Bounce rate. These two words have probably struck more terror in your heart than most others. It’s understandable why- your website is the apple of your eye, and having a high bounce rate is like having to admit that the apple might not be as red and shiny as you think it is.
However, to say that a high bounce rate is bad, and a low bounce rate is good would be simplifying the matter to a painful extent. So, if you want to know how to optimize and reduce your bounce rate, we’ll first have to go into depth about what the phrase ‘good bounce rate’ even means.
What is a bounce rate?
Simply put, a bounce means a single page visit. When a user clicks on a link that connects to your page, and then exits without further interacting with the site, it is counted as a bounce. It is displayed a percentage of the total visitors your page has received. You have to note here that Google Analytics considers interaction as visiting even one additional page, besides the landing page.
What is a good bounce rate?
There are plenty of websites that draw in a lot of traffic, and still have incredibly high bounce rates. That doesn’t mean you should aspire for a bounce rate that high, especially if you’re in a field that requires intensive user engagement, like ecommerce. The average bounce rate is between 26-70% for websites that are not single transaction sites. Single transaction pages, such as blogs, news, event pages, etc. usually have higher bounce rates (over 70%), as most people visiting the page are coming to read a specific piece of information, and not to interact with the site further.
The lesson you should learn from this? The bounce rate for your website depends on the purpose of the website, and the revamp strategy you put in place will also depend on the same.
Why bounce rates are important (and why they are not)
At this point, you might be wondering- why am I putting this much energy into identifying how to reduce my bounce rate? Well, there are a few simple reasons:
- The fewer bounces you have, the more page views you’ll get
- The fewer bounces you have, the higher your user engagement is, and the higher your conversions and revenue
- Bounce rate forms the 4th most important metric when it comes to SERPs- if you’re aiming for that sweet first page position on Google, you definitely have to work on optimizing your bounce rate!
How can you measure your bounce rate?
The easiest way for you to measure your bounce rate is by using Google Analytics. Log in to your Google Analytics account and open up the Audience Overview page. Here, you’ll be able to see the bounce rate for your entire site.
If you want a more detailed analysis of the bounce rate for the individual pages, go to the ‘Behaviour’> All Pages. Here, you’ll find a detailed analysis of bounce rate for each page.
You can use Google Analytics to drill down on your bounce rate based on the date range, demographics, affinity categories, and more. All you have to do is select the Audience option, and open the report for each one of these categories.
A 12 step revamp strategy to improve your bounce rate
Now that you can see what your bounce rate is, and where your problem areas are, we will be able to drill down to the root cause to your problems, and address them through these 12 steps. These will take care of your bounce rate, and ensure that they are raised to the most optimal level for your site.
1. Tell a story with your content
When a person comes to your site- you want to captivate them. You want them to know what makes your brand unique, and give them something they can immediately catch on to. This is why you need a compelling storytelling arc for your website, and you need to develop content that matches this story. As Adam Toren of Entrepreneur opines, storytelling is what brings your brand to life.
How do you make your story translate to the audience? Keep the content simple, readable, and captivating. Purge your site of large chunks of text, or outdated information pages (imagine a person opens a link to your site to see the top fashion trends of 2008- they are definitely not going to stay).
Here’s the kind of content you should be avoiding:
Instead, focus on making your content flow better, in a more readable format.
2. Drive high-value traffic with the right keywords
Here’s why a lot of websites have really high bounce rates: they are attracting a high volume of customers, but these are not the right customers for them. One of the reasons for this might be a poor keyword strategy. When building your content, you should focus on developing the right keywords- keywords that will attract high-value customers to your site.
Some keywords can be for driving any kind of traffic to your site- but you should also build in high-value commercial keywords that are popular in your industry.
3. Focus on the UX
Have you given a lot of thought about the user experience of your site? If not, now would be a good time to start- as it might be contributing towards a high bounce rate.
User Experience is becoming a buzzword in an increasingly distracted world- and it is focused on delivering the right content in the speediest fashion, so that the user is satisfied with every interaction on the site.
By implementing UX focused changes on your site, you can:
- Eliminate distractions, thereby giving people a direct path to the action you want them to take on your site.
- Make the navigation more intuitive, and simple, so that the users do not get lost in a maze of pages on your site.
4. Build credibility through design
Let’s face it- on the internet, everybody’s judging the book by its cover. And if the cover that your website comes in is not interesting and intuitive, you can be assured your bounce rate will be high. Investing on good design for your website will definitely have high returns- not only can it reduce your bounce rate, increase conversion, and provide clear navigation to users, it can also build your credibility among new customers, and increase their trust in your ability to deliver.
5. Don’t use popups or autoplay videos
Let’s think about it- when was the last time you went on a site, heard a video start playing immediately, and stayed? Most of the people share this emotion- 70% of users are annoyed by modal boxes, pop-ups and ads!
However, don’t automatically dismiss modal boxes, which can be especially useful in e-commerce websites, and can be instrumental in increasing the conversions- however, you should time them just right, and use non-aggressive, but persuasive language.
Timing is of vitality here as well- Time it too early, the visitor will want to leave because they’re feeling hounded. Time it too late, and the visitor has already left for another tab. However, you don’t have to guess here- you can do the A/B test to find out the perfect time to make your modal box pop up.
6. Have strong calls to action
Having a clear call to action is one of the easiest ways to ensure that a user stays on the page, and interacts with it further. By having a call to action, not only are you assuring the user of further engagement, you’re also guiding them towards engagement that would be useful for you.
As an ecommerce site, if you have a free shipping policy, or free trials, or discounts going on, you should definitely have those listed prominently as well- maybe the customer is not ready to buy from you, but not necessarily unwilling to engage with your site.
7. Have a prominent search feature
One reason for a high bounce rate could be that people are not finding the information they came to the site for. Here, the simple solution is to provide a search bar, placed in a prominent place on the website, so that the user knows that they can use this option, instead of exiting immediately.
Here, you should keep two things in mind:
- If you’re offering a search option on your site, it needs to be linked to a strong site-search solution. Without this, no matter what keywords or search terms the users enter, they won’t be able to find the right match.
- You should pay attention to the size of the search bar as well. The ideal box is 27 characters wide (note that most search boxes are only 18 characters). However- if it is not possible for you to devote resources for such a large search tab, you can come up with workarounds- like making the search bar sticky or dynamic.
8. Make it more customer friendly with live chat options
The quickest way to improve your bounce rate is by ensuring customers have multiple modes of engaging with your page. For a client facing website, a simple way of doing this is by implementing a live chat option. 73% customers felt more satisfied after using live chat- a number way higher than customer satisfaction scores for email, social media, or even telephone!
9. Speed it up!
Speed is one of the most important factors determining bounce rates- 40% people leave a page if it takes more than 4 seconds to load. You can see the loading time for all your pages using tools- like Google Page Insights, or Pingdom.
All you have to do is go to Google PageSpeed Insight tool, and enter your URL in the bar. Start the analysis, and you’ll get a report of your site’s speed and pain points.
You can also use tools like Pingdom. You just have to go Pingdom Website Speed Test, enter your URL in the search tab, and you’ll get a detailed breakdown of each page’s speed.
10. Make external links open in new windows
If you’re running a blog, or you’re referencing an external site, there is a chance you’re losing audience because of leading people to these external sites, without making them open in a new tab.
Sites like WordPress allow you to design pages in a way that all external links will open in a new tab. If you can’t find the option- just add target=”_blank at the end of all your external links, and you’re done!
11. Add more internal links
A good way of keeping your bounce rate low, and user engagement high, is by adding more internal links. This way, you’ll allow people to navigate around your site more, and help them organically find what they’re looking for.
12. Make your site friendly across platforms
The users of your website might be accessing it from different browsers, and devices- whether it is a desktop, laptop, mobile, or tablet. By making your web design more responsive, you’re improving the viewing experience a person has when visiting your site. Having responsive design is of high importance to certain industries like ecommerce, where the traffic from mobile has been increasing by 15% every single year!
Go to Google Analytics > Audience > Mobile > Devices, and you’ll get a breakdown of analytics divided according to the device used.
You can also find the browser breakdown by selecting Technology > Browser & OS. If you’re noticing a higher bounce rate for specific devices or browsers, you know there is a compatibility issue that has to be fixed.
Improving your bounce rate is not an activity that can be done in mere minutes- it can be a daunting task, but it is one that’s worth investing time into. First, identify what is a good bounce rate for your industry, then narrow down the steps that would help you achieve the same! Remember: your bounce rate will fluctuate depending on the page, and the season, so don’t focus only on the number. Focus on providing your customers with an engaging and fulfilling experience, and the rewards will follow!
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