comparing pageviews per visit and bounce rate as a measure of user engagement

Pageviews per Visit and Bounce Rate are two different but related statistics that measure user engagement on your website. Bounce rate shows the percentage of visitors who viewed just one page on your website as compared to the visitors who visited more than one page. The Pages per visit measures the average number of pages that were viewed by all your visitors.

To differentiate it further, the bounce rate divides your users into two different sets or buckets, user who visited just one page and all other visitors. The Pages per visit (PPV) considers all visitors uniquely and calculates the average over all of them. So, if you had two visitors and one of them viewed one page while the other viewed 10 pages, then your bounce rate is 50% while your PPV is 5.0.

Due to this reason, the Bounce rate has an inverse relationship with the PPV, a high bounce rate often means a low PPV while a low bounce rate means a high PPV.

Is PPV better than Bounce Rate?Google analytics Bounce Rate and Pages per Visit

Well, first of all it is not better per se, they are different statistics and hence denote slightly different measures of user engagement. But what we are trying to figure out is if one is better than the other when using it in measuring user engagement on the website.

While comparing and contrasting these two values side by side, there are several different possible combinations that you can have. To keep it very simple, we are going to compare and differentiate the values as high and low. What is high and what is low depends very much on the type of website you have.

So, before you analyze your bounce rate and page views per visit, it is important that you decide on what a desirable value is for each of these. Anything above this number we will consider as high and anything below as low. There are a couple of things to consider in order to do that.

What type of website do you have? Is it a blog, a retail site, a small business website or something else. Try to find the acceptable averages for the websites in your niche or similar websites.

What is your goal for your website? Irrespective of the website niche and industry averages, you might (and should) have a goal about what the statistics should for your website. It could very well differ from the industry standards but be realistic about them.

So with the definitions of high and low that you have decided upon, find which of the following cases you fall into.

Low bounce rate and High PPV

This is pretty much what everybody is aiming for across all niches. If you fall into this category then you are doing pretty good in terms of user engagement. Your customers are viewing a lot of pages on the website and not only that but also a high percentage of the visitors are doing it. That means your user engagement is good across the board.

High bounce rate and Low PPV

In terms of the user engagement, this is not a good situation. A high bounce rate means that a high percentage of your visitors is not viewing more than one page and the ones that are viewing more than one page is not viewing a whole lot more either.

You need to work on improving either one or both of these statistics.

High bounce rate and High PPV

In the strictest sense, this is a rare scenario. There are a few reasons why this could happen

  1. The sample size of your data is low. You should analyze the same stats over a larger sample size to see if this was an aberration.
  2. Your assumption or definition of an average bounce rate and/or PPV is rather low and unrealistic for the type of website you have.
  3. A fewer percentage of the visitors is really skewing your data. This could mean that you have some very loyal visitors who view a lot of pages while most others are not being engaged.

Low bounce rate and Low PPV

This is again a very rare scenario like the previous one. There are probably a few reasons for this to happen

  1. A low sample size is probably a reason. Analyze the stats over a larger sample size or wait till a larger sample set is available.
  2. Most visitors are engaged, which is good. But the level of engagement is not getting reflected in the page views. If your website has only a few pages or if the site is highly “Ajax-Ed” then you could see this kind of stats.

No matter where you lie on this scale, you should work towards lowering your bounce rate and increasing your page views per visit, if your goal is to increase the user engagement.