Is my website's bounce rate too high? [industry benchmark data]

Your website is generating traffic and it’s technically sound, but one thing leaves you wondering: is my website's bounce rate too high for my industry?

Written by Samuel Banks
Analytics |   8 minute read

Your website is generating traffic. It’s technically sound with everything logged in Google Analytics, but one thing strikes you...your ‘bounce rate’ seems abnormally high. Something’s not right. In short, your bounce rate depends on your industry. There’s no real right or wrong answer but what you can be sure of is if you feel it’s too high, then it probably is. 

digital 22 website

It’s all based on personal opinion, but a good way to gauge if you need to improve it is by comparing it to industry benchmarks. So, here’s a quick summary of average bounce rates across the five most common industries in 2018.

bounce rates

Have the above figures got you questioning? Continue reading to discover the variables which cause these figures. But first, let’s run through the basics.

So, what’s a bounce rate?

To properly gauge how good or bad your bounce rate is, you need to be completely sure on what the term actually means.

A bounce rate is a universal metric shared across most software which monitors your website’s performance. It concerns the percentage of people visiting your website then leaving within the first few seconds (without taking any action).

Why is website bounce rate important then?

A bounce rate is a key indicator of where a particular page or your full website requires attention when it comes down to content and the core site messaging. It determines what works on your page and if you’re attracting the right traffic.

If you have a high bounce rate, it could mean you need to review your core persona and the content they should resonate with. When it comes to the best websites out there, they always put the user experience first. That’s pretty much why bounce rate is a crucial metric in any UX developer’s toolkit.

What are the industry average bounce rates?

There’s no set figure to aim for when it comes to bounce rates. It really just varies on your website’s industry and the content you produce. 

Let’s dive into that table above into a little more detail. Our very own CRO Analyst, Tom, took a deep dive into Google Analytics to source data from the whole of 2018. You can use it to find industry averages and then see how you stack up against your competitors.

Average shopping bounce rate: 53.23%

Shopping websites experience quite a fluctuating bounce rate as several factors can affect it. A variable might be as small as an eCommerce website featuring a vast number of pages that rank/are advertised - yet they don’t feature the products a visitor is looking for at first glance.

Tying in with that, eCommerce websites that have loads of pages can be quite overwhelming for visitors. In fact, 55% of typical visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a website. So, if a product is hard to find, they’ll probably just look elsewhere.

faizal and tom

An issue with shopping websites is that they’re subject to seasonality due to sharp traffic increases or decreases during months such as September and December. This means as your traffic decreases, the ratio of people bouncing might stay the same which leads to an inflated bounce figure.

On the flip side, in months such as December where traffic might be at its peak and the percentage of people bouncing doesn’t rise in ratio with visitors, then it could lead to a much lower bounce rate. 

Average food and drink bounce rate: 55.63%

Food and drink websites are prone to high bounce rates and poor CTRs due to the intent of the searches and the potential of having their content appear in featured snippet boxes. This industry can be a tough nut to crack in terms of retaining site traffic due to the strong intent behind how visitors arrive.

It’s not that uncommon where a majority of your website traffic comes for one reason, such as to look up a menu or a dish before leaving.

A great way to improve this could be offering related recipes, but it might not be enough. It’s actually high-quality, bright and vivid images that attract attention and encourage click-throughs. HubSpot actually found that when the images are relevant, readers spend more time looking at images than they do reading text on the page.

Average news bounce rate: 65.08%

The news industry is another tricky one. News websites are prone to high bounce rates as visitors are often referred to these websites via social media. They usually have a large proportion of entry points to the website, rather than just the homepage accounting for the majority of entry traffic - which is typically the case.

Here’s where it can differ.

Think of BBC News, Sky News and similar organisations, They’re often not as susceptible to high bounce rates because of the reputations they’ve built. However, entry-level news sites often struggle and find site-wide and page-wide bounce rates to be particularly high. 

Why? Well, the traffic lands, reads the content they’ve come to see before leaving.

If you do own a news-related website, there are some things you can try to keep bounce rates down. Offer ‘similar stories,’ ‘read more like this,’ ‘trending,’ and ‘popular posts’ options related to each article these links are placed on.

By reinforcing that these articles are popular, readers feel valued and can develop FOMO which allows them to stick around on your website and delve further.

Average jobs and education bounce rate: 56.57%

As you’d expect, jobs and education usually have a lower bounce rate than those in other industries. It’s because of the intention behind visitors on these types of websites. Think of Monster Jobs and Indeed - they have low bounce rates as users are setting aside time to browse job openings which are all on separate pages.

sammie in office

To help maintain a low bounce rate in this industry, it’s worth adding a nice little touch such as an internal search bar. This allows visitors to get more personalised results and also encourages them to delve further into your website. By doing this, you can avoid bounces while prioritising the user experience at the same time.

Average social networks bounce rate: 58.16%

Like news websites, content is typically kept entirely on one page - just on a much larger scale in the social media industry when you factor in sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more. This all-contained page comes in the form of a feed and is utilised to offer convenience over site depth, so the bounce rates are pretty high.

To keep bounce rates lower, you can offer a personal page or a profile where content can be reposted to. This can keep session durations high and encourages visitors to interact with the site more. As a result, this avoids bounce.

What affects my bounce rate?

Now that you know the importance of it and the industry averages/benchmarks, here’s exactly what affects it and how you can improve this figure.

Traffic source

You’ll find that depending on the nature of your website’s traffic, you’ll have varying bounce rates with patterns developing along the way. Outbound forms of traffic such as PPC and email marketing tend to have a considerably higher bounce rather than organic and direct alternatives, such as SEO.

If your paid ads or emails aren’t that effective, they’re misleading or targeting the wrong audience, you’ll notice your bounce rate rise considerably. With organic and direct sources, you’ll find that visitors have come with the intent to land on your site. This can be through ranking for the right keywords or having previously visited your website and bookmarking it.

These visitors know what they want and they know what to expect.

Website purpose

Different industries come with varying types of searches but it’s partnered with what you set out to achieve with your website. This potential outcome can differ across industries. If you’re a social networking website, for example, you may set out to keep users on one typical page type with everything in one place.

This one-page scrolling method is great from a user experience perspective. Although, it would technically be classed as a bounce if they don’t necessarily navigate from that page and just leave your website after the end of that particular session. This can lead to an industry high bounce rate. 

This doesn’t mean you’re worse than a different website than another. For example, a travel website will naturally have more pages and the visitor needs to do a lot more research, so they’ll stick around longer.

User experience

You should always aim to make your content easily accessible and useful to the reader. Or in other words, provide an exceptional user experience. To put it bluntly, your website’s appearance can be make or break when it comes to visitors bouncing.

Adobe’s State of Content Report found that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive. So, it’s important you highlight your website’s messaging clearly and attractively in a form that resonates with your persona.

Sure, appearance is key but if visitors can’t see how amazing your website or content is, then they’ll look elsewhere.

With the growing number of people accessing the internet on the go, website load times need to be quicker and websites need to be smaller. Faster loading speed is vital as it not only has a growing influence on SEO rankings but also the fact that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.

A combination of the above when it comes to user experience is the ease of navigation a website offers. Every person who lands on your website comes with intent and purpose - it’s your job to make it easy for them. Make it confusing and they’ll spend the time looking elsewhere where it’s easier to navigate.

To sum up, there’s no point in navigating the world’s best content if nobody will ever find it.

So how do I improve my bounce rate?

Here’s what you really want to know. Now that you know what to aim for and what can affect this figure, let’s look at what you can do to lower bounce rates.

Relevant, engaging CTAs

Consider including relevant CTAs that are clear and context-bound. This personalisation works well for food and drink websites where a visitor arrives with one idea but could leave with several if you pull it off correctly. 

For example, if they’ve come looking for a victoria sponge recipe, why not offer a CTA with the copy ‘Tried our Victoria Sponge recipe? You’ll love our lighter version. Less sugar, all the flavour. Learn how now!’ These kind of CTAs will allow you to gently guide and retain your site visitors for as long as possible by offering value to them.

Website appearance and navigation

If your website has poor navigation and appearance, then your priority should be to think about your visitor’s own priorities. What do they want to see? Where do they want to see it?

sam and bilal

By doing this, you’ll enable your website to resonate with your core persona while allowing your content to be interacted with more frequently. This results in a low bounce rate as your visitors begin to click around.

Website loading times

On the flip side, if you find that your average session duration is remarkably low, the problem is most likely a site speed issue. With the rising prominence of accelerated mobile pages (AMP), you can consider moving pages over to this.

Or change images to JPEG format while keeping logos/graphics in .gif or .png format. Image file size is just the tip of the iceberg but is a big contributor to slow-loading sites.

Focus on your own bounce rate

Although knowing the stats of your competitors and the industry benchmarks is a powerful tool, don’t dwell on it too much as it can be quite harmful. By fixating on achieving a benchmark figure, you might be at risk of losing the uniqueness of your website which can make it less appealing to visitors.

Just focus on your own bounce rate as your website’s performance is the only one that matters. Don’t pull your hair out trying to achieve a benchmark figure as offering value instead will allow you to achieve the results you want.

Eventually, you’ll notice visitors sticking around for longer which contributes to driving conversions and sales. Getting to this stage isn’t an overnight process though and there are lots of moving parts which make an inbound campaign a success.

See what a typical year in inbound looks like

To get visitors to stick around, you obviously need to make your content useful and easy to navigate. That’s the key. Content. It’s a big part of what helps create successful campaigns - and we’ve got a guide to back it up. 

Our download will give you a visual representation of what to expect throughout the year when you implement inbound marketing. It shows what to expect when content is created, how to amplify it and more.

To get your free copy, click on the link below.