Properly diagnosing high bounce rates to identify areas of improvement is a useful way to increase user engagement, improve site rankings, and put more money in your pocket.
There are many misconceptions about bounce rates, so let’s define what it is and explore why it’s sometimes a good thing but other times needs improvement.
“…is a single-page session on your site.
In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”
Essentially, this means that when a visitor “bounces” from a webpage, they have left not just that webpage; they’ve also exited the entire website after only viewing one page.
While this definition is clear and easy to understand, the underlying cause of a bounce is generally more complex.
What Causes A High Bounce Rate?
Sometimes a high bounce rate can be an indication of a poor user experience.
A site visitor hit the page and either the page didn’t deliver the content they were expecting or they were underwhelmed by something else, like a non-responsive webpage.
On the other hand, a high bounce rate can also be the result of a positive user experience.
For example, let’s imagine a user is searching for a recipe’s ingredient measurements.
They click through the search result and land on a site where they immediately see the ingredients list need. They get it and leave the site.
That high bounce rate is an example of a great user experience. The visitor instantly found the information that they were looking for, then left.
Ideally, some of those high bounce rate site visitors will bookmark the page for future reference, and some other visitors may remember the site another day and return to it, seeking it out by name on Google.
When Google Causes A High Bounce Rate
Google’s algorithm exceeds at identifying what a page of content is about and what a search query is about.
However, there may be some rare edge cases where Google may show a website that does not have the correct answer.
This can happen when a searcher uses a poor choice of keywords (like vague words) or the search phrase is rare.
In that situation, Google sent the visitor to the incorrect webpage.
The visitor did not find the content they needed.
The high bounce rate in that situation is not a poor reflection on the website itself, as there’s nothing wrong with the content.
The source of the problem could be with Google’s algorithm or, more likely, with the search phrase a user typed in.
A high bounce rate is not always a sign of problems with the webpage itself.
Nevertheless, it’s still important to keep an eye on bounce rates to make sure there is not something there that might be driving website visitors away.
Here are 20 proven ways to reduce your bounce rate when needed.
1. Pay Attention To Page Load Time
When a user has to wait an excessive amount of time (and by excessive I mean more than three seconds) for a page load, it creates an incredibly poor user experience.
The content on the page does not matter if a visitor cannot even see it immediately.
Page load time is even more crucial on mobile devices because users are more likely to become frustrated with slow load times and bounce.
2. Make Site Search Easy
Some websites neglect adding a site search functionality or make it difficult to see.
If a user is searching for something specific that they do not instantly see on a page, this is an extremely useful tool that they can use to search with instead of possibly leaving the page or site entirely.
3. Provide Easy Navigation
Navigation should be easy and effortless for visitors.
When a user gets to a site, they need a clear direction of where the content that they are looking for lives.
If this is not simplistic and clearly laid out in an intuitive navigation, they will most likely bounce from the site.
4. Focus On A Great Design
Visitors will not spend a large amount of time a site that is unpleasant, unattractive, or have difficulty trusting.
Provide an appealing user experience by starting with a great design is not just about aesthetics. It’s about creating a functional, intuitive, and pleasant overall website experience.
5. Keep Mobile Top-Of-Mind
Mobile users have even less patience than desktop users.
A website should have a responsive design in order to provide users on mobile devices with a solid user experience.
6. Make Webpages Easy To Read
Content on a webpage should be clearly and effectively formatted.
This is crucial from a user experience standpoint, as no visitor to a website wants to see large chunks of disorganized text.
When this happens, users will usually skip over crucial content.
However, if that content was formatted into smaller blocks, including bullet points or also image or video content, a user will have a much easier time understanding the content and sharing it with others.
7. Write Shorter Paragraphs
One of the primary things that help with the overall readability of a site is the length of the content.
Create content within short paragraphs so that your visitors can quickly read the content on the small mobile devices most people use these days when consuming content.
8. Use Various Types Of Content
Another focus area when it comes to website readability is to use multiple forms of content in order to engage site visitors more effectively.
Video content can communicate certain kinds of information (like how-to instructions) more efficiently than text.
High-quality images can also help to break up the text, improve communication of big ideas, and help to reduce bounce rates.
9. Use Relevant Keywords
Use relevant keywords that are appropriate for the content topic.
The accurate use of words, sentences, paragraphs, and headings will help to communicate to Google what the page is about.
Stay on topic, do not stray.
The closer on topic the webpage is, the more likely the visitors Google sends will also be on-topic with what they expect to find on the page, thereby reducing the bounce rate.
10. Target Relevant Audience
Similar to relevant keywords, relevant content, on the whole, should be used across the site, and the right users should be targeted.
Identify the core target audience of the site and create niche content around that audience.
Targeting should not be too broad, as there is a greater chance of getting users who are not looking for what your site features.
Honing in and focusing on a specific group of users helps to ensure that you are finding people who want to find what your site offers.
These users will be more engaged and apt to spend a great amount of time exploring your site.
11. Stay Away From Popups
Users generally do not enjoy intrusive interstitials that prevent them from getting to the content.
There are better ways to show interstitials that will not impact users or your webpage rankings.
The rule of thumb is to not get in the way of a site visitor and the content they expect to see.
Allowing them to scroll and enjoy the content first is a better user experience.
If you can avoid using interstitial popups then give it a try.
12. Limit Distracting Ads
Similar to avoiding interstitials and popups, distracting ads should be avoided as well.
A horizontal rectangular ad unit at the top of the page generally performs well, followed by ads within the content and along the sides.
Large ads that make it difficult to read the content can be a poor user experience.
Be aware of the kinds of ads shown on your site in order to catch and block annoying ads.
Listen to site visitors if they complain about specific ads, and follow up with them to understand why they’re having a problem with those ads.
13. Add A Convincing Call-To-Action
A call-to-action (CTA) should be clearly visible on a website.
The user should be able to locate this within the first few seconds of being on a page.
A CTA should also be compelling so that a user is enticed to click on it.
The colors used, the fonts, the verbiage, etc. are all elements that can make a large impact on whether a person clicks.
14. Limit Broken Links
A large number of broken links will only create a poor user experience, leaving a visitor to a website dissatisfied and frustrated if they cannot locate the content that they want to find.
There are a few different ways to locate all of the broken links on a website, such as through Google Search Console or through a site auditing tool such as Screaming Frog.
15. Focus On An Internal Link Strategy
Focus on increasing the likelihood of a user staying on your site by using internal links to keep a user there.
This helps to let users easily navigate to what section of a website they are looking for, and keep their overall user experience enjoyable.
16. Ensure That Links Open On A New Tab
When creating a sound internal linking strategy and linking to other pages on a site, it is important to remember to ensure that those links open in a tab.
This helps to potentially increase the time a user spends on a site since they will have multiple pages open at once.
17. Create A 404 Page That Is Helpful
A 404 page should communicate that a page was not found and also provide alternative webpages for a user to navigate to.
This will help to lower the bounce rate by helping users find what they are looking for.
18. Publish New Content Frequently
Creating fresh content consistently that can offer users a wide variety of topics to explore can be helpful in order to convince people to visit and stay on a site.
19. Display Credibility
Visitors are always looking for how trustworthy a site seems.
When visitors land on your website, they are going through an examination of the content and assessing how reliable it seems.
As a way to help build credibility and increase trust with visitors, it is a good idea to include positive reviews of whatever products and/or services your site features.
Showcase any special seals, and make the site secure in order to help a user trust a site, and thus, decrease the likelihood of them bouncing.
20. Utilize Google Analytics & Other Tools
Several tools can help you when tracking user engagement.
Google Analytics can track:
- Time on site.
- Bounce rate.
- Pages per session.
- Most frequently and least frequently visited pages.
- And much more.
Track User Experience with Microsoft Clarity
Other tools like the free Microsoft Clarity can provide heat mapping and visitor recording so that you can see exactly what a user did during a session.
You can view how users react to pages and then adjust and test changes on those pages accordingly.
Increase User Satisfaction
Increase site visitor engagement by diagnosing the reason for high bounce rates then using those insights to improve the site visitor’s user experience.
Optimize based on findings identified by Google Analytics and Microsoft Clarity so that avoidable high bounce rates can be avoided.
The end result will be a website that users enjoy which is exactly what Google prefers to rank.
Featured Image: Bakhtiar Zein/Shutterstock