With Google Analytics 4, a lot of things are changing. Among those changes is the removal of bounce rate as a measurement of user engagement. Instead of bounce rate, the term and metric you will want to familiarize yourself with is engaged sessions.
Your first reaction to this, if you’re anything like us, might be something along the lines of “Oh no! How can Google bounce the bounce rate?”
Well, don’t worry. Bounce rates have been replaced with a new and ultimately superior form of user engagement measurement. It turns out that tracking bounce rates wasn’t really the best way to go about getting an accurate picture of how users interact with your site.
Trust us, this is a good thing!
What Are Bounce Rates? How Were They Calculated in Universal Analytics (Google Analytics 3)?
In Universal Analytics (also known as ‘GA3’), a bounce was when a user landed on one of your website pages and left again without triggering another request to the Google Analytics server. In other words, a bounce is a session in which the user shows up on your website and exits without doing anything else (like clicking a call-to-action or viewing another page on the website).
Common examples of sessions that Universal Analytics considers “bounces” can include:
- Session starts with one page view and then a return to a search engine
- A user acquisition with a session duration of up to 30 minutes before a return to a previous webpage
- Visits to a page with a session timeout due to 10 minutes of inactivity
These bounces have often been referred to as “single-page sessions,” as they involved a user leaving after visiting a single page. For example, if a user saw a link to your page from a Google search, and clicked on it, but then left the page without any meaningful interactions, that’s a bounce.
The bounce rate is the percentage of user sessions that resulted in a bounce without any interactions. The bounce rate on each page of a website affected the bounce rate of that website as a whole.
The method that Universal Analytics used to calculate a website’s bounce rate was to divide the number of single-page sessions by the total number of sessions on the whole site.
For example, let’s say 1,000 users visit your website (total sessions), and 50 of them leave again without clicking on anything or interacting in any way that triggers another request or single-page session on your website. This would make your website’s bounce rate 5%.
Want to go in depth on bounce rate in Google Analytics? Everything you have ever wanted to know about bounce rate can be found here.
Understanding Engaged Sessions in GA4 & Engagement Rate
The big problem with bounce rates is that they didn’t give any insight into what is and is not working on your site. They simply show that something is causing a certain percentage of visitors to leave before engaging with anything on the page they visited.
Ultimately, this doesn’t tell you what to fix or how to fix it. It basically just makes you feel bad about yourself.
In Google Analytics 4, bounce rates have been removed and replaced with a measurement that can offer a lot more value in terms of how users interact with your website. This is called “engaged sessions.”
Essentially, GA4 has inverted the way it measures users’ interactions on your site. Instead of measuring how many people are only providing single-page sessions, Google Analytics now measures the engaged sessions.
An engaged session is recorded when a user remains on your site or app for more than 10 seconds, views one or more pages, or triggers a conversion event. Conversion events are clicking on CTA, using your site’s search bar, signing up for a newsletter, among other things.
It’s because of this new way of measuring engagements that bounce rate doesn’t even make sense for tracking purposes in GA4.
Comparing Bounce Rate to Engaged Sessions
Both bounce rate and engagement rate are poised to answer the burning questions about whether or not people are finding what they want on your site and enjoying the experience.
However, engagement rate covers a wider scope than bounce rate. Bounce rate is only measuring single-page sessions on your website. Engagement rate, on the other hand, is taking into account interactions via other channels, such as mobile apps, single page apps, blogs, and news outlet sites as well.
It’s because of this that measuring engagement rate will most likely result in a higher percentage than simply the inverse of the bounce rate. If the bounce rate is 50%, then you can probably expect the engagement rate to be higher than 50% because it’s taking in engagements from beyond just visitors to your website.
Why Engagement Rate is Superior to Bounce Rate
By switching to engagement rate over bounce rate, GA4 is providing you with a more complete picture of the user experience when interacting with your brand.
This is largely because the type of information that’s being presented is more useful in determining what’s working and what isn’t.
If you’re a rehab center, and you see that 8 in 10 people that visit a page about your solutions for first responders on your site leave without engaging in it, what does that tell you? It doesn’t tell you why they left. It doesn’t tell you anything about what they were expecting or how that page didn’t meet those expectations.
GA4 gives you a clearer understanding of what’s actually happening on your site. It doesn’t just give you a single rate, it provides you with multiple engagement metrics. You can see your overall engagement rate, the engaged sessions per user, and the total engagement time. This allows you to cultivate a better look at how users are engaging your site, where they’re doing that engagement, and how long they’re spending on your pages.
How to Find Engagement Rates in GA4 Reporting
To find your engagement rates in GA4, all you have to do is look at your engagement reports. This is done by clicking Reports > Engagement on the left navigation.
The metrics you’ll find are as follows:
- Engagement Rate
- Engagement Sessions
- Engaged Sessions Per User
- Average Engagement Time
We Can Help You With Analytics
We get it, not everybody is as excited about Google Analytics 4 as we are. In fact, you might not be super interested in analytics at all. At Direct Online Marketing, we are equipped to help you with your Google Analytics 4 implementation and overall analytics strategy.