Is Your Website Too Bouncy? Bounce Rates and What To Do About Them
People make a big fuss about a website's traffic, or how many "hits" a site gets. People rarely mention an important metric that can make hits irrelevant. It's called a bounce rate. A "bounce" happens when someone visits a website but leaves without ever seeing a second page. They're essentially saying, "I came, it stank, I left."
Bounce rates are measured as percentages. They reflect how many visitors bounce compared to the total number of visitors. So if a website has a 75% bounce rate, it means that for every 100 people who visit, 75 will never get past the first page they see. They "bounce" off the site, and on to better things. Two competing sites might get exactly the same amount of traffic, but if website A has a much lower bounce rate than website B, it has a clear advantage.
Know Your Bounce Rates
A website's bounce rate is one of its baseline metrics, and it's measured by just about every website traffic software available. Your website as a whole has a bounce rate (an average of all its pages' bounce rates), and each individual page has a bounce rate. The individual page rates show you which webpages need most attention. Start by looking at the bounce rates of your landing pages, and those with the highest entrance rates. Because these are the pages most people will see first, it's important to reduce their bounciness first.
Ideally, your website statistics software will also let you break down bounce rates by traffic sources – such as referring websites and keywords. With billions of websites competing for eyes, smart site owners realize that traffic quality is just as important as quantity. You want to attract visitors who will turn into customers, and that means getting them past page one.
Perhaps you get a lot of traffic from another website, but most of those referred visitors bounce. Is that particular advertising channel worth the effort? On the other hand, incoming traffic sources with low bounce rates show that the referred visitors are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Identify and grow the traffic sources that send you low bounce rate visitors.
What's a good bounce rate? In today's world of instant gratification bounce rates tend to be on the high side. Most websites have a bounce rate between 60 and 80 percent, though a rate of 30 to 40 percent is a lofty, but achievable, goal. If your bounce rate is above 60 percent, take action. Keep in mind that bounce rates vary by site type. Due to their very nature, blogs usually have higher bounce rates than more traditional websites. Bounce rates will also vary from day to day, week to week, and even season to season.
Reduce Your Bounce Rates
How do you de-bounce your pages? There's no one-size-fits-all solution for reducing bounce rates, because there are many things that may prompt visitors to leave. Here are a few of the most common causes of high bounce rates, and what you can do about them.
Poor Content: Are people leaving your website because they don't see any value in it? If your site is full of products, ads, and little else, few will stay. Unless they're specifically looking to buy what you're selling, they're not going to waste their time. You need to offer real value to your website visitors, not just a "Buy Now" button. Give useful, unique, quality content and they’re sure to stick around. Do it well enough and they'll also tell their friends.
Poor Design: Is your website ugly? Outdated graphics, overpowering colors, text in five different fonts – these are just a few examples of poor website design. If you think this might be your problem, talk to a professional web designer about how to improve your website's taste level. Polish your text and graphics, focus on professional presentation, and you'll see your bounce rates dive.
Lack of Relevance: When people visit your website through a search engine, they expect to find information relevant to the search term they entered. If they don't see what they expect on the first page, they bounce. Every page of your website should have a unique title, unique content, and keywords that are all relevant to what's on the page. Also remember the cardinal keyword rule: if a keyword is in a page's meta tags, that keyword must appear in the text of the page. Proper search engine optimization (SEO) will not only reduce your bounce rates, it will also improve your search engine rankings and overall website traffic.
Unclear Navigation: If visitors don't instantly see a clear path to other pages, they won't look for them. Make sure every page of your website has simple, intuitive navigation. Give your visitors a highly interlinked site that makes it easy for them to find the information they want. It also helps to have a site search box conspicuously placed on every page.
Auto-Play Audio and Video: If you have music or a video that automatically plays when the page loads, turn it off. People love multimedia, but they want to control it. Don't force audio or video on your visitors. Make the option to play them clear and enticing – but always give the option.
Lack of Perspective: Website owners can be so enamored with their own creation they lose the ability to see it objectively. If you've tried everything, and the bounces keep coming, ask a trusted friend to give your website an honest, objective critique.
Bounce rates are a vital metric that reflect a website's quality and value. They give website owners key insights into how visitors experience their site. Lower bounce rates correlate to more return visitors, more customer referrals, and ultimately, to more sales conversions. If your website is too bouncy, it's time to jump on the problem.