One of the metrics that is considered important when evaluating the effectiveness of a website is the bounce rate. Improving your bounce rate (by reducing it) will lead to more interaction with your site and possibly to more conversions. Read below how to lower your website’s bounce rate and why it is important to do so.
What is bounce rate and why is it important?
Bounce rate is the percentage of users who left your website after visiting only one page. In other words they landed on a page of your website and navigated away without visiting any other pages.
A high bounce rate percentage is bad while a low bounce rate is good. Generally when people visit your website you want them to click and visit other pages or convert (i.e. buy a product, visit a particular page, register to your email list and many more). So the lower your bounce rate is the better.
Bounce rate and SEO
A high bounce rate is not directly related with the SEO performance of a website because:
- It is not always bad. As we will see below the bounce rate percentage depends on the type of website so it’s not a metric that can be used across all type of websites.
- Google does not know the bounce rate of your website. Google officially says that they don’t use any Google Analytics data in their ranking algorithms so they don’t know the bounce rate of a website.
What they do know though and some people argue that it is bad for SEO is when someone clicks a link from their search results goes to a website and then comes back again to the search results page. This is an indication that the user did not find exactly what they were looking for and this is something that Google does not like, user satisfaction is very important for them.
What are the most common reasons websites have a high bounce rate?
There are 5 major reasons why the bounce rate of a website may be high:
- Users visit the website because of a misleading ad or text description and as soon as they land on the page they realise that this is not what they want and leave.
- The website is too slow or has really bad design and the user gets frustrated and leaves.
- The website is full of ads, banners and pop up windows and these tactics keep users from visiting other pages.
- The website is good but the user didn’t find what he is looking for.
- The website is only one page so any clicks the user makes lead to the same page and thus the bounce rate will always be high.
What is the optimal bounce rate?
There is no such thing as optimal bounce rate since it depends on the type of website and type of traffic it receives but as a general guide there are some statistics (that I could not confirm their original source) that suggest the following bounce rates:
Blogs – between 70% – 90%
Ecommerce Websites – between 20% – 40%
Landing Pages – between 70%- 90%
News and information Portals – 10% – 30%
How to find your website’s bounce rate?
The best way to find what’s your bounce rate is to look at Google Analytics reports. Almost all reports have a bounce rate column. As you can see from the screenshot below the bounce rate of this blog is very low when visitors are coming from organic search and higher when they are coming from a referral (although it is still low compared to the industry average).
Note that if your traffic levels are low (i.e. less than a 100 visits per day) the bounce rate percentage may not be 100% accurate so don’t get obsessed too much if the levels are very high. You can of course try and improve it but have in mind that the metrics may not be correct due to the low traffic levels.
10 ways to lower your website’s bounce rate?
#1 – Review your titles and meta descriptions – This is what the users see in the SERPS. Although the meta description that Google shows may be different with the one you specify it is good to try and make your meta descriptions and titles attractive to the users that are most likely to find your pages more interesting.
Your goal is to increase the relevancy of the title & description with the page content so as to meet users expectations better. This is also good for on-page SEO.
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#2 – Make A/B tests – If your landing pages have a high bounce rate you can try different versions of the page so that you can find which one produces a lower bounce rate. You have to do this in a controlled manner by taking metrics before and after each test.
#3 – Improve the loading speed of your website – Sometimes all it takes to improve the bounce rate is to make pages load faster. Users are not willing to wait for a long time for a page load and they leave. Pageload is a known SEO factor and among other benefits it can also help you improve your google rankings.
#4 – Review your website and identify things that can be improved – There is a recipe on how to make a great website and by following these rules you will also improve your bounce rate. Good content, mobile friendliness, SEO optimization are factors that play an important role in website usability and bounce rates.
#5 – Add more internal links to your pages – Internal linking is my favorite SEO technique but it’s also an easy way to help users discover more pages from your website. If you take a closer look at the article you are reading now, there are a number of internal links which are visible in the text that make navigation easier. This is also one of the reasons that this blog has a very low bounce rate.
#6 – Make navigation and call to action buttons visible all the time – If you scroll down you will notice that the menu of the site stays always on top. This is a good way to encourage users to click and visit more pages. Another good technique is to have the call to action buttons in several places (above and below the fold – see the home page and notice the location of the newsletter buttons) so that they are visible when users are browsing a page.
#7 – Utilize the sidebar correctly – Try adding a list of the 5 most popular articles in the sidebar. Take note of your bounce rate before and after this change and you will see a decrease. This is a nice and simple way to lower your bounce rate that works every time I tested it.
#8 – Popups, sliding windows and related articles – Although I mentioned above that popup ups and sliding windows should be avoided, there are some cases that if used correctly can not only lower your bounce rate but also increase your conversion rates.
Popups are not good when they are shown to the user once they enter a website but they are very effective to be shown when they try to leave or when they have finished reading an article.
Go to sites like entrepreneur.com or forbes.com and start reading any of their articles. As soon as you scroll down half the page you will get either a sliding popup or a layered pop up with suggestions for further reading. This is a valid and very effective way to put the user into the mood of executing the next step.
#9 – Make any external links to open in a new tab – If you have external links in your page, make sure that they open in a new tab so that you website remains in the background.
#10 – Use Google analytics reports and events to find out exactly where the problem is – Your website bounce rate may be high but this may be due to some pages only. The best way is to use Google Analytics reports (Go to the ALL PAGES report which is found under BEHAVIOUR -> SITE CONTENT) and find out which pages have a high bounce rate and try to work on those. On these particular pages you may add event tracking code on the buttons so as to see exactly what gets clicked and what not.
Working on improving your bounce rate is part of conversion optimization which is essential for both SEO and PPC success. A website that has a low bounce rate is more likely to grow and get established faster than a website with a higher bounce rate.