I've been looking at the Visitor Flow report in Google Analytics, but something doesn't add up.

For the starting pages it says that there were 181K visits and 123K drop-offs. If the starting page is the first page visited on the site and the drop offs are people who leave the site, this suggests to me that you can calculate the bounce rate from these figures. I calculate the bounce rate to be (123K/181K) x 100 = 68%. However, the bounce rate for the site given in the overview report is actually 19.89%.

Can anyone explain why the actual bounce rate is different from my calculated bounce rate (calculated using the drop off and starting page visits)? I must have made an incorrect assumption somewhere, but after a lot of head scratching I still can't see where!


Drop offs are not the same as bounce rate.

A user could visit the site and leave a page open in a browser while doing something else. Session could time out before they get around to using the site and they would then start a new session on returning to the page. This would result in a bounce for the first visit and a returning visit for the second.

  • Thanks toomanyairmiles! I'd like to check my understanding if that's ok? Is it the case that a session timing out on the starting page would count as a bounce but not a drop-off? Many thanks, Katie – Katie7 May 17 '12 at 9:07
  • Apologies - I think my latest question was confusing! I've broken my confusion down into the following questions. (1) does a session time-out count as a drop-off? (2) does a session time-out on the entry page count as a bounce? (3) is the starting page the same as the entry page? (4) does a session time-out on the starting page count as a drop-off and a bounce? Thanks! – Katie7 May 17 '12 at 9:19
  • @Katie7 a session timeout, having only visited one page is a bounce, it doesn't matter what page. The first page a user visits in a session is the entry or landing page, this can be any page. – toomanyairmiles May 17 '12 at 9:22
  • toomanyairmiles - thanks again for your speedy response and your patience! I agree with and understand your statement that "a session timeout, having only visited one page is a bounce". Following from that logic, if a person only visits one page, then that page surely has to be the starting page? If they visit any other page during the session, it's no longer the starting page. If the session times out, it looks like a drop off and the next page they visit on the site is also a starting page.... – Katie7 May 17 '12 at 9:39
  • ...(continued) So if someone drops off a starting page, whether it's because the session has timed out or they have left the site, then my understanding is that they've only visited one page, hence it would be a bounce? I know I must be wrong, but I'm still not able to see the flaw in my logic at the moment?! – Katie7 May 17 '12 at 9:39

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