Reporting Bounce Rate in Google Analytics 4

If you have transitioned to the new Google Analytics 4, you have probably noticed that there is no Bounce Rate metric available. Instead they push an ‘Engaged Sessions’ number, which is kind of like the opposite to a Bounce Rate. What if you really want the old metric? Well, a little math and you get your answer, but you probably won’t like it.

Let’s get to the simple math based on the simple assumption that an ‘engaged session’ is not a ‘bounce’:

Bounce Rate = (Sessions - Engaged Sessions) / Sessions * 100

Now the problems with that number…

First, sessions are measured differently, and you could get more, or fewer, sessions in GA4 than your trusty old GA reports. We aren’t just talking a percent or two difference, either – it could be off by 40% or more! And it won’t be consistent over time. Show anybody the two numbers and instantly they will lose confidence in your reports. There are reasons it could be higher, and there are reasons it could be lower; if yours is identical, consider it a fluke.

Second, if you turned on enhanced measurement in GA4, it now tracks several types of user engagements, including 10-seconds in the foreground. This resolves a long-standing problem with ‘bounces’ in GA where the user may spend 5 minutes looking at the page, scrolling through a lengthy article, only to be tracked as a ‘bounce’ (with zero time on page) because they didn’t look at another page. In GA4, they are seen as an ‘engaged session’.

Third, also with enhanced measurement enabled, you may actually be seeing sessions with out page views — caused by people pausing for more than 30 minutes before reading a page and closing. A new session is started and the user engagement is captured…all by itself.

Finally, since GA4 tracks everything as an event, there is no session object to summarize things like how many pages were viewed. Without that number, reporting the number of 1-page sessions (bounces) becomes a complicated data query that can’t be done at scale. In other words, there is no way to easily generate a bounce rate equivalent. You are doomed to an apples-to-oranges comparison.

My Advice

Forget all the old session-based metrics in Google Analytics. Focus instead on users and events. Embrace the new measures of user engagement in Google Analytics 4.