In a layman’s’ word website bounce rate means whenever a visitor visits your site he or she leaves without visiting other pages. This implies that your website isn’t appealing. Holding visitors on to your website for a longer period of time is certainly a challenge in today’s highly competitive market. If you are having a high bounce rate its an alert that indicates it’s time to concentrate on your website layout, content, and overall presentation.
But high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing. It actually depends on what industry you are in. Let’s take an example of a local restaurant website. If someone is looking for their phone number, the visitor lands on the home page collects the phone number and exits the page or “bounce”. Now if another person is looking for the menu and searches “Indian Restaurant menu” and lands on the menu page, checks it out and then “bounce”. Well these bounces doesn’t mean that the website wasn’t useful or didn’t serve its purpose. It just means that the visitors could find all that they needed on one page.
Now if you are offering a wide range of services or products where the visitor needs time to read and research to know what serves them best – in this case bounce rate is the metric, you should pay attention to. If your eCommerce site visitors isn’t converting that bounce rate could be the problem you need to look for.
For those of you who are driving search engine traffic back to your blog, this is an important metric to be aware of. Here are some tips which may be of help for your to reduce your website’s bounce rates.
#1: Make Data-Informed Decisions
Good web design is critical, but quick iteration and optimization can only be accomplished with data-informed decisions. This will empower your designers to experiment more. Ensure the reporting is both easy to use and understand. Some of the top analytics packages have complicated user interfaces. In the end, the goal is to have usable and informative data.
#2: Prioritize & Optimize
Closely follow your highest volume entry and landing pages to compare good pages to bad pages. You can also use additional tools like Crazy Egg heatmaps to see the relationship between referrer and clicks. Once you find the worst offenders, test multiple variables and landing page approaches. If your traffic is less than 1,000 views per week, use A/B testing for significantly different page design approaches. Use Google Analutics Content Experiments for situations where you have a lot of traffic and multiple factors and variations you want to test.
#3: Utilize Profiling & Segmentation
You can monitor the bounce rates for geography/language, browser/operating system and traffic source to identify issues. Recently at my company, we noticed a high bounce rate for Firefox, relative to Internet Explorer on a page and found out there was a browser rendering issue.
#4: Cultivate Keyword Integrity
Make sure the keywords you are using in your meta tags have low bounce rates and that you are reinforcing the term in the copy and content you are showing to site visitors. Your own brand or site name should have the lowest bounce rate for a keyword. In your search marketing efforts, if the bounce rate is high for keywords you are buying, you need to either improve the landing page to reinforce the topic or bid on keywords that are more relevant to your content.
#5: Make Related Content Accessible
Providing related links to other content on your site can go a long way in keeping visitors engaged, but you’ll have the best results the more relevant the content is. But you don’t want to go overboard; users can easily be overwhelmed by too much information. Less is often more.
#6: Analyze Searches Within Your Site
If you don’t already have a search box on your site you can always put one in. Allow people to tell you what they exactly want. Always create it in such a way so that your visitors don’t need to spend too much of their time on navigation and hunting. Google Custom Search is free, and you can then analyze searches within your site and see searches coming from specific pages. If you have people constantly searching for the same thing on a given page, you can create a link to the relevant search. You can also begin to build content in the form of blog posts or product pages that focus on that search term.
#7: Speed-up Loading Times
The loading time of your webpage is not only an important factor in SEO, but also in having a visitor to stay on your site. Deactivate unnecessary plugins and optimize your images and code to speed up the loading time of your site. Your visitors will be more likely to view additional pages if your load times are faster.
#8: Don’t Interrupt The User’s Experience
Is there something on your site that you think is cool but really isn’t offering any value to the user? Having a splash page when users enter, might be causing half the people to leave your website instantly. Always try to avoid intrusive polls and surveys.
#9: Pay Attention to External Links
One of the consumer benefits of web publishing is that content providers often embed hyperlinks to reference external pages with more information. However, this can create an exit point for a user. You should be judicious in the use of external links or at least consider placing them toward the bottom of a page.
#10: Avoid Tricks
There are lot of other tricks you can use to lower your bounce rate, like embedding polls, contests, and other attention-grabbing clickable content. However, if the sole purpose of these tactics is just to lower your bounce rate, you may lose sight of what a real consumer is looking for. The temptation to use keyword and SEO-heavy headlines is strong, but if they misrepresent the content of an article or post, you may lose out on repeat visitors, even if your bounce rates are reduced temporarily. Although it is important to make a good first impression, a site’s mission to sell, entertain or inform should always be primary.
#11: Account for Social Media
As more sites are discovered and consumed through social networks, the impact of these platforms on bounce rates is becoming more important. With social, there are limitations like Twitter’s character count, for example, to properly qualify and represent the landing page content. Use relevant hashtags to qualify your content, along with other meta tags, like location, that can add more information without pushing the character count of your message. On the other end of the spectrum, sharing links on Facebook can be a rich experience, with images, user-input and friend-tagging. Utilize these platform-specific features to enrich the reader’s experience.
#12: Check Browser Affinity
Seeing a high bounce rate typically indicates a potential disconnect between the visitors arriving on your site and the content they anticipated seeing upon their clicks. As mentioned previously, it’s possible that the visitors to a given page on your site have found this information and clicked away immediately, resulting in a naturally and understandably high bounce rate.
However, this situation shouldn’t be seen across every page on your site and even in cases where the desired information has been identified indicates a lack of compelling content that would cause these visitors to engage further with your brand.
But what if the problem is even simpler than that? In some circumstances, a high bounce rate has nothing to do with the quality of the content you’ve provided and everything to do with the fact that your website isn’t displaying properly in your visitors’ browser windows. They can’t even see your site correctly in order to access its content, resulting in a quick click of the “Back” button.
Too many beginning webmasters test their sites on the single browser they’ve used throughout development, failing to realize that what looks good on one browser might display completely differently in another. To prevent this situation from negatively influencing your bounce rates, check pages that demonstrate a high bounce rate using a cross-browser compatibility testing tool like Browser Stack.
#13: Broadcast Your Purpose
If there aren’t any issues with the way your website is performing across different browsers, one of the next most likely causes of high bounce rates is a site design that buries the information visitors are looking for.
You might have clicked through the site because the company’s search engine snippet looked so promising, only to be confronted with a bad design or bad content organization structure that makes your desired information nearly impossible to find.
This will demotivate the visitor to visit any more and he or she may look for other listings.
If your website isn’t cleanly organized and immediately intuitive to its own visitors, your would-be readers are going to have this same reaction, leading to higher bounce rates. Therefore always make your purpose prominent to your readers.
#14: Create Better Content
Finally, even if your website works beautifully in all browsers, your content is clearly accessible and your site loads as fast as a single page HTML site, there’s one more factor that can bring down your webpages’ bounce rates: Your content might just suck.
Truth be told, you can build a website that’s perfectly designed to attract readers and hold their attention, but if the content that you fill these pages with doesn’t provide anything valuable to the people reading your site, your bounce rate will continue to be high.
So if you’re concerned that this might be the case on your site, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my content free from grammatical and spelling errors?
- Does my content provide information that readers within my industry actually consider valuable?
- Does my website offer content that’s unique from other sites in my industry?
- Could my content be construed as offensive in any way?
- Is the average reading level of my content on par with expectations within my industry?
Webmasters are told over and over again how important it is to have plenty of text-based content on their sites. But while most site owners use this as a rallying cry to fill their pages with useful information, some webmasters rush the production of their content in order to meet these arbitrary-seeming content standards. The result, unfortunately, is often shoddy, low-value content that leads to high bounce rates and poor website performance overall.
#15: Use Simple Language
Blog readers aren’t going to give you a standing ovation, because of BIG grammar or ornamental language you use. And even if they can, how would you know since they’re not in your closet? Any content we often come across that sounds confusing would immediately close the browser period. Put your academic qualifications and grammatical excellence where they belong. Blogging is for simple-minded business people.
Your readers may not be as intelligent as you are or assume. What they want is RESULTS to help terminate their insult as real people. Use simple words that anyone can understand. Using simple language would help them saving their precious time and also help you with some easy and regular customers.
Clearly, these aren’t the only techniques that can be used to address high bounce rates, as the causes of this phenomenon are both complex and uniquely specific to each site.
This an awesome interview with Avinash Kaushik at SES Chicago where he discusses some more critical issues on bounce rate. (More on this from his blog)
However, these techniques should provide a good starting point for sites that are interested in boosting the number of visitors who stay on their sites past their initial landing pages. Give them a try and see if you don’t see a difference in your visitor retention rates!
And if you are looking for something more then the KISSmetrics guys got at all covered in this infographic.
What other techniques do you use in your site to reduce bounce rate? Do share your experiences with us.
If you thought this article was valuable, would you mind giving it a share? I’d love if you left a comment letting me know which technique you found the most interesting.
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