Recently I had the opportunity to look at the analytics for a potential client. I had been informed that their bounce rate was upwards of 66%! SIXTY SIX PERCENT? – Holy smokes! That means of all the visitors that come to the site, two thirds of them don’t find the content relative?

As I looked at their site and the keywords driving traffic to it, I noticed that they had many branded keywords and even THOSE had a nearly 66% bounce rate. Something seemed really fishy to me – I mean, it was odd that someone would search for the brand name, land on the site and immediately leave.

Check External Links

The first thing that popped into my head was that maybe the company was using subdomains for a popular link on the home page. For example, maybe there was a big “buy now” link on the home page that was sending traffic to a subdomain that was being tracked with a different code. Or, perhaps it was sending traffic to a different site completely. I checked all the links, and aside from a link out to an eBay store all other links were internal to the site. Darn – I thought I was on to something!

Invisible Pages?

After hitting that roadblock, I thought about the outside chance that perhaps not every page had the Google Analytics Tracking Code installed. I figured this wasn’t likely but didn’t want to miss the trees from the forest. So, I clicked on a link and viewed the source, searching for the GATC. To my surprise it wasn’t there! I clicked another page and again, the GATC was nowhere to be found!

I just couldn’t believe this was possible and thought maybe the company’s development team included the GATC in some other JavaScript file. So I went into GA and tried searching for the page to see if it was ever registered. It was not!

Ah HA! That explains it. Over half of the pages on the site were completely invisible to Google Analytics. When a visitor landed on the site and clicked on a page that wasn’t being tracked, Google Analytics was registering the visit as a bounce!

Clear As a Bell Summary

If you’ve got a site with a really high bounce rate, even for branded keyword traffic, make sure you’ve got the Google Analytics Tracking Code installed on every page. If not, nearly all of your traffic is going to look very rubbery!

Jeff is a Project Manager for MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry. He is also a Google Analytics Qualified Individual.