Why is my bounce rate important?

bounce rate

Should I stay or should I go is everyone’s first thought after opening up a web page.  What your page visitors choose determines your bounce rate and more importantly could determine your conversion rate.  To make it more confusing a low bounce rate is typically good whereas a high bounce rate can be good or bad.

Bounce rate is a common term that reflects how long someone navigates a single page within your webspace before bouncing off to the next online distraction. Bounce rate data correlates to page content in the sense of user’s experience.  A good site will have a low bounce rate with a high length of visitor loitering on many of the sites pages, a high bounce rate will typically indicate that your contact lacks appeal and the user closed out the page running off to a completely different webspace. As much as the term bounce rate is thrown around as a metric in how good your site might be it is quite often misleading and not always on target.

Low is good, high is bad but not always

In most cases a low bounce rates indicates high content appeal, but can also be a result of content flow such as download pages, questionnaires, and registration and signup forms. These are typically multi part pages and don’t often reflect the sites full experience. High bounce rates can also be deceiving, what if your landing page was simply “call us now at…” and resulted in direct phone calls. Directly following the call the site visitor is simply done and closes out the browser. Though your bounce rate now reflects high, your lead to landing page visit might tell a completely different story.

Confused yet? You should be because utilizing bounce rate data can be like chasing the wind through the forest. A bounce rate is only a small amount of information and when used alone as a metric getting it right is purely luck.

You need to know where your visitors are coming from and why. Keywords used to direct search engine traffic can often be off target resulting in a skewed bounce rate. How often have you searched for something, then landed on that page to only find out it had absolutely nothing to do with what you just searched for. This is common and according to google about 23% of all search result click through traffic is off target. The is a typically a result of bad page header content combined with even worse SEO work.  Though search engines use some pretty sophisticated tools in indexing page content the content itself must be written in a manner that makes it easy to translate specific to your ideal keywords.

Is there reason to stay within your webspace once entering on your primary landing pages? If you’re utilizing tools like free templates within wordpress don’t provide any reference menus or links to other content within your webspace. These are widgets and tools you must setup yourself and without them your page is simply static leaving a visitor no other option but to bounce out.

How to fine tune your bounce rate

For the most part a high bounce rate is bad and knowing why they bounce can significantly improve your conversion rate. How is a bounce rate calculated;

  1. The site visitor closes the tab or browser after visiting your site
  2. The site visitor clicks the back button
  3. The site visitor clicks on a link within your page content that leads to another webspace
  4. The site visitor simple does nothing and eventually the session times out

Good news is that it’s free to find out what your bounce rate is. Google Analytics is a great tool to study your site traffic and make some nifty assumptions about your visitors experience.

What should you be expecting when looking at your bounce data;

  • Landing pages have an average bounce rate of 70 to 90%
  • Blogs average about 80 to 100%
  • Content web pages are the lowest at about 40 to 60%

Bounce rates have increased dramatically over the past 10 years. This is solely a result driven by the fact that 86% of site visitors use mobile devices. I’m sure you have a beautiful mobile responsive site with a flashy menu, well thought out navigation footer, and graphics that would make Chip Kidd put you a book cover. But all of this kills your bounce rate because your primary viewing audience sees only 10% of it at a time, and most of the time it’s not content specific to why they got there in the first place. Make sure your content not only displays well on a mobile device make sure it’s the right content, menus are clearly visible, and make sure your links work.

When it comes to content start with your blogs because they are the easiest areas to improve upon as they are also typically the highest bounce offender. Blog content tends to qualify your visitor. The title alone can be deceiving and often within the first sentence a blog reader will make a few bounce potential decisions. What if they didn’t agree, were looking for something specific, found the content boring, or simply didn’t find the content useful. Blogs also rarely encompass a call to action, when you get to the end, you’re simply done.  If your blog content tends to be your primary entry page you can significantly improve upon your bounce rate by adding in content links to other important pages on your site called linkbacks. Linkebacks are specific keywords within your content that are hyperlinks to more information found within other pages on your site. They are typically displayed in a different color and underscored making them stand out on a page.  Utilizing keywords that are specific to your topic make them extremely useful in keeping a visitor around a bit longer. Another way to improve upon your blog page is the use of menu links that stay visible while scrolling the page.

Page load speed is a big killer to your bounce rate.  How long does it take your page to load? If you’re utilizing WP, most likely too long. The average WP theme has a lot going on when it loads but good news is there are a few good tools to improve upon your WP Cache and Image optimization.

  1. Browse your plugins for W3 Total Cache, a great simple to use tool that will significantly improve your page load speed.
  2. For images I use WP Smush, a easy to use plugin that compress almost every type of image and optimizes them with visually no loss.

Make sure the content being found is what was being searched for. You do this by making sure site index content is correct such as page title, tags, meta description, and keywords. Most good plugin SEO tools give you easy access to create and manage header data.  Header data is essential if your counting on your primary page traffic to come from search engines. A great simple tool to manage page header data is the Yoast SEO plugin.

A simple method to lower your bounce rate is to reference related content and/or call to action at the bottom of your primary page content. Provide visitors with something of value, somewhere else to go other than away from your site.

Now that you’ve optimized your page, have good visible links with solid calls to action it’s now time to create better content.   Remembering that over 80% of our site visitors are on their mobile devices it now time to think micro content. This is best achieved in creating content that gets straight to the point. Most of us aren’t crafty writers with the talent to tell a good yarn, so let’s save our visitors the torture of long drawn out excerpts.  Good page content should only be a few paragraphs at most, and should incorporate some eye candy to make it interesting.

You’re on your way to less bounce but it’s not the time to lose any sleep over it. Take it one page at a time, monitor any changes in your analytics, then adjust and repeat. With such a high global bounce rate this is one topic can benefit from examples of what works well. Please share any success you’ve had and/or any traumatic failures.


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