So you've built your website, integrated it with Google Analytics, and are now looking at the data. One of the first measures you'll notice is bounce rate. It's a great metric for measuring the quality of your site content, and reducing a high bounce rate should be a goal of your web team.
You'll probably see in the analytics data that some visitors to your website are only staying for a minute or two. This means they hardly even looked at your site before leaving - otherwise known as a bounce.
It doesn't have to be a complicated process to understand bounce rates and how they work. Here's everything you need to know about bounce rates and how to use them effectively.
What Is Bounce Rate?
The bounce rate of a page is the percentage of people who only look at one page of a website without viewing any other pages within the same site. You can also see these "exits" show up in the exit rate in Google Analytics. For example, if someone lands on your home page and exits your site from the same page, then that would count as one bounce.
Specifically, they're measured by the session. This is a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example, if a user is actively engaged with your website, then any activity they do while they are on the site will fall into the same session unless it times out.
Sessions will either end automatically after a period of inactivity or whenever the user closes their browser window. In other words, they measure the entire period of interaction between your website and a user. When that user enters your website and backs out without doing or seeing anything, the system will count that as a bounce.
Why Do Bounces Happen?
Bounces happen for many reasons: Maybe someone clicked on a link to your site by mistake, or maybe they were just trying to scope out what kind of competition you are. Either way, bounces aren't necessarily an indication that your website is bad or that you're doing something wrong, but they could be.
What the bounce rate does do, rather definitively, is give you an idea of how people are interacting with your content. If the majority of your visitors are bouncing, it's likely that there's something about your site that's not resonating with them.
If they're simply not interested in your content, then there's little you can do to resonate with them. But when they're specifically searching for something, end up on your website, and then bounce, you're probably not doing enough to grab their attention.
It could be the design, the messaging, or something else entirely. It's worth taking a deeper look to see whether there's room for improvement.
Some of the most common reasons for high bounce rates include things like:
Slow load times. If your site takes more than two seconds to load, you're already losing a quarter of your visitors. That number rises dramatically as you go up to three- and four-second load times, which is why speed optimization is crucial to e-commerce success.
Confusing navigation. If your visitors can't find what they came for right away, they may leave in frustration. A simple navigation bar and intelligent internal linking can help you keep people on your site longer and increase conversions as a result.
Mobile-unfriendly design. More people are using mobile than ever before - and studies show that mobile users are more impatient than desktop users when it comes to page load time and navigation. Make sure your site looks great on all devices by using responsive design principles.
What Is a Good Bounce Rate
Your average bounce rate will naturally vary depending on the kind of business you have. It may also vary by the type of page on your site. For instance, blogs tend to have higher bounce rates than product pages.
There is no one magic number that works for every website across all industries. Generally, you'd like to see your bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40%. Anything higher than that, and you might want to take a look at your web pages to see how you can improve them.
Devices used can also cause variations in your bounce rate. For example, if you get a large number of visitors who are accessing your site from their mobile phones, they'll be more likely to have an increased bounce rate because they are using the site differently than someone on a laptop or desktop computer.
Keep in mind that one-page visits aren't always a bad thing. If you have blog posts or other articles that you want people to read, then it's very likely that they will only visit one page before leaving. Also, some people may find exactly what they're looking for on the first page they visit and then leave the website altogether.
Using Google Analytics to Measure Your Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is one of the most popular metrics in Google Analytics. From within the Analytics dashboard, you can see:
How many visitors hit a webpage on your site and left immediately
How many visitors hit a webpage and visited other pages on your site before leaving
From these two numbers, Google then aggregates your data for the bounce rate.
Finding the cause of high bounce rates starts by understanding which pages on your website have them. Fortunately, Google Analytics makes this easy to find within the dashboard. Simply navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages, and click on the Bounce Rate column you'll see there.
You'll now be able to see and rank which of your pages has the highest bounce rate. The first thing to do is simply ask yourself, "Why would someone leave this page without clicking on anything?" That answer will be different for each page - if they just came to read a blog post, don't be surprised they didn't visit the rest of your site.
Ask yourself whether this page offers the user something of value. Consider:
Does it contain interesting content?
Is the design attractive? Is it easy to navigate and use?
Does the page have a clear call to action (CTA)?
The CTA is especially important. If you don't tell users clearly that you want them to do something, such as sign up for your newsletter, there's no reason to expect they'll do it themselves.
Tips for Reducing Your Bounce Rate
Reducing your bounce rate is a matter of testing and refining. You should continually analyze your site’s performance, then make tweaks to improve it.
Here are some quick tips to get you started on improving your bounce rate:
Make Your Website Easier to Navigate
Few things raise bounce rates more than a complicated, messy website. You want users to stay as long as possible, and the best way to do this is to make your website easy to navigate.
Keep the structure of your site simple: One of the most common structural mistakes is using too many layers in the hierarchy of the site. A simple drop-down menu can let you include many options without making those options hard to find.
Maintain a Consistent Look and Feel From Page to Page
A good user experience is a critical part of a low bounce rate. You want your website visitor to have a consistent user experience on every page that they visit. Your pages should reflect both your brand and the type of product or service you sell, with visual elements such as buttons, colors, menus, and other features that remain the same across the site.
Properly maintaining this consistency is important for wayfinding - the ability to orient oneself within a site and find where you are in relation to other pages. The lack of consistency can result in users feeling lost or confused, which can increase bounce rates.
If you consistently have a high bounce rate, you might find its a time for a website redesign. Your website should continually be updated and modernized every few years. Keeping a fresh user experience will only help to reduce your bounce rate.
Create Compelling Content That Encourages Conversions (Not Just Clicks)
The content on your page makes a dramatic impression on how visitors feel about your business. Make it work for you, not against you. A savvy online marketer knows that conversions, not just clicks, are what counts.
Content marketing is an effective way to draw in new visitors and convert them into customers. It can also be a powerful way to keep those customers engaged with your brand over time. You'll know it's working when your bounce rate drops and time on site increases, as well as when you start seeing repeat visitors - people who have found your brand interesting enough to come back.
Make Your Content Easy to Digest in Multiple Formats
In the world of content marketing, it's all about the reader. Creating content that is not only relevant and informative for your target audience but also easy to digest can be a challenge.
Consider including multimedia in your content marketing strategy. Images, charts, and videos, in addition to text, can help you reach a broader audience and drive traffic to your site. Your bounce rates will decrease if users are engaged with your content.
Develop an Internal Link strategy
A key piece of content marketing and search engine optimization is using an internal link strategy with your content. Linking to other pages within a blog post or a landing page can help reduce bounce rate and keep a stable low bounce rate for your website. The idea is that someone will be reading your content and then engage with an internal link to see other related content. This keeps people on your site for longer and helps them consume more of your content.
A good internal link strategy can be key to have a good website bounce rate. Make sure to link to content that is relevant and adds to the story. You can also link to pages that you are trying to increase your search ranking for.
Bounce Rates Matter
As you can see, bounce rates are about a lot more than who's visiting your website. Even if you're getting all the right visitors, they'll still bounce if you don't deliver content that's relevant to their needs or draws them into your site.
The foundation of good bounce rates, and a successful SEO strategy in general, is a well-designed website that not only provides valuable content to users but also generates leads for your business. At Scorpion, we pride ourselves on building websites that help our clients achieve their marketing goals.