Whether you are the digital marketing manager for a retail company or a poor sole proprietor trying to find more business, optimizing your website for higher user engagement and site visitor retention is key to your company’s success. When you hear the term bounce rate, intuition would lead us to believe that this should be a low number. Depending on the industry, the number of visitors leaving your page without clicking through to another page located in your site can vary. Trying to determine acceptable bounce rate may be difficult to determine until the factors affecting bounce rate are understood.
What is bounce rate?
As stated above, bounce rate analytics is the percentage of visitors to a given website who leave the site after viewing only a single page. Bounce rate in the SEO (search engine optimization) world is an easy metric for determining the efficacy or usefulness of your website. These single-page visits can affect how your site stacks up when a user on Google and Bing conducts a search. The point of calculating bounce rate is to measure the effectiveness of your site. Once a visitor lands on your page, how engaging is the information to make the searcher want to click on more of your other pages?
Sites with a low bounce rate are indicative of effective content which causes visitors to click deeper and view more pages within the site. Google Analytics defines a website’s bounce rate as the number of single page visits with zero actions divided by the number of entry page visits. This simple formula is used for every page on the internet, so there isn’t a standard by which a site needs to adhere. There are average bounce rates for each industry. Therefore it would pay to research them and make the necessary changes for users to stay on the site and consequently lower your rate. An illustration outlining the equation and the metrics of an average website are available from multiple sites, including Kissmetrics.
What factors affect the bounce rate?
Anything that a user can do to leave a site will cause an increase to the bounce rate, such as:
- clicking the back arrow
- typing a new search in the URL bar
- session timeouts
- closing the browser tab
- closing the browser
How can a high bounce rate be improved?
- The website is not mobile friendly. Since 2007 people are increasingly using cell phones for the internet. If the site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, visitors won’t click through and stay on for long.
- Pop-up ads. These have been evil words since the beginning of the internet. Limiting or abolishing them from your site will most assuredly help to reduce bounce rate.
- The website did not pertain to the user’s intent. For example, a Google search for the term organic website brings a list full of companies offering organic foods. The user would click away from all the sites offering food and continue to look for the definition of an organic website.
- The content is not easily seen at first glance. Web surfing is basically free, and time is very valuable. The user has little incentive to spend time searching around the page for the tidbits of information. Make the information easy to see with minimal special effects.
- The page takes too long to load. Again, time is valuable. If it takes more than a couple seconds to load, users can click on the next link on the list. Google has obtained a plug-in that measures the time it takes pages to load and assigns them a score. Investing in faster servers and other optimizations will help alleviate the problem.
- Spelling mistakes and bad grammar are indicative of poor quality. If a company can’t spend time to make sure its website is free of simple mistakes, what does that say for its dedication to produce a quality product? Run spell check and have a few friends look over the content before launching the site.
- The site is difficult to understand. The majority of the population doesn’t read Shakespeare and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Tough words are not going to impress many people. Keep the information easy to understand.
- It is difficult to click through various pages and leave the page. Can the visitor get deeper into your site easily? Make links to other content easily available from the home page to encourage more site navigation.
Is a low bounce rate critical for your site?
There are many different types of sites on the internet for many different types of companies. Making sure you have an acceptable bounce rate compared to other sites may not be necessary. It also may not even be an issue for you. The bounce rate on a single page site such as a site for a plumber with information about services offered and a way to contact him or her, a site showing recipes, or the yellow pages showing a phone number would not be nearly as significant of a factor as an e-commerce site which requires many click-through opportunities. Think about Apple’s former website. The scroll wheel on the mouse gets a workout on their long page, and they may want you to stay on the first page of the website. A lot of the information about their products was readily available on the first page. Some industries almost require face-to-face interaction for business interactions, so perhaps your landing page may also be a very simple site which guides users to a phone number or contact form, like www.academymortgage.com for example. A site such as this may expect to have a high bounce rate. If your website is so good that the user gets the information he/she wants after visiting the first page, aiming to achieve a low bounce rate should not be a priority.
Getting a favorable impression from Google and other search engines is very important, therefore each site needs its own rate metrics defined. Defining what exactly counts as a bounce for your website is critical. More information about stating your site’s own bounce rate and other metrics is available from Moz.com.
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