Has Google removed the bounce rate metric from Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
The bounce rate metric isn’t disappearing in GA4. But it is changing in a pretty significant way. GA4 bounce rate is measured as the inversion to engagement rate.
In this post, I’ll explain exactly what that means, show you how to calculate bounce rate in GA4, and discuss proven strategies that will help you reduce bounce rate.
So if you’re ready to get to the bottom of the Google Analytics 4 bounce rate, then let’s go.
What Is Bounce Rate?
Bounce rate has traditionally been calculated as the percentage of sessions where a user only views a single page. This is how bounce rate was defined in Universal Analytics, as well as in a host of different analytics tools.
So if you had 1,000 visitors last month and 100 of them left your website without looking at another page, then you had a bounce rate of 10 percent.
The bounce rate metric isn’t great for several reasons. It doesn’t work well if you have a one-page website or a site with an infinite scroll, for instance. It’s also not a great measure of engagement with a blog post. In these cases, having a high bounce rate wasn’t necessarily bad.
When it’s calculated this way, the bounce rate of most websites is probably higher than you think. If you were to break down bounce rate by industry, you’d find:
- Landing pages have a 70-90 percent bounce rate
- Retail websites have a 20-40 percent bounce rate
- Content websites have a 40-60 percent bounce rate
- Lead generation websites have a 30-50 percent bounce rate
Calculate Bounce Rate in GA4
GA4 measures bounce rate differently. In fact, it doesn’t really measure it at all.
GA4 bounce rate is now calculated as the inverse of engagement rate. Or to put it another way: your GA4 bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that weren’t engaged.
So, to calculate bounce rate we need to also know what constitutes an engaged session. According to Google, GA4’s engaged sessions meet at least one of the following conditions:
- Lasts longer than 10 seconds
- Has a conversion event
- Has 2+ page views
To calculate bounce rate, you need to divide the number of bounced sessions (those that did not meet the criteria above) by the total number of sessions and then multiply by 100 to get a percentage.
GA4 Bounce Rate = Bounced Sessions (non-engaged sessions) / Total Sessions x 100
So if you had 10,000 visitors last month and 8,000 of them were engaged according to GA4, then you would have a bounce rate of 20 percent using the following bounce rate calculation:
2000/1000 x 100 = 20
How to Find Bounce Rate in GA4
It’s not just the way that GA4 bounce rate is calculated that is changing. The way you interpret bounce rate in GA4 is different (and harder) than doing so in Universal Analytics, too.
In Universal Analytics, bounce rate was listed in almost every traffic-related report. You can see an example in the screenshot below:
But there is no GA4 bounce rate report. Not in any of the platform’s standard reports.
To find and interpret bounce rate in GA4, you’ll need to customize your reports.
Start by signing into Google Analytics and clicking Reports in the left-hand menu. You’ll need to be an Editor or Administrator to customize reports, by the way.
Find the report you want to customize then click Customize Report in the upper right-hand corner.
Then click Metrics under Report Data.
Click Add Metric and then click Engagement Rate and Bounce Rate. Click Apply to save the changes.
Analyzing Bounce Rate
You’ll need to bear a couple of things in mind and approach things a little differently when you start analyzing your bounce rate in GA4.
The first thing to point out is that you should see a decrease in your website’s bounce rate by migrating to GA4. That’s because the threshold for what counts as a bounced session (or non-engaged session if you like) is much harder to reach. Most people will spend 10 seconds on a single page, even if they take no other action.
This also means you probably shouldn’t try to compare your Universal Analytics bounce rate with your GA4 bounce rate. It’s just not going to correlate.
But that’s okay. Because I would recommend doing a complete 180 and ignoring the old method of calculating bounce rate in favor of the GA4 engagement rate metric.
By focusing on engagement rate rather than bounce rate, we can start to take a more positive view of our websites. Previously, it was common to single out the pages with the highest bounce rates, try to work out what was wrong with them, and fix them. But that’s only a treatment and not a cure. Trying to make every page as engaging as possible will solve bounce rates for good.
Finally, you should also bear in mind what kind of site you have when analyzing engagement rate and bounce rate in GA4. Do you have a single-page website or one with an infinite scroll? Then it’s possible to have sessions counted as engaged sessions even if the user wasn’t. After all, a user can sit on your website for 30 seconds without taking action and it gets counted as an engaged session.
If that’s the case, I would recommend increasing the length of time Google considers a session to be engaged. The default engagement timer is set to 10 seconds, but you can increase it up to one minute. This is where defining “engagement” for your particular website is important.
You should also make sure that the conversion events you set up in GA4 (one of the other conditions Google uses to calculate an engaged session) are relevant to your goals.
Strategies to Reduce Bounce Rate
Wondering how to reduce bounce rate? Let me help. Here are four ways to reduce your website’s bounce rate that can have a positive impact on your site’s overall experience.
Improve Website Design and User Experience
No one wants to use an ugly website. A great design and a fantastic user experience can do wonders for your engagement levels and bounce rate.
One element I find to be particularly effective at increasing engagement and, therefore, lowering bounce rate is clear calls to action. The easier it is for users to take action, the less likely they are to leave your website. If you can, personalize them, too. HubSpot found personalized CTAs convert 202 percent better than standard CTAs.
Enhance Content Quality and Relevance
Creating high-quality, relevant content has always been essential. But it is particularly important if you want to improve engagement and, therefore, lower your bounce rate.
And it’s even more important now that GA4 uses the length of time a user stays on the page as a measure of engagement. The better your content, the more likely they are to stay on the page for 10+ seconds and be genuinely engaged.
If you’re struggling with ideas, I have two tactics that help.
The first is to cover a topic in more detail than anyone else. Yes, you can obviously write more words than the top-ranking blog post on Google. But if you really want to go above and beyond then consider adding proprietary data to your blog post. That way you have insights that no one else can possibly match. Here’s an example from e-commerce marketing agency Common Thread Collective:
Another way to cover a topic in more detail is to solicit input from industry experts. Just like with the proprietary data example above, this strategy strengthens E-E-A-T and can boost your page above the rest of the results on page one. It may also help you generate backlinks, too.
This should go a long way to keeping users on your website for 10 seconds or more. My definitive guides are a great example of this.
The second tactic is to take an unpopular or intriguing angle on a trending topic. By swimming against the tide rather than rehashing what everyone else has said, readers are likely to pay more attention to your content.
Spend some time making your content more readable as well as more relevant. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever clicked on a blog post and been confronted with a wall of text. You probably wanted to leave the site, right?
Make sure you aren’t encouraging users to ditch your site by using lots of headers, keeping paragraphs short, and using images where appropriate.
Optimize Page Load Speed
Page speed matters. Users are much more likely to engage with a page that loads quickly and more likely to leave a page that fails to load in a few seconds. Research shows that sites that load within one second convert three times more often than sites that load in five seconds.
There are bound to be a couple of things you can improve by running your website through these tools. As you can see, even my website isn’t perfect.
Some common issues include:
- Large images
- Poor hosting
- Too many WordPress plugins
- Large file sizes
Read my guide on scoring a perfect 100 percent on Google PageSpeed Insights for more advice.
Implement Effective Internal Linking Strategies
Improving your website’s internal linking is another easy way to reduce bounce rate. In fact, this strategy will reduce bounce rate regardless of whether you use Universal Analytics or GA4’s definition.
Adding more text-based links can encourage users to explore your site in more detail. It’s a tactic I use religiously. You’ll notice how many internal links are on this page, for example.
But you can take this strategy even further by adding a related articles widget to the bottom of your blog posts, or even using popups and other interactive elements that encourage users to visit another page. Here’s a great example of how Buffer uses related articles to keep users engaged:
Bounce rate in GA4 is the inverse of engagement rate. That means it is the number of sessions that are not counted as engaged. An engaged session lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a conversion event, or has two or more page views.
Finding bounce rate in GA4 is a little tricky. You’ll need to customize the specific report you want to see it in. Find the report in the Report tab and click the edit icon in the upper right-hand corner of the report. Click Metrics, then Add Metric, and then choose Bounce Rate. Click Apply to save your changes.
Traditionally bounce rate is calculated by dividing the number of sessions where a user only visits one page by the total number of sessions and multiplying by 100 to give a percentage. In GA4, bounce rate is calculated by dividing the number of non-engaged sessions by the total number of sessions and multiplying by 100 to give a percentage.
Bounce rate is different in GA4. Engagement matters now.
And to be honest, that’s a good thing.
Rather than getting tangled up in a subjective metric that may not even be that helpful, we can start to focus on how to create websites that attract and engage visitors rather than repelling them.
Track bounce rate if you want, of course. But I recommend you follow Google’s lead and focus on your site’s engagement rate instead.
What do you think of the new metrics in GA4? Will you measure engagement rate or stick with bounce rate?