Manage Bounce Rate with GTM

What is a bounce rate?

Can we reduce/manage bounce rate with GTM ? Let’s first start with definition of bounce rate. In my opinion, the most precise definition would sound like this: Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-interaction sessions on your web page.

In other words, a visitor landed on your site, did nothing (i.e. did not interact with the content), and then left.

  • 1 interaction (page view) = bounce.
  • 2+ interactions = no bounce.

How is a bounce rate calculated in Google Analytics?

Let’s get back to theory for a moment.

Google Analytics calculates and reports the bounce rate of a web page (1) and bounce rate of a website (2).

  1. Bounce rate of a web page = total number of bounces (when people left) on a page (in a given time period) / total number of entrances on the page (in the same period of time)
    Example: 100 people entered the page A and 80 people left your website on the page A. Bounce rate of a web page will be equal to 80 / 100 *100% = 80%
  2. Bounce rate of a website = total number of bounces across all the pages on the website (in a given time period) / total number of entrances across all the pages on the website (in the same time period)
    Example: Yesterday there were 4000 entrances to the website, and 3000 ended up bouncing. A bounce rate of a website will be equal to  3000 / 4000 *100% = 75%

If a visitor lands on a page, that counts as a page view. If he/she navigates to another page of your website, another page view occurs (which is counted as interaction). Great! Your website’s bounce rate has decreased a bit because there were two interactions.

Let’s imagine another scenario. Your website consists of very long (5000+ words) blog posts. They are super useful and visitors adore them. But once they read it, they close the browser or switch to another tab.

Why? It was a bit exhausting for them to invest their time and effort to read the entire blog post. Now, they have to do something else (take a break, go drink a coffee, or finish some task, or whatever).

By default, this kind of session would be counted as bounce in Google Analytics. 1 page view –> Exit. But in reality, that visitor thoroughly read your blog post, clicked few images to zoom, etc. Actually, there were interactions, you just didn’t track them.

How to reduce bounce rate in Google Analytics

Thanks to Google Tag Manager, you can now easily track additional interactions which can affect bounce rate (if you want).

Here’s a quick context for those wanderers who accidentally found this blog post and have not clue what Google Tag Manager (GTM) is.

GTM is like a middle-man between your website and various tracking tools (like Google Analytics). It enables you to track various interactions and send data to GA or any other tool.

Now, let’s learn how to reduce bounce rate with help of GTM.

First, you need to decide which interaction(s) on your website are important and should be tracked. Then you should configure tags, variables and triggers in GTM to push these interactions as events to Google Analytics.

Every event is sent as non-interaction hit: false, which means that they will reduce bounce rate.

Track clicks of social buttons

If you run a blog which has default buttons of social networks installed (Facebook, Twitter, Linked in, or Pinterest), consider tracking their clicks to manage bounce rate with GTM.

Track outbound link clicks

While some of you might disagree with me, I count outbound link clicks as interactions.

When a visitor reads your content and clicks a link which redirects them to another website, that’s an outbound link click. Although this interaction is negative for your site (because that visitor might not come back after the click), it’s still an interaction. A visitor willingly read some portion of your content and then clicked a link.

Here’s a Google Tag Manager recipe which tracks outbound link clicks and fires events to Google Analytics (which lower bounce rate).

Track form submissions

If you have ever tried tracking forms with Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, you already know that there is a bunch of different form types with their own nuances.

Some of them refresh the page or redirect you to a Thank you page after successful submission. In this case, you’re not obliged to do any additional tracking, because your bounce rate is already reduced by refreshed page (or redirection).

But there’s a huge chance that your website contains AJAX forms. In my comprehensive guide 5 Form Tracking methods with Google Tag Manager, I have explained how you can easily track AJAX forms and send events to Google Analytics (Reduce/Manage Bounce Rate with GTM).

So make sure you try it out to Manage Bounce Rate with GTM.

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