Correctly diagnosing high bounce rates to identify areas for 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 is sometimes a good thing but other times it needs improvement.
“…a one-page session on your site.
In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only one request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens one page on your site and then leaves without triggering any further requests to the Analytics server during that session. “
Essentially, this means that when a visitor “bounces” off a webpage, they don’t just leave that webpage; They also quit their entire website after viewing just one page.
While this definition is clear and easy to understand, the underlying cause of reflux is generally more complex.
What causes a high bounce rate?
Sometimes a high bounce rate can be an indication of a bad user experience.
The site visitor got to the page and either the page didn’t provide the content they were expecting or they were overwhelmed by something else, such as an unresponsive webpage.
On the other hand, a high bounce rate can be a result of a positive user experience.
For example, let’s imagine a user is looking up the ingredient measurements for a recipe.
They click on a search result and land on a site where they immediately see the list of required ingredients. They got it and left the site.
This high bounce rate is an example of a great user experience. The visitor immediately found the information he was looking for, and left.
Ideally, some visitors to the site with a high bounce rate will bookmark the page for future reference, and some other visitors may remember the site another day and come back to Google it by name.
When Google causes a high bounce rate
It goes beyond the Google algorithm to determine what the content page is about and what the search query is about.
However, there may be some rare edge cases where Google may return a website that does not have the correct answer.
This can happen when the searcher uses a poor keyword choice (such as ambiguous words) or the search term is scarce.
In this case, Google sent the visitor to the wrong web page.
The visitor did not find the content he needed.
The high bounce rate in this case is not a bad reflection on the website itself, as there is nothing wrong with the content.
The source of the problem could be with the Google algorithm or, more likely, with the search phrase that the user typed.
A high bounce rate is not always a sign of problems with the web page itself.
However, it is still important to monitor bounce rates to make sure there is nothing going on that may turn site visitors away.
Here are 20 proven ways to reduce your bounce rate when needed.
1. Pay attention to the page load time
When a user has to wait a very long time (and by that I mean more than three seconds) for a page to load, it creates an incredibly poor user experience.
It doesn’t matter what content is on the page if the visitor can’t see it right away.
Page load time is even more important on mobile devices because users are more likely to get frustrated with slow loading and bounce times.
2. Make site search easy
Some websites neglect to add a search function in the site or make it hard to see.
If a user is looking for something specific that they don’t immediately see on the page, this is a very useful tool they can use to search instead of leaving the page or site entirely.
3. Provide easy navigation
Navigation should be simple and easy for visitors.
When a user lands on a site, they need a clear direction of where the content they are looking for.
If this isn’t streamlined and clearly explained in the easy navigation, they are likely to bounce off the site.
4. Focus on great design
Good website design is intuitive and builds trust with the user. A good website design is also a sign of quality.
Visitors will not spend a great deal of time on a site that is unpleasant, unattractive, or has difficulty trusting.
Deliver an engaging user experience by starting with a great design that’s not just about aesthetics. It’s about creating an overall website experience that’s functional, intuitive, and fun.
5. Keep mobile first
Mobile users have less patience than desktop users.
A website should have a responsive design to provide mobile users with a powerful user experience.
6. Make web pages easy to read
The content on the web page must be clearly and effectively formatted.
This is crucial from a user experience point of view, as no visitor to a website wants to see large chunks of unstructured text.
When this happens, users usually skip important content.
However, if this content is formatted into smaller blocks, including bullet points or also image or video content, the user will have an easier time understanding the content and sharing it with others.
7. Write shorter paragraphs
Content length is one of the primary things that helps with the overall readability of a site.
Create content in short paragraphs so that your visitors can quickly read the content on the small mobile devices that most people use these days when consuming content.
8. Use different types of content
Another area of focus when it comes to website readability is the use of multiple forms of content in order to engage website visitors more effectively.
Video content can communicate certain types of information (such as how-to tips) more efficiently than text.
High-quality images can also help break down text, improve communication between big ideas, and help reduce bounce rates.
9. Use relevant keywords
Use relevant keywords appropriate to the topic of the content.
Accurate use of words, sentences, paragraphs, and headings will help communicate the page’s content to Google.
Stay on topic, don’t stray.
The closer a web page is to the topic, the more likely that the visitors Google sends will be relevant to what they expect to find on the page, thus reducing the bounce rate.
10. Target the relevant audience
Similar to related keywords, relevant content should, in general, be used across the site, and the right users should be targeted.
Determine the primary target audience for the site and create specialized content around that audience.
Targeting should not be too broad, as there is a higher chance of attracting users who are not looking for what your site has to offer.
Refinement and focus on a specific group of users helps ensure that you will find people who want to find what your site has to offer.
These users will be more engaged and able to spend a significant amount of time exploring your site.
11. Stay away from pop-ups
Users generally do not enjoy intrusive interstitial ads that prevent them from accessing content.
There are better ways to display interstitial ads that won’t affect users or your web page rankings.
The basic rule is not to obstruct the visitor of the site 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 the interstitial popups, try it.
12. Limit distracting ads
Similar to avoiding interstitial ads and popups, you should also avoid distracting ads.
In general, a rectangular horizontal ad unit at the top of the page works well, followed by in-content ads and along the sides.
Large ads that make content hard to read can be a bad user experience.
Be aware of the types of ads displayed on your site in order to catch and block annoying ads.
Listen to site visitors if they complain about certain ads, and follow up with them to understand why they are having a problem with those ads.
13. Add a compelling call to action
The call-to-action (CTA) must be clearly visible on the website.
The user should be able to locate this within the first few seconds of being on the page.
The call-to-action should also be compelling so that the user is tempted to click on it.
The colors used, fonts, verbosity, etc. are all elements that can have a huge impact on whether or not a person clicks.
14. Reducing broken links
A large number of broken links will only create a poor user experience, leaving the website visitor dissatisfied and frustrated if they cannot locate the content they want to find.
There are a few different ways to locate all broken links on a website, such as through Google Search Console or through a site audit tool such as Screaming Frog.
15. Focus on internal linking strategy
Focus on increasing the likelihood of a user staying on your site by using internal links to keep the user there.
This helps allow users to easily navigate to whatever section of the website they are looking for, and keep the overall user experience enjoyable.
16. Make sure links open in a new tab
When creating a sound internal linking strategy and linking to other pages on a site, it’s important to remember to make sure those links open in a tab.
This helps increase the time a user spends on the site since they will have multiple pages open at once.
17. Create a useful 404 page
The 404 page should indicate that the page was not found and also provide alternative web pages for the user to go to.
This will help lower the bounce rate by helping users find what they are looking for.
18. Post new content frequently
Constantly creating new content that provides users with a variety of topics to explore can be useful for convincing people to visit and stay on the site.
19. Display credibility
Visitors are always looking for the trustworthiness of a site.
When visitors land on your website, they go through the content check and rate its reliability.
As a way to help build credibility and increase trust with visitors, it’s a good idea to include positive reviews of any products and/or services your site offers.
Display any private seals, and make the site secure to help the user trust the site, thus reducing the likelihood that they will bounce.
20. Make use of Google Analytics and other tools
Several tools can help you when tracking user interaction.
Google Analytics can track:
- time spent on site.
- Bounce rate.
- The number of pages per session.
- Most visited and least visited pages.
- and much more.
Track your user experience with Microsoft Clarity
Other tools like the free Microsoft Clarity can provide heatmaps and visitor logging so you can see exactly what a user did during a session.
You can view how users interact with pages and then modify and test changes to those pages accordingly.
Increase user satisfaction
Increase site visitor engagement by diagnosing the cause of high bounce rates and then using those insights to improve your site visitor’s user experience.
Optimize based on results determined by Google Analytics and Microsoft Clarity can be avoided High bounce rates can be avoided.
The end result will be a website that users will enjoy and that is exactly what Google prefers to rank for.
- How to calculate, review and improve your bounce rate for SEO success
- 13 reasons your website can have a high bounce rate
- How to do an SEO audit: The ultimate checklist
Featured image: Bakhtiar Zain/Shutterstock