When looking at Google Analytics, you may notice a percentage for “bounce rate” listed in the stats. A bounce constitutes a visitor who only views one page, then closes the tab or navigates to another website without visiting at least two pages on your site. What constitutes a bad bounce rate will vary by the type of site you have but generally speaking the lower the better!
Bounce rates for landing page style shopping sites (selling a single item or service) can have bounce rates as high as 80-90%, and that would be considered average. In this case, it’s okay as the other 10-20% have a high probability of conversion. However, if you have a content or e-commerce site, you really don’t want to be creeping over 60%, with the ideal range being below 50%. So how can you decrease the bounce rate on your site? And in doing so, what will be the benefit of your efforts?
Methods to Decreasing Bounce Rates
When looking at your website’s analytics, the bounce rate can tell you a few things. First, it tells you how accurate your content is for the keywords you’re ranking for, and second, it can tell you how easy your site is to use.
Content is King: Don’t put out sloppy content for the sake of increasing page views or meeting a personal goal of content being released. The number one thing you can do to decrease your bounce rate is to create winning content on a consistent basis.
Check Your Meta Info: Look over your meta descriptions to make sure they portray the content of your page accurately. Once search engines are displaying more accurate meta descriptions, you may see a decrease in bounce rates, as your content will match closer to what search engines display to users.
Note: Look in Google Analytics to see if certain pages or posts have higher bounce rates than others. Looks to correct these first. Then move on to page styles and adjust bounce rates there. For example, once individual posts are corrected look to see if something like your home page, category pages, or individual pages’ layouts are driving bounce rates.
Decrease Page Load Times: Count to five in your head. If your website takes five seconds to load, you're looking at at least 25-30% of visitors abandoning the page before it even loads. Imagine if you had paid for that traffic via AdWords. Dang.
We truly live in the world of wanting it now.
You’ll never fix all of the page abandonment cases due to page load times. After all, some people use slower internet or have bad connections where they are. Others are super impatient. A full page load time of just 2 seconds can still result in 12% page abandonment. However, that’s no excuse to not optimize your site to load as quickly as possible.
If you have a content site like a blog or news site, your goal should be to keep people on your site, looking through multiple posts before clicking off. For this, it’s time to look into the visual content and interaction points of your site.
Visual Aspects that May Affect Your Bounce Rate
How your site is presented to the viewer actual plays a critical role in your bounce rates. Beyond that, if your site is greatly unappealing, you may even lose visitors who had particularly bad experiences permanently. Here are some visual components to make sure are on point to help deliver an easy-to-use site.
Colors: Make sure the colors work well together and have a nice contrast. If your copy is too hard to read because of the colors, it might be time for a change. Also, make sure the backlinks stand out and can be seen by those looking to click on your content. Adobe Color CC (or Kuler) is a free web app that can help you pick color palettes, so even non-designers can avoid color issues on their website.
Fonts: Fonts are amazing aren’t they? Just twenty-six characters (and some extras) make up our entire language, but there are hundreds upon hundreds of fonts to display those few letter marks. They can brand everything from a boutique pet salon to a hipster shaving box. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Using too many different fonts, or using display fonts (which are bold and flashy) for your body copy can lead your site to a muddled mess, and push visitors off your site. Focus on one or two (at most) fonts to use on your site. The amount of fonts you use will also increase your page load times, which I touched on earlier.
The other thing to take into account when working with fonts are the font sizes. Keep headlines nice and large. Body copy should also be on the larger side. The internet works a bit differently than a novel, so increasing the font size for your body copy isn’t as taboo as it is in desktop publishing.
Studies also have shown that shorter paragraphs are better for readability when it comes to the web.
Use Lists When You Can: Bulleted lists, when appropriate, can help speed up the time it takes to read an article. This means that hopefully, they will take the time to read more of your site or return in the future (this specifically may not help your bounce rate) since you saved them a bit of time.
Have a User-Friendly Layout: I touched on this a bit earlier, but the overall usability of your site plays a pretty big role in all of this. Don’t be afraid to leave some white space on your site to give your readers’ eyes a break. Not only is it in trend, but it can also help a visitor read through long-form content.
Consider breaking your content into clear horizontal sections. This lets visitors find the content they need easily without having to scan around too much. Don’t forget to have a quick navigation stickied to the top of your page even when scrolling. Alternatively, have a scroll to top button appear once the nav is out of site.
Another factor in a user-friendly layout is not cluttering your site with ads. We all love the money associated with ads on our sites, but bombarding the visitor with tons of ads is more likely to have the opposite effect. Only put ads on your site that in places that you wouldn’t mind seeing them on someone else's site.
How a Lower Bounce Rate Can Grow Your Site
A lower bounce rate means that visitors are clicking on multiple pages throughout your site. They are genuinely interested in what you’re writing about, selling, or offering. This means that they have a higher chance of converting into a sale, subscribing to a newsletter, or supporting you on Patreon. These are just examples, but the more time someone spends exploring your site, the more likely they are to do whatever it is you’re trying to get them to do.
In addition to a better chance of conversion, a small part of Google’s page rankings is based on bounce rate. It knows that sites with lower bounce rates are likely offering the quality content it wants to put on the first page of search results.
What Does a Lower Bounce Rate Really Mean?
At the end of the day, a lower bounce rate just means you’re doing something right. And doing something right is a great step towards success. Alternatively, bounce rate as a measure of quality has some issues of its own. Think about a visitor who comes in and blows through three blog posts and exits within 30 seconds. They likely didn’t read anything, but it’s not logged as a bounce. For this reason, it’s also important to look at the time on page metrics to determine if your site is really what the world is after.