Measure Reader Engagement : How to Adjust Bounce Rate For Blogs

by | Jul 5, 2016

how to adjust my bounce?
7 min read

Bloggers are writing the best and the most interesting content. We write to share with the entire world about how great our holidays were or we simply write for professional reasons. Either way, we are all persuaded that these posts are the best articles ever written.
How do we know how users have engaged with our content? Were the readers really interested at all by the content? Have they read it? Or have they simply clicked the link and left for something better?

Bounce Rate is sometimes tricky

This metric, while very interesting, can sometimes be hard to understand. Unfortunately, Bounce Rate is often misinterpreted, especially when it comes to blogs or one-page websites.
Google Analytics : Before Bounce Rate Adjustment
For example, in Google Analytics, if Kirsty looks at the Bounce Rate for her article on Analytics Books, she might think that it is not performing particularly well because more than 78% of users did not engage.

Oooh No! – Kirsty

Let’s not panic! Better call Google for a proper definition.
Better Call Google

Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

But wait… What? A bounce is counted when a user lands on my site and leaves directly without seeing another page or performing an action that I am tracking?
Every fan that comes to your site, reads your post and then leaves, is being recorded as a bounce! Even when he has actually read every single word of your nice prose. It’s the same case for users that find the information they want directly within the page (i.e. phone, or address)…
How great would it be if we could adjust our Bounces so our Blog Pages no longer have such poor performance?

How to Adjust Bounce Rate For Blogs: Engagement Event

Google says “a bounce is a session in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page”
The issue we are having with Blog posts is that we do not measure the interaction of the user.

Then, how do we detect user engagement when it comes to reading? – Kirsty

We need to generate an Event which is fired after a certain amount of time spent on the page.
As soon as the user arrives on the page (on our blog’s article), a timer is launched. Based on the size of the article (number of words), we will fire an event “Engagement” after x seconds.
The implementation will directly impact our Bounce Rate for these pages. If a user goes on our blog, reads the entire article and then leaves without navigating to other pages, or without interacting with the site, then it will no longer be considered as “inactive”. As we have automatically generated an “engagement event” after x seconds on the page, the session will no longer be recorded as Bounce.
At In Marketing We Trust, we have implemented Adjusted Bounce Rate on our Blog Pages: We have realised that a lot of our blog posts that had high bounce rates were actually being read by the users coming to our site.
Google Analytics : Before and After Bounce Rate Adjustment
Back to Google Analytics, our Bounce Rate has now dropped by almost 87% once we have adjusted it. There are actually only 10% of users that are not reading the post and that are directly leaving the site.

It simply changed my life – Kirsty, satisfied Blogger that is now able to see how great her post is performing


How to implement Adjusted Bounce Rate using Google Tag Manager?

It is relatively easy to implement Adjusted Bounce Rate with Google Tag Manager.

    • 2 tags: a timer, an Event
      • A timer “Utility – Event – Dwell Time”: it inserts into our blog pages a timer that will generate after x milliseconds an event. It pushes into the dataLayer a GAEvent. We will use this event as a trigger for our Event Tag.GTM Tag : Utility - Event - Dwell Time
      • A Universal Analytics Tag “GA – Event – Adjusted Bounce Rate”: it will relay the information of the event generated by the timer to Google Analytics. This event will allow our session not to be considered as bounce.GTM - Tag : GA - Event - Adjusted Bounce Rate
    • 2 triggers:
      • a trigger “All Pages – Blog Pages”: as IMWT is not only a blog, we are using this trigger to include our timer only in Blog Pages (simple regex expression on blog pages).
      • GA – Reading Engagement: it catches the event that we push into the dataLayer via our timer. We use this trigger for our “GA – Event – Adjusted Bounce Rate” tag.
    • 1 variable: Engagement – Estimated Duration. This custom javascript variable returns the duration for which we will consider that the user has engaged. It bases its calculation on the size of our blog post (on the number of words).GTM Variable : Engament - Estimated Duration
Benoit Weber

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