Bounce rate is a commonly talked about term and you may have heard about the metric from your local SEO consultant or seen it on your Google Analytics dashboard.
So, what exactly is a bounce? And are bounces bad?
Google defines a “bounce” as any web browsing session where a site visitor views a single page of your website without engaging further.
A bounce rate will then be the percentage of site visitors over a defined period that leave your site after viewing a single page.
For example, if you received 10,000 visitors to the homepage of your Downriver real estate company website in March 2021, and 5,000 of those visitors left your site without proceeding to other pages. Your bounce rate for March would be 50%.
Tracking your bounce rate is important for a host of reasons and we’ll cover those reasons in the body of the article below. We will also explain the implications of a high bounce rate, the reasons your site can have a high bounce rate, and how you can reduce your bounce rate.
A high bounce rate means the majority of visitors are leaving your site after viewing a single page. So, is a high bounce rate bad? If yes, is that always the case?
GoRocketFuel conducted a study of a diverse range of websites to calculate the average bounce rate of sites and to determine what constitutes an excellent bounce rate. Below are the conclusions of the study:
If your bounce rate is between 56% to 70%, it most likely means visitors are not happy with what they see on your web pages. It means visitors are checking out after spending a few seconds on your site.
This is bad for your efforts to attract new customers and harmful to your SEO rankings. You need to take steps to reduce your bounce rate and we’ll highlight measures you can take later in the article.
However, a high bounce rate is not always a bad thing.
Like we mentioned earlier, if you have a single-page site, visitors don’t really have anywhere else to go.
It is also possible that you have CTA landing pages – for example, pages promoting affiliate products – that get visitors to bounce to another website to take action. In that case, a high bounce rate is inevitable, and you are good to go.
In a nutshell, if a high bounce rate is caused by visitor dissatisfaction with the content of your web pages, you need to take measures to rectify the issues that are turning off visitors from your site.
However, if a high bounce rate is due to the nature of your website or the purpose of your web page, you are good to go.
Adding Google Analytics to your site will let you track many important metrics about the performance of your website including bounce rates.
To check your bounce rate on Google Analytics, follow the steps below:
Before we explain the steps you need to take to fix a high bounce rate, you need to understand the reasons why visitors may bounce from your website.
48% of people who access the internet every day do so using their mobile devices. Not making your website mobile-friendly is a sure way to turn off visitors and increase your bounce rate.
A website that is not optimized for mobile looks bad on mobile devices, loads slowly, and is not easy to navigate.
Any decent web developer and most business owners are already aware of the importance of having a mobile-friendly website and yet many non-responsive business websites are still found on the web.
It’s also possible that you created your website with a cheap or free “responsive” WordPress theme that is poorly coded and doesn’t read mobile-friendly to a web visitor.
Some of these developers squeeze an existing desktop layout to a mobile format causing the theme to display awkwardly on the web.
When visitors see web pages like this, they check out immediately.
To see if your pages are mobile-friendly, test your site with Google’s free mobile-responsiveness testing tool.
You can have a well-designed website with lots of cool animations and great content – and still turn off visitors.
Visitors won’t hang around to see your cool animations and excellent copywriting if your web page takes ages to load.
In the digital age, people want information fast and they are super impatient. If your web pages are taking too much time to load, they will leave.
Page loading speed is also a crucial factor in how Google ranks your website. Google knows its users want facts fast and that’s a big reason why it introduced Featured Snippets.
There are a few factors that can slow down your site including:
All the factors above can individually or collectively slow down your website. To check if your page speed is low, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
This happens when the content of your web page is completely different from the promise of your page title or the overview provided in your meta description.
Let’s say a searcher is looking to compare the best plumbers in Taylor, MI, and clicks the link to a page titled “top 10 best plumbers in Taylor, MI”.
The searcher views the page and finds the landing page of your plumbing company website. The visitor will bounce right back and will likely develop a distrust for your brand from that day onwards.
Review your web pages and rewrite your title tags and meta description if they are misleading.
Poor site navigation is when your navigation-menu is overly complicated and visitors have to adapt to complex animated drop-down menus that don’t give visitors the information they need as soon as possible.
The problem could also be poorly designed websites with navigational errors and inactive menu buttons.
Visitors will leave your site in a heartbeat if you force them to work hard to get the information they need.
Your site navigation should be positioned in an optimal position where site visitors can find it, and it should be well-designed to ensure visitors can move seamlessly from one part of your site to another.
Visitors will judge your brand based on the impression they get from your site design. A poorly designed website is not a sign of a company that cares about the experience of its customers.
If your website looks like the one in the image below, visitors will bounce from your site as soon as they arrive.
Some of the factors that contribute to bad site design are:
Your web copy must be free of grammar and spelling mistakes, and it must communicate the information required by the web visitor in the fewest words possible.
If your web pages don’t show visitors the following:
If your web copy doesn’t fulfill all of the three conditions listed above, you will have a hard time keeping visitors on your site.
They are common these days and they are often annoying. Most web visitors find pop-ups irritating and 73% of web users say they are turned off by irrelevant pop-ups.
Just look at the image above where the site owner is aggressively asking a new visitor to get his “acclaimed” popup domination secrets or be relegated to a life without subscribers.
This is the first thing a visitor will see upon landing on the website without any knowledge of the competence of the website owner.
Most visitors will find such bullying language frustrating.
Also, imagine visiting the website of a local Woodhaven, MI fitness coach and being told to watch a 30-second video (set to autoplay) before you can access the page to get the information you need. Few visitors will stick around to watch that video.
Popups can work if they are done the right way. A brand that has already established its reputation with customers can get away with putting popups on its web pages when they offer incentives that are too good for customers to ignore.
This can be due to the blackhat practices of a website or it can happen because of a genuine mistake by the author of another website.
Blackhat practices involving unethical link-building practices to help boost the domain authority of your site can lead to a high bounce rate when those visitors discover that your website is irrelevant to their needs.
A misleading backlink can also occur because an author used the wrong part of his content to link to your site or the author intended to link to a different website.
To find misleading inbound links that are causing visitors to bounce from your site, check your backlink profile and identify the harmful backlinks. Reach out to the administrators of those websites and ask them to remove the links.
If you see that a page has an abnormally high bounce rate on Google Analytics, check out the page yourself on your web browser to get a feel of what your site visitors are experiencing.
If you find any technical issues, work with your developer to fix them.
We’ve highlighted this earlier in the article and it is a given that a single-page website will have a very high bounce rate.
All the information they need is on that single landing page and the measure of success will be how much time they spent on that single page.
If heat maps show that visitors spent time scrolling through the page and clicked CTA buttons, a high bounce rate is not a problem.
Google won’t take issues with your site either. Google is happy whenever visitors get all the information they need, even if that information is contained on a single page.
But, if they only spend a few seconds without bothering to see what else is on the page, you need to work on improving your website.
You can check the average minutes visitors are spending on your single-page site by looking at the Average Session Duration and Time Spent on Page metrics on Google Analytics.
Poorly planned marketing campaigns that seek to reach the largest audience possible instead of targeting the specific niche audience that will buy your product/service will attract lots of unsuitable visitors to your site.
When these visitors land on your page and discover that your offerings are not relevant to their unique needs, they will check out immediately.
The key is to identify the right audience and target them through the right channels with content and promotional materials that will resonate with them.
The first step to fixing a problem is to identify the source of the problem. Heatmap software helps you visualize what visitors are doing on your site.
With heat indicators, you will see where visitors spend the most time on your web page, what they click on, what actions they take, their scroll map, and areas of your webpage that they avoid.
With this data, you can:
We already mentioned that bad design and large blocks of boring text with no visual breaks will drive visitors away from your site.
To fix your site’s design, work with a good web designer that will help you create a beautiful mobile-responsive website. You should also hire a copywriter to help you craft professional web copy for your site content.
The data from Google Analytics will show you the blog posts with high bounce rates, and heatmaps will show you the parts of the blog post where visitors usually decide to stop reading your content.
Use that information to identify the blog posts that you need to rewrite and the blog posts that need improvements.
We hope this article helped your understanding of bounce rates and provided you with the knowledge needed to diagnose the issues that are causing your website’s high bounce rate.
Now it’s up to you to analyze your website and use the recommendations mentioned above to reduce your bounce rate and keep more visitors on your site longer.