want to relegate them to a single page, either.
If you have some kind of sign-up or download button, consider adding them to one or more of the following areas of your site:
- The header
- Strategically place the button – with a compelling callout – in the body of blog posts and other content
- The footer
Put examples in between bullet points, with captions citing website/source
Follow Up With Users Who Falloff
Have you ever begun filling out a form or began a purchase on a site, only to leave it without finishing? There’s a good chance your email was captured anyway, and you received an automated message a day or two later.
Hi Fred, we noticed you didn’t complete your purchase of our Google Analytics 4 course.
If you’re having second thoughts or would like to ask us a question, please let us know.
In the meantime, here’s a link to everything that’s included in the course: [LINK]
This can be effective because you’re targeting people who already showed a strong interest in your product.
Lowering bounce rate (and by definition, increasing your engagement rate) is hard work, but there’s a huge payoff.
The more time a user spends on your site, the more valuable your display ads and the more likely people are to take actions that help your business.
While a 0 percent bounce rate for a website with any amount of traffic is practically impossible, you’ll never run out of opportunities to improve. Especially as your content volume increases.
Periodically run through the practical exercise we did together to decrease your bounce rate.
If you have other tips to increase engagement and lower bounce rate, I would love to hear about them in the comments.