In your Google Analytics, you’ve probably noticed that number called “bounce rate”. But what exactly is bounce rate and what does it mean for your business?
Bounce rate is the percentage of people that come to your website and leave without viewing any more pages other than the one they landed on.
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Generally, the lower your bounce rate the better because that means that less people have “bounced” (left without viewing any more pages).
A low bounce rate is not always bad. Sometimes a bounce rate simply means that the user found what they were looking for immediately and didn’t need to search your website for it. Blogs tend to have high bounce rates because people land on a post, read it, and then leave.
However, for most business websites, a high bounce rate is not good because if a user bounces, it means they are not converting.
Someone that spends more time on your site is more likely to convert into a customer. Therefore, your goal is to keep your visitor on your site as long as possible. The more they read about you and your business, the more likely they are to convert into a customer.
Nowadays, customers do their own research into your business. They’ll scour your site and read your blog posts and your content and they will decide whether or not they want to purchase from you even before they get in touch with you.
In retail, the term “dwell time” refers to how long a customer spends in your store. Typically, the more time a customer spends in the store, the more they will spend on the business’s products.
Marcus Sheridan, the pool salesman turned content marketing expert, identified that when people had viewed 30 pages of his website, they almost always purchased a pool from him.
A bounce rate of 50% or less is really good because that means that less than half of your visitors bounce. The average is usually around 60-70%. Blogs usually have higher bounce rates.
So now we know you want to encourage people to stay on your site as long as possible. Let’s look at how we can do that.
If your website visitor has a hard time finding what they need on a website, they won’t stick around for long. The way your content is mapped out on your website and the way the navigation is set-up plays a huge role in how easily the user can browse your site.
When you first build your site, organize your content well in a way that make sense. Title all menu items appropriately so that users can find what they need. Ensure you have a search bar for those that are looking for something specific.
Your site also needs to be easy to read and have a clean, professional design. Go with dark text on a light background and leave a fair amount of white space around the content to eliminate distractions and allow people to focus on what they’re reading.
Additionally, if your site is not mobile friendly, most mobile users will bounce immediately. People are increasingly using their phones to surf the web and if your site is not built with responsive web design, you are missing out on a lot of potential traffic.
Site speed is another factor. If your site does not load fast enough, your visitors will leave and find the information they want elsewhere.
Don’t make your readers work to understand what you are trying to say, or they will leave and find the information they want elsewhere.
Ensure your content is easy to read and that you don’t use lots of jargon or wordy sentences. Remember that the audience you are writing for probably doesn’t know quite as much as you on the topic and may not be familiar with certain industry terms. Don’t talk down to your audience, but be as clear and concise as possible in your writing.
Title all of your pages appropriately so the reader knows exactly what to expect from that content. Use large headings to convey your messaging. Split up long pages with headings and use bullet points wherever possible.
Provide visuals with engaging, relevant images. These can help you tell your story and draw a reader in to what you have to say.
To keep your users on your site as long as possible, make it easy for them to transition from the end of one page to another. You can offer subtle nudges to your visitor to continue from one page to the next. For example, on your about page, you might consider putting a link to your blog page at the end of the page to encourage people to read more about you on your blog.
User experience expert David Travis calls the most popular paths taken through a site the “red routes”. For example, perhaps users usually land on your home page, go to your about page to read more about you, then head to the services page to see what you offer, then finally the contact page to find your address where they can come visit you. In this case, the “red route” is:
In this case, you want to make sure you have a link on your home page leading people to your about page, a link at the end of your about page that links to your services page, and a link on the services page linking to the contact page.
This will provide a seamless transition for the user to follow the red route. Otherwise they will read a page and then have to make a decision on their own about where to go next. The easier you can make it for the user to get to the next step, the more likely they will be to take it.
You can use the funnel feature in Google Analytics (go to Behaviour>Behaviour Flow) to identify common routes that your users are taking on your website. Are the common routes the ones that you would like them to take? Or are they leaving your site before getting to the page that you want them to see?
If people are dropping off at a certain page, have a look at that page and see what kind of “nudges” you can put on that page to encourage them to continue on to another page.
The key here is to guide your user through your website so they don’t even have to think about where to go next.
An internal link is a link on your website that links to another page on your site as opposed to an external link which links to a separate website.
Place links to other pages of your site all throughout your website. This is especially important in your blog posts to help users find related content. If you are writing a blog post and you mention a topic that you cover in another blog post, make sure to link to that other post so that the reader can find more information.
Another form of internal linking is to have a “Related Posts” module at the end of a blog post or in the sidebar. This will help people easily find other blog posts on your site that are related to what they want.
On WordPress, the plugin that I have used for this is called Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. This plugin allows you to have either text links or images.
A “Popular Posts” widget or a “Recent Posts” widget can also help people find your best and most recent content. You don’t want to make your site so busy with all these widgets that it distracts from the content, but if you can fit them in, then do so.
All of this internal linking will keep visitors on your site longer and help lower your bounce rate, but it also has an added SEO bonus. Search Engine spiders will find it much easier to crawl your site and find all of your pages when you have a lot of internal links throughout your site.
Follow these tips and not only will you see your bounce rate lower, but you will also be providing a better experience for your website visitors, making them want to come back for more.