Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate Explained Using Big Red Balls

Posted on Posted in Learning and Development

There are fairly common misconceptions about both Bounce Rate and Exit Rate in Google Analytics. One seems to be quoted as the other and there is often widespread fear about a high percentage for either metric.



So, imagine those balls are pages and the victim contestant is the user in a session:

Bounce Rate = Someone landed on a page and left without looking at another page
Exit Rate = Someone visited more than one page before exiting


Everybody’s gotta go sometime

All users have to end their session at some point and everyone will leave your site at a different time and for different reasons.

Take this blog post for example. It has one purpose – to share information about a particular topic. There are no call to actions to take anyone through to an eCommerce part of the site, the only other expected actions are if someone takes an interest in any other blog postings within the site. I’m sharing through a direct link to this post, not the home page.

In this example I’d expect a bounce rate of close to 100%.

Bounce Rate for a blog post
Bounce Rate for a blog post

Note the Exit Rate – surely the Bounce Rate is telling us that everyone just came and left?

Bounce Rate is determined on entrances – in other words the landing page. So all the people who entered the site through this page left the site straight away. Other users found this page after visiting other pages, the Exit Rate tells us that for 22.58% of people this was their last page.

If, on the other hand, this page was the first in a journey I wanted the user to take – buying a product, registering for an account – I would be in trouble.

An example of where you might see a high Exit Rate for a page might be at the end of a journey. A user has maybe come in to your site through your home page, they need to make a payment for a service, and at the end of this process is a thank you page. This thank you page is likely to have a high Exit Rate.

A high Exit Rate
A high Exit Rate

Note in the example above the Bounce Rate is 0%. This is because it is not possible for a user to land on this page directly, they can only access it by going through previous pages.

In this example, most people did what they needed to do (make a payment) and left the site.



The most exciting bit for last! How are both rates/percentages calculated exactly?

Here’s a custom report in GA:

Custom Report

Bounce Rate: Overall, for this group of pages there were 490 bounces out of 755 sessions (490/755)*100= 64.90%.

For this particular page there were 248 sessions in total. Out of those sessions, 111 users entered this page directly and then left. (111/248) * 100 = 44.76%

Exit Rate: This is calculated slightly differently. Overall, out of the total number of page views (3291), there were a total of 1045 exits for this group of pages (1045/3291)*100= 31.75%.

For this page there were 373 exits from it, so out of the total number of page views for this page this means the exit rate is 373/1782*10= 20.93%.


I hope this demystifies the two metrics and enables you to challenge when someone is using one metric or the other to reach an incorrect conclusion. Get out there and set them straight!

Bounce Rate Vs Exit Rate
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Bounce Rate Vs Exit Rate
Google analytics - Bounce rate and exit rate explained in a simple, visual way.
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