When you analyze or read about digital marketing, you will inevitably come across the topic of website ‘bounce rate’ at some point. In many ways, it’s the bogeyman of marketing metrics: whereas KPIs like traffic and conversion rate generally measure the positive impact of your marketing efforts, bounce rate is undoubtedly negative. The higher it is, the worse you’re off.
But what exactly is website bounce rate, why do people bounce, and how can you lower your bounce rate to achieve marketing success? Keep reading to get your questions answered.
Bounce Rate, Defined
The concept of bounce rate, at its core, is relatively simple. It describes the percentage of people who leave your site after their initial visit, without navigating to another page from the one on which they originally entered. If, for example, half of the visitors to your homepage leave without ever navigating to a different page on your site, your homepage has a 50% bounce rate.
Why People Bounce
People bounce from your website after viewing only one page for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common:
- Your website loads slowly. As internet users, we seek instant gratification. If a website we’re about to visit does not load fast enough, your users will look for an alternative elsewhere before the content ever shows up. 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of visitors will leave without waiting for it to load if it takes more than 3 seconds. (FYI: use our free online page analyzer to speed test your pages).
- Your content does not match expectations. If the content on the initial page on which your visitors land does not give them what they’re looking for, they will have little incentive to look elsewhere. Content that does not match up with the ad that inspired them to click, or is not high-quality enough to seem credible, will all lead to higher bounce rates.
- Your visitors don’t know the next step. Of course, even relevant and high-quality content may not contribute to a lower bounce rate, if you don’t help your visitors answer the ‘what now?’ question. If they are confused by your navigation or don’t see a clear next step on the initial page, they will leave your site promptly even after a satisfactory initial visit.
Defining a ‘Good’ Bounce Rate
Simply speaking, there is no exact ‘ideal’ bounce rate because it depends on too many factors. Roughly speaking, though, a bounce rate between 41% and 55% is about average across industries. If your rate rises above 70%, you may want to look into the reasons why it’s high.
3 Reasons Bounce Rate Matters
So why should you keep track of how many of your visitors bounce, and why they do so? What has turned this metric into one of the most cited KPIs in the digital marketing world? We can give you three reasons:
- Lack of interest. Generally speaking, a high bounce rate indicates that your visitors are not as interested in your website as they should be. Naturally, engaged visitors who find your business and its product or service relevant to their needs will be more likely to stay on your site, navigating around your pages until they’ve found what they’re looking for. If your bounce rate is high, you may not be attracting the right type of audience to your site.
- Lack of follow-through. A high bounce rate also means that your desired visitor actions are likely to suffer. To succeed in digital marketing, your highest goal of initial interaction (after the site visit) should be to get your visitors to convert to a lead, at which point your lead nurturing strategy kicks in. A high bounce rate, which can happen for any of the above reasons, means your conversions are likely suffering, and your overall marketing success is compromised.
- SEO implications. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of your bounce rate as it relates to search engine optimization. Google has not explicitly stated that bounce rate factors into their search rankings, but experts firmly believe that it does. And that makes sense: as explained above, higher bounce rates are often the result of a low quality site or infrastructure. In their quest to show the most relevant results, search engines like Google naturally factor in this metric, which also explains why it features so prominently as a KPI in Google Analytics.
4 Ways to Lower Your Bounce Rate
Now that we’ve established the importance of the metric, let’s dive into practical advice: how to lower your rate, making sure that your SEO rankings and conversions do not suffer. Lowering your bounce rate can depend on too many factors to list here, but the below 4 strategies give you a great start.
1. Optimize Page Load Speed
As we established above, the speed at which your website loads is a crucial factor in determining how many of your visitors leave. So naturally, optimizing your load speed should be a top priority.
First, you can calculate your page load speed using Relish’s free tool. Then, downsize your images to the size at which they’re actually shown to visitors. Finally, make sure that your code is as lean as it could be, your hosting server responds quickly, and you have not bogged your site down with unnecessary plugins. This whitepaper offers a great overview to optimizing your loading speed.
2. Connect Ads With Content
You should also make sure that the content of every promotion you put out that links back to your website is congruent with the page to which it links. In other words, the promise you make on your ads – digital or traditional – should be fulfilled on the page to which you lead visitors. This will reduce cognitive dissonance, which in turn reduces bounce rates.
One way to optimize this congruence is to create landing pages that match up specifically with your promotional content. While creating each separate ad may be overkill, creating a landing page per campaign helps improve the transition from ads to your website and, in turn, lowers your bounce rate.
3. Optimize Attention Ratio
Attention ratio is a concept, first defined by Unbounce, that can help throughout your conversion optimization. Defined as “the ratio of links on a landing page to the number of campaign conversion goals,” it should ideally be 1:1, meaning that each of your landing pages should link to a single, desired next step to avoid confusion.
If your visitors bounce because they don’t know which next step to take, perhaps it’s because their attention is diverted in too many ways? Optimizing your attention ratio focuses your users’ attention, and helps guide them toward making that crucial click or conversion instead of bouncing.
4. Open External Links in New Tab
We’ll end with a simple tip. If you utilize content marketing in your digital strategy, chances are your content will include plenty of external links to support your statements. But if these links do not open in a new browser window or tab, your bounce rate will increase each time a reader is interested enough to click on a link.
Once a visitor clicks away from your page, the chances they come back are little. Simply by adjusting your settings to make sure that external links open in a new tab (a simple check box on most content editing systems), you can help ensure that your page stays open and your readers will come back to it after they’ve read the external content.
Of course, these are just a few of the many ways in which you can reduce your bounce rate. But taken together, they form the beginning of a strategy that helps you improve your website and its optimization for conversions.
Do you want to learn more about bounce rate, and why it matters to your digital success? Have you noticed that your bounce rate is high, and are looking for ways to lower it? If so, contact us today. We’d love to help you get back on track, and ensure success for your website.