While a high bounce rate is one of the most common conversion killers, the good news is that it can be reduced.
In this article, I’ll cover everything from understanding bounce rate and how it’s calculated to common causes and tips for improvement.
What We’ll Cover:
- What it is
- How to find it
- What makes a good one
- Common causes of high percentages:
- How to improve it:
- Frequently Asked Questions
Watch A Video On It
When it comes to measuring digital marketing efforts, bounce rate tends to be one of the more mysterious metrics. But in terms of SEO, it’s relatively easy to understand.
Your website’s percentage can reveal a lot about your business, and can be an excellent tool that you can use to test both new and preexisting pages—if you know what to look for.
Essentially, it refers to the percentage of visitors who come to your site, but leave without visiting any other pages.
For instance, if your’s is 80%, that means 80% of the people who come to your site are only visiting the page they initially landed on, neglecting the other pages on your site entirely.
Technically, it means that the 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, they made zero interactions. They didn’t click on a menu item, didn’t expand a “read more” link, check out your About Us page, or navigate to any other links on the page.
This brings us to our next question—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 shortly.
But first, let’s take a closer look at the other side of it, or Click-Through Rate (CTR). CTR shows you how many people are clicking through to your site from a third-party. For example, a link, search engine, banner, advertisement, or email campaign would help to facilitate a CTR.
Your CTR is how you determine the success of your campaigns. From there, you can more easily decide which strategy is the most effective and redirect your energy there.
For that, you turn to the master of all things traffic-related: Google Analytics.
Google explains its calculation 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.”
In laymen’s terms, you determine this metric after collecting all sessions where a visitor goes to only one page and dividing by all total sessions.
To find it for your page, you’ll sign into your Google account and select the website you’d like to view.
Once you’re there, you’ll click the Audience Overview page. Click on Bounce Rate to view what it is for your entire site.
You can also view this metric of individual pages by navigating to Behaviour > All Pages. In the table that pops up, you’ll find a column dedicated for it.
This will show you how each page is performing (and more importantly, which pages are underperforming), so you know where to focus your efforts in the future.
What Makes a Good Bounce Rate?
Depending on the purpose of your site, having a high one isn’t necessarily 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 landing page designed specifically around a call-to-action (call this number, product listings on other pages, etc.)
But generally speaking, the lower the percentage, the better.
A good one, 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 percentages 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 explanation here. High percentages can be caused by a myriad of issues – some broad,some technical, and some in between.
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% of 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
- 46% of people say waiting for pages to load is what they dislike most about browsing the web on mobile
- Pages that load within 2 seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that take 5 seconds to load have are at 38%
These numbers are extremely unforgiving, and unfortunately, so are the users behind them.
Not only are users less likely to spend time on your site, but page load speed is a major 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 this metric’s percentage – for your users.
2. Impact of Inaccurate Tags and Descriptions
It may not seem like it, but your tags and descriptions are incredibly important.
They’re intended to accurately describe the content displayed on a page, and it’s also what will help your users 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.
Luckily for you, it’s an easy enough fix. Simply examine any pages that have a particularly high percentage and look to make sure all your tags and descriptions reflect the most accurate, up-to-date information available.
3. Improper Google Analytics Set Up
This one is probably your best case scenario. It basically means that users aren’t actually bouncing frequently from your site; rather, you’re just receiving inaccurate information.
Remember how a 20% or below percentage 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, smartphones dominate how people spend their media time. So, it’s important to keep mobile top-of-mind:
- 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 indexing 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 percentage for this metric.
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 percentage 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. The content is irrelevant or outdated and doesn’t encourage them to learn more or take action.
This is when it’s time to call in your team of experts – web designers, content marketers, marketing masterminds, etc. – to examine how to reduce this metric and improve your user experience.
How to Improve Your Bounce Rate
And now, the section you’ve all been waiting for.
And now, the section you’ve all been waiting for. There are a number of benefits of figuring out how to reduce this metric on website.
Some of the above are easy fixes (see: load speed, Google Analytics set up, etc.).
Others…no so much.
1. Examine Your Target Audience
You can’t expect a user to stay on your page 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 type of customers that will benefit from 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.
2. It Could be Related to 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 Google Ads, make sure you deliver on whatever it says.
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 Top Channels report will tell you the percentage for each channel grouping, and the All Traffic report will tell you the percentage for each source/medium pair.
If you find that a particular channel has a high percentage, you’ll know to further examine your strategy surrounding that channel.
3. 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:
- Use only the highest-quality images
- Create and upload videos
- Include consistent, updated, quality content – always look to your best performing content and how it differs from content with a high rate
- Make it easily readable – clunky, text-heavy sites will likely see a higher rate. Make sure your content is separated, and mix it up with headers, images, videos, etc.
- Make it effortless to navigate – make menus and headers easily clickable and well-organized
4. Include Relevant Links and Suggestions to Decrease Bounce Rate
A well-placed link can make all the difference between a bounce and an extended visit. So, make sure you use them wisely and you’ll be sure to see an improvement.
A relevant link in a blog post leading to more related content can guide users down a rabbit hole to quality pages across your website.
But, always make sure the links make sense and are properly placed. If you’re publishing a post about SEO, it’s probably best not to lead users to the Instagram post where you shared a picture of your protein bowl.
If you’re writing about SEO and happen to have a post about how to optimize images (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.
5. Include Well-Placed Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
Don’t let your users guess what they should do next because way too often, they’ll guess incorrectly.
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. That’s why you have to experiment with what works best for you and your readers.
1. How do I identify signs of a bounce?
Some signs of a bounce include:
- Visitors click the browser back button
- Visitors enter in a new URL in the address bar
- Visitors close the tab/window browser
- Visitors stay inactive for a duration exceeding 30 minutes or until session times out
- Visitors click an outbound link
2. How do I reduce bounce rate for my WordPress website?
One of the best ways to learn how to reduce it if you’re using WordPress as your content management system (CMS) is to install a “related articles” plugin.
You’ve probably seen that kind of plugin in action more than once on websites you’ve visited. Usually, “related articles” links appear at the bottom of the content. But, they can also appear in the sidebar and within the content itself.
Keep in mind that your WordPress theme might already include a “related articles” feature. If that’s the case, then all you need to do is activate it.
If not, feel free to browse through the many related articles plugins and find the one that works best for your site.
3. What’s the average bounce rate for a specific type of website and landing page?
As a rule of thumb, blogs have an average of 65% or higher. That’s because people who land on blogs from the search results typically just get the info they need and move on.
Also, “Contact Us” pages have a very high percentage. People who visit those pages are only looking for a phone number, email address, or other way to contact the business.
Similarly, “Form Submission” pages often have a high percentage because people usually submit the form and bail immediately.
Here are some average ranges for different types of websites, according to custommedialabs:
- Ecommerce and retailers: 20% – 45%
- B2B: 25% – 55%
- Lead Generation: 30% – 55%
- Content Websites: 35% – 60%
- Landing Pages: 60% – 90%
- Blogs & News Sites: 65% – 90%
4. What is bounce rate by channel?
A channel in SEO refers to the origins of your traffic. There are several different channels:
- Direct – visits from people who navigate directly to the URL
- Organic search – visits from people who clicked on a link in the search results
- Paid search – visits from people who clicked on a paid search ad
- Display – visits from people who clicked on a display ad (such as a banner ad)
- Referral – visits from people who clicked on a link on another website
- Social – visits from people who clicked on a link from a social media site such as Facebook or Twitter
- Email – visits from people who clicked on a link in an email
It’s important to differentiate your this metric by the various channels so you know where to focus your attention.
For example, if your’s is unusually high from organic search, then that probably means the content on your website isn’t appealing to visitors. Adapt your content marketing accordingly.
Wrapping Up Bounce Rate
So there you have it–a whirlwind introduction.
Remember—as in most other aspects of digital marketing, it’s all in the data. You can’t optimize your’s unless you have all the information you need at your disposal.
After taking all of the data into account, patterns will begin emerge that will help you solve the problem of high bounce rates where there shouldn’t be. The more well-versed you become at investigating your metrics and configuring the data, the easier these patterns will be to recognize.