Low bounce rate on your Webflow site? Check these Google settings
June 25, 2020
If your website is powered by Webflow, and you've noticed in Google Analytics that your site's bounce rate is extremely low, you may have inadvertently set up redundant tracking codes in Webflow and Google Tag Manager. In this article, I'll provide context on why this occurs, and how Google Analytics and Google Optimize may also be contributing to the bounce rate issue.
If you want to skip the background and just get to the quick answer I uncovered, scroll to the bottom of this article.
gtag.js vs. Google Tag Manager: Which should you use in Webflow?
For most Webflow sites I manage, I simply use Google's global site tag (gtag.js), and this is perfectly adequate if you only need the standard Google Analytics implementation — i.e. you want to collect and monitor Google Analytics data on the Webflow site, and those are the only tracking needs you have.
To do this, go to your Webflow project > Project Settings > Integrations, and add your Google Universal Analytics Tracking ID (it starts with "UA" and can be found in Google Analytics).
Now, the minute you or your client wants to start leveraging additional Google tracking tools, such as Google Optimize, you're better off using Google Tag Manager as opposed to gtag.js.
As of 2020, Google Tag Manager is the best tool to install Google tracking on your website because you can use it as a central hub to deploy tracking codes for Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Optimize.
Why does Google force webmasters and marketers to manually set up so many different Google tracking tools, each with unique container IDs? I don't know. It's annoying and confusing. A radically streamlined approach of having everything built into Google Analytics would be a far superior user experience.
Using Google Optimize to do A/B testing on your Webflow site
I was interested in doing some A/B experiments on one of my client's websites — essentially, set up two slightly different versions of the same web page, and compare over 4-8 weeks, which version performed better.
#1. Install Google Tag Manager (GTM)
My first step (or so I thought) was to install Google Optimize. Amazingly, tracking CTA button clicks is not native to Google Optimize. So to overcome that, I had to backtrack and install Google Tag Manager first. This video from Data Driven Labs was a huge help:
Your next step is to add the Google Tag Manager tracking codes to your Webflow website. Do this by going to your Webflow project > Project Settings > Custom Code, and add the two snippets of GTM codes:
One in the Head Code section (in my experience, this one has 7 lines of code)
The other in the Footer Code section (this one tends to have 4 lines of code)
#2. Create a Pageview tag in GTM
Next, you're going to need to create a "Google Analytics page view" tag within Google Tag Manager. Why is this "page view" tag not automatically built into GTM nor Google Analytics? Again, I don't know. Just know that you are not alone in being frustrated. Here's how to create the tag — this video is not as clear as the one above, but it's a necessary step:
My favorite YouTube comment from this video? It's funny because it's true:
If you do decide to press on, your Google Analytics page view tag should look something like this within Google Tag Manager:
Note at the bottom of the screenshot that "All Pages" firing instruction. This will be key later.
After all that, now you can finally set up a simple A/B test in Google Optimize, comparing two variants of the same CTA button. So I did. More on that in a future blog post. Let's get back to the core issue of low bounce rate.
Did your website's bounce rate drop suddenly?
So you set up GTM and Google Optimize. You set up your first Optimize test. You check Google Analytics, and — yikes. Bounce rate for your website is down to near zero. Why did this happen?
It's because of that "Google Analytics page view" tag we added earlier in GTM. That is our masked man here!
Now, that step was and is necessary to get Google Optimize to work properly. But in doing so, GTM AND Google Analytics are now BOTH counting page views for every visitor. Duplicate page views means your bounce rate will plummet to near zero. Why does Google not alert you to this risk when setting up GTM tags? Why can we not have one Google platform that houses all tracking mechanisms? Sigh.
The solution to low bounce rate when you're using Google Tag Manager with your Webflow site
If you are going to us the Google Analytics page view tag in GTM, then you must remove the Google Universal Analytics Tracking ID in Webflow > Project Settings > Integrations. After I did this, the bounce rate returned to normal (see above screenshot).
Consider removing the Google Universal Analytics Tracking ID in Webflow > Project Settings > Integrations if you're seeing a low bounce rate.