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- Eric Fettman


Rather than a Single-Page Visit, Think of Bounce as a Single-Hit Session

Bounce Rateview at full size

Bounce is not defined by pageviews only.

While we may be tempted to define a bounce as a single-page visit, a much better definition is a single-hit session.

Let’s first examine hit. In Google Analytics, a hit corresponds to any data that is sent from your website (or app) to the Google Analytics servers, including:

• physical pageview (or screen view)

• virtual pageview

• event

• Ecommerce transaction

• tracked social interaction

If three users arrive on your home page and respectively play a video, download a PDF, and click through to your Twitter page, and you have those actions tracked as event, virtual pageview, and social, those sessions will not count as bounces, even if the users do not view any other physical pages.

As a note, hit in the context of Google Analytics doesn’t correspond to the broader meaning of hit in Web server parlance, which means any file request, such as HTML, image, JavaScript, or CSS. (As website optimizers, we want to remain aware of these types of hits as well – and minimize them to reduce download time for mobile sites – but this consideration is separate from Web analytics.)

Now, why session instead of visit?

If a user arrives on your site, views one page, speaks on the phone for 31 minutes, and then accesses another two pages, Google Analytics records two sessions for that same user, with the first session counting as a bounce. The visit consisted of three pageviews, but in the first session, there was only one pageview.

For these reasons, in defining bounce, hit is more accurate than page, and session is more accurate than visit.

It’s just one definition, but it encapsulates two important concepts in Google Analytics.

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