One of the most frustrating things about owning a website is to spend weeks fine-tuning your site for better results in search engines, only to see too many of your visitors leave as quickly as they arrived. An out-of-control bounce rate contributes to fewer ad impressions, less return visitors, and fewer sales. Fortunately, lowering your bounce rate is easy once you begin looking at your site from a visitor’s perspective.
Bounce Rate Defined
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave your website after viewing only one page. The bounce rate can be calculated on an individual page basis or site-wide and is calculated using the following equation:
Bounce Rate = (Number of Visitors Viewing Only One Page / Total Number of Visitors)*100
A high bounce rate indicates visitors are not finding either the product or information they were expecting and as a result are leaving the site.
Bounce rate is sometimes confused with exit rate which is the percentage of visitors that leave the site after viewing a specific page; regardless of how many pages they viewed prior to that page.
Using Google Analytics to Find Your Site’s Bounce Rate
So, how do you find your website’s bounce rate? If you have set up Google Analytics on your site you have access to a number of valuable metrics including bounce rate and exit rate.
You can find your sites bounce rate in the Site Usage section of your Google Analytics Dashboard. When you click on Traffic Sources, followed by Sources and then All Traffic, you will see a table of bounce rates per traffic source, for example search engines, social media and blogs. To find out the bounce rate of a specific page, click Content, followed by Site Content and then All Pages.
When you look at the bounce rate on the page level, you will see how many of your visitors have entered your site on a given page, only to leave without looking at another page. In this way you can identify your problem pages. In fact, the best way to tackle the problem of high bounce rate is to concentrate on the bounce rate on an individual page basis.
Ideal Bounce Rates
While bounce rates can be a valuable gauge for any type of website, the same numbers don’t apply to all websites. For example, if you have a blog, you should expect your bounce rate to be higher – about 70%. This is because blog readers usually only need to look at the most recent post and then click away. If you have an online store, aim for your bounce rate to be 40% or lower. In general, you want your bounce rate to be low, indicating you’re making the most of each visitor.
Quick Tips to Reduce Your Website’s Bounce Rate
1. Give Visitors What They Want
Every person coming to your site is there because they want something, so give them a way to satisfy that desire right away.
Visitors quickly scan a page looking for cues letting them know they’re in the right place for what they are looking for. Without those cues, most visitors will hit the back button rather than reading all of the content on a page. Displaying a picture of the product or a heading with the topic of the page lets the visitor know they’re in the right place. You may have many things to offer the visitor, but first satisfy the visitors’ immediate reason for coming to the site.
When you walk into a physical store, an employee greets you, and then asks how he or she can help. If you know what you want, you’re brought right to the item. If you’re not sure what it is you’re looking for, the employee helps you figure out which item in the store suits your needs. Either way, the employee’s goal is the same as yours: getting you what you need as quickly as possible.
If your entry pages offer visitors the same experience, a lower bounce rate will follow.
2. Put Your Visitors in Charge
The more people who are drawn to click on your links, the lower your bounce rate will be. The best links are the ones that make visitors feel like they are in control. “Destinations for Couples,” might appeal to some people who just want to browse a list of exotic locales, but more visitors will click on a link which reads “Plan a Romantic Getaway Today” which offers the customer more of a shopping experience and sense of control.
A great link offers a call to action for your user; it puts your visitors in charge, and gives them a way to solve a problem for themselves. By using action verbs and phrases in your links, you aren’t just giving your visitors information; you’re helping them take ownership of their experience.
3. Ensure Your Site is Compatible with All Major Browsers
Before releasing your website, check that the site works properly in the latest version of the most common browsers. Backwards compatibility is also a good idea as not everyone updates their browser automatically when a new version is released. If a visitor arrives at your site and finds it isn’t displayed correctly, they are without question going to hit the back button, increasing your bounce rate.
4. Include Contact Information and Links on All Pages
All commercial websites should always contain contact information to show legitimacy. Include a telephone number, address, and an e-mail address or contact form on all pages in either the header or footer. Some shoppers still prefer to place orders over the phone and a site lacking contact information will likely lead them to shop elsewhere.
5. Keep Your Pages Short and Sweet
Your visitors are busy people, with things to do, and lives to lead. Don’t bury them under a lot of information all at once. Instead, break things down, and provide action-driven links that allows the visitor to walk through the process in short and understandable steps.
The web was built on the idea of organizing information in brief, interlinked pages, and that strategy is just as effective today as it was decades ago. Keeping to this strategy will help you focus on the details that matter to a visitor, increase the amount of content viewed, and lower your bounce rate.
6. Ensure Your Site Makes Sense Regardless of Entry Page
It is important to remember that not every visitor enters your website using the home page.
Search engines often direct users to subpages rather than a website’s homepage and they shouldn’t feel lost when they arrive. To make sure the visitor isn’t confused, ensure the page they arrive on contains the information they were looking for. A navigation element allowing them to find other sections on the site should be made obvious and including a link to the homepage placed in the standard upper left-hand corner area should help as well.
A clear structure and easy-to-use intuitive navigation is the foundation of a good website. The navigation should be consistent across all web pages and located either down the left column or along the top of the page. To help visitors keep track of where they are on your site use breadcrumb navigation (Home > Products > Product 1) so they can follow their way back to previous pages. Large sites should also include a search function.
Now that you know some simple but effective tricks to optimize your site, try them out on your site and don’t be afraid to fine-tune in order to get the best results. By paying attention to your bounce rate and optimizing your website to lower it, you will maximize the value you receive from each visitor by increasing return visitors, ad impressions and completed sales.