Bounce rate can be one of the more mysterious metrics when it comes to measuring digital marketing efforts.
It is generally analyzed in order to provide insight into how a site’s overall user experience is.
Google defines bounce rate as:
“The percentage of single-page visits (i.e., visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page).”
Essentially, this means that when a visitor “bounces” from a page, they have left the page and site after only viewing one page.
While this definition is pretty simplistic, the underlying cause of a bounce can sometimes be more complex.
Sometimes a high bounce rate can indicate that a user experience is poor.
However, at other times, a high bounce rate can be an indication of a positive user experience.
For example, if a user is searching for a recipe for chicken marsala to make for dinner and they click on a search result, and immediately see the ingredients that they need and hop off the site, then that would be a great user experience.
The visitor instantly found the information that they were looking for and then left.
On the flip side though, if a user comes to a site thinking that they are going to see a chicken marsala recipe, and instead see a recipe for chicken parmesan and quickly hop off the site, then that would be a poor user experience.
The visitor was misled and did not find the content that they needed. The high bounce rate in that situation would be a negative one.
There are a few tried and true tips to keep in mind that can help combat high bounce rates in these negative situations and improve user experience:
1. Pay Attention to Page Load Time
When a user has to wait an excessive amount of time (and by excessive I mean more than three seconds) for a page load, it creates an incredibly poor user experience.
The content on the page does not matter if a visitor cannot even see it immediately.
Page load time is even more crucial on mobile devices because users are more likely to become frustrated with slow load times and bounce.
2. Make Site Search Easy
Many websites still neglect adding a site search functionality.
If a user is searching for something specific that they do not instantly see on a page, this is an extremely useful tool that they can use to search with, instead of possibly leaving the page or site entirely.
3. Easy Navigation
Navigation should be easy and effortless for visitors.
When a user gets to a site, they need a clear direction of where the content that they are looking for lives.
If this is not simplistic and clearly laid out in an intuitive navigation, they will most likely bounce from the site.
4. Focus on a Great Design
Good website design is intuitive and builds trust with a user.
Visitors will not spend a large amount of time a site that is hard to navigate or one that they have difficulty trusting.
Provide an easy user experience for visitors by starting with a great design that is not just aesthetically pleasing, but is functional, intuitive, and easily to navigate.
5. Keep Mobile Top-of-Mind
Mobile users have even less patience than desktop users.
A website should have a responsive design in order to provide users on mobile devices with a solid user experience.
6. Remember Readability
Content on a webpage should be clearly and effectively formatted.
This is crucial from a user experience standpoint, as no visitor to a website wants to see large chunks of disorganized text.
When this happens, users will usually skip over crucial content.
However, if that content was formatted into smaller blocks, including bullet points or also image or video content, a user will have a much easier time digesting that content and be more prone to read it in general.
7. Shorter Paragraphs
One of the primary things that help with the overall readability of a site is the length of the content.
Place content in short, digestible paragraphs so that your visitors can quickly read the content that they are searching for.
8. Use Various Types of Content
Another focus area when it comes to website readability is to create various forms of content for the user, as opposed to solely text.
Video content is incredibly engaging and easily grabs attention, more so than plain copy.
High-quality images can also help to captivate the attention of visitors to a website and potentially reduce bounce rates.
9. Relevant Keywords
Use relevant keywords that are applicable for a site.
If a site is ranking high for a keyword, but the site has no content about that keyword topic, then a user will quickly bounce from the website.
They will also probably feel disappointed with their experience and mislead, which can decrease trust.
10. Relevant Audience
Similar to relevant keywords, relevant content, on the whole, should be used across the site, and the right users should be targeted.
Identify the core target audience of the site and create niche content around that audience.
Targeting should not be too broad, as there is a greater chance of getting users who are not looking for what your site features.
Honing in and focusing on a specific group of users helps to ensure that you are finding people who want to find what your site offers.
These users will be more engaged and apt to spend a great amount of time exploring your site.
11. Stay Away from Popups
Users generally do not enjoy invasive popups.
They are irritating and frustrating and disrupt a positive user experience on a website.
12. Limit Distracting Ads
Similar to avoiding popups, distracting ads should be avoided as well.
The placement of static ads should be to reserved to just the sides of webpages so that the user’s attention is not being pulled in multiple directions and thus increasing the likelihood not focusing on the area you want them to.
13. Convincing Call-to-Action
A call-to-action (CTA) should be clearly visible on a website.
The user should be able to locate this within the first few seconds of being on a page.
A CTA should also be compelling so that a user is enticed to click on it. The nittiest and grittiest of details are important when it comes to a CTA.
The colors used, the fonts, the verbiage, etc. are all elements that can make a large impact on whether a person clicks.
14. Limit Broken Links
A large number of broken links will only create a poor user experience, leaving a visitor to a website dissatisfied and frustrated if they cannot locate the content that they want to find.
There are a few different ways to locate all of the broken links on a website, such as through Google Search Console or through a webscraper such as Screaming Frog.
15. Focus on an Internal Link Strategy
Focus on increasing the likelihood of a user staying on your site by using internal links to keep a user there.
This helps to let users easily navigate to what section of a website they are looking for, and keep their overall user experience enjoyable.
16. Ensure That Links Open in a New Tab
When creating a sound internal linking strategy and linking to other pages on a site, it is important to remember to ensure that those links open in a tab.
This helps to potentially increase the time a user spends on a site since they will have multiple pages open at once.
17. Create a 404 Page That Is Helpful
A 404 page should not simply return a “page not found” message to a user.
It should also provide alternative options for a user to navigate to so that they do not leave the site.
18. Blog Frequently
Creating fresh content consistently that can offer users a wide variety of topics to explore can be helpful in order to convince people to visit and stay on a site.
19. Display Credibility
Visitors are always looking for how trustworthy a site seems.
When visitors land on your website, they are going through an examination of the content and assessing how reliable it seems.
As a way to help build credibility and increase trust with visitors, it is a good idea to include positive reviews of whatever products and/or services your site features.
Showcase any special seals and make the site secure in order to help a user trust a site and thus, decrease the likelihood of them bouncing.
20. Utilize Google Analytics & Other Tools
Several tools can help you when tracking user engagement.
Google Analytics can track:
Time on site.
Pages per session.
Most frequently and least frequently visited pages.
And much more.
Other tools like HotJar can provide heat mapping and visitor recording so that you can see exactly what a user did during a session.
You can view how users react to pages and then adjust and test changes on those pages accordingly.
Don’t lose valuable visitors to your website. Optimize your user experience so that negatively high bounce rates can be avoided.
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