When Google launched their new Analytics platform – known as Google Analytics 4 (GA4) – bounce rate was considered to be a deprecated metric, so it wasn’t initially built into the reports. However, that decision has since been reversed, so that bounce rate is still available if users want to refer to it, although it’s important to note that bounce rate in GA4 is calculated differently than in Universal Analytics (UA).
In UA, bounce rate was “the percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page”. Every “bounced” session had a duration of 0 seconds for the total time on site calculation. This meant that even if a user came to the website, stayed for 5 minutes reading every word on the home page, but didn’t click on anything or cause any other event or pageview to trigger, they would be considered a bounce.
So although the bounce rate metric was flawed, it was still a primary metric shown in the UA reports and part of the user engagement indicators. Therefore when GA4 appeared and started to use engagement rate instead of bounce rate, this was quite a change and the bounce rate figure was no longer included. There was some criticism of this very visible change between the reported metrics and a change in the continuity of tracking for many users.
As a result, bounce rate has been included back in the GA4 report options, but it’s not a visible metric and needs to be included in a custom report view, if required. It should also be noted that in GA4, bounce rate is a simple calculation that is the inverse of engagement rate. This means that bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that are considered to be not engaged sessions (i.e. not engaged for 10 seconds, or there isn’t more than one event or pageview).
Bounce rate in GA4 is now a much more useful metric to show how many people did not engage with the website. The people who came, read everything on the homepage for 5 minutes and then left are now considered an engaged session, so they will not be counted as a bounce.
The bounce rate metric in GA4 is available in the Explorations and Reporting Customisation. While still imperfect, it’s a much better definition of what a bounce actually is, helping analysts to better understand who is and who is not engaging with the site’s content.
It’s also worth noting that when Google introduced the bounce rate metric into GA4 in July 2022, the simultaneous introduction of conversion rate also enabled reporting on these new metrics for any conversion event:
– User conversion rate – the percentage of users who triggered any conversion event;
– Session conversion rate – the percentage of sessions in which any conversion event was triggered.
If you want to know more about using the Google Analytics 4 reports, or the role of engagement and bounce rate, please get in touch.