One of the most important pieces of data that we can collect from a website is the bounce rate. Bounce rates help us determine the “stickiness” of a website and the effectiveness of our on-site and off-site optimization. While information such as conversion rates and total traffic is important as well, the bounce rate is essentially telling a business owner and their marketing team if it is time to make changes.
What Is a Bounce Rate?
Graham Charlton over at Search Engine Watch provided us with an excellent look at bounce rates and how they can affect a digital marketing campaign. His article titles “14 Ways to Reduce Your Site’s Bounce Rates” covers exactly what a bounce is and what a marketing team can do to limit them. Bounce rates are used to track the number visitors that leave a website without viewing additional pages or taking a specific action (which must be set as such in your analytics tracker).
Bounce rates are often confused with exit rates that are used to track which pages visitors leave from, regardless of where they were before on the site. Some confuse a “bounce” with an immediate exit from a site, but in fact a user may be on the initial page for 30 minutes, but if the user doesn’t navigate elsewhere on the site, it’s a bounce. Basically, no second page or beyond, and no designated goal action (watching a video for example, or filling out a form) = a bounce.
Unless your goal is to engage readers in a daily post, and nothing else, which may be true for some bloggers, your site’s bounce rate is a clear indication of how effective your online marketing is and the usability of your site.
Bounce Rates and Search Engines
When it comes to large search engines such as Google, a bounce takes place when the visitor did not have their expectations met by a certain page, or weren’t compelled by what they read, and therefore left without going to any additional pages
Why Do Bounce Rates Matter?
Having a high bounce rate is detrimental to your site for two reasons. The first reason is that it is a sign something is wrong with your marketing or your website. You and your marketing team will need to inspect your SEO campaign to uncover and fix any major problems. The second reason is that a high bounce rate will negatively impact your SERP rankings. Google can use these numbers to determine how relevant your website was to that particular search. In their eyes, having visitors immediately exit your website most likely means that another site would better serve their needs.
Reducing Your Website’s Bounce Rate
There is no magic number when it comes to exactly what your bounce rate should be. A good landing page can have a bounce rate of 98 percent while an unsuccessful site might have bounce rates as low as 20 percent. It all depends on exactly what demographics the website owner is looking to attract. A site that provides nothing more than contact information could have high bounce rates and still be relatively successful. Other sites might be pushing for consumers to move through multiple pages before finally making an online purchase.
With all that in mind, here is a look at some of the steps that can be taken to lower your bounce rates and improve your site’s efficiency.
Start With Your Load Times
Many visitors will leave a website in as little as two or three seconds if the page doesn’t load. It is important that all landing pages load as quickly as possible on both desktops and mobile devices. Having slow load times will affect your bounce rates, SERP rankings, and mobile rankings.
Avoid Intrusive Ads
Pop-ups, rollover ads, and autoplay media can wreak havoc on a website’s bounce rates. Many visitors will leave a website if they do not immediately see the information that they were searching for, and wading through multiple layers of ads or finding audio players to pause is a good way to scare people off.
Avoid Clickbait Links at all Costs
It is an unfortunate fact that clickbait links have become commonplace throughout the Internet. Clickbait links generally combine tantalizing headlines with shocking photos and send traffic to second-rate sites. All links leading into and out of your site should deliver on their headline.
Give Visitors the Information They Want
Business owners should put themselves in their clients’ shoes and think about what type of information they really want. Graham Charlton gives us a good example of this by taking a look at TripAdvisor’s website. Visitors are given all of the information that they need about specific hotels including prices, locations, and reviews. This limits the risk of them heading to other sites for this information.
Add Internal Links
Internal linking is one of the most effective ways to keep traffic on your site for a long period of time and prevent a bounce. Internal links should be used as often as possible (within reason) and provide visitors with additional information that they might need.
Limit External Links
Properly using external links is not always the easiest of tasks because an external link can send visitors away from your website. That being said, it is always a great idea to give credit where credit is due and improve the legitimacy of your information by linking out to reputable sources.
Requiring a visitor to move through multiple pages to read a single article could temporarily reduce your bounce rates, but it will hurt your site in the long run. Many sites use this tactic to artificially improve their numbers without thinking about the satisfaction of the visitor.
Use an Eye-Catching Design
The design of your website could be a customer’s very first impression of your company, and this is why it pays to go the extra mile when it comes to creating an eye-catching layout. Business owners should also strive to have visual continuity across all mediums such as their social media accounts and landing pages.
Make the Information “Skimmable”
Trying to extrapolate useful information from a wall of text is not a fun task. Your information must be broken up into manageable chunks and visitors should be able to skim through the material and pull out all of the key points. This can be done by adding media, sticking to short paragraphs, inputting bullet points, and using bold text.
Optimize for Mobile Devices
Optimizing for mobile devices is a relatively new tactic in the world of SEO, but it has become quite important in recent years. Your landing pages should load quickly on slower connections and the format should scale properly to smaller screens.
Add an Internal Search Bar
Having an internal search bar is a great way to keep visitors on your site for longer, reduce bounce rates, and increase conversion rates. Since every site has a slightly different layout, an internal search bar gives the visitor a simplified way to find the information that they are looking for.
Create a Clear CTA on all Landing Pages
The final goal of your website is to make a conversion. Whether this is signing up for a newsletter or contacting your company for a quote, the call to action should be clear on every single landing page. Since no two sites are identical, the marketing team will need to constantly test and make adjustments with the placement of buttons, phrasing, and even the color scheme.
The Bigger Picture
A bounce rate is an exceptionally important piece of data, but it is only one piece of a much bigger puzzle. When it comes to creating a powerful and far-reaching online presence, you and your marketing team will have to take a comprehensive approach to search engine optimization in order to produce long-term results.