I have been asked this question many times over the years, and it’s not as simple as you might think. The question should read “WHY do I have a high bounce rate?” Only when we understand “why” can we address “how”.
So, lets start with the basics.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate is the percentage of people that arrive on your website and leave without taking any action or reading any further pages.
Google defines it here like this:
A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.
Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.
What is a normal bounce rate?
That’s a trick question. There is only “normal” for your website – and ideally you work towards reducing it.
What are the causes of high bounce rate?
There are many possible reasons you may have a high bounce rate – and one of those is simply that the user did not need to take any other action than read the information on the page in front of them. If they were searching for a definition or a translation, and you provided it, it is quite logical that they took no further action and left. However, most websites exist to generate pageviews, leads and sales, so we want people to engage with our website.
You forgot your ABC…
The building blocks to SEO, paid search and any other form of inbound marketing is to start with understanding who you are trying to target and how. If your website sells snow and you have focussed your campaign on attracting Eskimos to your site, they may come, but they won’t stay to buy.
A more real-life example? If you are selling supply chain management software to large organisations, you can easily attract large amounts of consumer traffic (and university students) to your site through supply chain definitions and mentions of known transporters, but none of those consumers will contact you for a demo of your software.
How to fix it:
Go back to the beginning. Create user stories of success and using those personas think about how they might find your business, and what tools and what language they would use. Back up those findings with keyword research. Good quality data will ensure your success.
Pro tip: Check out the competition and don’t be afraid to look at how they are trying to attract the same audience, you might get some great ideas (and probably a list of things to avoid at all costs too!).
You misled the visitor
You may have done this unintentionally, but your PPC ads, meta data or call to action in your email may have led them to believe that they were going to get something that you weren’t offering. If you PPC ad says “Buy Online Today and save 25%” and they arrive to find the item at full price, they’ll hit the back button. Equally if your meta title says “Everything you need to know about the North Pole” and your page has two lines of content, it’s “game over”.
How to fix it:
Align your message with the landing page. Or your landing page with the message. Make a clear connection between them.
You forgot to invite them to do anything else
I see this a lot. A company sells a service. They tell the visitor what that service is, and maybe even why they should use it.
How to fix it:
Tell your visitors what you’d like them to do next – that might be further reading, contact or buy, but make sure they have a path to follow. They won’t all follow the path – but at least you’ve given them a chance.
You made the next action too hard
Sometimes I see websites that have gone a bit overboard on the above technique. There are 30 “read more” links, 10 buttons, 2 different forms, and a pop up that you just can’t get rid of. That’s enough to make even the most determined of buyers hit the back button.
How to fix it:
Keep the analogy of a path in mind. There are always options depending where you want to go, but ultimately, you’re being drawn forwards – towards a destination. Go back the user stories we created in step 1 and encourage the user to take the next step with simple choices.
Bounce rate is influenced by too many factors to cover everything here, but these are certainly the most common. If you are experiencing issues please feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation chat.
This post is also available in: Français (French)