Once you dip your toes into the depths of online marketing, the endless battle for engagement begins. With a bunch of businesses and digital marketing agencies competing for online visibility, the number of visitors you receive determines your SEO success—one way or another.
But what if you get thousands of visitors each month, yet none of them lasts for more than a minute? They don’t get past the landing page, much less buy anything that you offer.
Reducing bounce rate is one of the hottest topics in the SEO industry since time immemorial. Lots of SEO agencies have struggled to hold the attention of users, convert them into leads and get them to click calls-to-action.
This can be scary, especially if you’re in the e-commerce SEO space or a sales-driven field. But fortunately, there are ways you can gain a lower bounce rate through a marketing strategy redesign.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Bounce Rate Meaning: Why Does It Matter?
Image Source: Backlinko
Considered a website analytics parameter, bounce rate refers to the percentage of single-page sessions of a site.
To ‘bounce’ from a website means that a visitor left before making any interaction with your pages like buying a product, leaving a comment or viewing another category from the drop-down menu.
Simply put, a bounce happens when someone enters and leaves without engaging beyond the entrance point of a website (which is a landing page, in most cases). The visit session starts and ends on the first page—nothing more, nothing less.
For example, a user comes across your website through the SERPs and consumes the content of your home page. But that’s it. Before they can even see the rest of your pages, they hit the browser’s back button, resulting in a bounce.
Why does it matter in the first place? In the world of digital marketing, websites should be ‘sticky’. When users land on your site, they must feel to stick around. Your platform should trigger that FOMO (fear of missing out) sense in users, encouraging them to explore the corners of your website.
Because the longer they stay on your platform, the more likely they will purchase something from you.
Is Bounce Rate a Ranking Factor?
You might be wondering if your website’s bounce rate affects your position in the SERPs. However, according to Google, bounce rate does not directly influence rankings. It is therefore not a confirmed Google ranking factor.
But just because it’s not included in Google’s algorithm in determining a site’s rankings doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. It’s still an indicator of whether visitors find your website helpful or not.
Let’s say a huge chunk of users clicks on your page and leaves without clicking on your CTAs. It sends a message to Google that your website isn’t exactly what visitors are looking for.
This can mean a lot of things like your content not matching the user’s search intent. If it goes on for too long, Google will assume that you don’t deserve to be in the top spot of the search results pages.
In short, despite not being considered a ranking factor, Google uses bounce rates as a reliable measurement of the relevance of web pages. Improving your bounce rate may not help your organic ranking, but it can surely tell you if your overall SEO strategy is effective.
Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate: What’s The Difference?
Image Source: AB Tasty
Although they might sound the same, you shouldn’t confuse bounce rates with your exit rate. If you consider them synonymous, it can lead to poor bounce rate analysis and wrong decisions in the long run.
Exit rate is the percentage of users who exit from a specific page on the website. Let’s say you’re comparing bounce rates and exit rates for a confirmation page. It would be scary if it receives a high bounce rate. People are only viewing it without filling out forms, resulting in a low conversion rate.
But it’s not alarming if you see a high exit rate on that page since a confirmation page is the last step in a series of visits. When people exit from it, they probably downloaded an e-book, subscribed to your services and left to further explore the content they found.
This is especially true when you’re in the e-commerce industry. Customers leaving a page after a purchase is a sign that they have completed a satisfactory transaction.
In a nutshell, all bounces are exits, but not every exit is a bounce.
Calculating Bounce Rate: The Formula
Image Source: AB Tasty
To calculate your bounce rate, you should take the percentage of one-page sessions and divide it by the total number of page visits. For instance, if your website has 100 visits over a certain period of time and 40 of them leave without making interactions, the bounce rate is 40%.
This is the formula:
Rb (Bounce Rate) = Tv (Total single-page visits)/Te (Total entrance visits)
For a bounce to count, visitors must perform any of the following actions:
- Entering a URL for a different website;
- Clicking on the back arrow of their chosen browser;
- Closing the tab;
- Clicking on a link to a different domain found on your page;
- Being inactive for more than 30 minutes leads to a session time-out.
What Is a Good Bounce Rate?
When it comes to reducing bounce rates, there is no perfect or ideal number that businesses should aim for. No universal benchmark can be established since it will depend on your target audience and the industry you’re in.
For example, a bounce rate of 70 per cent might be good for one company, while another would find it completely alarming.
Keep in mind that a high bounce rate does not always mean that things are bad or your digital marketing plans aren’t meeting your expectations. If the website aims to attract visitors to specific pages rather than guide them through a sales funnel, then a high bounce rate shouldn’t set off the alarm.
However, if the landing page acts as the gateway for the other pages on your website, reducing the bounce rate should be a priority.
It all boils down to context.
A study conducted by Custom Media Labs has shown that different types of websites vary in average bounce rates:
Image Source: Backlinko
Remember that these numbers are not absolute! They are just ballpark estimates, so take them with a grain of salt.
Moreover, the study also discussed the most common types of web pages that get a reasonably high bounce rate, including:
- Contact Us pages are expected to have higher bounce rates since their main purpose is to only provide basic information like email address, location and phone numbers.
- Bouncing is also high for confirmation pages since it’s typically the last step in the customer journey map. Visitors are expected to leave in a matter of seconds after they send a form or press the confirm button.
- Blog posts receive an average of 65% bounce rate. This is because visitors may immediately leave after getting the information they find relevant.
- If you have a great support website, getting a high bounce rate percentage on your customer support pages is ideal. Visitors have answered their questions through FAQs and don’t need to get in touch with agents.
Where Can You See Your Website’s Bounce Rate?
You can view your bounce rate percentage through Google Analytics (GA). It is located under the Reports tab that includes a data table where you can also find the Acquisition, Behavior and Conversion tabs in the left menu bar.
Image Source: hotjar
If you want to view the bounce rate for individual pages, use the advanced search feature to narrow down the search results. You can include exclusions, inclusions and other dimensions to view the exact page you’re looking for.
You also get the option of excluding a set of pages from your reports if you don’t want them to skew the overall bounce rate percentage.
Let’s say you run an online clothing store. You want to see how your product pages are performing—whether they’re engaging the visitors or not. When you view the numbers on GA, you observe that your blog section is getting more organic traffic. However, you’re more interested in how visitors respond to the rest of the site.
This is how you can prevent the blog section from affecting the numbers:
Why People Leave: Reasons Behind High Bounce Rates
Have you ever visited a new restaurant in town that almost everyone in the neighbourhood can’t stop talking about? But when you stepped inside, you knew deep down that ordering something from the menu might be a waste of money.
And that’s when you realised that you don’t belong in the target market.
The same thing happens when consumers view websites. And if you’re noticing that more and more visitors are bouncing from your platform, here are the possible reasons why:
Slow Page Load Time
According to Kissmetrics, 47% of Internet users expect a two-second load time when viewing a website. Not only that, but 40 per cent of customers will leave your site without hesitation if things take more than three seconds to load.
This is why Google uses page speed in ranking web pages, especially on mobile searches.
So, if the bounce rate on your website is unusually high, the first thing you should do is test your website speed. Use Google’s PageSpeed Tool and enter the web page URL to get started. It will provide potential fixes that can improve your web page’s performance. Make sure that you include this in your regular website maintenance checklist!
Low-Quality And Hard-To-Read Content
A lot of webmasters and SEO experts barely pay attention to the content they publish. They use small fonts, unusual font styles (hi there, Joker!), big blocks of text and colours that don’t blend. This leads to articles, snippets and calls-to-action that are extremely hard to read.
Sure, this might not be a big deal when you’re reading on a 32-inch monitor. But since approximately 92.3% of users worldwide use phones when browsing the Internet, this can worsen your bounce rate.
You also have to pay attention to the overall quality of your content. If you consistently publish blog posts or news articles that aren’t interesting or useful, users won’t feel encouraged to check other pages on your site.
Aside from driving away potential customers, you risk your credibility. That’s why you should have a sound SEO content writing strategy in place!
Poor Website Design and Bad UX
There are several hallmarks of poor website design and bad UX: inconsistent typefaces, a cluttered layout and a hard-to-access navigation menu. Take a look at this example:
The website shown above is a Norwegian classified site. With this kind of design, a horrifyingly high bounce rate shouldn’t be a shock anymore; its poor UX and UI can surely drive away any potential leads!
Always remember that visitors expect a visually appealing, easy-to-navigate website the moment they find your link. Make sure that you invest in website design and implement A/B testing before launching new features!
When you advertise your page the wrong way, a high bounce rate can occur. It means that your website doesn’t meet visitors’ expectations, which is often due to misleading title tags and meta descriptions.
Let’s give you an example. Say a user wants to learn basic tips in programming because they want to change career paths. They click a search result with the headline ‘How to Start Coding: A Beginner’s Guide to Computer Programming’. When they clicked on the link, it’s just filled with promotions of software products instead of helpful tips.
The visitor leaves in an instant, adding to the overall bounce rate percentage.
Lack of CTAs
One of the biggest reasons why users bounce right off the bat is that they don’t know what to do next. In this scenario, the lack of well-designed call-to-action (CTA) banners might be the culprit.
Ensure that you’re guiding them to the right links and directions optimal for the page. For example, if you’re writing a blog post, encourage them to subscribe to your blog updates. You can also insert your products and services so you don’t leave them alone in the dark, clueless about the next step.
How To Significantly Decrease Your Website’s Bounce Rate
Noticing that your bounce rate is getting higher than usual means that your website isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. You might think that everything has been optimised, double-checked and tested, but your Google Analytics record says otherwise.
There’s no need to fret. Just like any other SEO issue, reducing your bounce rate is possible through proven methods. Check them out below:
Get Rid of Popups
Although pop-up ads are a popular technique of online advertising, most Internet users hate them with a burning passion. In fact, 73% of users say they find them irrelevant and annoying.
This is why it leads to a higher bounce rate since it disrupts the user experience. Imagine reading an interesting article, and just when you’re about to read its most exciting part, a small browser window pops up convincing you to buy something. Isn’t that enough to make you leave?
What’s worse, some marketers resort to using aggressive language that doesn’t sit well with a lot of customers.
This doesn’t mean to say that pop-up ads don’t work. They can help improve conversion rates, grab attention and showcase your brand, among other things. But if you like to go down this route, just make sure that they are unobtrusive and well-designed.
Use Smart Formatting
Always check the readability of your text and make sure they are accessible. Don’t let users click on a web page link just to make them feel overwhelmed with intimidating walls of text!
No matter how unique, well-researched and captivating your content is, if it looks like it’s written by a 19th-century French novelist, you’re going to lose your audience.
Use smart formatting to reduce the bounce rate, including:
- Make use of visuals like videos and images to keep visitors engaged.
- Use bulleted points to make skimming easier (just like this!).
- Break your article into digestible chunks of paragraphs.
- Include frequent subheadings so the readers know what they’re getting at.
However, be careful not to overdo it! Putting unnecessary images and headings may make the page incredibly hard to navigate. Trust that your readers understand what they read.
Compare Bounce Rate with Time On Site
Taking your bounce rate percentage out of context can do more harm than good, so do it wisely.
Before making any assumptions about your site’s performance, cross-reference your bounce rate with time spent on the site. This can help you identify if the problem is related to only one web page or the entire platform.
For instance, if the time on site metrics are great but your blog section has a high bounce rate, you may want to reconsider your content marketing strategy.
But if your bounce rate is high and time on site is incredibly low, it’s time to reassess your entire website.
Optimise Page Load Time
Just like what we’ve discussed previously, site speed is important for Internet users. They will run out of patience in the blink of an eye, especially when your site fails to load quickly.
You should also minimise redirect chains as much as possible. They can add several seconds to the overall page load time, preventing you from building a performance-optimised website.
Display Clear and Well-Written Calls To Action
When it comes to writing clear CTAs, it should depend on the customer journey and what your business considers a conversion at every stage.
For instance, if you run an e-commerce website, your CTA could be any of the following:
- Grab special deals before the time runs out.
- Purchase products.
- Add [insert the name of the product] to your cart now and get 10% off.
However, you should avoid cluttering your product category pages and landing pages with several CTAs! Only stick to one action you want potential customers to take. Be honest, clear and straightforward.
Additionally, make sure that you know how to strategically place your CTA. The general rule you can follow is placing CTA buttons ‘above the fold’ on landing pages or the top part of a web page. It makes it easier for users to find it without scrolling through the entire thing.
Add a Search Bar
According to Search Engine Journal, 40% of users consider search bars a vital website feature.
That’s right, including search functionality may just be key in reducing your unbelievably high bounce rate. This is especially true if you manage an e-commerce site and you have thousands of pages categorised in one platform.
With a simple search bar, users can jump from one page to another and make navigation a breeze.
This will also make them stay on your site longer. If they find exactly what they’re looking for, they will be more enticed to explore other sections of your website. They are also more likely to come back, giving you a chance to convert them into paying customers!
Offer The Right Assistance
Every time someone encounters a problem, they’re less likely to stay on their phone and wait for hours just to get in touch with an agent.
They need answers, stat. And to help them save time, it’s highly recommended that you include a FAQ section and a resources pages to answer questions people may have about your services.
You can also add a live chat feature, given that approximately 79% of customers find it the most reliable way of communicating with a company.
Whatever options you choose, make it easy for users to get an answer right away. This is one of the most important and proven tricks in reducing bounce rates.
Build a Logical Internal Linking Structure
One of the most effective ways to reduce bounce rate and improve conversion is to build a clever internal linking structure.
And when we say clever, it means that you should only add links that add value to your pages. Otherwise, your content will sound forced, messy and unprofessional. Here’s an example:
Image Source: WordStream
Before including a link, ask yourself if it’s relevant. Would it be of interest and value to your audience? Will this link help them further understand what you’re trying to discuss and promote without messing up the whole article? If the answer is yes, feel free to add links.
When you’re investigating bounce rates, this is the first thing you should do: always look at the full picture. Don’t just rely on numbers, press the panic button and make changes that don’t truly solve the problem at hand.
Remember, there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach to reducing bounce rates. But at the end of the day, knowing all the possible causes of visitors ‘bouncing’ from your site can save you from a lot of headaches in the long run.
How you use and analyse bounce rates will determine your SEO and UX success. And if you ever need help in further exploring this widely misunderstood metric, the talented team of Roots Digital is ready to help.
What is Bounce Rate?
Bounce rate refers to the overall percentage of visitors who immediately navigate away from a website after only viewing one page.
How can you measure the bounce rate?
To know your bounce rate percentage, head to Google Analytics and view the Reports tab. You can take advantage of the advanced search feature if you want to view the bounce rate of specific pages.
How can I reduce the bounce rate?
Here are some proven and helpful tips for reducing bounce rate:
1. Add a search bar.
2. Offer the right help by adding a FAQ section or a live chat feature.
3. Display a clear call to action.
4. Improve the site speed.
5. Build a logical internal linking structure.
6. Minimise distracting and intrusive pop-up ads.
7. Make texts easier to read through smart formatting.