Bounce Rates Gone Wild?

by GuestBlogStar on February 22, 2013

How To Cut Your Bounce Rate And Why It Matters

bouncing on trampolineWhether you have a news site or an online shop your site’s bounce rate is just as important a number to analyze as the number of visitors you get. Why? Because it’s an indicator of whether you’re getting the right kind of traffic and whether the traffic you get is sticking around your site. Your bounce rate is literally, the number of people who never go beyond the landing page where they enter your site. The more visitors who exit your site without looking at a second page, the higher the bounce rate.

So usually, the higher the bounce rate, the higher the chances that your visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for. If the bounce rate is low, it usually means that your visitors like your content and enjoy spending time on your site.

However, ‘usually’ does not mean always.

When it comes to SEO and web analytics, data can be confusing and misleading. If you’re serious about your site, you need to check your bounce rate regularly, and certainly after you make any significant changes to a significant landing page (usually your home page) so you can see if those changes keep folks on the site longer or not.

You will need to decide what is an acceptable bounce rate for your site so you can set a goal. Certainly anything over 50% – which means every other visitor leaves without exploring your site – indicates a need to address why people are not finding much to keep them around. And whatever your bounce rate, it can be improved, which translates to more interested visitors.

Here are some things that can cause a high bounce rate, along with the tips you need to address the issue.

  • Pop-ups – Do you know anyone who isn’t annoyed by pop-ups? They interrupt your visitors experience of your site. It’s not unlike going into a brick and mortar and having a salesman following you everywhere describing every product you glance at. Not fun. At all. There may be times when a pop-up can be useful and necessary – perhaps when you are running a special offer – but most of the time it isn’t t and they may be so annoying people leave the page straight away, increasing your bounce rate. Lesson: use pop ups sparingly, if at all.
  • Poor or unusual design – If your site isn’t designed in a way that lets people find what they want with ease, they’re going to leave pretty quickly. You need to make sure your site complies with web usability standards.  This means:
  1. Sticking to conventions. People expect certain things to be in certain places. For example, they expect navigation to be at the top of the site just like
    they look for search boxes in the right corner of a webpage. Giving them (white)space to breath. Not every square inch of your web page needs to be filled in with content. Keep ‘busy-ness’ to a minimum.
  2. Showing them clear steps on what they should be doing once they reach your site. That is clear navigation and prompts. If your site is easy to navigate, you’re going to keep people’s attention for longer. Don’t be afraid to use call-to-actions.
    • Too many distractions – Apart from pop-ups, the worst thing you can do is have a video auto-play when a visitor enters your site. Videos can be a powerful way to convey your message, be careful how you’re using them. Too often visitors find them intrusions that break the navigation experience. The most important thing to do is test the impact your video is having on your audience. AB tests where one landing page has the video and one doesn’t can help you find out whether it’s working. If visitors are clicking off your site because you’re blasting them with content they’re not interested in, you need to get rid of it.

bounce rate keyword tag cloud

  • Your site is too slow – Web users expect your site to load in less than three seconds. If your site takes too long to load, people will just give up and try somewhere else – and your bounce rate increase. Speedis also a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, which means that if your site is slow it can have a negative impact on your  position in Google’s search results. Be sure you have a reliable hosting provider, don’t add too much multimedia on your site such as images, audio and video content. Also, try to avoid adding Flash animations. The faster the load the fewer visitors that will click off in frustration.
  • Optimize for mobile – Take a closer look at your site’s stats and see how many users are accessing your site using their smartphones.If the number is significant, consider creating a mobile version of your site. If a mobile user finds the site hard to navigate, they will be off like a flash and onto another site and your bunce rate will increase. If you’re planning a redesign of your site, you should consider implementing a responsive web design which will let people access your site whether they’re on a mobile, tablet or PC.

Conclusion

Overall, improving your bounce rate is usually a sign you’re doing the right thing by your visitors, so cut down on the clutter and give people what they want. And test! The more you test content and layout changes to assess the impact on bounce rate, the more you will learn about what keeps your visitors sticking around.

Not everyone is going to spend hours on your site, but by make people feel welcome – and ensuring that your content is relevant to their searches, the more
likely your visitor will have the best possible experience.

A guest post written by Alex Gavril, who is part of the Webfusion blogger team.

Additional resources on improving your bounce rate:


License: Creative Commons image source

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