What’s that you say? You have a bounce rate you’d like to go away? We all do, so don’t fret. Taming bounce rates is just another part of having a website you want to be as successful as possible.
Wait a minute. What’s a bounce rate?
The good people at Wikipedia define a bounce as:
…when a web site visitor only views a single page on a website, that is, the visitor leaves a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs.
It follows, then, that a bounce rate is a percentile measurement of the amount of bouncing going on in your website, either on the whole on a given page depending on the report you’re viewing. A lower bounce rate means people are sticking around; a higher rate indicates they aren’t.
But what is a good rate you ask? So does everyone else. The truth is that the ideal bounce rate depends on the type of website you have. A good game plan, I find, is to aim for the average: about 40%.
Great. Now what?
Well, your first thing to do would be meditate on why users might be leaving. This requires you to get into your handy-dandy metrics suite and have a look around. Ask yourself: Is the bounce rate highest on the home page? What landing pages have the highest bounce rate?
Also keep an eye out for these bounce-factors:
- Pop up ads, surveys, music, streaming video.
You may think it puts your product/service/cat front and center, but often this makes your website slow-loading and annoying. Users will leave.
- High SEO for irrelevant keyterms.
Is your elephant website spending a lot of time talking about monkeys? This could be fooling all those monkey lovers in Google-land (of which I am one; don’t judge).
- Landing page design
Users are quick to judge. If your website isn’t up to their standard, they probably won’t stick around to tell you.
- Long load time
The internet is a fast-paced place. If your material takes too long too load, users are not inclined to wait. This is doubly true if you get a lot of access on mobile devices, where sticking around to wait for a large image to load may impact their data plan usage.
- External links
Does your landing page send people elsewhere? Guess what. They’re going. Try opening those external links in a new window and, if it’s not necessary, maybe get rid of the link altogether.
Cool. Let’s do some stuff.
Sounds great. But let’s be strategic, lest we smash your pretty website in other ways. There’s a lot of ways beyond correcting the above issues that can improve your bounce rates, but you’ll never know what works if you put it all into action in one go.
Once live, websites generally evolve into better versions of themselves over time. There’s a time and place for overhauls (every 2-3 years or so, in my books), and this isn’t it. Massage these improvements in and watch your metrics over time. This will give you a better understanding of your users and how you can better accommodate their needs when overhaul season does come around.
So start slow. Fix those external links. Wait a week or two, see what happens. Rework some of your content to hone your focus. Wait again. Turn off those evil autoplay videos. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Make improving your bounce rate – and your website – just another small part of your routine and you’ll get the most out of the experience in the end. Pinkie swear.