What exactly is the ‘bounce rate’ of a webpage? The term bounce rate is often confused with exit rate. The exit rate is the percentage of visitors who actively click away to a different website. Before exiting they might have visited several pages of your website. The bounce rate on the other hand, is the percentage of visitors who enter the website and leave it without viewing other pages. This means that their exit page is the same as their landing page.
The bounce rate is a benchmark for the effectiveness of the landing page. An entry page with a low bounce rate means that the page effectively causes visitors to visit more pages and continue on deeper into the website.
Is Your Bounce Rate Too High?
When is your bounce rate too high? There’s no straight answer to this question. A high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a sign of poor performance. The type and purpose of a website has a big influence on the bounce rate. There’s a lot of variation between news websites, e-commerce websites and blogs.
Google Analytics specialist Avinash Kaushik states that “it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying”. Blogs on the other hand, usually have a bounce rate of 80% because they offer all content on one page.
If you believe that your bounce rate is too high, you could try using some of these tips:
1. Make your content relevant
Your content is the reason people visit your website. Irrelevant or uninteresting content will scare away visitors and result in a high bounce rate. Quality content grabs the visitor’s attention and stimulates him/her to visit related pages.
Website data (from Google Analytics for example) is useful for identifying pages with a decent bounce rate. Try to figure out why these pages performs so well and apply it to the rest of the pages.
If you can’t figure out why a certain page performs better than another, use A/B split testing. A/B split testing (or even multivariate testing) can be done with the Google Website Optimiser. There are other software packages out there, such as Visual Website Optimiser and Sitespect, but in my opinion Google Website Optimizer is the best free alternative. Use the software to test two different versions of your landing page and compare the different bounce rates. Use the page with the best result, and repeat the test.
2. Attract the right visitors
Don’t forget to think about the content from an SEO point of view. Optimize your page to attract relevant traffic. For example: If you’re selling WordPress themes it would be useless to attract visitors who are looking for icon packs.
By targeting the right visitors and providing them with relevant content you can drastically reduce your bounce rate. If you want to learn more about choosing the right keyword for your page, read THIS ARTICLE from SEOMoz.
3. Information architecture & design
A clear and simple site structure can do wonders. It’s often the first impression of a website that helps the user to decide whether the content is worth reading or not. A well designed website grabs the visitor’s attention and invites him to start reading.
A study by Lindgaard et al (2006) has shown that impressions were made in the first 50 milliseconds of viewing a website. This means that the general appearance of a landing page makes the difference and not the content. However, once the visitor starts reading, the content should be interesting enough to retain his attention.
Think about the information architecture and the design of the website. Use plenty of whitespace, select a readable font, think about your information hierarchy and use the right colors. Your website should convey a sense of trust and professionalism and stimulate the user to discover more content.
4. Add a clear call to action
A call to action isn’t just limited to e-commerce websites; every website should have an objective. The objective of a website could be placing an order, reading related articles, subscribing to the newsletter or filling in a contact form. Make sure that the visitor knows what is expected of him and enable him to do so.
There are several techniques to implement the call to action in a website. Here are some examples:
- The product page of an e-commerce website have colorful, eye-catching purchase buttons. Sometimes related products are promoted. The call to action or goal of this page is helping the visitor find the right product and let him place an order.
- News websites usually recommend users to read the most popular articles.
- A lot of blogs ask the reader to share the post via social media. Related articles are often shown at the end of the post.
Don’t create a dead-end where a user doesn’t know where to go next. If he doesn’t know where to go next, he’ll leave your website and increase the bounce rate. Help him browse to other pages by using a clear call to action.
5. Reduce the loading time
The loading time of your website can be crucial to your bounce rate. Visitors will be more likely to visit additional pages if your websites has a fast loading time.
The popularity of smartphones and mobile internet also has an impact on the bounce rate. More and more websites are accessed via mobile devices. Websites that aren’t optimised for mobile browsing scare away visitors. Responsive web design can be a solution to this problem. If done correctly, responsive web design doesn’t only provide a better mobile browsing experience, but it can also improve the loading time by optimizing the content for smarthpones.
6. Internal links
An internal link is a hyperlink from one page to another page of the same website. By using internal links in your content you can influence the bounce rate of the current page. These links will not be seen as exit points but rather as navigation paths to other content on your website.
Internal links also have an SEO benefit. They can help the indexation of your website by search engine spiders. In this case, don’t forget to add a relevant anchor text to the internal hyperlink.
Internal linking can also be used outside the content of the article. A lot of websites suggest related articles at the bottom of a page. Because these related articles are relevant to the current page, visitors are easily convinced to visit the related pages.
You could also show your visitors the most popular posts or pages. By including a small image you can easily grab the visitor’s attention. Popular posts will always attract readers.
7. External links
Opening external links in a new window or tab can improve your bounce rate. From my personal experience, it can be useful to keep your visitors on the current page while they visits the external link in another tab or window. When they’re finished they can still find their way back to your website.
Putting a lot of thought into the design of a website footer is not something most web designers do. However, it’s just as important as the header of a website. By using links in the footer, visitors can quickly access other pages or posts of the website.
A lot of websites copy their main navigation to the footer, but you could also display related articles or the most popular pages. Or you could get creative and show some portfolio items, link to your contact form or add a news feed.
Creative Solutions to Reduce your Bounce Rate
TechCrunch created a dynamic navigation bar that appears when the user scrolls below the fold. Because the navigation bar is always visible, visitors can easily access other parts of the TechCrunch website. This is a simple and user-friendly way to reduce the bounce rate.
People who regularly visit Mashable will have noticed the pop-up box in the bottom right corner when they’re reading an article. This pop-up suggest which article the reader should read next. Thanks to the pop-up effect you can’t miss this creative solution.
Website with a lot of pages or articles, such as Wikipedia, offer a random article button. I’ve spent countless hours exploring more and more content via this simple button. It’s a simple (and addictive) way to discover new information. The principle could be used on other websites or blogs.
You can reduce your bounce rate by giving visitors the opportunity to discover new content on your website. Refer them to other parts of you website via related articles, most popular pages or internal links. Make sure your have quality content and think about the SEO of your pages to attract the right visitors.
Don’t forget that the first impression of a website can make or break a visit. Put some thought in the information architecture and design of your website. Optimise your code, content and media to reduce the loading time to a minimum. This will become increasingly important as mobile devices become more popular.
Extra: Plugins for WordPress Users
I’m sure a lot of people who are reading this article are using WordPress. This content management system is known for its huge collection of plugins. There are some plugins that can help us reduce our bounce rate. These are some of those plugins:
- The All in One SEO Pack automatically optimises your website for search engines. Use the right keywords, title and description to attract the right visitors. Remember that by attracting the right visitors you can decrease your bounce rate.
- Let your visitors discover related content thanks to the Yet Another Related Posts (YARP) Plugin. This useful plugin increases the chance that readers will visit other pages of your website.
- Popular content will easily attract new visitors. With the WordPress Popular Post plugin you can display the most popular entries on your WordPress site. Curious visitors will easily find their way to other pages of your website.
- You can improve the site performance and user experience with a caching plugin. The two most popular caching plugins for WordPress are WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. A website that loads too slow can scare away readers.
- Adding internal links to the content of your website has been made much easier in WordPress, thanks to the RB Internal Links plugin. With this plugin you can link to post and pages within your site by using special shortcodes.