I’m a practical person. There’s a plethora of reasons why, but when it boils down, I enjoy knowing how and why things work. Odds are, you have similar tendencies. Probably not in the same fields, but you have a few things in life that you enjoying knowing the how and why of. It doesn’t really matter what the subject is - cars, technology, food, fashion - the sense of curiosity remains the same.
Today, we’re unravelling a bit of mystery behind the bounce rate of your website, including how and why bounce rates matter, as well as what you can do to make the most of this handy indicator.
First, Let’s Define What Exactly A ‘Bounce Rate’ Is
Google defines a bounce rate as “...[a website’s] percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page). (Source)
So, it’s the equivalent of having a customer walk into your physical shop, look around, and leave, their hands still in their pockets. For a company that’s looking to sell to that customer, it’s not ideal. And sure, you might consider it normal that every day you’re trading, there will be people who walk in and walk out of your shop without buying, or engaging with your business beyond the visit. But that’s not something you want to have a lot of people doing. Eventually, you’re going to need a customer to buy something, or at least, make an enquiry for there to be a point to your website.
If your website is currently sporting a high bounce rate, it could be because of one of these three reasons:
Your website isn’t user-friendly
Your visitors are more likely to be searching for your website on mobile devices than they are on a desktop. If your website doesn’t translate responsively across to mobile, then you’re going to have a lot of people who navigate to your website, go ‘nope’, and immediately hit the back button.
Something else that can have a massive effect on levels of user-friendliness is your load time. If your website takes too long to load (most likely on a mobile device, with mobile internet), then your searchers will quickly decide that whatever you have to offer can’t be worth the wait time.
Your website hasn’t answered the question the visitor had
I’m fairly sure the percentage of people who sing ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ when looking for answers is small. If you don’t understand the question that your ideal buyer has when navigating to your website, then answering that question is going to be nigh impossible, and they’ll be out of there faster than you can say “was that a U2 joke?”
Your visitor isn’t looking for more of your content
This can be a bad or a good thing. On the one hand, you could have answered the current question of your visitor, and they’re satisfied. On the other, they could have been entertained enough by the page they visited, but not enough to actually do anything in response.
How High Is A High Bounce Rate?
If you’ve checked in with Google Analytics on what your bounce rate actually looks like and you’re panicking a little, let me encourage you to pause a moment.
Because Google analyses so many websites, they’ve actually got a fairly good idea of what constitutes as an average bounce rate for different kinds of web pages.
So, for a landing page, a 70-90% bounce rate is pretty normal. For content websites, a 40-60% bounce rate is average. Oddly enough, a 70-98% bounce rate for blogs is also acceptable. (Source.)
On the one hand, this can be concerning. On the other hand, a well-written blog post should answer the question of the searcher at hand. If they’ve only got the one question, they probably won’t make for a great lead, and your landing pages should be able to separate the poor fit leads from the great ones.
How Can I Lower My Bounce Rate?
That said, you probably want to lower your bounce rate from whatever it is now. The stickier your website is, the more likely you’re going to have potential leads stay.
So, what can you do? You could probably begin by answering the problems we stated earlier; making your website more user-friendly, providing answers to questions that your visitors actually have, and instilling a greater desire to learn more in your visitors via your content.
Here’s a list of things you can check that affect these aspects:
Page load time:
If it’s taking too long to load your website, check your resource-heavy elements (images, video, plugins etc.) and see what can be trimmed. A highly visual website is going to engage well with your readers, but a fast-loading website is going to engage on an even better level.
Think of mobile adaptability here, as well as standard navigation. How does your menu present on different devices? Does your website follow a ‘short pages, click to navigate’, or a ‘long page, scroll to navigate’ format? (The answer should be the second one.)
Your metadata consists of your page title, your tags, your keywords, and your meta description. If your web page was a DVD cover, what information would you use to convince the person who picks it up that it’s worth watching? You need to use these methods of labelling and informing to give your searcher a good idea of what your page is about, while they’re still on the search engine results page.
To write engaging content, you need to understand your ideal customers, along with the questions they’re likely to ask. You want to do more than provide funny cat pictures - you want to answer a genuine question, and provoke a reader to ask two more questions (that you can answer.) Great education is about teaching people to ask a lot of the right questions, and you want to educate your visitors to find the best solution for their problem, and to be wanting more of what you offer.
Calls To Action:
Part of writing engaging content is giving your visitors something to do after they finish reading your content. It’s why we write wrap-up paragraphs for our articles, and why you should consider adding calls to action to your website pages. It’s not enough for your reader to get to the end of your content and go ‘well, that was cool. Better get back to the grind now.’ If you want your visitors to take action on something, you need to make obvious your invitation for them to do so.
The bounce rate of your website and its web pages can be used as an indicator of interaction that your average visitor has when they find you. Although only an indicator, it’s still something you want to lower when you can, because visitors who stick around are the ones that will buy from you.
There’s a number of factors that can cause bounce rates for your web pages to be higher or lower, and there’s a number of ways you can address these problems. Ultimately, you want your website to send the right kind of message to your ideal buyers within the first 2 seconds that they’re on any given page. Once you start off on the right foot, it’s up to your high-quality content to win them over and your calls to action. They’ll encourage a visitor to go from a searcher with questions to a lead with more questions, that is confident in your answers.