At one time, some of our clients seemed concerned about their website Bounce Rates. It was often used as a measure of first impressions and an evaluation for the effectiveness of a website design. In recent months, Google have taken action to change the way they report on visitor activity, modernising the analytics dashboard, and this includes scrapping the Bounce Rate. For some who have relied on this measurement, it felt like quite a shock to the system. To understand why Google decided to remove the Bounce Rate metric from Google Analytics 4 (GA4), we must first remind ourselves what Bounce Rate is exactly. Here is Google’s definition:
“A Bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a Bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”
So, why is measuring Bounce Rate (who exits your site without triggering any other requests) no longer included in Google Analytics?
For a long time, Bounce Rate has been seen as a misleading metric. This is because it often does not truly reflect how users have engaged with a site. Using a news article as an example, a visitor could click onto the site, read the whole article and exit without clicking anything else. This would be calculated as a Bounce, even though no Bounce had actually taken place and the user had retrieved the information that was required. On modern websites, visitors can often find what they are looking for without having to click anywhere – therefore meaning that they were incorrectly included in the total number of people who swiftly exited the site after not finding what they were looking for. A good example of this is contact details. Visitors often view a homepage of a website and retrieve the contact telephone number at the top right hand corner of the website, without clicking anywhere else. They like what they see and immediately get in touch!
Behold: Engagement Rate!
Google understands our frustrations over the misleading Bounce Rate – so they have introduced the far more accurate Engagement Rate.
Engagement Rate is the ratio of engaged sessions to the total number of sessions on a website. This new metric is triggered when a session lasts longer than 10 seconds, contains a conversion, or has more than one view of a page. Interestingly, Engagement Rate can be used where bounce rate can’t – for example on mobile apps and content (blogs, news) sites.
To gather your Engagement Rates, you will need to upgrade to GA4 as it cannot be done on previous versions of Analytics.
Moving to GA4
Drawing on machine learning to unearth insights from the data it collects, Google Analytics 4 has many benefits in comparison to its Universal Analytics predecessor:
- Specific engagements now captured as events, showing how users interacted on your site across both web and apps (scroll, outbound link clicks, video views and file downloads)
- More precise control over the data that is collected, assisting with the push towards more stringent privacy regulations
- Setting up the tracking of user actions/events is much easier, with some options such as clicks and scroll behaviour automatically tracked
- Enhanced ‘Real Time’ reporting with additional report visualisations in the ‘Analysis Hub’
If you’re reading this article, then the chances are you are already using Analytics. If so, setting up GA4 is fairly straightforward. For Google to collect data alongside your existing Analytics property, you will need to add a Google Analytics 4 property to your website. Use Google’s GA4 Setup Assistant wizard to commence your GA4 data tracking.
Regularly checking your site analytics remains a valuable exercise to measure the effectiveness of your website as it helps you to evaluate who is visiting your website and how they got there, what pages are being visited the most and what conversions are being made.
Do you have a website but not sure how to use Google Analytics to monitor how it is performing? Contact our team today to see how we can help.