How to action Exit Rate vs. Bounce Rate



I can’t believe it’s almost December. It’s that time where events, faces, and food start to blend together and it becomes this big crazy ball of memories.

Maybe that’s also how you feel when you see the metrics exits and bounces in the same report; you have a notion of what the difference could be but it’s a blur. It’s easier to just ignore it for now.

I invite you to clear up the confusion and make sure you are clearly understanding these two important metrics.

The key concept to keep in mind when you are distinguishing Exits and Bounces is that Bounces only include sessions with one page load. Exits, on the other, take into account any user leaving your site, whether they stay for one page or several.

Let’s do a graphical representation:



Let’s say we have our friendly user who visits our site two times. First is on Monday, visiting the Home page and then getting distracted and leaving our site. This is what we consider a Bounce.  

In the second visit, our user starts at the Home Page and then shimmies over to our Service Page. After reading our services, she leaves the site. This second instance is not considered a Exit.

So, what do these definitions really mean for our sites? Bounce Rates are telling us that this particular page where the users starts their visit isn't very “sticky” and the user isn’t enticed to stay around for longer than that page.

If you have a high bounce rate on your Home Page, review your layout and buttons: what are you asking your users to do specifically after they look at your Home Page. Make sure this is clear and that the navigation is natural. If you have a high bounce rate on blog posts, look at your call to actions and if users are suggested additional reading that might spark their interest. For more ideas on how to interpret Bounce Rates, check out my post here.

For Exit Rates, it important to keep in mind that users have to exit your page eventually, but where would be an ‘okay’ place to exit. Instead of focusing on isolated Exit Rates, it might be more helpful to look at a report like Behavior Flow (you can find it under Reporting > Behavior > Behavior Flow).



This report will give you an idea of where you users are dropping off your site and it it’s a logical drop or if there is something off with the navigation flow.

For Exit Rates, I recommend looking at it more holistically and not targeting one page specifically. Draft out your ideal navigational flow; are you users following this? Where are they deferring? Why do you think they could be going off course?

In conclusion, these metrics are telling you two very different things. If I had to choose to focus on one , I’d choose Bounce Rate since it gives you something definitive to focus on, while Exit Rate should be approached at more of a high level view. I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section below.

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