If you're a marketer concerned with growth, chances are you've heard of bounce rates. They're a huge part of most analytics breakdowns, and can tell you a lot at a glance. Understanding and keeping an eye on this important metric could help you learn what is and isn't working with your site efforts.
What is a Bounce Rate?
Simply put, a bounce rate refers to the percentage of people who visit a page and decide to leave right away without taking any action. Bounced users don't go beyond the first page to see your services, read your copy, or click a single link.
While this seems like a simple enough concept, a lot of work goes into figuring out why visitors aren't spending time on your website.
We can use a real-life example to break this definition down even further. Imagine seeing an advertisement for a flash sale in the window of a store.
You get excited, rush in, and proceed to look around. You immediately realize that the prices listed on the sign are greatly exaggerated. Without another thought, you turn and leave, going about your day.
The store's bounce rate increased the minute you left without touching, browsing, or buying something. The owner of the store will want to figure out what is triggering people to leave their store without so much as a nod in the direction of a product.
Your site's bounce rate works the same way, and you're probably just as interested in why people aren't converting. Users leaving so suddenly can impact your SEO efforts and ruin your conversion rates. The journey to figuring out what is driving away potential leads can be a long one, but it's worth it.
How do I Calculate Bounce Rates?
Thankfully, finding this important metric is easy. Bounce rates are found with the rest of your site analytics. If, like most sites, you're using Google Analytics, you'll find an in-depth look at your bounce rates and page views in the Audience Overview report section.
Now that you've found them, how can you tell whether your bounce rates are good or bad? Well, that can vary based on many factors. Depending on your industry, a bad bounce rate is indicated by a certain percentage. It's typically thought that:
- 80%+ is considered terrible for most industries
- 70 – 80% is bad
- 50 – 70% is a normal rate
- 30 – 50% is amazing
- 20% or below could be due to an error in your tracking code
Take a good look at these numbers and consider whether they make sense for your industry. Bounce rates themselves can point to a lot of different issues. Depending on your industry, bounce rates could mean nothing at all.
A site like dictionary.com likely sees high bounce rates because of the nature of the site. In fact, there are plenty of industries that will see a high bounce rate no matter what they do — there's simply no reason for the user to stick around once they've found the information they need.
If your percentage is high for your industry, you'll want to look into a few factors to find the culprit and improve.
What Am I Doing Wrong?
If you find yourself staring down stats that are over a reasonable percentage for most industries, look at a few factors:
- Readability and page layout
- Lack of calls to action
- Irrelevant content
- Hard-to-use navigation
- Loading speed
One of these is typically the culprit. If you discover the issue, take a step back to make a concrete plan. Your plan will include a lot of changing, testing, and changing again. We'll discuss a few ways to improve high bounce rates quickly, but first let's take a second to talk about why you should bother in the first place.
Why Should I Care About Bounce Rates?
High bounce rates call out a flaw in a site's design, user experience, calls to action, content, or page layout. A high percentage points directly to a disconnect between messaging and your audience.
Bounce rates in themselves show that people are not sticking around to convert, and this obviously has a terrible effect on your conversion rates. That's why improving your bounce rates is so important.
Your bounce rates can tell you a lot about the success of your website optimization, design, and messaging. If you're looking at bounce rates over 80%, something isn't resonating with your visitors.
Don't worry! We're going to go over four ways you can improve your bounce rate no matter your business type.
Improve Page Loading Times
Loading time is a huge concern to users, and even a second of waiting can show a sharp increase in your bounce rates. It's also bad news for your SEO. Google began punishing sites for slow loading times (both on mobile and desktop browsers) back in 2018, but that's not the only way it hurts your metrics.
Most people are searching for sites that deliver quick and useful information. If your pages take years to load, you're going to lose a lot of visitors. This slowdown is one of the biggest culprits of high bounce rates.
Image size and resolution can create long loading times for your website. Make sure all of your images are optimized. Many plugins can help reduce the size of your photos to be more suitable for web viewing.
All-in-One SEO and other plugins shrink your file sizes without you having to touch them. Typically, if you're not a photographer or artist, you don't need your images to be the same quality as that of a print image, so don't worry about the smaller size.
Reducing HTTP requests is another way to increase your site speed. This is especially important if you have lots of images, scripts, and stylesheets that need to load onto the page. Each element of your page will need a different HTTP request to load, so consider making it a top priority to keep the requests down. Clean and functional design can avoid this issue.
Another quick way to improve page speed is to enable caching on your site. WordPress has excellent plugins available that help you cache your pages easily and without much work on your end. WP Super Cache and WP Rocket are both great options.
Improve Your Page Layout and Readability
Readability can make or break a website. You can improve your site's readability in many ways, so you should figure out where your users are experiencing most of their issues.
Take a look at how straightforward it is (or isn't) to browse your site. When a visitor scrolls your pages on their computer (or, more likely, on their mobile device), they're looking for easy navigation. Any snags will likely send them running.
You can also improve the layout of your site pages by increasing whitespace, avoiding tiny or hard-to-read fonts, and using proper paragraph structure. Avoid colorful backgrounds that contrast with the font, as well.
Optimizing for mobile is essential for modern sites. Most people will engage with your site from their phone or tablet. For the best experience, give users a simple way to navigate, responsive images that fit on their screen, and readability.
Improve Your Relevance
What made a site visitor click on your link instead of the many other options available to them? Whatever it was that inspired them to click had better be on your site! Improve the relevance of your pages by making sure your keywords make sense for the content displayed.
A common reason for high bounce rates is irrelevant content. Keep your messaging clear in everything from your videos to your site copy. When someone searches for your keywords, they should find valuable information to help them on their journey.
Improve Your Linking Structure
Stuffing your content with irrelevant inbound or outbound links can be harmful to user experience.
Links are great for improving bounce rates, but the way you include links on your site could also hinder your efforts. Always include links with a strategy in mind. If the linked site doesn't help get your point across or offer more information, consider leaving it out.
Plugins like Pretty Links can help you manage your links for better site optimization. You can also use it to create branded links to create a more seamless feel.
Be More Interesting
Never underestimate the power of exciting content.
If your bounce rates are high, consider adjusting the messaging on your site. You can switch up the website copy (A/B testing can help you figure out what's working and what's not), the site images, or even entire pages. Make small changes and see what works before you move on to the next test.
Something as small as adding video can improve your site's popularity with visitors. In fact, studies show that people are more likely to stay on a page that has at least one video embedded.
There are plenty of creative options like whiteboard animation programs (VideoScribe and Vyond are two great options), news-style informational videos (which can be made quickly with Content Samurai), and more.
Infographics offer another avenue for creative content on your website. Visual data often convinces people to stop and take a look at what you know, how you're presenting your information, and what you could offer them.
Bounce rates are a great way to gauge whether you're on the right track with your website optimization efforts. With a little work, you can figure out what's running people away from your site and causing higher bounce rates and take steps to correct the issues. If you follow these four steps, your bounce rates should see improvement in no time. Remember, you need to:
- Improve your page layout and readability
- Improve your relevance
- Improve your linking structure
- Be more interesting
When it comes to crafting a business website that converts, taking a good look at the layout, relevance, and linking structure of your pages will keep you above water. With just a few changes, you should be able to reduce bounce rates and keep site visitors happy and engaged!
Have any questions about keeping your bounce rates down? Let us know in the comments!