24 May High Bounce Rates – Causes and Cures
A high bounce rate may be great for basketballs and trampolines, but not for your website. While driving visitors to your company’s website is the first step in getting more business, the second step is getting those visitors to stay so they can begin the great conversion process to becoming customers. When a significant percentage of visitors leave after viewing just one page without taking any action (such as clicking on a menu item), your website has a high bounce rate. We’ll look at the common reasons – as well as effective remedies – so those valuable visitors start exploring and, hopefully, like what they see!
How to determine your website’s bounce rate
Google Analytics is the foremost tool to learn your website’s bounce rate, as well as numerous other helpful metrics, including time spent on your site, pages visited per session, most-and-least-frequently visited pages, and much more. Google Analytics will give you each page’s bounce rate, as well as the average bounce rate of your entire site.
Other tools, such as HotJar, provide heatmapping and visitor recording so you can see exactly what a visitor did during a session. HotJar offers several monthly subscription pricing tiers, and a free trial period.
Are high bounce rates always bad?
According to a study by RocketFuel, most websites have bounce rates between 26% to 70%, making “high” a relative term. The raw data itself may not always indicate an issue. For example, as digital marketing specialist Natalie Hoben notes for Search Engine Journal, a high bounce rate can be an indicator of a positive user experience.
“For example, if a user is searching for a recipe for chicken marsala to make for dinner and they click on a search result, and immediately see the ingredients that they need and hop off the site, then that would be a great user experience. The visitor found the information that they were looking for and then left.”
Also, writes SEO and inbound marketing expert Jason Little for Crazy Egg’s blog, The Daily Egg, “If someone lands on your site and is looking for an address or business hours, it wouldn’t be unusual for someone to land and bounce. A visit to your business would still be considered to be a conversion.”
The problem is when visitors land, bounce and don’t convert – common causes
There are many reasons your website may be experiencing the bad kind of bounce rates – from a single factor to a combination. The most common include the following.
Slow-to-load pages – Experts cite this as the top reason for high bounce rates. As covered in our February 28, 2019, blog post, “Why Your Website Needs to be Up-to-Speed,” the average visitor will only tolerate a load time of up to two seconds. Google’s engineers have found that potential customers will visit a site less often if it’s slower than that of a close competitor’s by more than 250 milliseconds. Among their other discoveries: even 400 milliseconds – literally the blink of an eye – is too long for website visitors to wait for a page to load.
And remember – mobile users are even more impatient than desktop users. A website that isn’t mobile-responsive won’t retain visitors.
To test the speed of your website and diagnose errors that are slowing it down, try GT Metrix, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights. We use them here at Virtual Stacks Systems, and they are trusted in our industry as go-to sources for accurate page speed testing.
Poor user experience – Ranking right up (or down) there with slow-loading pages, a poorly designed website can have visitors quickly clicking the “back” button. Navigation that isn’t easy and intuitive (for example, poorly organized and named menus), jumbled layout, bad design/colors and low-quality content are major negatives.
If it’s been a while since your website has been updated, it’s also a good bet that visitors consider it outdated and will visit (and favor) your competitors’ more user-friendly sites. Our March 8, 2018 blog post, “How to Tell if Your Website Needs a Redesign,” gives you the unabashed truth your friends may not tell you.
Bad content – Visitors come to your website to find useful information about your company. Pages that have little content or poor-quality content won’t engage them. Depending upon your industry, potential customers expecting a professional tone in the web copy who instead read partial sentences and typos won’t be impressed. Conversely, visitors expecting an informal tone who find textbook-dense copy will quickly leave.
Digital marketers recommend short, easily read paragraphs as best for web copy, regardless of the industry or subject matter. Content marketer Amelia Wilson emphasizes the importance of optimizing copy for online reading, which is different than writing for printed publications. Write in simple sentences, make it easy for the eyes to scan, with plenty of headers – and include images. As we always reiterate around here, video, graphics and photos are content, too – so pay attention to their quality, relevance and appeal.
In any case, content that doesn’t deliver what people are looking for rapidly sends visitors elsewhere and undermines your marketing goals. Content truly is king!
404 pages and other technical errors – Pages that return a 404 Page Not Found error or otherwise don’t load properly also produce high bounce rates. There are many possible causes, both internal and external, but – as Wilson point out – it’s critical to fix them as soon as possible. Her directions for diagnosing the problem are as follows:
“Take a look at the page from your audience’s most popular browser and device configurations (e.g. Safari on desktop and mobile, Chrome on mobile, etc.) to replicate their experience. You can also check in Search Console under Crawl > Crawl Errors to discover the issue from Google’s perspective. Correct the issue yourself or talk to someone who can—an issue like this can cause Google to drop your page from the search results in a hurry.”
Parting thoughts from an expert
As summarized by Annelieke van den Berg – leader of the Research Department for Yoast – bounce rate is a metric you can use to analyze your marketing efforts. You can use it to measure if you’re living up to your visitors’ expectations. Her blog post is a great resource for those who want more detailed information on the subject.
Says van den Berg: “Meeting your visitors’ expectations and making your pages more inviting for visitors all leads to creating an awesome website. And we all know that awesome websites rank better!”
And now, our blatant self-promotion!
Creating a website that provides seamless integration of elements that create optimum user engagement will achieve the best results and keep bounce rates where they belong – with sports equipment!