Have you heard of “Bounce Rate”? Let me explain it a bit and then I’ll talk about how to reduce it.
The short explanation is when someone lands on your site they “bounce” right off to the next site to find what they are searching for. Bounce rate is a metric often serves as a strong indicator that your website is not engaging with your visitors, meaning that they leave a page without interacting with it (i.e. they ‘bounce’ off the page).
Here is Google’s explanation (it’s always good to get it directly from the source):
Bounce: “a single-page session on your site”
Bounce Rate: “single-page sessions divided by all sessions”
Here is a direct quote from Google:
Is a high bounce rate a bad thing?
If the success of your site depends on users viewing more than one page, then, yes, a high bounce rate is bad. For example, if your home page is the gateway to the rest of your site (e.g., news articles, product pages, your checkout process) and a high percentage of users are viewing only your home page, then you don’t want a high bounce rate.
On the other hand, if you have a single-page site like a blog, or offer other types of content for which single-page sessions are expected, then a high bounce rate is perfectly normal.
So WHY are people bouncing off your site?
It can be many reasons, but basically if they land on your site and don’t find what they’re looking for they’ll move on. Here are some ways you can lose visitors – FAST . . .
- Poor Website Design – they can’t figure out what you’re offering
- Poor Navigation – they can’t get to the page they’re looking for easily.
- Poor Content – too thin, too long or just poor readability
- No, or poor Calls to Action – what do you want your visitors to do?
- Too many ads
- Slow loading pages
Do you have a really good understanding of who you are trying to attract and what they are trying to achieve by visiting your webpage/website. This information is not only important in helping reduce your bounce rate, but is also absolutely critical to producing marketing campaigns and website designs that achieve your goals – by helping your visitors to achieve theirs.
Here are Ways You Can Reduce Your Website’s Bounce Rate
Make your Websites Navigation Effortless
Don’t bury important information. You’d be surprised how often this happens! Steve Krug wrote a book in 2000 (it’s been updated several times) called “Don’t Make Me Think“. That’s what good design and navigation is all about!
Making every page or screen self-evident is like having good lighting in a store: it just makes everything seem better. ~ Steve Krug
Your site navigation should be clear, immediately understood, and offer the user a seamless experience in getting from one part of your site to another. Visitors shouldn’t have to guess where they are in your site to know how to get around, and they shouldn’t be forced into artificial pathways that you’ve put in place to shepherd them through your sales funnel.
Review your current site navigation and see if there are ways to simplify it. Then simplify it some more. In fact, I challenge you to simplify your site navigation to the point at which it seems almost counterintuitive, because that’s what your visitors want. Remember, they only care about what they want! NOT what YOU want. It’s not about YOU, it’s about THEM.
Google states that some pages are likely to have a higher bounce rate than others due to user intent. While this is certainly true, it is always a good idea to encourage further engagement with your website.
For example, a blog post may qualify for a higher bounce rate, but if you are investing in content marketing you will want your webpage to push users through to other pages on your site and even convert them with an effective calls to action. That was “an”, not multiple calls to action on a page. You should limit your calls to action to one on any given page to avoid confusion and abandonment.
When you have clear calls to action with relevant content, internal linking, and a menu structure that doesn’t require a PhD to decipher, it will help contribute to a lower bounce rate.
Optimize Your Site for Mobile Visitors
It’s amazing how many websites are NOT optimized for Mobile in this day and age. So if you still haven’t addressed issues related to mobile users you better step on it. Mobile is no longer something that is on the horizon or soon to impact; it’s here now and not being optimized for Mobile IS costing you.
Google started rolling out its mobile first index and mobile overtook desktop in terms of internet usage in 2016.
If your website isn’t mobile responsive, or you have formatting issues on mobile, then read no further. If you take only one action from this article, then it must be: get your site mobile optimized.
Optimize Page Load Time
This has become even more important as mobile usage has skyrocketed. We live in a impatient society, expectant of instant access. So you can imagine if your site is painfully slow to load you increase the risk of users bouncing. There can be multiple factors affecting load speed, but common problems are low-cost shared hosting and high-resolution images. Of course, we want our images to look as good as possible, but a 20mb image on a page is going to cause some serious load time issues.
If you have an ecommerce site know that slow-loading pages are among the leading causes of shopping cart abandonment.
People go online to save time not to spend it. If you waste people’s time they move on. This should be obvious when you think about the fact that even page loading times are considered in Google ranks.
Content Readability & Relevance
You can have the greatest content in the world, but if someone leaves the page because it’s too difficult to read, then it isn’t worth much at all. Simple changes, such as increasing text size (especially for mobile) or line spacing, can have a real impact. Grey or small text is just horrible for readability. Remember that just because something looks nice, it doesn’t mean that it is as functional as it could possibly be in the way of you achieving your goals.
Besides technical considerations like page load times or failing to adhere to formatting best practices, one of the biggest contributing factors to high bounce rates is relevance – or irrelevance of your content.
Some sites target certain keywords very effectively, which drives visitors to their site – BUT then they find that landing page only serves content that is barely relevant to their search query at best, or downright irrelevant to it at worst. If the page you’re serving isn’t directly relevant to a user’s search query, you can almost guarantee that they’re going to bounce. For this reason, it’s vital that you optimize your content for relevance above all other considerations.
Cross-Reference Bounce Rate with Time on Site
Taking bounce rate data out of context can be as dangerous as relying on it exclusively as an indicator of your site’s performance.
It’s important to look at your bounce rate within the wider context of your site in general. This allows you to determine more accurately whether the problem is with a specific page, a type of page (such as your site’s blog or product pages), or your site as a whole.
If your Time on Site metrics are pretty good, but your blog pages have a high bounce rate, the problem may be with your content. On the other hand, if your bounce rate is high and Time on Site is low, you may not be giving visitors what they want in a more general sense.
Banish Intrusive ads!
How many times have you landed on a webpage and immediately had to navigate a minefield of pop ups and ads? How did you feel about it? Delighted or agitated? DISGUSTED most likely!
Keep in mind, that too many ads will slow your sites page load time and Google looks negatively on this.
There are many more factors that could be discussed, assessed and improved on that would have a positive impact on your bounce rate. The truth of the matter is that addressing your user experience as a whole should positively impact your bounce rate(s).