Lower Your Bounce Rate in 12 Simple Steps
For all the metrics you're likely to be tracking for your business or on your website, generally, there's one rule of thumb; the bigger the better.
Whether it's clicks, visitors, sales or conversions, the more the merrier is usually what you're going for. The higher the number, the better you're doing, right? Well that's not ALWAYS the case. When it comes to Bounce Rate, you want that as LOW as possible.
If you have your own website or even work in digital marketing for clients (like us), high bounce rates are the fly in the ointment because it's inversely proportional to the leads received.
In other words, the higher your bounce rate, the fewer leads you get, so it makes it sense to focus on DECREASING your bounce rate to INCREASE the number of potential leads (and therefore customers).
Look at it another way, the longer someone spends on your website, whether they are browsing your store, reading your blogs or finding out more about your business, the more time they have to get to know you and the more time you get to convert them from visitors into customers! Make sense? Good.
What Does Bounce Rate Mean?
Before we get into how to reduce it, let's take a look at what a bounce rate is for those unfamiliar with the term.
In the world of website analytics, a 'bounce' occurs when you get a visitor to your website who only looks at one page, then leaves without doing anything else or taking any other action.
They land on one page, either deliberately or accidentally, but from there don't browse your store, read any of your blogs nor do they sign-up to your wonderfully interesting newsletter. Nothing. Nada. Nowt!
The Bounce Rate is simply the ratio (measured as a percentage) of those one-and-done visitors against the total number of visitors your site gets.
What Should My Bounce Rate Be?
In a perfect world, your bounce rate (not to mention ours and everyone else's) should be zero but, in realistic terms, it's not only unlikely but basically impossible.
A positive bounce rate is an unavoidable part of running a website, but whilst zero might be unobtainable, you can optimise your website to get it as low as possible.
The average bounce rate across all industries is 47%. Some are generally higher than others; with B2B industries having the highest at around 75% and Energy industry has the lowest at 38%.
Across the board, anywhere between 25% - 40% is considered pretty good, 40% - 70% is about average, whereas if your rate is over 80%, then you've got some serious work to do, so it's a good job you're here!
It's also worth pointing out that bounce rates also vary by device.
Visitors to a website using a mobile device have an average bounce rate of 51%, for tablets it's slightly better at 45% whereas on a desktop computer it's down to 43%, so it's important take into account HOW visitors engage with your website when looking to make changes.
What Are The Reasons For High Bounce Rates?
It's impossible to give one definitive reason why visitors only look at one page on your website then leave, but there are a number of factors that might help shed some light on that question.
One of the main reasons is that they're just not getting the experience they want, the content they expect, or it could be they're not seeing the products or services they are looking for.
People, on average, stay on a website for around 15 seconds, so that's not a lot of time to capture their attention.
They are also inundated with choices online, so if they're not getting it from you, they'll just go somewhere else to find it.
Even if you have great content, they may just be frustrated or annoyed by pop-up windows, adverts or perhaps the site itself isn't user-friendly or offers them a good user experience.
What can you do about it? We're glad you asked!
If you're looking at your bounce rate because it's heading the wrong way (i.e. upwards) then we've put together 12 simple steps you can make to your website to help reverse that trend, starting with...
1. Improve How Your Website Looks
It's an obvious place to start, but it's also an important one. Your website is probably the most front-facing aspect of your brand and the one with which people will engage the most, so it has to look its best.
A website that's nice to browse around decreases your bounce rate as people enjoy interacting with it, but how do you do that?
Design is often subjective, but having an attractive colour scheme, modern design, easy-to-read fonts and clear navigation always helps.
The colour palette you choose also can have an impact on how your visitors feel and the emotions it ignites within them.
If you want to find out more about the emotional impact of colour, please take a look at this blog that talks about it in much more detail.
When it comes to content, as obvious as it might sound, make sure the basics are right. That means that;
the text is large enough for people to read
the font is clear enough to be understandable
images are high quality (but not so high that they take an age to load) and
the overall design suits your target market.
Sometimes it helps to take a step back from the design of the site and get some opinions of people you trust, especially if you've designed the site yourself.
Ask them what they think and that might help you understand why people aren't sticking around. What might seem perfectly clear to you, might not to someone else.
2. Make Sure Your Website is Responsive
The majority of visitors to most websites now come from mobile devices, which shouldn't be much of a shock to anyone given the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, but it should tell you that your website needs to be responsive to work just as well on smaller screens.
Whilst all the websites we build here at CubeSquared are ALL responsive as standard (you're welcome), that's not the case for everyone else.
If you've got a website that isn't responsive, then that might be hurting your bounce rate (not to mention everything else). If the user experience on a phone or tablet isn't a good one, they'll leave.
To rectify this, simply make sure your website responds to the device on which it's being viewed. This includes making the design work on smaller screens and optimising the text, images and videos.
This might mean adjusting the design of the site itself to suit the smaller real estate or even removing certain elements that would be too small to realistically use on a much smaller screen, i.e. images may not be clear when shrunk down or videos take too long to load over mobile data networks.
In many ways, web design is more important on smartphone screens because of the limited space, so make sure visitors can still easily navigate your site and take the actions you want them to take, no matter what device they're using.
Speaking of which....
3. Site Navigation
People will come to your website for a variety of reasons; whether they're looking for a particular product to buy, hire you to provide a service or learn some new information. Whatever that reason may be, they are going to want to find it quickly.
If they have to navigate a labyrinthian maze of menus or click around ambiguous links aimlessly looking for what they want because the content isn't well sign-posted, that's a recipe for disaster (and a high bounce rate).
Depending on what your business does, the audience you have and the type of website you run, your site structure will vary.
If, for example, you have a menu-heavy design due to the range of products you sell, make sure they're mapped out with appropriate categories / sub-categories in your menus. Also, make sure links are highlighted and headings are bold so people can differentiate them.
For those of you with a blog, consider adding a table of contents on longer posts and include headings and links to help people find related content. It's also a good idea to link blogs that share similar or relevant topics to encourage further reading and keep them on your site.
If all else fails, ensure you have an easily accessible 'Search' box on the site for people to use (like we have at the top and centre of every page).
Let's not forget that efficient site navigation doesn't just help reduce your bounce rate by keeping visitors on your site, it also strengthens your SEO efforts as a whole.
A well-designed navigational structure is easier for search engines to crawl and therefore helps them to index your pages more effectively.
4. Speed Up Your Loading Time
People are increasingly less patient online and our collective attention span is very short.
On social media, most people will scroll through their timelines very quickly, only stopping on images that catch their attention and instantly moving on if it doesn't warrant further attention. Your website is much the same.
If your website takes too long to load, and we're talking 3 seconds or more, most people will move on. It's also a ranking signal for Google and other search engines, so if your site is deemed to be slow by our search overlords, your ranking is negatively affected.
There are a number of factors that will impact your site's load times. If, for example, your site has a lot of photos or videos, then these will take longer to load because their file size is higher, so make sure they're fully optimised.
If you use the WordPress platform then make sure any plug-ins you are using are all up-to-date and if there are any you're no longer using, uninstall them. It's better for them to be gone, rather than have them sitting working in the background using up valuable resources.
You can also enable browser caching which stores more site data within the user's browser, so any revisits to your site load quicker for them.
Even if your website is purring like a well-oiled kitten, it might still be impacted by your hosting server which plays a pivotal role in the loading time of your site.
It's quite common for people to try and cut costs by hosting their website with companies who use poor (i.e. slow) hosting servers where connection speeds are woeful. If that might be you, it may be time to reconsider.
For the record, all the servers we use have an average loading time of 1.02 seconds ;-)
5. Top of The Pop-Ups
If you think back a decade or so and visited almost any website, you'd be greeted with an endless stream of pop-up windows; most of them adverts, links to web-based games, click baiting headlines or promises of untold wealth. As you closed one, another would appear. They were f**king annoying, to say the least!
Over the years, the trend for multiple pop-up windows has mostly disappeared from all but the dodgiest of websites and even if they do still exist, most browsers and ad-blockers have got pretty good at suppressing them so you don't see them anyway.
Google also now penalises sites that have too many pop-ups, but that doesn't mean they've disappeared or you should eliminate them completely.
Too many of them are annoying, but pop-ups that are done well and remain relevant can be engaging, help you convert visitors and generate high-quality leads.
However, if you have multiple pop-up windows on your site appearing one after another advertising your latest offers, newsletter sign-ups or event promotions, they may be contributing to your high bounce rate as people will find them frustrating having to close them all the time.
Creating a pop-up that works for you, rather than against you, needs to take into account two things; its purpose and its timing.
If you ARE going to use pop-ups, first think about what the purpose is going to be. Is it designed to capture emails address through newsletter sign-ups or to offer a freebie? What purpose will it serve you and the customer? If it's just there because you think you need one or a competitor has one, that's not a good enough reason.
You will also need to consider the aesthetics of the pop-up; its colour, the text and the call-to-action but above all that, start by thinking about what value it adds to the customer's experience.
Once you know its purpose, whatever it might be, coupled together with your target audience, you can create effective pop-ups.
The other key aspect is the timing of the pop-up. Most are triggered by time, i.e. they will appear once a visitor has been on the site for 'x' number of seconds.
You don't want it to appear the instant someone lands on your site and are just trying to get their bearings, nor do you want it to appear too late before they've already left. Finding that perfect time will be a case of trial and error, but once you have it, it can work wonders.
6. Create Quality Content
We've said it before and we'll say it again. Content is king.
The need to create original, engaging and SEO-optimised content is something people are always going to be looking for and it's more important now than ever, but it's also easier said than done.
The web is filled with cookie-cutter, generic posts that might hit one of those three targets, but if your content is not giving visitors what they want, they'll soon bounce away.
A couple of months ago (as we write this) back in August 2022, Google released its 'Helpful Content' update.
Whilst Google regularly updates its algorithm, one of the key aspects of this update was, in Google's own words, "people-first content". What this means is that Google will reward content that gives visitors a satisfying experience.
We're all still working out quite what impact it has and what it means in real terms, but basically try to write content that helps people, and not just content that ticks the generic SEO boxes.
Give them something they can't get anywhere else. That could be the content itself, the style or tone it's written in or the topic being discussed. Original content is king (still).
As we move from 2022 into 2023 and beyond, we're also seeing the rise of AI-generated content. This brings with it a whole new set of challenges.
Sure it will be more than capable of creating the right meta tags, grammar and spelling. It will no doubt hit all the right SEO-targeted keywords it's told to, but will it generate content that's actually helpful for the reader, rather than just a selection of keywords?
The jury's still out, but for sure it will get better over time.
What we do know is that quality content is still highly important. When you're sitting down to create it, ask yourself some key questions.
What is your target audience looking for?
What help do they need?
Will it give your audience value?
You know your audience better than anyone (or you should) and will be able to engage with them using the language you both share. Something an AI will often miss.
Creating quality content never ends. Don't think writing one blog means your job is done! You need to add fresh, engaging and original content regularly to give people a reason to come back to your site, rather than read one piece and go.
If writing isn't your thing, then let us do it for you! Get in touch and talk to us about what you need and we'll tell you how we can help!
7. Don't Forget Readability
Once you got some killer content, one aspect that is often overlooked is making sure it's readable.
We covered a little bit about how your site looks right back in Section 1, but there's no harm in reiterating it when it comes to the content itself.
However good your content is, if it's hard to read then no one will get that far. Readability covers things obvious things like the font and the size of the text, but there's more to it than that.
It looks at the content as a whole and whether it's interesting to look at, not just that it contains useful information.
If you're writing a blog post, try and avoid lengthy paragraphs. Huge chunks of text can be off-putting. Instead, break them down into smaller sections with just a few sentences in each, just like we do in this post. Add coloured text to emphasise points, like this.
Also, keep your text aligned and keep it standardised throughout. Whilst you might think it looks cool to have some text left-justified, some centred and some fully justified. Staying with one helps readers understand the piece, especially across different screen sizes.
If it is a longer piece, add relevant headings, sub-headings and even bullet points (where appropriate) to keep the post visually interesting and organised.
The obvious inclusions in most posts are images and video. As long as they're relevant to the overall post, then they also make it much more appealing and therefore readable.
Finally, don't be afraid of including other things like graphs, polls, and tables where data or statistics could be illustrated more attractively. If they come from a study, always add links to the source to give it relevance and authority.
8. Add Visually Engaging Content
As important as content is, it's king by the way, did we mention that already? There's more to great content than just words on a page.
As we touched on earlier, you have to have quality content to drive traffic and that's often helped by including more visually interesting content like photos, illustrations, videos, infographics, etc.
Whilst they can rarely fully replace the written word, they do really improve how it looks and make it more interesting for people to read. People are attracted to more visually engaging content so give them some.
If they're more engaged with your content, the more likely they are to want more of it, so will check out of what you offer.
The longer they're on your site, the more content they'll look at, the lower your bounce rate becomes. It also has the added bonus of increasing the likelihood that those visitors will become customers.
If you are wanting to include more video as part of your content, then bear in mind that it will impact your site's loading time (as per #4).
To negate this, you could add a small preview of any video content you have, then redirect them to the full-length version hosted on your social media platforms, i.e. your YouTube channel, Facebook page or Instagram account.
Alternatively, you could also embed the video on a page, rather than host it on your website in its entirety.
9. Linking Strategies & Anchor Text
Linking plays an important role on your website. Links play a crucial role in your position in search results, the user experience whilst on the site and SEO in general.
Links also have an impact when it comes to reducing your bounce rate, providing they are included in your linking strategy and support the structure of your website.
They help visitors navigate around the site (aka internal links), helping them to find other pages and content that might be useful or relevant to them, keeping them on the site longer.
Whilst it's tempting to have loads of links on your pages pointing visitors here, there and everywhere in between, resist that temptation.
Adding unnecessary links, or link stuffing as it's sometimes known, impacts the user experience and actual increases your chances of a higher bounce rate. Add them where they're useful or necessary, but don't add them for the sake of it.
When you do see a place for them, pay attention to the anchor text of the link. This is the path between the reader and the page the link goes to, so it needs to clear about what it is, so users can decide whether to click it or not.
Links shouldn't just say things like 'Click Here' with no context about where 'here' is. Make sure your anchor text is clear about what it is for and where it goes, but make it appealing!
For any links you do use, make sure they open in a new tab (or window) rather than the same one. Navigating back and forth can get frustrating for users.
It's also a good idea to make it part of your routine to check for broken links which can also negatively impact the user experience and reduce your SEO efforts. These can often occur from past promotions or links to previous products / services you may no longer sell.
10. Targeted Keywords
Another important factor that affects your bounce rate but is also often overlooked are those all-important targeted keywords.
Why are they important? Well if you don't include your well-researched targets keywords throughout your site, you're more likely to be included in unrelated or random web searches, few, if any of them will be related to what you do.
Sure you'll get some traffic, but if people click on those links and end up on your site, they'll quickly see that you don't have what they're looking for, so they'll bounce away increasing your rate.
11. Add Engaging Meta Descriptions
For all the great content you have on your website, it's often the less obvious aspects that get overlooked which can affect your ranking.
If people can't find your great content or aren't sign-posted to it, then it doesn't matter how good it is, no-one will read it. This includes things like keywords (mentioned previously) and meta descriptions.
When people search online and they get given pages of results, known as SERPs. Within the list, there's a brief piece of text about a website (or page) called a 'meta description'.
A meta description basically describe what your webpage is about, as shown below. This can help people understand the content before they visit and should hopefully encourage them to click it, e.g. in the graphic below, the text under the 'Our Blog - CubeSquared Digital' is our meta description for this blog.
Whilst it may not seem directly relevant to your bounce rate, it's important to remember that this is the first impression people get about your site. It can be the difference between a visit (and a potential sale) or no visit at all.
Your meta description should contain targeted keywords, but resist the temptation to stuff them in there. It should maintain a natural flow and be short, concise and descriptive.
12. Monitor Your Sites Metrics. Always.
Deep breath, we're nearly there!
Once you've made changes and you start to see your bounce rate coming down, it doesn't guarantee that it will always be heading that way.
Bounce rate, just like the wider SEO landscape, needs constant monitoring to stay on top of. Your rate can go up or down without any effort from you, all thanks to search algorithms.
The algorithms search engines like Google use are constantly changing, some updates are small with little impact, but there are regular 'core updates' that can fundamentally alter parameters like page ranking, click-through rates, performance of keywords and yes, bounce rates!
Once updates are implemented, they can have an impact on how your site ranks, sometimes a huge impact. What worked perfectly well yesterday may not be as effective today, thanks to an update out of your control. That's why you need to stay across of your site's metrics, including bounce rate!
Thankfully, free tools like Google Analytics are great options to help you monitor your website and see how your metrics are being affected. You'll be able to see how changes you make affect the bounce rate (as well as other aspects of your site) so make an effort to check them regularly.
SQUARING THE CIRCLE
As we said earlier, there's no one definitive reason why your bounce is high, but the user experience is often a key factor, so if you're going to focus your efforts anywhere, look at the user experience first.
When building or refining your website keep in mind that as much as you understand how it's structured and how it works and YOU love it, your myriad of visitors might not share your view.
Concentrate on delivering a positive user experience and you'll go a long way to reducing your bounce rate. Ask yourself if your website helps visitors to solve their query and if it does, is the solution easy to find? If it doesn't, then you've got more work to do.
If in doubt, get some people whose opinion you trust to use the site and see what they think before making changes.
Pay attention to the obvious things, colour palette, fonts, images, video and design on your site. Don't pick a font that's hard to read, no matter how cool it might look!
Also, think about whether your design works on smaller screens and make sure everything looks just as good on pocket-sized screens as it does on the largest desktop.
Websites, like fashion or food, move with trends so it's important stay on top of them. That doesn't mean you have to change your website design every 5 minutes, but it's a good idea understand the changing tastes people have and adjust accordingly.
Again, your metrics will help you know when this may be needed and this includes your targeted keywords too! Here's to lower bounce rates for everyone!
Is there anything you think we've missed that people should know to lower their bounce rate? How have you tackled your own bounce rate? What worked for you? Did any of these tips help you lower your rate? Let us know in the comments below.
If you've got any friends or colleagues that you think would benefit from this, then please feel free to share it with them.
If you need any help with copywriting, your website design or your SEO, please get in touch and we'd be delighted to help you out. You can get in touch with us on social media (linked at the top of the page) or via the form on our Contact Us page. We look forward to hearing from you.
Original blog photo courtesy of Joshua Coleman on Unsplash