When analysing our client’s sites on a monthly basis, one thing that we pay a lot of attention to is the bounce rate of certain pages. What this shows us is the appeal and general stickiness of a page or website.
There is no way to know for certain (as Google do not give anything away when it comes to ranking metrics), but lots of testing in the industry has shown that the bounce rate is in fact a ranking metric. So what does this mean?
Well, basically – If people are leaving your site instantly, rather than looking around, it is a bounce. This bounce is showing Google that your page or website is not providing the user with what they were hoping for, and therefore, Google may feel that your site is not offering much benefit and move you down the rankings.
This article is going to show you 10 ways to reduce the bounce rate on your website, but first, let’s look at the basics.
What are Bounce Rates?
A bounce rate is a signal that informs you of the percentage of people who have left a given page on a website without visiting any other pages on the site. This should not be confused with exit rates which inform you of the percentage of visitors that left your site from a certain page (i.e. the visitor has viewed other pages beforehand).
It is also important to be aware that a user could spend 10 minutes on your page before they leave the website. In this case, it could be likely that the page has fulfilled its purpose, but maybe the viewer has just forgotten to close it!
What Does a Bounce Rate Tell You?
The bounce rate is often used in combination with other metrics to understand a websites ‘stickiness’.
For example, on DSA Global, we would like someone to click on a link from Google search, Facebook or find a useful article we’ve shared, then click through to our blog to view the rest of our awesome content.
If the bounce rates are high, it might mean that the content we are creating is not fulfilling its purpose, but there are other explanations for high bounce rates too.
As a rule, we would always analyse trends over time, and use the bounce rates as one of several different metrics for analysing a page or articles success.
Other measures such as the average time spent on a page, percentage of new visitors Vs returning and using event tracking to analyse how many visitors are actually reading all the way to the bottom of each post, are also important.
So what exactly is a good bounce rate? Well this will depend on the type of website that you are running.
Our experience has found that bounce rates for articles or blog posts can be as low as 40-50% but as high as 100%. The average bounce rate would usually vary between 70% – 85%.
The screenshot below shows some of the pages on our website, including some articles we have published. As you can see, the bounce rates are quite mixed.
Is it Always Bad to Have a High Bounce Rate?
Not necessarily as it depends on the purpose of the website.
For example; visitors may just want to check a few facts, or simply find a phone number. If the site allows them to find this information easily, then they will likely leave quickly which will push up the bounce rates.
You might want to know how ‘old Al Pacino’ is doing these days. You can quickly Google his name, go to Wikipedia, and the info is there right in front of you! After you have seen that he is doing ok, you will probably hit the back button.
Of course, you may want to linger a little longer, click some of the available links and read more, however, if you do not, then you are playing a small part in increasing the websites bounce rate.
For us at DSA Global, we would prefer that people stay on our site a while longer, so if they do visit one of our pages or articles and just decides to leave, it may mean that we have not delivered to their expectations.
In this case, a high bounce rate is certainly a bad thing.
Bounce Rates and SEO
Off the top of its head, Google will not know your sites bounce rate, however, it can gather this information through the use of Google Analytics.
Google can use this information to see if you are meeting your visitor’s expectations. It shows them how relative your pages are to a user’s search query. If a site is continuously having a high bounce rate, then Google will not want to give priority to that site over others that are not bouncing as much, within its search engine. So although they do not give away their secrets, you can be sure that bounce rate is a ranking factor.
In essence it will work like this:
- Someone clicks through from Google’s search engine to a website and then spends a lot of time there. This shows Google that the search result was relevant to their query and has served its purpose. In this case, Google has done their job well.
- Another user clicks through to a site that has been shown for their search query, yet they leave abruptly, returning back to the search results. This shows Google that the site was not useful for the user and they may usurp other sites above it in their results.
How to Reduce Bounce Rates and Keep Your Visitors on Site for Longer
Below are 10 things you can do that will help you to reduce your bounce rates. In addition, they should also help to keep your visitors on your site for longer, or at least remove factors that force them to leave.
So here we go, in no particular order…
Ensure that your pages load quickly
None of your visitors like having to wait ages for your pages to load. So it is important to make sure that they load fast on both mobile and desktop.
There is an old rule of thumb from Jakob Nielson that users will only wait 2-3 seconds for a page to load before abandoning it. Although it varies for each person, you can be sure that a long load time is going to make people bounce right out of there!
This is also important from a user experience perspective, and in addition, it forms a part of Googles ranking factors for mobile.
Looks like we are not doing too badly on that one!
Give Your Visitors Everything They Need
This point is kind of focussed to e-commerce sites more than others.
We will take an example from the travel niche. If you are looking for hotels to stay in, then the first place you would likely go to is Trip Advisor. Here you can find reviews of hotels, allowing you to cut through the sales pitch you may find on the travel agents or hotels website. However, once you are on Trip Advisor, you may well be swayed by some of the other hotels it shows.
What you can do though is have reviews directly on your website. Simply integrate with Trip Advisor then your visitors have no need to head elsewhere.
Below is an example from Best Western hotels which shows trip advisor reviews (both good and bad)
Clickbait is now a common occurrence on the web. Look at many news publisher’s websites and you will often see the following garbage at the bottom of articles.
If you are a fool and decide to click on this type of thing, you will find yourself re-directed to some of the worst sites on the internet. These sites will be full of pop-ups, pagination and numerous attempts to get you to click on ads.
Essentially, these posts are never going to deliver on what the headline promises. If the content is not relevant to the headline, then people are going to bounce very quickly.
So make sure that your content and articles are relevant to the headline you have given them
Avoid Pop-ups and Annoying Ads
We have just touched on this so you get the drift, but in case you don’t; serving visitors with large pop-ups as soon as they have arrived on your site is a fantastic way to ensure that they quickly click the back button.
In addition, intrusive ads and audio on auto play are what makes people turn to ad blockers. It will make people bounce right away.
Do Not Use Pagination
This is commonly used by news sites to improve the bounce rate, yet it often defeats the purpose as the drawback of annoying visitors is going to outweigh the aim.
People can scroll, it is not hard; so there is no need to paginate. The only reason people do this is to falsely inflate page views and bounce rates. But Google is not stupid!
People landing on your website will form an opinion of it the minute they land on it. Most of this opinion is going to be down to design.
Your search listing or social post may have convinced someone to click, but poor site design might be enough to convince them to leave immediately.
The site below may sell quality gates and fences, but the website design does not exactly express professionalism. It is also extremely hard to read.
This is extremely important. For the same reason that visitors may leave your site due to poor design, they may also leave quickly if a page or article they have visited will take a lot of work just to read it and consume the content.
A large wall of text with very few paragraphs and no visual stimulus is a big turnoff and will deter most people as it will seem like hard work to digest.
However, if your articles and posts have clear sub-headings; incorporate bullet points, images and charts; have bold text on key points – it can make even long articles seem more appealing.
Mobile – Friendly Pages
This is an obvious point. If you want your mobile users to stay on your site for a while, you need to ensure that it is mobile optimised and friendly.
Most Read Article Boxes
This is a great form of content recommendation, which is based on articles being viewed or shared. Below is an example from the BBC website.
The idea of these is that it will give visitors further ideas for reading the content available on your website by showing the most viewed articles or those with the largest number of comments.
Have Clear Call-to-Actions
It is important to make it clear to your visitors where they need to go next to purchase a product, get a quote, or any other action you want them to take.
Below are a few general pointers:
- Wording: The wording that you use will need to make it obvious what is going to happen when a visitor clicks on a button, such as “Checkout”, or “add to cart”
- Colours: Play around with the colours to see what works best. Contrast is key here. A lot of sites go for green or yellow, but what may work for one site, won’t necessarily work for another.
- Size: Make sure they are big enough to be seen, but not too big.
- Placement: The buttons should be placed where the visitor’s eyes are likely to be as they scan the web page.
- Adapt for Mobile: Your calls to action need to work on mobile devices as well as on desktops.
- Test: There is not a right or wrong answer here. Colour, wording, placement, shape etc. should all be tested to determine what produces the better results.
The tips that we have provided above are methods that will help persuade visitors to spend longer on your site and explore further.
Exploring more is the key to reducing the bounce rate on your site and pages as they will be interacting more, however, it is the page they land on that will create the first impressions.
If the initial page does not impress and do the job in terms of providing relevance and a user friendly experience, then there is little chance that the user will want to stay and browse around.
Also, you should remember that bounce rates are useful, but only when they are combined with other metrics such as pages viewed and amount of time spent on the site.
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