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How to Reduce Your Bounce Rate Like A Pro!

Bounce RateAnalytics are an incredibly useful tool! They give you a peek into what visitors are doing and looking at on your website, which in turn shows you what you can do to improve your website. Bounce rates are just one of the many statistics that Google makes available in their analytics suite. Most people intrinsically understand that a high bounce rate is probably a bad thing. But what is a bounce rate exactly ? Google’s definition is this:

“Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.“

As you can see, it is a pretty basic concept. Visitors land on your page and then decide to go elsewhere on the web or close the browser before going to another page on your site. This is not necessarily a bad thing. For example many single page lead generation pages will have an extremely high bounce rate even if they are converting traffic well. In that case your bounce rate is a meaningless number. Now that we know a little bit about what a bounce rate is we can look at some steps you can take to lower it.

Lowering Bounce Rate

Business owners that have a website for the purpose of converting sales are usually obsessed with the idea of controlling their users actions. They want to bring traffic into the site but once its there they want to control it entirely. This attitude towards conversions and web traffic is absolutely wrong! Respecting your visitors is the first step in converting them into a lead or client. Let your visitors discover your site and feel in control. Nobody likes feeling out of control or like somebody else is forcing them to do something. Don’t do these things to your visitors. Some common mistakes from people who do not understand this are things like:

  • Auto-Playing video or audio on page
  • Popup, flyover or other obnoxious ads
  • Interruptions to offer newsletter signups and chat box dialogs

These are all things that people do on purpose that have the opposite effect of whats intended. Make sure you aren’t doing these things or if you are that you are getting the expected results. They can work sometimes, but the demographic and execution need to be carefully measured.

The next phase of bounce rate reduction is more subtle. These things are ideally thought about during the design phase of your website but if you are already thinking about how to lower your bounce rate your site is probably already designed. Don’t fret! You can still solve your bounce rate problem with a little creativity and know how!

Reduce Page Loads

We’ve all been to a site that was so slow that we gave up and just went somewhere else. Use this page load timer to test your page load. Even if you think it seems fine on your computer, it may not be the case on another one, so make sure to test this out. Your browser caches’ assets ( pictures, scripts,etc) help to make web sites you’ve visited load faster. New visitors to your site do not have this advantage. Page load timers don’t use caching and can give you a true reading of your visitors experience.

Clear and Concise Navigation and Actions

How easy is it to navigate your site? Does your navigation area look like a navigation area? Are you presenting people with too many options of what to do on the page? Or maybe its not clear what you should do next after you land on the page? A good rule of thumb for this is, “Simpler is better.” People can decipher shapes faster than they can read. So maybe adding some icons next to your navigation would be helpful, a house icon next to your home button for example.

You may need the help of a 3rd party to figure this out. A fresh set of eyes and a new perspective can really help you find the weak spots in your website – especially if you have been staring at the site for hours trying to find problems. Your eyes tend to go “numb” after a while so don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Cross Browser and Mobile Friendly

If your website looks really broken in a specific browser (IE I’m looking at you :P) this can have a big effect. I’ve seen some sites so broken in IE it was clear that nobody payed any attention to this aspect of the design and layout. Something becoming more and more important by the day it seems is making your site work well on mobile devices. You can accomplish this with either a separate mobile site or responsive design.

Do What People Expect

People don’t like surprises. You tend to alienate people on the web very quickly if your page is not what they expected. When people feel surprised and alienated on the web they close your website or hit the back button. They know they are only another search and a few clicks away from finding the thing that they want so don’t try to confuse them with mixed messages. If you are tweeting about your cool new bike website to generate some traffic, make sure its clear that the page you are directing them to is actually about bikes. They could be expecting a site about motorcycles and when they land on your page about bicycles they bounce, literally! Including the word bicycle in your promotional tweets instead of just “bike” could make a big difference.

My Bounce Rate Is Low But I’m Still Not Seeing Any Results!

There are a lot of potential reason for this but one thing that’s related to bounce rate that you can check is exit percentage. Google defines exit percentage rate as this:

“The percentage of site exits that occurred from a page or set of pages.”

If you are seeing a page that your visitors land on often in the flow of your site that has a high exit percentage look deeper into that page. You could be wasting the effort you have put into lowering your bounce rate if the other pages on your site are bad.

Bounce Rate Is Only The Beginning.

Keep in mind that bounce rate is only one of many many useful statistics you can use to measure your website’s effectiveness. It also only measures the very beginning of your sites interactions. You can dig much deeper into the subject so don’t feel overwhelmed if your efforts to improve haven’t been met with immediate success. There are entire books designated to the subject of analytics alone. If you need help assessing your website’s weaknesses our team of web experts can help you get back on track to success so get in touch today.

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  • http://leaderswest.com Jim Dougherty

    Adam, phenomenal treatment of bounce rate and how to decrease it! Page load issues kill me, and I appreciate your tips. Particularly thought your aversion to pop-ups and media was interesting! Cheers!

    • Adam Temple

      Jim,

      Thanks for the feedback. I could write an entire article on reducing page load time but something to look at if you are running a WordPress site is a cache plugin. We use this one and find it to be great at reducing load time.

      http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/

      Glad you liked the part about media/pop-ups also. Its always a balance with marketing between asking for the sale and being straight up annoying. Thanks again for the feedback Jim!

      Adam

  • http://www.alphatreemarketing.com Daniel Ruyter

    It really is a fine line balancing load times vs website aesthetics if you ask me. You want your site to load quickly but it should be visually appealing (among other factors) to the user. Sacrificing look & feel in the name of speed isn’t always the best idea either.

  • http://www.davidmcohen.com David Cohen

    These are all great ideas, especially the stuff about pageload time (which I need to work on). I’d also like to add how important is that the headlines of your content, if you’re a blogger, are key to reducing bounce rates.

    In the past 30-days the bounce rate on my blog is 0.36%, no exaggeration, I can send you a screenshot of my GA for verification. I attribute this to time spent on crafting headlines that deliver on their promise.

    Cheers.

  • Adam Temple

    David,

    Bounce rates at or below 1% usually indicate a problem of some sort. Double check that you are not running 2 copys of the GA snippet on your site. Sometimes its easy to have 2 running if you use a plugin for one and also have the code pasted into your theme somewhere.

    Of course there is always the chance that I’m totally off base and that you have mastered bounce rate like a pro :)

    Adam

    • http://www.davidmcohen.com David Cohen

      Thanks Adam. I had somebody else tell me the same exact thing, so I got a front end dev to look to be sure. According to him there is no duplicate code. But I think I’ll have somebody else take a look to be sure. Appreciate it.

      • http://tdce.co.za Mike

        Hi David

        Did you get that second opinion? I also have a low bounce rate. 1.44% for the last month and 1.21% for the last six months. I can’t see duplicate code.

        • http://davidmcohen.com David Cohen

          Hey Mike. It turns out I did have duplicate code on my site. I had a few devs look at it and one of them found the issue and fixed it for me. So, no more crazy low bounce rate, but it’s setup correctly.

  • http://www.petsofoz.com Jon W

    I have looked into this everywhere and have yet to find any solid answer to it, maybe because it doesn’t exist? But what is the average bounce rate on a e-commerce site? my site has a 55% bounce rate overall. Some pages that bring a decent part of traffic have a 95% bounce rate. I don’t think we see a bounce rate below 30% on any of our pages, besides direct traffic that is. But would love to here what other peoples bounce rates are.

    Also to David Cohen, I am no expert but that seems very very low. Even if everyone that came wanted to stay, people who miss click off your page should be higher than that.

  • http://www.imjustsharing.com Mitch Mitchell

    Bounce rates are important for sure, but I take more pride in how long people might stay on my site than if they leave from the page they’re on because the longer it is, hopefully it means they’re actually reading what I have to say and might even like it.

  • http://byterevel.com iPodnerd

    I’ve been trying to improve my bounce rate for over a year, but to no avail. I’ve been hovering around 80% no matter what I do. I read this article a month ago, and followed everything that you said. I still have no results.

    Does anybody have more advice to offer?

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  • http://www.brightverge.com/ Bright Verge

    Great article. When I first read about bounce rate I didn’t agree it should be low and my website topic is an exception. My one site http://www.brightverge.com had 32% bounce rate and I decided to improve the quality of the page and bounce rate was up to 40% so you would think that is worse result but actually average time increased from 5 min 49s to 7 min 27s so in my case I believe this was a good result and I just need to work on the bottom part of my article so users can navigate to related article. I also have a site http://www.gocime.com with bounce rate 83% and avg time 5 min which is a solves a very technical issue and to be honest I don’t think any visitor would like to go to another page as they have an urgent issue they must resolve quickly so I don’t think I will be improving bounce rate in this case.

    But overall I do want to reduce bounce rate but only by improving quality of my pages to my users…..

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