If you are concerned about your site's bounce rate you first need to identify where the problem is arising. There are a number of factors that could be at fault - most importantly these are likely to be:
a poorly designed online marketing programme driving low quality traffic to your site
a marketing programme sending people to poorly designed or inappropriate landing pages
issues with your site design, layout, content or the structure of your site ("information architecture")
There is a lot of argument over what an acceptable bounce rate is - some people suggest that if you have a bounce rate over 40% you have problems whilst others are either more relaxed or even suggest that even a bounce rate of 20% is too high.
Average bounce rate for most sites typically fall in 40% - 55% range. If your site bounce rate is below 40% you are doing well and if it's above 60% then you definitely need to find out why.
Bounce rates do however differ across sectors, from business to business and are also affected by the size of your site and a range of other factors. Most webmasters will want to have as low a bounce rate as possible but there will be certain occasions where a web page answers all of a visitors questions where bounces are unavoidable - think for example about a Wikipedia style page that provides a complete overview on a particular topic.
Analytics data is typically page based - when a visitor downloads a page from your site it counts as a page view.
With the growth of web interactivity, online video and interactive Flash tools however page views often no longer fully capture a visitors interaction with your site. For example, if you have an embedded video and a user clicks "Play" simply monitoring page views would fail to show how many visitors go on to play the video and how many watch it to the end.
This is where Google Analytics Event tracking code comes in.
Visitors to a page for example who opt to play an embedded video are considered to have had further interaction with your site and thus even if they only look at one page they would not be considered to have bounced.
It is not currently possible to view events as website goals but this may well be added to Analytics in the future. Use of Google Analytics Custom Reporting tools however can provide useful insight in combination with event tracking data.
A reasonably common problem occurs when someone else has purchased a web address ("domain name") that closely matches your or your organisation's name.
Approximately one case in every two thousand involves some form of 'cyber-squatting'. This occurs when the domain name has been bought by someone who does not appear to have a legal or historical tie to the disputed web address or to your or to your organisation's real-world name.
Google Analytics is a freely available service from Google that enables you to track in detail how visitors find your website and what they do when they get there.
Web Analytics packages are essential for any online marketing campaign and if you plan to use Google Adwords then Google Analytics is even more highly recommended.
How do I sign up?
To sign up for analytics you first need a google account. You can create a google account by going to e.g. google.co.uk, click "Sign In" that appears at the top right hand side of the screen and then click onto "Create an account now". You should then go to Google Analytics at http://www.google.com/analytics/ and click "Sign up Now" - you will need to enter your login information and are then asked to enter the website that you wish to track.
You can alternatively set up a Google account during the Analytics sign up process
How do I configure my site for Google Analytics?
To configure your site for Google Analytics you then need to copy some code onto each page of your website. If you developed your site using Dreamweaver, Frontpage etc or developed your site in static HTML you need to edit the code for each page and copy and paste the tracking code so that it appears just before the closing "</body>" tag.
Once you have completed this you can ask Google to check that your code has been installed correctly. If it has then you will be told that the installation is correct and that Google is waiting for data. Reports are updated periodically through the day so the data you see in Google Analytics isn't live - leave it for a few hours and then return to start seeing data from your site.
If your site contains dynamic content you can use a template or "common include" to set up the tracking code throughout your site. Content Management Systems such as Joomla often have extensions (additional programs that you can download) that enable you to add tracking code throughout your site - you just enter the "Web Property ID" to let Google identify your site.
The Web Property ID appears in the format of e.g. "UA-3238767-9" and will be assigned to you when you set up your Google Analytics Account. Alternatively you can edit the template for your site and add the code before the closing </body> tag.
Finding your tracking code again
If you have set up a site and for lose the code from your web pages or if your site was set up with the legacy tracking code and you wish to move to the new tracking code you can access it at any point by signing in to Google Analytics and on the opening page (where you are shown a list of sites you manage together with the "View Report" link) click onto the "EDIT" link that appears to the far right of the row in the "Actions" column.