After all, what’s the point of driving traffic if visitors leave after a few seconds without making a transaction? This is exactly what happens if you have a high bounce rate.
The ’bounce rate’ refers to the percentage of visitors to your site who leave after viewing only a single page. Depending on the nature of the website it’s not uncommon for websites to see bounce rates higher than 60% or even 70%.
If you have a high percentage of bad bounces (those who leave a page that you would expect them to use as a doorway further into the site) rather than bounces from a page such as a contact form where you don’t expect additional browsing, it’s time to dig into what is causing your high bounce rate and work out how to fix it.
You’re not going to turn visitors into customers if they are exiting your website almost as soon as they land on it. So here are eight proven methods to help lower your website’s bounce rate:
1. Keyword rankings
Are you appearing in Google or Bing for irrelevant search results? Are your pages that do rank, outdated?
Google Search Console provides a list of the keywords that you are ranking for in its search engine, which is most likely to be your biggest provider of organic search traffic. Look through your top performing keywords, check your result in Google and ask yourself if the content on that page is as good and as fresh as it needs to be to keep your visitors on your site.
Do the landing pages of these keywords match up with the high bounce rate that Google Analytics is reporting? If so, it’s a good bet that the content on those landing pages for those keywords needs improving to better meet audience expectations.
2. Improve page load speed
Google has been a fan of quick websites for years. This dates as far back as 2010 when the search engine stated “we're obsessed with speed” and went on to list some useful tools to help webmasters improve their site’s loading times.
These days Google provides PageSpeed Tools because a quick loading website is more important than ever. The search engine has confirmed it’s also a ranking factor and there is a direct correlation between page load speed and higher bounce rates. Unless you’re as popular as the BBC or the NFL, your business isn’t going to fare too well in Google with a slow site. The aforementioned tool set from Google is a good starting point if you need some help improving your page load speed.
Page load speed is part of the Google algorithm but it’s just as important to website visitors. Put yourself in your prospective customer’s shoes; imagine entering your website for the first time and having to wait 5+ seconds for it to load up. What’s the first thing you’d do? That’s right, click the back button and try out a competitor.
Check your Analytics data for your page load times as well as the Google Tools suggested above to improve your website’s loading time.
3. Weak opening paragraph
If you want to keep visitors on your website then you’d better have good content. In fact, you’d better have a great opening couple of sentences. These can often determine whether the user is going to continue reading or click back in their browser and find an alternative resource.
On pages that are full of content, but have both a high bounce rate and low session duration, it’s always worth asking a friend or colleague for their opinion on your text in the hope they can help you spot any issues.
Poorly written content is a big reason why users don’t stick around. Content that is not written for the web is also off-putting and can cause your visitors to bounce back to the search results. Make it easy for a visitor to digest your content if you want to keep them around. Split your content up with headers, use images as shown in the example below and summarise key information in bullet points to make the text easy to scan. This is especially important for visitors loading up your page from a mobile device.
This image shows how to properly lay out your web content for easy digestion. It uses a clear header, short sentences and bullet points:
4. You’ve given the user what they want
A high bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing. The page may have given the user what they needed quickly. It could be that your visitor got the answer they were looking for when they landed on your page and that you have no call to action or incentive for them to stay on your website any longer. A contact form, a subscribe page or a thank you page may all have a high bounce rate without there being any cause for alarm. If you have investigated the cause of the bounce and have determined that the page is likely to have satisfied the user’s needs without them having to go elsewhere on site, you can be happy you have given the user what they wanted.
If this particular page is trying to sell your product or services though, or is a main doorway page such as your homepage, then it’s unlikely you’ve given the user what they want from that page alone. Think about A/B testing your call to action: perhaps you simply have insufficient content on your website to help users navigate your site or, perhaps your keyword strategy needs some work.
5. Improve mobile-friendly/responsiveness
An increase in mobile traffic has been the trend for the past number of years, to the point that Google confirmed last year that more people search on mobile devices than desktops.
Google is in the process of creating a mobile first index and with so many search users browsing the web from a mobile device, it’s absolutely essential that your pages are mobile friendly. From basic things such as checking the responsiveness of your design, to implementing more advanced techniques such as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), presenting an accessible, readable and easily navigable page for mobile users is another way to cut a high bounce rate.
Here’s a quick checklist you can bookmark to see if your website is mobile-friendly or not.
6. Annoying interstitials
The one secret of how to annoy users when they land on your website for the first time is to pop up an annoying interstitial in their face. Google has a mobile interstitial penalty live which may cause sites that use intrusive mobile interstitials to lose search position. In addition to the loss of rankings, interstitials prevent the user from seeing the content they clicked through to access, meaning they are likely to leave and take their request for information elsewhere.
7. Content below the fold
Having previously mentioned the importance of your opening paragraph, keeping content above the fold so the user sees it immediately as they land on your page is just as important. This is particularly true when it comes to mobile devices which have smaller screens than desktops and therefore less room to squeeze in the content.
Your users don’t like seeing your banner, perhaps a drop down menu and an ad when they land on your page, leaving them to scroll down to click on the content they were hoping to read. Make sure to get as much content above the fold as you can in order to hook your reader as soon as they land on your website.
8. Misleading meta titles and descriptions
Google’s results are getting better and better over time, but it’s still possible to rank for irrelevant keywords, whether intentionally or not. However, if you’ve written misleading titles and meta descriptions to get the user to click through, you’ll find that you have a high bounce rate as they discover they have been duped and head back to Google to find a page that genuinely offers them what they’re looking for.
If visitors are entering your website thinking your content is about a certain topic, only to find that it isn’t, you’re going to leave a bad impression with that user. Neither of these are a good thing in your attempts to increase rankings, traffic and ultimately, sales.
Hopefully after a few tweaks to your website and webpages, these tips will help lower your bounce rate and ultimately lead to an increase in the number of enquiries or conversions your site logs.