There you are, just sitting at your desk on a fine Friday afternoon. The weather is lovely, work is relaxed, and you are ready to enjoy your well deserved weekend. You are making your rounds through Google Analytics, a common end-of-week practice when suddenly your day goes to down hill. You realize that one of your most visited pages has an astronomical bounce rate.
Cold sweat runs down your forehead, and your mouse frantically moves across your screen as you try to steady your trembling hands. What was looking to be the perfect Friday has become your worst nightmare.
How do you lower this page's bounce rate!? Wait- should you even lower it? What on earth even is a bounce rate!?
Shhhh...its okay. We have the answers you're looking for. Let Mindscape take the wheel.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate is the percentage of individuals that visit your website and leave your website without visiting any page beyond the one that they landed on.
A little confusing right? Think about it like this: if EVERY SINGLE visitor to your website searched your company's name on Google, found a link to your website, landed on your homepage, and then left your site without traveling to any of your other website pages, your website bounce rate would be 100%.
What this means is that your website is not retaining visitors. It is not enticing visitors to explore its many different areas. People are traveling to your site and either not finding what they need or finding what they need … and nothing else.
DISCLAIMER: You may have heard of email bounce rate and exit rate, these are not the same as website bounce rate.
Is bounce rate a bad thing?
Bounce rate should be assessed on a page-by-page basis but in general, the lower the bounce rate, the better. A few cases in which a high bounce rate might be acceptable or even preferred are:
- If you want visitors to immediately travel to an outside domain from your page (this might be the case if you sell goods on sites such as Etsy or Artfire)
- If the website page funnels users to take an action such as calling your business
- If you have a website page that funnels users to fill out a form that does not take them to a new website page
Want to determine what high and low bounce rates are for your industry? This page might help.
How do you lower bounce rate?
So now that we're clear on what bounce rate is, how do we lower it? Well, there are a few different ways you can lower your bounce rate. A good place to start is by answering the following questions:
Does your source messaging match your destination?
If you're doing digital marketing right, there are probably a plethora of ways one visitor can enter your website to land on a specific page. For example, here at Mindscape, a user may travel to one of our blog posts through any of 6 different social media channels, from a search engine link, from a few different marketing forums, from an email, or from a backlink.
A specific page on your website may have a high bounce rate due to your messaging on a specific source not matching your page content.
If you want to reduce the bounce rate of a specific page on your website, match your messaging on each source to you destination content.
Does your page set visitors up to explore other areas of your website?For this question let's use the example of a blog post again. Many of your blog posts might have high bounce rates. Why? Because users land on your blog post and either [a] don't find what they are looking for and leave or [b] find exactly what they are looking for … and leave. See the problem?
Unless you want users to exit your website from a specific page (a thank you page for example), you should have "next steps" in place. Next steps are simply actions a visitor might be interested in taking after exploring a particular page of your website.
For a blog post, this could be a content offering. Ideally, if a visitor found what they were looking for in one of your blog posts, they would be interested in the relevant content offering you had on the page and travel to a new page of your website.
If the page in questions is not a page where high bounce rate is wanted, assess whether or not you are leading visitors to take another action. If the answer is" no", then experiment with new content.
Is there anything on this page that visitors could find potentially annoying or distracting?It is all too common these days to visit a web page and be bombarded with pop-up "offering" after pop-up "offering." Users have gotten used to more subtle approaches to grabbing their attention and won't hesitate to leave your site if they are annoyed or inconvenienced. If one of your web pages has a high bounce rate, take a look at the user experience and see if any of the following occur:
- Two or more pop-ups interrupt the user
- One pop-up repeatedly interrupts the user
- An ad or video automatically plays as soon as the user reaches the page
- Web page formatting makes it difficult for the user to see/find the information they are looking for
- Content/images could be abrasive, affronting, or otherwise displeasurable in the eyes of your buyers
Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors and ask yourself: "Is this annoying? Is this irritating? Is this an inconvenience?" If the answer to any of those questions is "yes", change things up.
Is your website mobile friendly?I don't think it needs to be said that having a mobile-friendly site is an absolute must. But just to be clear: it IS an absolute must.
Since a large amount of users will be visiting your site via their mobile devices, you will often see a high bounce rate if you have a web page that isn't optimized for mobile usage.
To avoid this, make sure:
- Each of your pages has a mobile design that isn't cluttered or confusing
- It is easy to navigate away from the webpage on mobile
- The content is as easy to read and find as it is on desktop
- All technical aspects of the page function properly
- The load speed of your page and content is not to slow to be convenient for users
BONUS HINT: Check your site's analytics to see exactly what portion of your site comes from mobile!
Are there clear, relevant, and sufficient user paths on this page?Finally, if your page has a high bounce rate, you simply might not have provided enough clear and relevant exit points.* This isn't to be confused with the earlier question of: "Does your page set visitors up to explore other areas of your website?" It is not about the content here. This is about the actual points at which a user can leave a page. Is there sidebar navigation? Is the top navigation bar still present on the page? Do users have an easy way to make it back up to the top navigation bar (other than scrolling like crazy)?
Make sure that your users can quickly and conveniently leave your page if necessary. Fixing the issue might be as simple as making your side navigation sticky.
*Disclaimer: Always look at each page individually before making a significant change. In some instances having too many exit points may be a bad thing.
See? Nothing too crazy. Nothing a little quality time with your website can't fix. All you have to do is assess which of your website pages need some "bounce rate TLC" and answer these questions. You'll be on your way to a lower bounce rate in no time.
*All gifs courtesy of giphy.com