15 Mar 11 Tips to Combat Your Website’s High Bounce Rate
Imagine that you own a clothing store. Every day fifty customers walk through your doors. Forty-five of them look at one item and walk out. Three customers look at two or more items. Two make a purchase.
Your store just experienced a 90% bounce rate.
Most of our blog readers are not clothing retailers, but this analogy still works for your website. Your website’s bounce rate is the number of single-page viewers who come to your website. They may have followed a link to a blog or landing page, clicked a link in a marketing email or found your website via search, but they all took one look at one page and walked away.
Not exactly the kind of traffic you want to drive to your website.
A lot goes into Google Analytic’s determination of your site’s bounce rate. How much that rate matters and how well it indicates a website’s health is somewhat controversial. (Wordstream offers a great article on why bounce rate may not be all we once thought it was.) What constitutes a bad bounce rate may depend on the type of page you have and your industry. Most industry pros agree a bounce rate over 70% is concerning. Some believe it will affect your Google search ranking.
If your website’s bounce rate is higher than you’d like, you can (and should) take steps to correct the problem.
Before you jump into A/B testing all your content take a good look at your a slow loading website can cause a reader to click away before the site loads. Site visitors begin to drop off when sites take longer than two seconds to load. Google announced in 2018 that speed would play a major part in mobile ranking going forward. Which means your bounce rate could be a symptom of a problem that also affects your search engine ranking. Google doesn’t specifically say it will rank slower sites lower, but that longer it takes Google bots to crawl and index your site means the fewer pages they will index.
What can affect your load time? Large images or too many images for one. Check your image size to see if you need to make some changes. Fancy fonts that have to be downloaded can also cause your load to slow. Just another reason to choose two or three common, easily readable fonts for your site and stick with them. Cheap hosting may not be able to handle your site or your number of site visitors.
When someone opens your website to see a blockade of text they may leave before they know what you’re about. Do you have enough space between lines of text? Is your text large enough? Do you have short paragraphs? Are you using headers or images to break up the text?
A print journalism rule of thumb can apply to digital design as well. If your block of text is wider than a dollar bill, it needs an image to break it up. You can use clickable images that double as a call to action.
Speaking of calls-to-action, does your website have enough of those? Site visitors may have read your content, loved it, but if you do not offer them a reason to explore your site further, they’ll leave and your bounce rate climbs ever higher.
Your CTA doesn’t have to be a contact us form. Offer your readers a piece of downloadable content that coordinates with the article they read. Give them the option to sign up for your newsletter so they don’t miss more great content. Give them clear directions on the action you’d like for them to take next.
We know you’re proud of all your company’s awards. We’re proud of you too. But not every award and partner is worth tooting your own horn about. This goes back to a design issue. If the sidebar of your blog is filled with widgets and awards (that take people away from your site) replace those with something more useful. Add a call-to-action or links to relevant blog posts. The sidebar is prime real estate. Use it to encourage your reader to interact with your company more, not to send them away to read about an organization to which you belong.
So far, all the topics we’ve covered involve changes to your site as a whole versus one specific page. It’s possible the high bounce rate on one page is driving up your site’s average. If that’s the case, study the offending pages. One of our client’s had high bounce rates on a couple of specific pages where we were sending paid ad traffic from Facebook and Google. We made a few changes to make it more likely for people to click a link and go to a second page. The one change on those two pages lowered the site’s overall bounce rate average.
Your entire site might not need an overhaul. Change to improve click-through rates on specific pages could be enough to get your site’s rate back in line.
Every page needs links to other pages within your website. If you’re writing blog posts link to other posts about relevant subjects. Link to blog topics on your main service page. Link to the contact page from the header and footer of your site. Do be reasonable about it, though. Linking every other word in an article goes a little over the line. Make a goal to add one to three links on every page on your site. Any more and you’ll likely annoy rather than impress your reader.
How easy is it for your customer to find their way around your site? When was the last time you attempted to find relevant information on your site? If your navigation menu offers too many choices or if your choices are worded poorly, your readers may click away without exploring further. If you aren’t sure how easy it is to navigate your site, ask a friend or family member in the general target market of your customers to find specific information on your site. How long does it take them? If they find themselves frustrated, it might be time to consider a redesign that follows an easier navigation menu.
Skip the pop-ups
We’ve all encountered the annoying screens that pop up when we visit a website. The worst I’ve encountered make it nearly impossible to close on a mobile device and ensure I leave the site without reading their content or exploring for more information. Don’t be this site. If your website presents a pop up as soon as a person lands on your domain, test whether or not your bounce rate is affected when you remove the pop-up.
That said, research shows pop-ups work to increase newsletter subscribers and content downloads. So instead of skipping this tool altogether, if you’re struggling to combat a high bounce rate take a look at when and how your pop up appears. Schedule your pop-up to appears when a reader moves their mouse to close the screen or exit your site. Then you target them after they’ve enjoyed your content and are in a mood to learn more.
Internal links decrease bounce rate by directing your reader to explore further. External links offer your reader additional information and resources you may not have written, but they can also increase your bounce rate.
We have several clients for whom we curate content for their website. We round up the best articles on the internet about a specific subject, write a paragraph to introduce the article and link out to the resource. These articles improve the client’s website ranking for specific keywords and make them a go-to expert in their industry. If the links do not open in a new window or tap they can increase the bounce rate. It’s a very simple click when you insert the link to make sure the target is set to open in a new window or tab.
Best practices dictate most website visitors are looking for either short material under 800 words or long-form articles with many details over 1000 words. Creating a variety of lengths and types of posts offers more content for your readers. One way to decrease your bounce rate is to split your long-form content into multiple posts or chapters. This post, for example, could be split into two parts with a link or button at the end to direct the reader to the second page. WebMD does a great job splitting long swaths of information into multiple pages with plenty of sub-heads. This approach splits your information in more manageable chunks and directs a reader to keep clicking to read more information.
Videos and Podcasts
Finally, put those videos and podcasts to good use. One company claims they’ve reduced their bounce rate by 34% by adding one video to their website. While every company makes its own claims, we know video continues to grow in popularity with consumers and it increases engagement on your site.
Embed videos into blog posts, your home page or the pages where you have the highest bounce rate. Make sure the content fits where you posted it (don’t share a video about installing bathroom tile on a page designed to have people contact you about a lighting consultation). And don’t set the video to autoplay. You want your site visitor to click the play button which is where your decreased bounce rate comes from.
If you’ve produced a podcast, add the ability to listen to the podcast directly from your website. This action of clicking to listen will increase your visitor’s time on the site and decrease your bounce rate.
The cause of your website’s high bounce rate may require a combination of these actions to solve, but don’t give up! Lowering your bounce rate means more people are visiting your site and ultimately it should mean a higher conversion rate and increased sales.
Do you have questions about your website strategy? We’d love to chat. Request a time to discuss your site’s conversion rate and how we can help.