High exit rate: Are they always such a bad thing?

Exit Rate reflects the percentage of people who left your website altogether from a certain page – meaning the last page a person viewed before leaving the website. Everyone who comes to your website has to leave at some point. If someone came, made a purchase and left, that’s an ideal situation to have. Similarly, if you blog daily and people come, read your post and leave, this too is an ideal state of situation. The conclusion then stands that exit rates are a reflection of percentage people exiting your website from a particular page, with or without fulfilling a purpose.

In a website where people have to go through more than one page to complete a task, say on an online retail website, exit rate can be very helpful in understanding where people are getting lost in the process. By knowing where people are getting lost in the conversion process, exit rate can help you fix those pages to increase conversion and decrease the exit rate on those pages. Consider this. If your multi-page website is designed in a head and tail style, it can be assumed that the tail piece (say 5th) is the one which will have the higher exit rate. But what if your website’s head piece (say the 1st page) has a higher exit rate? In such a situation a high exit rate points to a buckle in your website’s head and suggests that the link bait is a poor match for subsequent pages and needs SEO diagnosis.

A glitch, however, in exit rate metrics is that it is sometimes quite useless. What if someone came looking for particular information to your website, found it on a page and then left from the same spot.  Ideally this is what web publisher want. You may want them to stay longer, look around the website and provide attractive links to the same, but since your goal of satisfying a visitor’s need was met through a page, the exit rate of that page stands no purpose then. It does not give a picture of what you ought to improve on such a page.

In such a situation, an alternative metric is often used by web publishers – the Bounce Rate. Bounce rate is the percentage of people who landed on a page and immediately left without clicking anywhere else on that page. Bounce rate accounts for one page sessions. A high bounce rate is usually an indicator of a problem on a specific page, most of which can be taken care of by proper SEO measures.