The aim of any average website is simple – get as much good traffic as possible. Some website owners are so eager to drive traffic to their websites that they use every trick they find, only to fall prey to traffic scams and myths.

Every day there are new scams popping up. These scams offer “low cost traffic” made up of “real unique visitors” and promise the world for a low cost. The initial response by users unfamiliar with how website traffic works is to buy. Why? Because if they can simply buy their traffic instead of spending money on advertising and building backlinks, then why not?

How to Detect Bad Traffic?

You don’t need to buy traffic to have your website receive bad traffic. Chances are if you haven’t properly targeted the audience of your website, then your traffic is bad. If you’ve been wondering how you can differentiate bad traffic from good, it’s pretty simple.

Your traffic is not the demographic you’re targeting

If your website content and products are not being shown in front of the right users, it’s bad. If you are selling custom t-shirts online for young people, why would you have middle aged men come to your website looking for button up shirts? It doesn’t make sense.

This is the same issue that plagues paid traffic “campaigns”. Do you know where the visiting users are from? Do they have any interest in your niche or content? It’s not that it’s impossible to get the right traffic simply by buying visitors, but the costs for actually doing so are typically not worth it.

Having one-time interest in your content

Although giveaways have their place in online marketing – the logic behind them dictates their success based on the campaign’s targeting. Let me explain. If you are giving away a makeup kit, you should only be targeting women in that giveaway. This is because you want the women who sign up to become return customers for you. If a man signs up in hopes of winning for his girlfriend, I’d be willing to bet he will never actually buy from you.

The same logic applies to mailing lists. If you want to build a mailing list, you need to target people who you know will actually open and read your emails. If you get signups and never see any response, you have flooded your signups with bad traffic that will never actually help you grow your brands or websites. Bad traffic is traffic that will not convert.

High bounce rate

First, we should define the word “bounce” in SEO terms. I believe a “bounce” is when a searcher uses Google to find your site via specific keyword searches and, upon clicking your Google listing for said keywords, immediately (or within a specific time frame that isn’t defined by Google) clicks the “back” button on his/her browser, thus taking the searcher back to the Google listings.

Even after reading that definition, it may be difficult to understand how Bounce Rate applies to good and bad traffic. It’s simple.

If you website is receiving high levels of bounce from the current sources of traffic it has, it means your users aren’t interested and don’t immediately find what they’re looking for. To them, you’re useless and unappealing. Ouch.

This is what makes Bounce Rate metrics so important. They give you the ability to easily gauge if your traffic is finding you where you intend to be found. If they aren’t, then you have a case of bad traffic on your hands.

Is My Bounce Rate Actually Bad?

Before you determine whether your bounce rate is bad, you have to outline the goals of your website and decide what the purpose of your online presence is. Many small websites simply don’t care if users are being captivated. The main focus is to offer people hours of operation and contact info.

In another case, some website’s are built around the idea of not having visitors go through their content endlessly, but rather take a specification action on the website. Here are some website goals that can’t be measured with Bounce Rate:

  • Calling numbers to inquire about particular products or services.
  • Directing customers to products on a different network or domain (Ebay, Amazon, etc).
  • Leading visitors to affiliate offers.
  • Filling lead forms that can be used to generate business using follow up methods.

If you don’t fall into these categories, take a look below to judge your progress.

Most websites will see bounce rates fall somewhere between 26% and 70%. The average bounce rate for the websites in my sample set was 49%. The average bounce rate for all visits in the set was 45%. I threw out the outliers—the 1% bounce rates. The highest bounce rate was 90.2%; the low (from a properly functioning profile) was 27.33%. The low across all (including broken implementations) was 1.23%.

– Jay Peyton at RocketFuel

If you’re under 20%, you’re doing alright. If you want to do great, contact us. We currently keep our client’s website around a 2% bounce rate, usually below 2% actually. It’s all about building authority and making yourself #1 by leading your visitors on with great information.

Pro Tip: Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

Google analytics is the first place to figure out how to improve bounce rate. In the screenshot below, you can see that selecting the “Overview” page from the “AUDIENCE” section of the Google Analytics dashboard will bring you to a general overview of your traffic. In the the top right corner, you can choose a date range you’d like to view data from. Most importantly, the circled section below the graph shows your bounce rate.


If you can’t engage your site visitors, your bounce rate will be greater than 50%. This however isn’t the end of the world. Every website has a different purpose, and unless your website is supposed to be converting and is not showing the results you would like to see then you shouldn’t worry too much.

In the long run it’s very beneficial to run marketing campaigns and captivating blog posts that will keep people coming back. Slow growth is better than no growth, and investing into paid traffic from unknown sources is a quick way to nothing.

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