Have questions about bounce rate?
We’ve got answers.
A high bounce rate is one of the most common conversion killers, but it can be helped.
In this article, I’ll cover everything from what bounce rate is and how it’s calculated to common causes and fixes for high ones.
What is Bounce Rate?
Bounce rate is a big one when it comes to page visitors. But in terms of SEO, it’s relatively easy to understand.
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your site but leave without visiting any other pages.
So if your bounce rate is 80%, that means 80% of the people who come to your site are only visiting the page they initially landed on, without navigating your site and visiting other pages.
Technically, it means that Google Analytics server didn’t receive any kind of trigger from that particular user.
Bounce rate = total number of bounces on a page/total number of entrances on a page.
While the visitor could have spent some time on the page they came to visit, but they made zero interactions. They didn’t click on a menu item, didn’t expand a “read more” link, check out your About page, or navigate to any other links on the page.
I’m guessing your next question is: why do visitors bounce?
The answer could be one of two things:
- Your website wasn’t engaging enough
- Your website is attracting the wrong kind of visitor
We’ll take a look at each of those momentarily.
The other side of bounce rate is CTR or Click Through Rate. You so, if someone clicks a link on a page and goes to another page, that means they did not “bounce.” You might want to learn a little about Click Through Rate now.
But First, How Do You Find Your Bounce Rate?
For that, you turn to the master of all things traffic-related: Google Analytics.
Google explains its calculation of bounce rate like this:
“Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.”
That’s fancy speak for saying it’s collecting all sessions where a visitor only one page divided by all total sessions.
To find the bounce rate of your page, you’ll sign into your Google account and select the website you’d like to view.
Once there, you’ll click the Audience Overview page. Click on Bounce Rate to view the bounce rate of your entire site.
You can also view the bounce rate of individual pages by navigating to Behaviour > All Pages. In the table that pops up, you’ll find a Bounce Rate column.
This will show you how each page is performing (and more importantly, which are underperforming), so you know where to focus your efforts in the future.
You can also select different periods of time to see how each page has performed historically.
Okay, So What’s a Good Bounce Rate?
Here’s the good news: even the big guns have bounces.
And, depending on the purpose of your site, having a high bounce rate isn’t such a bad thing.
Let me explain.
Some sites are designed with a singular purpose in mind; for example, a singular blog post, contact form, or a page designed specifically to spur a call-to-action (call this number, product listings on other pages, etc.)
But generally speaking, the lower the bounce rate the better.
A good bounce rate, however, will vary by industry. The highest belong to simple landing pages with a single CTA (70-90%), while service sites and portals (Yahoo Groups, MSN, etc.) tend to have the lowest (10-30%).
According to a RocketFuel study, most websites see bounce rates between 26%-40%.
For a general reference, keep the following numbers in mind:
- 80%+ is very bad
- 70 – 80% is poor
- 50 – 70% is average
- 30 – 50% is excellent
- 20% or below is likely a tracking error
Common Causes of High Bounce Rates
There’s not a one-size-fits-all option here. High bounce rates can be caused by a myriad of issues – some broad and some technical.
But some causes are more common than others, which I’ll outline below:
1. Slow Load Time
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that user’s simply don’t have the patience for slow load times.
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- 40% People abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
These numbers are extremely unforgiving, and unfortunately, so are the users behind them.
Not only are user’s less likely to spend time on your site, but page load speed is a ranking factor for Google. And low rank + high bounce rate = bad news.
Make sure you’re checking your page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Tools to ensure a fast experience – and lower bounce rates – for your users.
2. Inaccurate Tags and Descriptions
You may not think it, but your tags and descriptions are important.
They’re intended to accurately describe a page’s content, and it’s what will help your user’s decide if they want to visit that page or not.
But if your tags or descriptions are inaccurate, your visitors will feel mislead and likely won’t stick around.
It’s an easy enough fix; simply examine any pages that have a particularly high bounce rate and look to make sure all your tags and descriptions reflect accurate information.
3. Improper Google Analytics Set Up
This one is probably best case scenario: it means that users aren’t actually bouncing so frequently from your site, you’re just getting wonky information.
Remember how a 20% or below bounce rate probably points to a tracking error? That’s what we’re talking about here.
Without the proper setup, you won’t get the proper results. Luckily, Google walks you through the process of checking and fixing your tracking here.
4. It’s Not Mobile Friendly
Big one here. If your site’s not mobile friendly, you can kiss a major percentage of your conversions goodbye.
In today’s landscape, mobile dominates how people spend their media time.
- As of August 2017, there are over 3.5 billion unique mobile internet users.
- Users spend on average 69% of their media time on smartphones.
- Mobile devices will drive 80% of global internet usage.
- 50% of the time individuals spend on digital media is on mobile apps.
Even Google’s in on the mobile search craze with its mobile-first initiative.
If you haven’t taken the time to optimize your pages for mobile, there’s a very good chance that’s contributing largely to your high bounce rate.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test now to see how well your site performs.
5. Your Page Just Isn’t Engaging
If you can’t blame a high bounce rate on a technical issue, it’s time to examine the page itself.
More often than not, you’ll find visitors aren’t sticking around simply because your page doesn’t speak to them.
This is when it’s time to all in your table of experts – web designers, content marketers, marketing masterminds, etc. – to examine how to improve your user experience.
More on that in just a minute.
How to Improve Your Bounce Rate
And now, the section you’ve all been waiting for.
Some of the above are easy fixes (see: load speed, Analytics set up).
Others…no so much.
But just because they’re not easy doesn’t mean they’re impossible. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can work to improve your bounce rate.
1. Examine Your Target Audience
You can’t expect a user to stick around if they don’t really want to be there in the first place.
While you can entice any user with clickbait-y titles and irresistible offers, you want to make sure the visitors coming to your site are the ideal ones for your business as a whole.
This, naturally, requires an in-depth knowledge of who your ideal customers are.
Once you’ve gone through the process of determining your buyer persona and customer worldview, you’ll know what channels they use and what kind of content is relevant to them.
With that knowledge, you can design a site so chalk-full of quality content, they won’t be able to help the urge to have a further look around.
2. Check Your Traffic Channels
Here’s another way to look at it: make sure your page lives up to its promise.
That means if you’re running a post on Facebook that links back to your blog, or creating an ad in AdWords, make sure you deliver on whatever it says you will.
If people are clicking on your posts and ads and quickly bouncing, it means they haven’t found what they’re looking for.
To identify where the gaps in promise and deliverance are, keep an eye on your traffic sources. To track your channels, go back into Google Analytics.
The Channels report will tell you the bounce rate for each channel grouping, and the All Traffic report will tell you the bounce rate for each source/medium pair.
If you find that a particular channel has a high bounce rate, you’ll know to further examine your strategy surrounding that channel.
Look at your content – does it really correlate to the content on your website? Is this a really channel your target audience is using?
4. Create a Better On-Page User Experience
Here’s the hard truth to swallow: sometimes, your page just isn’t engaging enough.
Remember, the user experience depends solely on how the user feels about your site. This is subjective, and unfortunately, it isn’t really possible to please everyone.
But there are a few reliable ways to improve the experience for most users, including:
- Using high-quality images
- Using videos
- Include consistent, updated, quality content – always look to your best performing content and how it differs from content with a high bounce rate
- Make it easily readable – clunky, text-heavy sites will likely see a higher bounce rate. Make sure your content is separated, and mix it up with images, videos, etc.
- Make it easy to navigate – make menus and headers easily clickable and well-organized
5. Include Relevant Links and Suggestions
A well-placed link can make all the difference between a bounce and an extended visit, so make sure you use them wisely.
A relevant link in a blog post leading to more related content can lead users down a rabbit hole to quality pages all over your site.
But – always make sure the links make sense. If you’re publishing a post about SEO, it’s probably best not to lead users to the Instagram post you wrote about your breakfast.
But if you’re writing about SEO and happen to have a post about how to optimize images (ahem: see what I did there?), absolutely include that link. It’s all about connecting your readers with more relevant content around your site.
It’s also a good idea to place links to popular posts and pages in your sidebar for quick navigation.
6. Include Well-Placed CTAs
Don’t let your user’s guess what they should do next (way too often, they’ll guess wrong.)
So tell them. Want them to read more? Tell ‘em with a link. Want them to check out a similar product? Tell ‘em with a handy “you’ll also love…” link. Have an ebook you think they should definitely download? Lead them there with a well-placed pop-up.
CTA’s come in a variety of forms, so experiment with what works best for your and your readers.
Hint: Try buttons. They tend to be more effective than links.
Bounce Rate Is Important
So there you have it – a full introduction to bounce rate.
Remember, bounces are normal, and a high bounce rate for your industry signals trouble.
Hopefully, you now have a better handle on what can cause a high bounce rate, and what you can do to fix it.