When assessing your website’s performance it’s very easy to get hung up on metrics and figures and overlook what’s really important…
What specifically do you want visitors to do when they arrive at your website?
For example, are you looking to make sales, boost subscriber numbers or encourage social sharing of your blog posts? Whatever your objective, the secret key is to ensure your content and website navigation is optimised to achieve this.
And as part of your assessment process, it’s wise to take account of your bounce rate
Let me explain…
What‘s the big deal about bounce rates?
Bounce rate is a key metric used within SEO and website optimisation to access the stickiness and relevance of a website
Here’s a quick definition of what bounce rate actually is:
Bounce rate is a calculation that reveals the percentage of single-page visits – i.e. the percentage of people who leave your website after visiting a single page.
Now at first glance you may think a low bounce rate is preferable. After all, if a large proportion of visitors to your site leave without exploring elsewhere, there’s a strong possibility your website is not delivering – i.e. It’s NOT STICKY enough.
Now whilst that is true, you also need to take the context into account. For example, there’s a counter argument that if a page is super relevant to a person’s search enquiry, there’s no need to look elsewhere. Examples could include:
- Contact page:
If visitors want your phone number, once they have it, they’ll leave. And whilst these searches create a high bounce rate, your visitor leaves satisfied.
- Landing pages:
If you’ve created standalone landing pages to sell a specific product, special offer or incentive you’d expect these to have a high bounce rate. In fact, you’ll actively tweak the page’s design to minimise the chances of a visitor drifting off. And whilst this will create a high bounce rate, the lack of options to navigate elsewhere will increase your likelihood of conversion.
- Your blog:
Blog articles often have a higher than average bounce rate. That’s because people may arrive to just read your latest article. In this case other metrics will be more revealing such as the % of repeat visitors and time spent on page. So whilst bounce rate does help you understand visitor behaviour, the context is key.
Should I worry about a high bounce rate?
That said if your bounce rate is high AND your website is not delivering your objectives, there’s a good chance you’ll need to do some work to encourage visitors to stick around. And to help, here are 10 proven techniques to increase your site’s stickiness and lower your bounce rate.
- Check the relevance of your content:
Let’s say visitors arrive at your site after a Google search. One of your pages ranked highly in the SERP and based on your keyword rich page title and compelling meta description, they’ve clicked through. But what happens if the entry page fails to match a visitor’s search criteria? They’ll leave and your bounce rate takes a hit. This also applies to pages you direct your PPC ads to. In short, if the quality and relevancy of your content disappoints and fails to closely match the original search criteria, people will leave.
- Check the readability of your content:
Your potential customers are looking for content that:
- Meets their search criteria AND
- Is easy to read and understand
If visitors meet a sea of dense text, you risk losing them. In comparison, if the page contains white space, and is optimised for scanning with informative H2 tags, short sentences, bullets and lists, visitors are more likely to stick around AND explore other pages.
We’re impatient. If your site takes 10 seconds to load, it’s irrelevant how good your content is. People will get fed up and click elsewhere. A fast loading website is critical if you’re serious about keeping visitors engaged.
- Cut distractions:
Web visitors are often focused on their search criteria. So don’t distract or divert their attention with annoying pop-ups, irrelevant ads and even auto-run videos.
- Don’t push people away!
If you’ve got external links on your page, always ensure they open in a new window. If you don’t and they get clicked, this will register as a bounce – WHAT’s MORE you’re actively sending people off your site – and they may never return!
- Easy navigation:
It sounds obvious but make it super easy for people to find what they’re looking for. This means avoiding unusual names on your main navigation bar and instead sticking to website conventions such as HOME, ABOUT US and BLOG.
- Great design:
First impressions count and if your website is “ugly” and poorly designed, it will make people click away – and you’ll be penalised with a high bounce rate.
- Use internal links:
One powerful way to reduce bounce rate is to embed lots of relevant internal links. This can work really well in your blog where instead of giving people one thing to read, you can direct them to existing articles that deepen their understanding of the subject. In addition, weave internal links into your other pages to help them navigate and move around your website.
- Include different forms of content:
Give visitors the opportunity to explore your business in different ways. For example add links to product descriptions and reviews, incorporate video, post case studies, add an FAQ page, encourage visitor interaction and write a regular blog. Do this and you’ll move away from the one-dimensional, predictable brochure-type site and instead provide a varied, interesting user experience where visitors are compelled to explore the various sections of your website.
- Embed a call to action:
Get clear on what you want people to do after they’ve visited a page and incorporate a CTA that encourages them to take action further within your website. In turn this will reduce your bounce rate and encourage visitors to discover what else you have to offer. For example, you could encourage them to:
- Contact you and link to your Contact Me page
- Subscribe to your list and link to a squeeze page
- Ask a question and link to a contact form
- Discover more about you and link to your About Us page
- Find out what’s new and link to your blog
Tweak, Test and Optimise…As you can see, bounce rate is important – BUT it must be looked at in context. And whilst you probably do want people exploring various pages within your website, keep in mind your overall conversion aim. That way you can consistently identify ways to tweak your website and deliver content that’s sticky and converts.
But what do you think?
Do you worry about your bounce rate? What strategies have you implemented to encourage visitors to stick around? Please let me know in the comments below.
Hazel Jarrett, director of SEO at SEO+, is well-known in the SEO space, has won many awards during her 20-year career and has been published on various well-known sites. Through her services and training programs, her SEO strategies have generated 10s of millions of sales for her clients, earning her a big reputation for delivering the results that matter.
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