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Bounce rate is one of those figures that we look at and wonder whether it is good or bad. There are experience digital marketers who will easily tell you what it means. Also, there are the ones who are not as experienced. In a nutshell bounce rate is when someone comes to your site and then leaves without clicking on any link on the page or moving on to another web site. It is basically a percentage of the people who would rather leave your site than stay.

Google has a more scientific definition by saying “Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.”

What is a Good Bounce Rate?

As a percentage, bounce rate varies from 0 to 100%. There should be alarm bells when the bounce rate is either 0 or 100%. There is no good bounce rate, and this is because it depends on your country, device, industry and source of traffic.

Content websites, blogs and articles generally have a high bounce rate of 80 – 90%. This is not high because people visiting your site may come to it, get the information they require and leave. On the flipside, ecommerce site normally ranges between 10 – 30%.

To complicate matters further different pages on the same website could have different bounce rates. When logging on to Google analytics you are provided with the overall bounce rate of the site. Only when you dig deeper do you find that different pages have different bounce rates. You could find the home page ranging from 40 – 50% while “about us” page being as high as 85%. Pages that require some form of engagement from the users should have a lower bounce rate.

Generally, here are the bounce rate for some types of websites. These figures should be taken with a pinch of salt

  • Content websites – 80 -90%
  • Lead generation websites – 30-50%
  • Ecommerce websites – 10 – 30%
  • Service websites – 10 – 20%
  • Landing page – 70- 90%

Most sites aim for an average bounce rate of 40 -60%. Anything higher means there are things that need to be improved. Bounce rate of less than 20% means that there is an error in installing the Google analytics.

When its good to have a high bounce rate

If the source of traffic is from paid ads. Many digital marketers craft their ads and sites in a way that the messages are aligned. However hard they try there will be some clicks that are useless and find themselves on the sites or landing pages. Hence, they will quickly hit the back button. Leading to a high bounce rate. That said, there are times when the ads are misleading for example when a company has the call to action of join today, it could have a double meaning. It could mean, they are recruiting employees, or they want people to join a service.

Social media traffic has been known to have high bounce rate. The reason for this is that most people from sites like Facebook, Twitter and the rest are not ready to convert on the websites. They go to them just for the sake of curiosity. After they see what is being sold, they quickly bounce.

There are also times when the traffic that is coming to a site is not human but its bots. There are times Google and other programs send bots to crawl each page on the internet to see if they are working. Once they have done so, they leave immediately. You can easily find out if bots are visiting your site through the referral source in analytics. Sites with various URLs will present themselves hence proving the traffic they sent are bots.

As mentioned above blog posts generally have a higher bounce rate. Traffic to blogs are mostly seeking information rather than becoming clients or visitors with high commercial intent. Even though the bounce rate could be higher than the other pages, the average time on site is higher. As the users are taking time to go through the post. In some cases, the time spent is six times longer than the site average.

Lastly, mobile traffic is the reason for a high bounce rate. The reason for this is because mobile users are impatient, and they do not have time to read all the content.

Reasons for having a low bounce rate

The most common reason for having an unnaturally low bounce rate of 20% and below is the improper implementation of Google analytics. There are many situations where webmasters have put in more than one Google analytics code which end up giving wrong results.

Bot spam can either give you a really high bounce rate or a very low one. These bots and referral traffic can crawl different parts of your sites in seconds and trick Google Analytics to extremely lower the bounce rate.

Third-party apps like live chat, usually lower the bounce rate. This is not a problem because the operator is able to communicate with the users and help them navigate throughout the site or answer any questions. Whenever the users talk to the live bot, the bounce rate is lowered.

How to lower your Bounce rate

In-page analytics

There is a Chrome plugin called “in-page analytics report”. It provides information on which of the links are clicked on every webpage. With this tool you can see how well each web page is working and see how well to improve.

Once you see which sections are being ignored then you can find ways to improve the content in the said sections.

In addition to using in-page analytics, heat maps can be used. The heat maps, from Crazyegg and Hotjar, provide information to see which parts of the site is getting most engagement. The tools track how people read, click, and scroll around your page.

With this information a site redesign could be in the offing to get the most important information to the place where users are clicking.

Page load time

The speed at which a site loads on a desktop or mobile can determine how successful it is. Many people leave before seeing what the site has to offer. For example, it is said that if a site takes 500 milliseconds longer to load, around 8% of potential users would leave the site.

Therefore, sites like Amazon, eBay, and other larger Ecommerce stores work hard to improve the page load speeds. This prevents many people from abandoning shopping carts.

Almost 50% of web users expect a web page to load within two seconds or less. Consequently, if the site visitors leave the page before it loads properly it would lead to a higher bounce rate.

There are two main ways to check how fast your pages load:

  • Using Google Analytics:
    • In the “Behavior” section of the left-hand menu, click “Site Speed” and then “Page Timings.”
    • The report will tell you how fast each page on your site is loading.
  • Using Page Speed insights:
    • PageSpeed Insights analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.

Here are a few options to shorten page load times:

  • Remove unnecessary images or compress them. Image sizes are a factor on how quickly a page loads.
  • Remove videos and replace them with Gifs.
  • Remove unused scripts and plugins.
  • Pay for a faster hosting provider.

Utilize A/B testing

There are times when you are not able to identify why a site is not working that well. You have many options to choose from, for example the overall design, the headlines, the copy, the call to action, image placement, form sizes and many more.

The best way to see what is working and what is not is by split testing to web pages against each other. On one page you would make no changes, as it would be the control, and the other one you would tweak one thing.  Please note making many changes will not let you properly identify what is not working on the web page.

After the web pages get significant traffic, then you can decide which version is best.

Make your pages easy to read

There are many sites out there that when you go to, you quickly press the back button or leave immediately. This is because you are visually assaulted by a huge block or text spanning the entire page.

Even though the text could be highly informative, engaging or has the secret to the universe, very few people have the patience to read through it.

This is when formatting would come into place. With proper formatting your users would be able to quickly skim the web page and find what they are looking for.

If you are not sure if how to properly format your text, there are tools like Yoast Plugin that can help WordPress users.

Here are a few things you can do to make your web page easy to read:

  • Use headlines and subheadings to break up content
  • Paragraphs should have 2 – 3 sentences
  • Break texts into images
  • Bulleted lists
  • Use plenty of white spaces
  • 15-17px fonts to prevent people from pinching and zooming.

Call to actions (CTA)

Each page has a single function and it is to get users to complete an action. The actions could be signing up for a newsletter, buying a product of service or lastly downloading a pdf. The CTA is the message that tells the user what to do.

CTAs are affected, by button colour, button size and placement on the page. Apple ensures that all CTAs are 44 px tall.

Each page should have a single and clear CTA. When pages have different CTAs for example contact us or read more, it confuses most users as they aren’t clear what the page is for. When the user comes to a web page they are coming for certain information. After they get it, they are compelled to respond to the call to action.

A well-crafted CTA lowers bounce rate tremendously.

Using Images and videos

It is said that if you read something you only remember 10% of it after a few days. While if you are to watch a video or look at an image, you will get to remember 65% of it during the same period.

Visual aids like videos and images make your content more engaging and hence lower your bounce rate.  As more and more people are using mobile devices, videos are becoming more attractive than plain texts.

Through the use of videos the “time on site” has been found to be doubled from a study that was done by Wistia.

Live chat

Having a bot or a person talking to users significantly lowers bounce rate on a site. With the interaction with the live chat system helps the user find out any information they are looking for. When the user interacts the bounce rate is lowered.

Chat bots have also an added advantage of converting users to clients as they help the user through the buying cycle.

Exit intent Popups

There is nothing as bad as browsing a site and then there are several popups that appear. These popups could be ads, or unique offering. These make your browsing experience to be awful and never return. These popups increase the bounce rate

Although popups can be done in such a way that will reduce bounce rate and increase conversions. These popups are called exit intent popups. They appear when someone is about to leave the site. If it is an ecommerce site they can present discounts or deals.

Like when visiting a shop in life, whereby when you are about to leave the owner of the shop offers you a discount or a gift to entice you to buy an item.

On websites these type of popups do no harm because the user was already leaving, and you aren’t going to annoy them. In some instance before they leave, they may return and finish what they were meant to do. They may give you their email address or go back and buy.

Sidebars

The sidebar widgets when done right can be a huge resource in lowering the bounce rate of a site. This mostly applies to blog or article sites where there would be links providing additional information. When clicked they would provide more resources to help the users.

Many blogs have sidebar widgets providing the most recent blogs, similar content and a newsletter option. The thinking is, since the user has gotten all the information they need from the post. Rather than just leave they can get additional relevant content. This will intentionally lower the bounce rate.

Amazon does this so well, but rather than having sidebar widgets, below each product being sold they say customers who view or bought this also bought this. They use the space to upsell or cross sell their products.

Relevancy Optimization

There are a few sites that are extremely relevant to the keyword being targeted. Most of the sites out there target certain keywords, but when the pages are visited they have little information about the keywords.

Ensuring relevancy in the sense that a user is looking for “shoes” they will go to a site that will provide information about shoes only will make him or her stay and lower the bounce rate. If they find little information about what they are looking for they will hit the back button.

Even when using paid ads, keywords should match the landing page so that their user queries are addressed. Google rewards this by giving the landing page a higher quality score.

Internal Linking Structure

Internal linking is encouraged to help lower bounce rate as well as improving the site SEO. Like what we have mentioned above about sidebar widgets, internal links would provide additional information.

Although, there are many webmasters who put too many internal links that make the content look poor and sleazy. As the webmaster you should ensure the internal liking are relevant, useful and would create interest with the users.

Other than internal linking, links can go to other authority websites providing additional weight to what is being discussed. This makes the site look professionally researched.

Product pages

Product pages are synonymous with having higher bounce rates. There is a fine balance when creating product pages. In that you can provide too much or little information. When you provide too much stuff many visitors will feel overwhelmed. On the other hand with little information, the visitors will be left lacking. For example people may not buy an item because they aren’t sure whether it will do one or two things.

When there is an information overload, the user will struggle to know what is important and what isn’t.

One way that product pages can be done to well is to have tabs that will provide information like specifications, descriptions, and reviews.

Bounce rate on product pages can be reduced by providing trust symbols like Better Bureau, testimonials, refund policy and trade ins.

Mobile Optimization

This is one of the points that has to be stressed over again. Having a site that is optimized for mobile will reduce bounce rate significantly.

There are some websites that are too technical and are expensive to make them mobile-friendly. Also with the rapid evolution of technology it is harder to keep up. This would make most business to try and overlook mobile optimization. Still it has to be mentioned that most traffic to websites are from mobile devices.

A mobile ready website means that it easy to engage with. This means that a user doesn’t have to pinch and zoom to read content, easy to navigate and doesn’t have long videos. Videos that are too long are a problem because they will eat into the user’s data plans.

Site Navigation

When people are browsing the internet they aren’t concentrating. In that regard, when they come to your website and find it hard to move around or get slightly confused they leave immediately. This is mostly because they know the next website will provide what they need. Also because there are a lot of distractions in that any form of work is rejected.

Your websites should be designed in a way there is minimal effort in using them. A user should get from point A to B with the fewest clicks possible – mostly 2 clicks- and without thinking. If the opposite happens then, the site will have a higher bounce rate.

A site should be as simple to use, so that a child can easily navigate to get where they are going.

Above the fold

Pertinent information should be kept above the fold. Information that is below the fold is rarely read because many users rarely scroll down. Considering many users are on mobile devices, it is especially challenging to get them to go to the bottom of the page.

Therefore, forms and call to actions should be place above the fold with minimal text explaining what should happen next.

Many sites put these elaborate images or videos at the top and force the users to scroll down. When they are made to do this the bounce rate goes up as the user scrolls down.

Engaging Content

Having engaging content is the quickest way to reduce bounce rate. Many sites out there provide little to no value when it comes to answering a user’s questions. Or rather they present the same kind of information that can be found in other sites.

That is why authority sites will always rank higher than others because they are the ones who provide original, thoughtful and professionally researched work that everyone else tries to copy.

With that in mind when writing content, coming up with video or any other form of content, make an effort to provide something that isn’t available. Or make content that is not easy to find.

Producing engaging content falls under content that is interesting and worth sharing. The content might not be too dry or technical. There can whimsical items thrown here and there to lighten the mood.

Segmenting Bounce Rate

The bounce rate metric by itself doesn’t give a lot of actionable information. By the definition we have had earlier – someone comes to your site and then leaves without clicking on any link on the page or moving on to another web site.

When the bounce rate is put into context measured against other metrics then more can be done to change how users visit the site and ultimately increase conversions.

Bounce rate can be segmented by:

Age

This demographic is found under “Audience” and then “Demographics” on the left-hand sidebar. Then, click the “Age” option.

As from the table you can tell that 45 to 65 years have the highest bounce rate and this means the site needs to be redesigned to accommodate them. This could mean better images, more text, avoid using jargon, slang and trendy language

Gender

The “Gender” option is just below “Age” on that left-hand menu.

In this case, women have a higher bounce rate and in order to lower it. The web pages should be made more female friendly.

Affinity Categories

The next option in the “Audience” section is under “Interests” and then “Affinity Categories.”

With this, you can see what interests people have.  In the example, news readers are the ones with a higher bounce rate. This will help targeting this audience by providing more technical aspects of the information

Location

Audience>> Geo >> Location

This gives you your bounce rate by country.

Naturally the European bounce rate is high because the content doesn’t target them.

New vs Old Visitors

A good segment to check out is the “New Vs. Returning” breakdown. It’s also in the “Audience” section under “Behavior.”

New visitors will always have a higher bounce rate, so this isn’t that helpful. But you can segment further by checking how they came to the site.

Browser

In the “Audience” section under “Technology,” select “Browser & OS.”

This bounce rate shows that the site doesn’t perform well under this kind of browser. The UX needs to be checked on with all browsers.

Device

Audience>> Technology>> Mobile >> Overview

Bounce rate on mobile will always be higher but changes can be made to improve the mobile experience. Also if you are to break down it further by looking at “device” it will show which mobile brand works well with the site.

Pay attention to individual device models as well.

Focus on trends and device release dates. For example, you might discover that your bounce rate is fine for Apple devices in general, but it’s too high for the latest models.

Acquisition

Go to “Acquisition,” then “All Traffic,” and then “Source/Medium” in the left-hand menu.

Paid ads have the highest bounce rate  this shows either your advertising targeting is too broad, or your landing pages are not lining up very well with your ads, resulting in a higher bounce rate.

Segment by landing page

In the left-hand menu under “Behavior,” click on “Site Content” and then “Landing Pages.”

You might find that one page has a much higher bounce rate than the others. Visit that page and look for any design problems or issues that might be making it less effective than the others.

Bounce Rate vs. Exit Rate

Another google analytic metric that you should consider is exit rate. Exit rate is close to bounce rate but it is different as it measures the percentage of people who leave your site after visiting a different page on your site.

There are many people who confuse the to metrics. Like bounce rate, a high exit rate could be a problem but at the same time it could be ok. For example, if a person exits on the thank you page then that means the intended action has been done.

While at the same time a high exit rate on other pages like contact us could be an issue as the users still need to provide you with their information.


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