Improving page loading speed may not reduce bounce rate but will increase search results impressions

Jacquelyn Tandang
Jacquelyn Tandang
Mar 22, 2023

In our previous post, we improved our page loading speed to load within 1 seconds on desktop and 1.5 seconds on mobile under normal conditions.

Let's see if improving our loading speed improved our bounce rate.

Checking our Universal Analytics data from February 24 to March 18 2023, our bounce rate is now at 82.88% from 81.17% on March 8.

Our bounce rate increased by 1.71%

Unfiltered new bounce rate

Checking data accuracy

I had to double check if my data was correct. I was curious if Google Analytics was picking up page views from local development affecting my data. By default, reports doesn't show the hostname.

To make it appear, under the secondary dimension, select ‘hostname'.

How to show hostname in Google Analytics Universal

Turns out, Google Analytics is picking up local environment page views and is affecting our results.

Showing hostnames in the result with local url

It is important that our data is reliable and accurate. Page views from the local environment can affect our data. Local page views are not relevant and we should not include it in the reports.

Filtering unrelated data

To filter out unrelated page views in Universal Analytics or Google Analytics 3, enable advanced filtering by clicking the ‘advanced' link right beside the search field.

Provide the condition then hit the apply button. In our case, we only want those coming from hostnames containing travelcheapasia.com.

Advanced filtering

Removing local page views, our actual bounce rate is 83.18%.

Filtered new bounce rate

Filtering the data from Feb 1-23 to get our actual benchmark, our bounce rate was 81.42%.

Filtered benchmark bounce rate

Indeed there has been an increase in our bounce rate of about 1.76%. Slightly higher than the unfiltered results.

Filtering hostname by default

To make our Google Analytics dashboard reflect only live data, we can filter out the hostname by default.

To do this go to Admin > Filter > Create New Filter.

Filtered hostname dashboard

In admin, view settings, also make sure to exclude all hits from known bots and spiders.

Filtered bots and known spiders

Unfortunately, this will only filter new data moving forward. To filter data from the previous dates, we will have to manually filter them out like what we just did.

Higher bounce rate with improved page loading speed. What does it mean?

According to Carlos Silva[1], a high bounce rate is often a symptom of weakness in:
- Slow loading speed
- Low-quality web page design
- Mismatch between content and keywords
- Poor mobile optimization

We have eliminated slow loading speed and poor mobile optimization. On mobile devices, our page is loading within 1.5 seconds. We will be taking a look at two other causes of bounce rate which are (1)low-quality web page design and (2)mismatch between content and keywords.

It is without doubt that Travel Cheap Asia currently has low-quality web page design. Design was not a priority before because there is no sense making a beautiful website if people cannot see it yet. Now that we are getting decent traffic, it is high time to redesign our website in order to retain current visitors.

Our next step would be to redesign above the fold content to reduce bounce rate. Above-the-fold refers to the portion of a webpage that is visible without further scrolling or clicking.[2]

Results

Our high bounce rate is caused by either low quality web page design or mismatch between content and keywords but it doesn't mean that our efforts improving our page speed was a waste of time.

According to our Google Search Console results, our organic search traffic noticeably improved after improving our page loading speed.

Filtered bots and known spiders

Our average position has slightly improved from 13.2 to 12.5. With increased average position, we have improved visibility in Google search results with total impressions increased from 38K to 53.4K.

Goole search console stats before Goole search console stats after

An impression means that a user has seen (or potentially seen) a link to your site. Impressions are important because someone needs to see a link to your website in order to click to visit it[3].

With an improved organic search ranking in spite of increased bounce rate, it could mean that page speed is a bigger factor in google search ranking compared to bounce rate.

Watch out for our next blog post on how we can improve the bounce rate of our content pages by redesigning our above-the-fold content.

Follow me on LinkedIn and see you on our next adventure! :)

Sources:
[1] https://www.semrush.com/blog/bounce-rate
[2] https://elementor.com/resources/glossary/what-is-above-the-fold
[3] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7042828