Redesigning above-the-fold content reduced the bounce rate and increased the session duration.

Jacquelyn Tandang
Jacquelyn Tandang
May 06, 2023

In our previous post, we redesigned above-the-fold content to reduce the bounce rate.

Checking our data on Universal Analytics two weeks before our changes, our bounce rate was 85.19%. Two weeks after our changes, our bounce rate became 80.5%. Redesigning our above-the-fold content seems to have improved our bounce rate by 5.5%.

UA Dashboard Mar 18-31 2023 UA Dashboard Apr 1-14 2023

The average session duration has also improved by one minute. From 46 seconds to one minute and 45 seconds which is a whopping 126.3% improvement.

Though it is important to check data before and after an experiment, it is also important to check if the pattern checks out with earlier data. If the same pattern applies in two periods before our changes, our claim that redesigning above-the-fold content does reduce bounce rate and increase session duration becomes stronger.

Below is the data one period earlier.

UA Dashboard Mar 4-17 2023
Bounce rate and session duration data per period
Period Bounce Rate Session Duration
Mar 4-17 85.54% 0m 44s
Mar 18-31 85.19% 0m 46s
April 1-14 80.5% 1m 45s

Looking at our data above, redesigning above-the-fold content indeed reduced bounce rate and increased session duration.

Session Duration

A session in Google Analytics (GA) refers to the period of time in which a user interacts with your website. When a user first lands on your website, they start a session. When the user leaves your site or became inactive for 30 minutes, the session ends.[2]

A session can be multiple page views or a single page view. A single user can record multiple sessions a day.

The dashboard actually shows the average session duration.

Average Session Duration

Average Session Duration measures the average amount of time spent per session on your website. It is calculated by dividing the total time spent across sessions by the total number of sessions.[1]

Sum(Total Session Duration) / Count(Total Number of Sessions)

For example, if a website gets 10,000 sessions in a month and all these sessions add up to a total session duration of 24,000 minutes, the Average Session Duration for that month is 2.4 minutes.

Event Count

A session can contain multiple hits or events (e.g., page views, button clicks, events, and transactions). A hit is an action made by a user during their visit to your website.

Checking our data in Google Analytics 4, we have observed an increase in event counts. An event count is the total number of hits or events made by users during their session.

GA4 Dashboard Mar 4-17 2023 GA4 Dashboard Mar 18-31 2023 GA4 Dashboard April 1-14 2023

The number of users increased on April 1-14. Could it be that the event count increased because the number of users increased? If the number of users were the same, will the event count be the same?

Note: Event count is not supported by default in Universal Analytics. Universal Analytics will be deprecated soon in favor of Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Event count per user or per session

To check if there was indeed an increase in event count regardless of the increase in users, we can query for the event count per session or event count per user.

Events per session and per user Mar 4-17 2023

Event count per user or per session on period March 4-17

Events per session and per user Mar 18-31 2023

Event count per user or per session on period March 18-31

Events per session and per user April 1-14 2023

Event count per user or per session on period April 1-14

Events per session and per user per period
Period Events per session Events per user
Mar 4-17 4.29 5.08
Mar 18-31 5.03 6.13
April 1-14 5.47 6.61

Based on the above data, there was indeed an increase in event count of approximately 10.7% regardless of the increase in users on April 1-14.

We can check the event counts for each specific event. Since we have not set up any events tracking yet, we can only check for automatically collected events. A list is available at this link.

Events April 1-14 2023

Event count on period April 1-14

Checking scroll events per session or per user, there was a 27% to 37% increase in the event count which was expected. Our intention when we were redesigning our above-the-fold content is to lessen the bounce rate by making the user read more which would cause the user to scroll.

Scroll Events Mar 18-31 2023

Scroll events Mar 7-17 2023

Scroll Events Mar 18-31 2023

Scroll events Mar 18-31 2023

Scroll Events April 1-14 2023

Scroll events April 1-14 2023

Scroll events (per user / per session) per period
Period Scroll events per session Scroll events per user
Mar 7-17 1.33 1.51
Mar 18-31 1.36 1.57
April 1-14 1.73 2.16

There was also a 4% to 7% increase in user_engagement. This is triggered when the webpage is in the foreground for at least ten seconds. It also gets triggered when at least two pageviews were triggered in a single session[3].

Scroll Events Mar 18-31 2023

User engagement events Mar 7-17 2023

User engagement events Mar 18-31 2023

User engagement events Mar 18-31 2023

User engagement events April 1-14 2023

User engagement events April 1-14 2023

Engagement events (per user / per session) per period
Period Engagement events per session Engagement events per user
Mar 7-17 1.53 1.68
Mar 18-31 2.07 2.32
April 1-14 2.17 2.49

Another intention when we were redesigning our above-the-fold content is to lessen the bounce rate by making the user check out other pages using the links on the breadcrumbs. Since we have not yet implemented tracking on the breadcrumbs or the share button, we cannot tell if the increase in user_engagement is caused by triggering more page views via breadcrumbs or by staying longer on the page.

Exit rate

We can tell if there was an increase in pageviews in a single session by checking the exit rate.

An exit rate is the percentage of all visits which ended on a specific page. If there were 4 visits on a page, three of them clicked on an internal link to see more pages, and then one of them left the page to an external content with that page being the last visit on his session, that page has a 25% exit rate.

Exit rate per period
Period Exit Rate
Mar 4-17 79.03%
Mar 18-31 66.84%
April 1-14 53.05%

There is a noticeable decrease in exit rate. This means more visitors viewed more internal pages but since we have not yet implemented tracking on the breadcrumbs or the share button, we cannot tell if the decrease in exit rate is caused by adding breadcrumbs or if the user scrolled down the page and clicked on internal links below the page.

Behavior flow

The Behavior Flow report visualizes the path users traveled from one page to the next[4].

Behavior flow April 1-14 2023

Looking at the behavior flow of our page with the most traffic, G7 Golden view resort, more clicks were from a link to the menu page which is available below the fold. There were two clicks on the main navigation to get to the posts page and destinations page. There were three clicks to the homepage but we do not know if it was a click on the logo or from the breadcrumbs.

From the menu page, there were 6 clicks to the resort page, which could either come from a click on the breadcrumb or a click on a link below the page.

Based on the above data, it is safe to say that visitors checked out other pages on our website mostly because they were engaged with our content.

Conclusion

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that land on a page and leave without taking an action. Showing helpful information on above-the-fold content, encourages visitors to read more content causing them to scroll. Adding links such as bread crumbs or adding buttons such as a share button encourages users to take an action right after page load.

By encouraging users to take an action on page load such as a scroll or a click on a link, we have successfully reduced the bounce rate by 5.5%. A 27%-37% increase in scroll events and a 4%-7% increase in user engagement events resulted in a 123.6% increase in average session duration.

Sources:
[1] https://www.klipfolio.com/metrics/marketing/average-session-duration/
[2] https://www.semrush.com/blog/sessions-in-google-analytics
[3] https://www.analyticsmania.com/post/user_engagement-event-in-google-analytics-4/
[4] https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2785577?hl=en#zippy=%2Cin-this-article