Bounce rate is too idiosyncratic a signal - Google says "noisy" - for there to be such a thing as normal. I know of highly successful pages (750,000 search visits per week!) that have an 85% bounce rate.
Yes bounce rate is difficult to quantify - it depends largely on the site and industry - ie if you are just looking for the definition of a word then one would expect a higher bounce rate on those pages but if you are researching a product or service you should see a lower bounce rate on those product pages.
Look at bouncerate in combination with time on page. If the bounce rate is high and time on page is low you should optimize your article / blogpost.
If you don't have articles you need to look for an other metric to check if a page is bad.
Definitely depends. It can vary even within a single site.
For example, a page that is utilized within schools for educational purposes will likely have a high bounce rate. Students visit the page, get their information, and then back out of the website.
Another page, might be getting a more generic term from search engines. The visitor then instead visits many pages either looking for information or for a product to buy.
What's more important, is you should ask the question, "Should this page lead to clicks to other pages or is this page enough for my visitors?"
Obviously, the answer will vary differently between pages. If it's the homepage or a category page, you'll definitely want a very low bounce rate. However, if it's an inner page, such as a widget review, you'll most likely have a high bounce rate.
You cannot get below 45% but on which page? Typically the more the page deviates from the site's content the higher the bounce rate as ppl won't find relevant info.
For instance with a shopping cart the checkout pages may show a very low bounce rate. A badly structured home page may show a high bounce rate. Also what are you using to measure it? Some custom tool, GA, Alexa etc.
Also you could have some highly irrelevant pages in your site but with a high CTR and this could influence the average rate.
The average sitewide bounce rate across most sites I see (exclusively SMEs) is 45%.
The best performing site has 14% on the home page and I'm trying to figure out why so I can reproduce that on other sites!
I find the 'Site Overlay' feature in Analytics very handy to get an instant feel for the links that do and don't get clicked on any page.
Thanks for the information, its great to get some feedback on bounce rate's and what to aim for. I have kicked out 7500 pages with thin content and bounce rate has been below 40% for two days running so hopefully on the right track. Although bounce rates as Tedster points out are a "noisy" indicator.
In my experience, bounce rates are tightly tied to the traffic source. Search engine visitors have higher bounce rates because that explains the success of Google in trying to get users to the exact information they are looking for. Direct visitors tend to spend a lot more time because they visit everyday to check out all that's new and so spend considerably more time and visit more pages.
IMO, news, entertainment, sports,etc. should have lower bounce rates. Feature websites that perform specific actions (eg: weather.com ) should have higher bounce rate.
This all depends on the content and the purpose of the content.
Sometimes someone can land on a page, get what they wanted in 5 seconds and then leave. In some cases, a high bounce rate is a good indication that the user found what they were looking for without having to dig any deeper.
It also depends on the content and the way the content is presented. If a site has its content in flash/ajax/iframe, they can browse and browse but in the eyes of tracking systems they will only really ever view just 1 page.