Bounce rate and Exit rate are 2 metrics whose definitions and names often manage to confuse analysts and this is one of my favorite topics to talk about in my Google Analytics trainings.
Let's start by Understanding official definitions of both.
Bounce Rate: The percentage of single-page session (single page sessions / total sessions ) %
Exit Rate: The percentage of exits from the property that occurred out of the total pageviews. (exits / pageviews )%
Let's try to understand this with a practical example
Here are some navigation paths of users for example.com for one day
User A → Clicks on Organic search → Page A → Page B → Page C → Exit
User B → Clicks on paid search → Page A → Exit
User C → Visits website direct → Page C → Page A → Page B → Exit
User D → Clicks on Organic search → Page B → Exit
User E → Clicks on paid search → Page A → Page C → Page B → Exit
User F → Visits website direct → Page B → Page C → Page A → Exit
In example above its very easy to calculate bounce rate for website.
Bounce rate = 2 (Single Page sessions) / Total Sessions (6) % = 33%
Although Bounce rate can be function of several factors, 2 factors which affect bounce rate most are page content and source of visit.
Bounce rate by source
Organic search Bounce rate : 1 / 2% = 50%
Paid search Bounce rate : 1 / 2% = 50%
Direct bounce rate : 0 / 2 % = 0%
Bounce rate by landing page: In this case formula for Bounce rate will be : Single page sessions / Entrances to page (Where page was landing page)
Page A: 1 / 3 % = 33%
Page B: 1 / 2 % = 50%
Page C: 0 / 0 % = NA / 0
As the above example demonstrates the formula of bounce rate is different for source level calculation and page level calculation. Now lets take a look at Exit rate
Before we start calculating exit rate we need to understand that every session on website will end at some point and exit rate is calculated based on pageviews. Which means more the pages per session, the lower the exit rate will be.
Exit rate for website: 6 / 14 = 43%
Exit rate by source: exits / total pageviews attributed to source
Organic search exit rate : 2 / 4 % = 50%
Paid search exit rate : 2 / 4 = 50 %
Exit rate for direct visits : 2 / 6 = 33%
Exit rate by page : Sessions where page was last page of session / total pageviews of the page
Page A: 2 / 5 = 40%
Page B : 3 / 5 = 60%
Page C : 1 / 4 = 25%
As definitions for both of these metrics have some overlaps and have slight changes depending on dimensions of the report it's very easy to get confused with either of these metrics. Hope this above example clearly demonstrates the difference between these metrics.
Tip: Every bounce is also an exit but every exit not bounce......
Starting career with paid search, Nikhil has built and managed award winning digital campaigns, has been Google Adwords Top Contributor, Planned and implemented several complex and large scale web and mobile analytics implementations. Currently working for Myntra as Manager Analytics Nikhil is also conducts trainings on Web Analytics, Mobile Analytics and Digital Marketing.