Bounce rate in Google Analytics 4

Updated: Sunday, October 8, 2023

Bounce rate: definition

A bounce represents a visitor who lands on your site and leaves without taking any action (without engaging with your content in any way). They load a page on your site, then close their tab or continue on to other websites.

In Google Analytics 4, the metric related to ‘bounce’ is called Bounce Rate and corresponds to the following formula:

$$ \begin{equation*} \text{Bounce rate} = \left( \frac{\text{Not engaged sessions}}{\text{Total number of sessions}} \right) \times 100 \end{equation*} $$

How to reduce bounce rate?

Sessions and engaged sessions

Before thinking about strategies to reduce your bounce rate, you have to understand the notions of session and engaged session in Google Analytics 4.

By default in GA4, a new session starts when:

  • a user loads your website and their tab is active
  • an old session has expired (by default, a session expires after 30 minutes of inactivity).

Once a session has started, it becomes an engaged session if:

  • it lasts more than 10 seconds
  • it has generated at least one conversion event
  • it has registered at least 2 page views

With this information, we can take a step back from the notion of bounce rate.

First of all, you need to ask yourself whether or not 10 seconds represents an engaged session for your website. In my opinion, I find this time a little short for determining that a session is engaged. It depends on the type of action your visitors have to take on your web pages.

Also, if you haven’t set up conversion events, it’s possible that a session will be wrongly considered as not engaged if the conversion takes place before the second page view (this could be the case, for example, if your website has only one page).

You can also modify the expiration time of a session if you feel that 30 minutes without activity is not high enough, or on the contrary, too high.

Grab attention as soon as possible

Once you’ve set up Google Analytics 4 and understand how bounce rate is calculated, you can start optimizing your website.

If a user bounces off your website, it’s either because:

  • your content doesn’t match their search intent
  • you failed to attract their attention

To reduce your bounce rate, I would suggest you to:

  • reduce scrolling before accessing content as much as possible (if users have difficulty finding what they’re looking for, they won’t try to understand how your website works, they will leave)
  • highlight relevant information in your headlines (users will often skim the page to see if the content interests them before they start reading)
  • ensure that your content responds to the search intent that brought the user to your site (if not change the title or change your content)

Engagement rate in GA4

The engagement rate is a new metric implemented in Google Analytics 4 that represents the bounce rate reverse.

Both metrics represent the same thing, but not in the same way.

I prefer using the engagement rate. It’s up to you to choose the metric that suits you best.

$$ \begin{equation*} \text{Engagement rate} = \left( \frac{\text{Engaged sessions}}{\text{Total number of sessions}} \right) \times 100 = 1 - \text{Bounce rate} \end{equation*} $$

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