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You May Actually WANT a High Bounce Rate!

In this week’s Wednesday Workshop, we explain (gasp!) why your dealership might actually want a high bounce rate…

Most people don’t understand how bounce rate is actually calculated by Google Analytics, so we start with an explanation. Once the calculation is explained, we explain why a high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing – and could sometimes be a sign that your site is converting at a high rate.


Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop with DealerOn. Today we’re talking about bounce rate in Google Analytics. It’s one of the most talked about metrics that dealers use to measure website performance, but most people don’t really understand what it is, or how it’s calculated.

And what’s really crazy – you might actually WANT a high bounce rate on your site!

Let’s start by looking at how bounce rate is calculated.

When a user lands on a page on your website, Google Analytics sees the person there and starts a timer. That timer runs until that user completes another trackable action. Let’s assume it’s a default setup of Google Analytics, with no additional event tracking or anything else customized…

When that user clicks a link to head to a second page, the timer stops, and Google Analytics now reports that the user spent X amount of time on that page.

BUT – What if I’m landing on your home page, and there’s a ton of info there – and I spend 5 minutes on the page, looking at all the banner images in your slideshow, watching a few awesome videos, and reading all the text… and I’m so pumped that your dealership is obviously amazing, I grab my phone and call and set up an appointment to come and test drive something…

And then I leave your site to go check out some more awesome cat videos on YouTube.

When I landed on your site, that timer started… but since I never went to a second page, there was no second trackable event to stop the timer. Even though I converted to a lead by calling, Google Analytics will report my visit as a bounce, with zero time spent on site.

That’s why you might actually want a high bounce rate! If your dealership’s primary Call to Action is a phone call, and everything you do is carefully crafted to get users to call you, then a high bounce rate in Google Analytics would be a huge signal of success (assuming you’re getting lots of phone calls).

Most dealers will see a much higher bounce rate on VDPs for this exact reason – but it can happen on any page with good info about your dealership.

Now yes – bounce rate is a good metric to check the pages of your site that MAY not be peforming up to snuff – but make sure you really understand how customers are using those pages. If you have a page with a high bounce rate, like a VDP, but you get a lot of phone calls, then you know you’re doing OK. But if it’s a service page, and you’re not getting a lot of service calls, you know there’s a problem, and you can work on improving the quality of that page so it’ll convert better.

Now that you know how bounce rate is calculated, it’ll also help you avoid some of the shady vendors in the automotive space. A few vendors really push the fact that their platform or service will drastically reduce your bounce rate – but you’re not going to go from a 60% bounce rate to a 5% bounce rate at the drop of a hat…

What they’re actually doing is running a script to fire off events – either on page scrolls, or whenever your slideshow switches to a different slide, or even just every few seconds. Now that there’s a second trackable event, Google Analytics doesn’t count the visit as a bounce… but user behavior didn’t change.

Your site isn’t magically better – they’re just massively adjusting how Google Analytics tracks your visitors. You’ve got the same visitors acting exactly the same way. So beware – and don’t get roped in by promises of an unbelievably low bounce rate.

If you’ve got any questions about bounce rate or comments about how much you loved this video, leave them down below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can… or, find me at Internet Battle Plan at the beach or Digital Dealer in Vegas and we can grab a beer and chat. And, don’t forget to come back next week for another Wednesday Workshop with DealerOn.

Author Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at DealerOn. He has over 16 years of online marketing and web design experience, and has specialized in automotive SEO for the last 8 years, helping hundreds of auto dealers thrive while the industry has struggled during the recession. Greg speaks internationally at both automotive and SEO conferences, teaching thousands of small business owners and marketers how to get their sites to show up higher in local search rankings. Greg also spends his spare time doing freelance website design and SEO for local businesses. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.

More posts by Greg Gifford

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  •' Nick Allen says:

    Great video.

    What’s the best way to look at the “pure” bounce rate to compare the actions/events affecting the bounce rate?

    See you in Vegas!

    • Greg Gifford says:

      Nick –

      There’s no way to really look at the “pure” bounce rate – just leave it at the default setup and understand how it’s calculated, and use it as a guide – if you have one page that has a much higher number than others, then take a look at the page… but always make sure you’re paying attention to phone call volume!

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