What Is a Bounce Rate and Why Should You Worry About It?
There are several misconceptions among non-marketers (and even among some marketers) about what a bounce rate is and how it reflects the performance of a website or a particular page. It is often treated as one of the most important behavioral metrics, and high bounce rate should be avoided at any cost.
The misconceptions of bounce rates are far spread. For example: some believe that bounce rates have something to do with the time users spend on a website, but this is not entirely accurate. Bounce rates reflect the data about the percentage of website visitors who leave a website without proceeding to the next page.
The more people who leave a website without navigating through it or clicking on a CTA, the higher the bounce rate will be displayed in Google Analytics. As it turns out, a high bounce rate indicates that a website is unable to retain its users. Obviously, there’s nothing good about high bounce rates and it’s time to do something about it.
Generally speaking, a high bounce rate is a big red flag that signals a website’s content fails to meet user expectations. It also means a website owner has to take the appropriate response measures. But before you become hysterical, owners of websites with high bounce rates should check whether or not the following statements are correct:
- There are links to other websites that you encourage users to follow on your webpages (e.g. your products offered on a third-party website such as eBay)
- Your website is a single-page site
- You are an affiliate
- Your landing pages include your contact information
- Your web forms don’t take your users to confirmation pages
- You run a blog or a news site
If at least one of the above statements is true, then you may be good to go and here’s why:
- If certain pages of your main website include links to other sites that help you complete your conversion goals, than a bounce rate is more likely to be high
- If your website has only one page and there is nowhere else it can take your users to, a high bounce rate is unavoidable
- If you are an affiliate, sending your users to product marketing sites is one purpose of your website
- If you want your users to contact you right after they view your landing pages by submitting a phone number, the bounce rate will be high
- If your web forms don’t point users to the next page for confirmation, don’t expect bounce rates to be low
- If your users access your website to read a blog post or a piece of news, they can leave a page right after they are done reading. Bounce rates can get up to 100 percent.
As you can see, a high bounce rate is a controversial indicator and is not necessarily a bad thing that must be fixed ASAP. But anything other than the previously mentioned cases where a bounce is high should be a reason to get worried about your website’s performance.
According to RocketFuel’s Jay Payton, a bounce rate above 90% as well as below 20% is a reason to check whether everything is properly functioning on your website and in your Google Analytics setup. If you notice these trends occurring, here is a list of optimization shortcomings that can cause high bounce rates and seven tips on how to fix them.
How to Fix High Bounce Rates in 7 Steps
#1 Check Your Mobile Site
Today, more than a half of overall web traffic is taking place on mobile. No matter what kind of business and website you are running, expect to see the majority of your visitors accessing your website on the go. If people have to zoom in and scroll left and right to view important information, they will likely turn to another website that offers a properly optimized mobile version.
#2 Improve Your Load Speed
Slow load speed affects bounce rates – that’s a fact. Google cares about its users and wants them to have immediate access to the information they are looking for. Your website’s slow load speed doesn’t facilitate better user experience, and not only contributes to high bounce rates but can also land you a bad reputation in Google’s eyes. Tools like Pingdom, GTMetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights let you see whether or not your website’s speed is influencing your bounce rates.
#3 Avoid Pop-ups
Anything popping up on a website that isn’t relevant to your users will surely annoy them. Annoyed, irritated users may choose to not proceed further on a website and will leave it for a competitor’s site. Using pop-ups to get more information about users and to attract subscribers can be tempting for marketers, but pop-ups actually discourage website visitors from clicking any further. Again, Google wants its users to enjoy their digital journey and will penalize your website for disruptive UX.
#4 Match Your Meta Descriptions with Content
Give your users exactly what you promised them. Before accessing your website, users are reading your meta description. Your meta descriptions have to be clear and descriptive, and they must summarize the content you can find on your main pages. If users find there is a mismatch between what is said in the meta description and what is in your actual content, they will click away to find other information that satisfies their search queries.
#5 Improve Content Readability and Quality
People may leave your web pages regardless of how good your content is because it’s simply hard to read. Bulky paragraphs, no subheadings, professional jargon, a lack of images and just “text, text, text” can look uninviting. Today, people scan text instead of reading to see whether or not the content contains relevant and important information. A good reader experience improves user engagement and lowers bounce rates.
On the other hand, optimizing for better readability is not a remedy if your content quality is poor. No need to stuff a website with content for the sake of content and keywords. It doesn’t make any difference to both visitors and Google.
#6 Check for HTTP Errors
What do you do when you are met with a 404 or other common error pages? You go back to square one and start your search over again. This is exactly what your visitors will do if your website shows an error or misplaced page. Any technical problems on a site can be quite frustrating.
In most cases, it’s the result of something wrong with a website and rarely has anything to do with user actions. If your visitors spend less than a couple of seconds on your website, something is potentially broken. This has to be handled ASAP, because Google and your potential customer are not going to tolerate technical mistakes.
#7 Set Up Your Analytics Properly
If your bounce rate is under 20 percent, you definitely should not be relaxing – in fact, you should start worrying. This may be the result of improper analytics implementation. Once you start digging into your analytics, look to see that:
- There is no duplicated analytics code
- Event tracking is properly implemented
- There are third-party add-ons on a website
A bounce rate is an important metric and keeping it low is a dream for many website owners. It is important to remember that all businesses are different and a high bounce rate should not necessarily be something to stress about. Hopefully, this article will help you understand bounce rates in depth and what common problems may cause poor performance, as well as ways to fix high bounce rates.