6 Common Reasons Organic Bounce Rates are So Damn High

Jen Saunders
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Are you feeling bewildered, deflated, and moderately gutted because your website’s organic bounce rates are so damn high? A high bounce rate tells Google that people hate your content, and when Google demotes your position in the SERPs (as a result), fewer organic visitors will engage your website. But take a step back and don’t hit the panic button just yet. There are a number of reasons why this is likely happening, and these causes can be easily ameliorated.

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Let Your Ego Slide

Keeping up with the Jones, asking another guy how much he benches…as human beings we all get curious from the place of the ego. If we want to know how others engage our competitor’s website as a basis for comparison, this is fine, just don’t let ego cloud your logic (trust me, I’ve seen this before). The best practice is to know the grading system while keeping your competitor in mind but not the focal point, and stay focused on yourself while making all the possible changes necessary to improve your bounce rate. According to a study by RocketFuel, this is the grading system for gauging bounce rate:

  • 25% or Lower – Something is likely broken
  • 26-40% – Excellent
  • 41-55% – Average
  • 56-70% – Higher than normal (depending on the website)
  • 70% or Higher – Bad. Something is likely broken.

How to Check Your Organic Bounce Rate

Although you can see your overall bounce rate by clicking on the Audience Overview tab in Google Analytics, to check the organic bounce rate you will need to access the acquisition tab, click on all traffic, and select the organic channel.  As you can see, the bounce rate in this GA screenshot reveals an average mid-range bounce rate that has the potential for moving into the 26-40% grouping.

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Determining Why Your Bounce Rate is so High

Determining why your bounce rate is so damn high is no easy task. Harder yet is knowing how to fix the problem. It is recommended that organizations take the time to research far and wide from the best SEO agencies while looking for an ideal partner to undertake complex tasks like this, and others that are disabling maximum growth potential. In the meantime, here are six common reasons why bounce rates grow out of control.

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1. Your Website has a Slow Load Speed

Having a website with a slow load speed is like having a virtual noose around your neck. First, the average person will give up on viewing your site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Because Google has long since indicated that site speed is a component of their ranking algorithm, you should be focused on it anyway if you care about increasing your organic traffic. Back to bounce rates; often it will take three or four seconds to load and by the time the web page appears, people are so disgusted at the user experience thus far they will bounce out and go to a competitor’s site. Fixing site speed is a big endeavor for webmasters and SEO experts, but the positive side of the coin is that with every little incremental fix, you will see a boost in site speed. Not ready to partner with an agency? You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to get specific recommendations for improving your site speed, such as compressing your images, defer JavaScript loading, and leveraging browser caching.


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2. Giving the User Everything they Want on One Page

In some cases, single web pages offer the user everything they are looking for. This can be an amazing thing, especially if they can convert from leads to buyers on that page. You also might have a page that simply asks people to complete a form. Either way, these individuals will be spending less time on your site thus feeding the bounce rate monster. On the flip side, if they are converting, then why change anything? After all, your goal is to increase sales and not have a healthy bounce rate with empty pockets.

In order to gauge if the bounce rate is something you shouldn’t even be worried about, go into Google Analytics and look at the Average Session Duration and Time Spent on Page. If users are dedicating a few minutes to more pages, this sends positive signals to Google that they found your content to be highly meaningful and relevant to their needs.

Properly optimized landing pages with quick-hit CTA forms generally experience session durations of less than a minute. If this is the case, consider enticing visitors to read some of your blogs. You can create a wrapper advertising three relevant blogs that take the reader to yet another page while prolonging their time spent on your site.

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3. Misleading Meta Description and Title Tag

It is important that your title tag and meta description accurately summarizes the content on your page. If this isn’t the case, visitors can enter your site expecting to find certain information, and then bounce out in annoyance feeling deceived. If your game is clickbait. First of all, this isn’t 2002; clickbait is a thing of the past because it no longer works (it actually hurts you with a high bounce rate and you will begin to fall in rankings). But in most cases, there is an innocent mistake. This is an easy fix; simply pull down all your tags and meta descriptions and compare them to the page’s content. Then, based on whatever makes sense for your organization, either change the tags and meta to reflect the page or change the content on your pages to reflect the title tags and meta. In most cases, it makes sense to change the title tags and meta, especially if your rankings are in good health.

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4. Obnoxious UX

If you are blasting web visitors with pop-up surveys, ads and email subscribe buttons, these obnoxious CTA components (as amazing as they may appear to your marketing and sales teams) are likely pissing off your potential customers. In other cases, poor site navigation can kill the user experience and hike up those bounce rates. Another tell-tale sign that your bounce rate is high is if your blog is missing a search box or your navigation menu is hard to access on a mobile device.

We all know our websites inside and out. But remember, what may seem logical and intuitive to us may not strike the user the same way. Partner with a savvy web designer to avoid making any design mistakes, and you should see a decline in your bounce rate.

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5. Rickety Google Analytics Set Up

Organized data lends to optimization strategies to reduce bounce rates, and if your Google analytics is wonky, you are left with a rickey database. Make sure Google analytics has been set up properly with any needed tracking codes added to the pages on your site.

You can use the Google Tag Assistant, a free Chrome extension that lets you know if the tracking codes are firing correctly. Google Tag Assistant also allows you to record a user journey on your website with a hit report sent through the progress. It even reveals any errors that might be lingering.

If you don’t see any data in your Google Analytics account, or if your sessions drop off the face of the earth, you will want to navigate to the Analytics Help section and troubleshoot tracking code setup and no-data issues.

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6. Garbage Content and High Bounce Rates go Hand-In-Hand

I’ll just come out and say it: if you put out crap content, this is likely why your bounce rate is so high. You might be biased, so find someone with a strong background in content marketing or copywriting and ask for their honest feedback.

Starting with the basic quick-fixes, here are some common causes for bad content that can be easily corrected:

  • You write in remedial, simple no-frill language or you write in overly complicated language meant for Ph.D. audiences (really, just write for your buyer personas)
  • Content is not easily scannable with lots of headers and enough white space
  • No images break up the copy or help empower the message
  • The content reads like you are spamming for SEO
  • The content has no logical structure

If you aren’t guilty of committing any of the above faux pas, then you may not be writing for the right audiences. You can have amazing content that tells your brand’s story using oodles of creativity and educational takeaways, but if it doesn’t resonate with your buyer audience, none of this will matter. You likely have more than one buyer persona. Find ways to create holistic content on your main pages that resonates with all customers, and create unique pages of content that speak specifically to your niche audience members. Do this, and you will see a nice drop in your organic bounce rate.

Feel Inspired to Make Some Changes?

If you felt empowered by these tips, we think you will find deeper value in learning about our Digital Marketing Growth Stacks. Improving bounce rates is one part of SEO, and SEO is one of many bricks in our custom Growth Stacks. Download our FREE guide below, and see if this comprehensive strategy makes sense for your business.
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