What is a bounce rate and how do I improve it?

Most web analytic tools like Google Analytics track and report bounce rates. Bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits (or web sessions) not to be confused with the exit rate (we will cover exit rate in a future post). The bounce rate is the percentage of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further. Google analytics calculates and reports the bounce rate of a web page and bounce rate of a website. These single-page sessions have a session duration of 0 seconds since there are no subsequent hits after the first one that would let Analytics calculate the length of the session.

Put more simply, a bounce occurs whenever a user enters your website/page and does not further interact with the elements on said page or any other pages on your site. It can be a useful indicator of where problems are occurring on your website.

Is a high bounce rate a bad thing?

It depends. 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. It may indicate the content of your website is not targeted to the needs and wants of the visitors or that your website was too difficult to use.

On the other hand, if you have a single-page site like a blog, or your visitor entered on an internal page or other informational page, the types of content you would expect a single-page session and a high bounce rate is perfectly normal.

What is “good” bounce rate?

This again depends on the type of website you have and the industry you are in. Typically, a bounce rate of 26-40% is considered excellent, 41-55% is average and 56-70% is higher than average. Anything over 70% is concerning for all sites except for blogs, news, events, etc.

Looking at bounce rates for different industries. On the high end, a food & drink website will have a higher bounce, usually in the 60% range. Restaurants websites typically offer concise information on their websites for location, hours, phone numbers, etc., on the home page with most users bouncing after viewing the information they came for. If we look at the low end, a real estate or shopping website, their bounce rate falls in the 40% range. These types of websites encourage browsing other pages, looking at listings or product offerings.

If you have a bounce rate under 20%, it is not time to congratulate yourself. When over 75% of your visitors do not bounce the cause is most likely your websites analytic implementation is broken. Some possible causes could be duplicate analytics code, incorrectly implemented event tracking, third party add-ons. The only time we have seen this low of a bounce rate is when the website was built in such a way that forces most users to take at least one action before leaving, e.g. a gateway or landing page they have to pass through before reaching the main website. Bounce rate is typically thought of as a quick way to measure user engagement (through meeting the user’s needs and usability), and gateways are often contrary to everything other than aggravating people.

Consider the intent of the user and the purpose of your website and content. Are you in an industry that will have a higher bounce rate? Does your home page provide the relevant information needed? Then you are good. If your website has calls to action or an introduction on the home page and visitors will need to click on an internal page, a high bounce is a cause for concern.

What does all this mean and how can you lower your bounce rate?

We now have an idea of what is considered a good bounce rate and how the type of website you have can affect that rate. Rather than worrying that your website bounce rate is higher than average, work to improve it in relevant areas other than a blog or news section.

Make sure your site is easy to navigate. Navigation should be intuitive and effortless for visitors. There should be clear direction of where the content that they are looking for is. If your site in not easy to navigate they will most likely bounce from the site.

Make Site Search Easy. A global site search is an extremely useful tool to have on a website and helps your visitor find what they are looking for.

If a user is searching for something specific and they do not see it on the page, they can use the search function to find it instead of leaving the page or site entirely without completing their purpose of visiting your site.

Is your website mobile friendly? Mobile users have less patience than desktop users, your website should have a responsive design to ensure a solid user experience across all screens.

Ease of readability. The content on your webpages should be easy to read and understand. If you are using highly technical or industry jargon for a site not meant for your peers, you are going to leave your visitor confused and frustrated.

Your website should explain your services or products simply. Show your expertise with client testimonials or pictures of before, during and after.  Having a page where you talk about your experience and education/training is perfectly acceptable. Your customers want to know why they should do business with you and if they cannot understand what you are saying they will leave your website.

One of the primary things that help with overall readability of a site is the length of content. Your pages should provide the information your customers need but in a format that can be quickly read for the information they are searching for.

Another focus area when it comes to readability is to create various forms of content for the user, as opposed to solely text. Video content easily grabs attention, more so than plain copy as does high quality images. Captivating the attention of visitors to your website could potentially reduce bounce rates.

Make sure you are using relevant keywords on your pages. The keywords should be applicable to the page and the site. If a site is ranking high for a keyword, but the site does not have any content about that keyword topic, the user will quickly bounce from the website. They may also feel disappointed and mislead with their experience with your website and that may decrease their trust in your business.

Make sure your website is targeted to your audience. Identify your core target audience and create content around that audience. Targeting should not be too broad as there is a greater chance or getting users who are not looking for what your site features.

Knowing who your customer is and focusing on them will help ensure that you are finding people who are looking for what your site has to offer. These users will be more engaged and more likely to spend more time exploring your site.

Like relevant keywords, relevant content, overall, should be used across the site, and the right users should be targeted.

Avoid Popup. Most users find popups and ads throughout pages irritating, frustrating and invasive. They disrupt a positive user experience.

Convincing and attractive call to action. A call-to-action (CTA) should be clearly visible on a website and compelling so that the user is enticed to click on it. The user should be able to locate your call-to-actions within the first few seconds of being on a page.

Limit broken links. Many broken links will only create a user experience leaving your visitors frustrated if they cannot locate the content they want to find.

Have an internal link strategy. Focus on increasing the likelihood of a user staying on your site by using internal links to keep a user on your site. Internal links will take the user directly to the page they may be looking for. An example of this would be talking about different services or products on your home page and having internal links for each of the items/services mentioned.

External links. Make sure any external links on your site open in a new tab when clicked on. You do not want your user leaving your page, you are offering additional information from an external source. You want them to come back to your page when done reading what you linked to.

Create a 404 page that is helpful. A 404 page is a page that cannot be found and gives the message exactly that. Page not found. This could be caused by a missed broken link or the user error.

Your 404-page catches visitors who click on that broken link so that they will not get bounced off your site or rerouted to a broken page. Instead, they will get a simple error message that says, “Page Not Found,” and they can go back and start over.

Instead of the user clicking off your site it should provide options for the user to navigate and stay on your site. It can provide links to your home page or other internal pages that make sense.

It should also provide alternative options for a user to navigate to so that they do not leave the site. Links on 404 pages are so important because they give users a way out of the error page.

Show credibility. Many people research a company online before engaging in business with them. They want to make sure that they are doing business with a reputable company. They look at the content on your website and assess how reliable and secure it seems.

To help build credibility and increase trust with visitors make sure your sight has a secure socket license (SSL) that is the little padlock you see next to the URL on secured sites. On websites without an SSL Google has “not secured” in front of the URL.

It is also a good idea to include positive reviews of whatever products and/or services your site features. Whether they are reviews that you add to your website or a feed from review sites like Yelp, Google, Home Advisor, etc., these will show your potential customers that your are trustworthy and provide the product/service as stated.

If the bounce rate on your website has your concerned, talk to your webmaster about how you can improve your website to help lower it. If you are ready for new redesigned website give us a call at 877-577-6932. Pro Web Marketing is here to help make your website deliver results.

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