Creating and maintaining a website involves a lot of things, ranging from searching for the right keywords to regularly posting relevant content, from using the right design to choosing appropriate images, and from sharing posts on your social media to widening your online social circle.
There are many more elements involved, of course, but you do all these mainly for two things:
- One, so people can find and visit your website; and
- Two, so they will stay long enough to do other things, such as explore through your pages, buy a product, or subscribe to your newsletter.
You don’t want your visitors to leave after viewing only one page, which, in web-speak, is called “bounce.”
What is bounce rate?
The term bounce rate refers to the metric that webmasters use to gauge the percentage of one-page visits. In other words, it is the rate of visitors who navigate away after viewing only one page against the total number of visits during a specified period. It is computed like this:
bounce rate = one-page views within a period/total number of visits during the same period
For instance, if your website received 50,000 visits in the past month and 28,000 left without going to another page, then divide 28,000 by 50,000. This gives you a bounce rate of 0.56 or 56 percent.
A lower bounce rate, in general, indicates that you are able to engage your visitors, and they are enticed to go to other pages within your website. A higher bounce rate, on the other hand, means that they lose interest after seeing only a small portion of it.
Remember, however, that bounce rate has nothing to do with the time a visitor spends on the webpage; it is when they look at only one page then go away. This generally equates to your website not able to convert visitors to paying customers or leads.
In short, the lower this percentage is, the better, so your goal is to keep people from “bouncing” away.
What causes high bounce rates?
Visitors have their owns reasons for leaving a website shortly after landing but, primarily, it is because:
- There is something in your website that they did not like.
It could be that going from one page to another takes so long or they might have found the hovering ads or auto-play videos annoying. Perhaps, they found that the color or page design does not agree with them, or that the page simply failed in making a good first impression.
- They did not find what they were looking for or were expecting to see.
It could be that the page title or description they saw on the search engine does not match the content.
- The website is getting traffic from the wrong market.
You may be targeting the wrong crowd so once they visit, they leave. Conversely, you may be getting the right readers but your web design or content does match them. For instance, you may be using technical terms to address newbies or you’re using a kiddie font for bankers.
Visitors may do one of several things shortly after landing on your website, resulting to a higher bounce rate. These include:
- Clicking the “back” or “home” button on their browser.
- Clicking on an external link or ad that does not open in a new tab.
- Entering a URL on the browser’s address bar.
- Typing a search item on the browser’s search box.
- Closing the tab or the browser.
How to address high bounce rates
Before you fret about not getting 0 percent bounce rate, it would be helpful to know the average percentage in different categories so you can set realistic goals. According to the benchmark on Google Analytics, the average bounce rate for:
- Blogs is somewhere between 70 to 98 percent.
- Content websites is 40 to 60 percent.
- Landing pages is 70 to 90 percent.
- Lead generation websites is 30 to 50 percent.
- Retail websites is 20 to 40 percent.
- Service websites is 10 to 30 percent.
Now, if your website generates a high bounce rate, then you should consider refocusing your web design, your content, and/or your marketing strategies. Here’s how:
Identify your target audience
Before you do anything, you have to pinpoint who you’re trying to reach – what age bracket, what profession or education, which location, and so on. This way, you will be able to know how to target them, like using the right design and font, the appropriate language and images, the most effective keywords and content, and so on.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, you need to entice them to visit and keep them glued.
Make a good first impression
It’s not easy getting visitors, so when they do come, don’t waste the opportunity.
- First, remember that you only have a few seconds to grab your audience’s attention before they decide to stay or go away; and
- Second, that websites are visual so make sure that your pages, especially your landing page or pages, are visually appealing.
To get a good first impression, make sure that your webpages:
- Have a good balance of text, images, and blank spaces. Avoid busy or messy layouts, flamboyant designs, or walls of text.
- Present soothing, complementary colors. Do not use clashing or loud hues that are hard to look at.
- Use easy-to-read fonts. Avoid fonts that are difficult to read or are too small to see. Make sure to have good contrast between the font color and the background and that your font combinations are complementary.
- Have easy-to-click navigation buttons. Place them properly so that your visitors can easily go from one page to another.
- Feature good images. It’s better to use your own images rather than stock photos, especially if you have a business or corporate website.
Spend time designing and customizing your website to reflect your business/niche while making sure that it suits your audience. Again, people can process visuals better, so you need to be able to impress them within the first few second after they land on your website.
Research for the right keywords to use
You need to find which keywords your target readers are likely to type when they use their search engine. Long-tail keywords tend to get more targeted organic traffic so opt for those rather than general ones.
For example, instead of using “carpet cleaning,” you can use “carpet cleaning services in tampa bay.” Only people who need carpet cleaning in Tampa Bay, Florida are likely to type this and they are also the most likely to convert to paying customers.
One reminder, though. When using keywords, make sure that your content does not sound odd. There are many business websites that, in an attempt to squeeze in their long-tail keywords, have awkward-sounding articles.
In relation to this, you also need to update your keywords every few months. Internet trends and customer behavior change, so you need to see if your keywords are still relevant or if you need to update them to those that are gaining popularity.
Regularly post relevant content
Always have fresh content on your website. You don’t want your visitors to get turned off after seeing that your last post is two years old. The best way is to have a schedule. Once a week is ideal, although you can also do it more often.
Regularly posting content is not enough, however. It should provide value for your visitors, giving them information or answers to their problems or concerns. Many readers like “how-to” articles or “best ways to do so-and-so,” but you can provide other kinds as long as they are helpful, informative, and/or entertaining. Of course, the topics should be in line with your niche and appeals to your target audience.
You should also give each post a captivating title and meta description, and it should be sprinkled with keywords. Remember, however, to not commit keyword stuffing or other unacceptable SEO (search engine optimization) practices as they result to negative consequences.
In addition to this, format your articles so that they are easy to digest. Using headers and bullet points are recommended. Adding images and infographics also help in encouraging visitors to read.
Provide a good user-experience
You may have experienced for yourself how annoying it can be when a website has pop-ups, auto-playing videos, or hovering ads. Many other Internet users find this annoying, too, so you should avoid the practice as much as possible.
Instead, give your audience the option to play a video if they want to and let them see an ad without shoving it down their throats. They will like your website more for it.
Also, as mentioned earlier, make sure that your pages load fast. Internet users are impatient people and they will click away from a website rather than wait for it to load.
Place calls to action
Don’t forget to put call-to-action messages to prompt your visitors on what to do or what they can do next. You can invite them to subscribe to your newsletter, buy your product, read a related article within your website, share your post, and so on. By nudging them to do something more, they may decide to navigate through your pages rather than click away.
Make sure that your CTAs are prominently displayed. However, you need to think about this carefully because you don’t want to send conflicting messages or too many all at once. Your visitors might get confused and instead of doing what you ask, they might do nothing at all or, worse, just leave.
Utilizing other strategies
There are also other approaches you can use in order to lower down the bounce rate, such as:
- Encouraging visitors to explore your website more by not fully satisfying their query on the first page. However, make sure that you do this wisely because people don’t want to go round and round just to find the answers they are looking for.
An example for this strategy is giving readers a brief introduction of your company’s background and services on the landing page. If they are interested in finding out more, then they can view the About page, which gives more comprehensive information about your business. They can also go to your Services page, from which they can read a list of your services and a concise introduction for each. Again, you can have a link for each service that leads to a page giving a more detailed explanation.
In short, give them a taste before serving the whole dish, but make sure that the morsel is enticing enough that they would want more. Don’t hang it like a carrot on a stick, though, because they will get turned off.
- Don’t forget to lead them to other pages by making suggestions, such as “similar products” or “related articles.” You can also have “most read posts” or “other customers also bought these.”
- If you have an external link, make sure it opens in a new tab. If it doesn’t, then you will just be sending your visitor to someone else’s website and yours will be shoved into your reader’s browsing history. By opening an external link in a new tab, however, your page will still remain open and your visitor can go back to where they left off later.
- If you find that a traffic source is sending you visitors who generally bounce, then you may want to consider stopping your campaign in that source or restructuring it to target the right audience. You may have to find other keywords or change the approach altogether.
These are only some of the things that you can do to lower your website’s bounce rate. There are other strategies, of course, but making a good first impression, providing valuable, relevant content, and not ruining user experience are among the top things that keep visitors from clicking away.
On a final note, bounce rate is not everything. You also need to check your traffic and the conversion rate to give you a more accurate view on how your website is performing.