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Exit Rate vs. Bounce Rate: The Simple Explanation

The world of web analytics is rife with technical terminology.

Sessions, views per page, exit rates, etc.

What do they all mean??

While there is a lot of jargon to learn, you’ll soon appreciate how helpful and concise these terms are.

Bounce rate and exit rate are both valuable metrics that can quickly provide deep insights into your visitors’ behavior.

In this guide, we’ll clearly define both and then make a simple comparison so you know exactly what the difference is between exit rate and bounce rate.

Let’s get started!

Exit Rate vs. Bounce Rate

To make the difference between these metrics clear, let’s start by defining each one individually.

What exactly is Exit Rate?

Exit rate tells you how often a page was the last page in a session whenever it’s viewed.

Imagine someone views the following pages:

  1. Page A
  2. Page B
  3. Page C

They entered the site on Page A and exited on Page C. These three pageviews combined are called a session. If this was the only session, then the exit rate of Page C would be 100% because it’s the exit page 100% of the time it’s viewed. On the other hand, Pages A and B would have an exit rate of 0% because they have never been exited from.

Now imagine a second person has the following session on your site:

  1. Page C
  2. Page B

Page C has now been viewed twice and has only been the exit page once, so its exit rate is 50%. And to make things perfectly clear, let’s add a third session:

  1. Page B
  2. Page A

After this session, Page C still has an exit rate of 50%. It’s important to note that the exit rate is a page metric, not a site metric. A page with an exit rate of 50% doesn’t mean half of your sessions end there; it means it’s the last page of a session half the time it’s viewed.

Exit rate only makes sense as a page-level metric. Technically, the exit rate of your site is 100% because everyone eventually leaves 😉

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce Rate tells you how many visitors only viewed one page before leaving. In other words, it is the percentage of single-page sessions.

As an example, imagine someone visited your site and looked at three pages. Your site’s bounce rate would be 0% because there are no single-page sessions. If a second visitor viewed one page and then left, your site’s bounce rate would increase to 50%.

A bounce rate of 50% means that half of your visitors only look at one page before leaving.

Unlike exit rates, bounce rates can be calculated for both your site and individual pages. For instance, if a page has a bounce rate of 70%, this means that 70% of the time it’s viewed, it’s the only page viewed.

If you see a page with a high bounce rate, this is most often due to a lot of search traffic. Visitors find the answer to their questions and then leave without viewing more pages.

So what’s the difference?

In conclusion, exit rate tells you how often a page is the last page in a session whenever it’s viewed, while bounce rate tells you how often visitors only look at one page before leaving.

While they initially sound similar, now you know they’re not alike at all.

Now that you understand how to use these metrics let’s talk about how to track them.

How to track exit rate and bounce rate

If you’re using WordPress, you can try our free plugin, Independent Analytics.

Independent Analytics plugin page

It adds a beautiful and responsive analytics suite to the WP admin dashboard. And as an alternative to Google Analytics, it’s much simpler and more privacy-friendly.

Independent Analytics dashboard in WordPress admin

As you can see, the analytics dashboard is readily available inside your site and includes data on your pages, referrers, geographic locations, and visitor devices.

Where to find your bounce rate

The Bounce Rate metric is highlighted in the main stats that appear in every report.

Here, you can see it reported alongside other important metrics, like total visitors and session duration:

Quick Stats

Bounce rate is a versatile metric, so you can also find it reported for every page, traffic source, and country.

Geographic bounce rate
You can learn more about the Geographic report here

This goes beyond page analysis and allows you to find locations and traffic sources with higher (or lower) than average bounce rates.

Where to find the exit rates

Since exit rate is a page-level metric, this can be found only in the Pages report. It can be enabled alongside similar metrics, like Entrances and Total Exits.

Entrances, Exits and Exit Rate columns

You can click on any metric to sort the table and immediately find the pages with the highest exit rate or the most total exits.

These metrics are tracked automatically, so all you have to do is install the plugin, and data will start showing up in real-time.

How to optimize your site using exit rates & bounce rates

If you’re unsure how to use these metrics to improve your website, here are a few tips:

  • Sort your pages from the lowest to the highest bounce rate to find the most engaging ones. Use these pages as a model for the rest of your site.
  • Pay attention to the bounce rates of individual referrers. You may want to deprioritize a marketing channel that sends high bounce rate traffic, even if you get a lot of visitors.
  • Find your low exit rate pages and try to drive more traffic internally to them.
  • Look at your highest exit rate pages and brainstorm ways to extend the session, even if it’s just by one more page view.
  • If you can’t reduce the exit rate for a page, settle for an exit popup so you can collect an email address before they leave.

Start tracking new metrics today

At first glance, bounce rate and exit rate seem like similar metrics.

However, once you understand the intricacies of these metrics, you realize that they are not alike at all.

If you need a good way to track the bounce rate and exit rate of your pages, try our free plugin:

Get started with Independent Analytics

Learn more Click to download

It installs in seconds and starts recording data right away.

Thanks for reading this guide on the differences between exit rate vs. bounce rate, and feel free to post any comments below.

One Comment

  1. Bounce Rate i already know about this. But Exit Rate is new to me. Today i learned a new thing from Ben Sibley. Thanks for share.

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