Reader Question: I Migrated to a new Website and My Bounce Rate Increased! Why?

An increase in bounce rate can be a shock, especially if you moved web host or re-designed your website to improve user experience. Why are more people now bouncing?

Here are two reasons why bounce rate can suddenly increase.

User experience change (for the better)

Your previous website had many links and pages. Your new website opts for the long-form style which is now common to see. The information a use needs is presented more clearly, so they don’t have to navigate to another page to find it.

As a result your bounce rate increases.

This is good. Nothing to fear.

Tracking issues

In my experience, some people have been looking at an incorrect bounce rate figure for years, and don’t know it. When they migrate to a new platform, the metric corrects itself. They now see the correct value, which is higher than the incorrect one, and think everything is going to pot.

Bounce rates can be incorrect due to two tracking issues:

1. Interactive events have been implemented on some landing page loads.

This creates a bounce rate lower than it should be.

Why? Because the page fires a pageviews, then the interactive event. And any sessions with more than 1 request are not a bounce.

When you switch web platforms, some of the old events may have been removed or are no longer working. Because they aren’t firing, you get an increase in bounce rate.

2. Page redirects on landing pages

Redirects are find if not GA tracking code fires, but if BOTH pages load fully and have tracking code on them, you get two pageviews (one from redirect page, one from real landing page). And as above, two pixel requests in a session equals a non-bounce.

How do I know if my bounce rate is incorrect?

Do a quick audit:

  • If you’re bounce rate is currently under 20% I can 99% guarantee you have a GA tracking issue. It’s rarely that low.
  • Check your events being sent to Google Analytics using the Chrome Dev Tools. Ensure they are set to non-interactive, unless you have a good reason why they shouldn’t be.
  • In Google Analytics, check your top landing pages, and ensure they look as they should (i.e. no weird redirect pages present)

In summary, if your bounce rate has suddenly jumped after a platform migration is was wrong to being with, or the way a user consumes your content has changed.

Ed Brocklebank (aka Metric Mogul) is an analytics and digital marketing consultant. He helps business of all sizes become more data-driven through measurement, strategy and activation. He works as a Strategic Analytics Director at Jellyfish in London, as well as delivering training on behalf of Google and formerly General Assembly.