How to reduce bounce rate

What is bounce rate?

The bounce rate of your website relates to the percentage of visitors making single page visits – that is, the number of people who arrive and look at only one page before leaving the site. 

Bounce rate can be an important metric to understand how visitors are using your website. You should be aiming to encourage visitors to spend as much time as possible on your website browsing multiple pages, making purchases, signing up to your newsletter or doing whatever it is you want them to do.

It’s essential to keep visitors on your website as if they’re not on yours, it’s likely they’re on a competitors instead.

What does bounce rate tell you?

Looking at bounce rate in isolation won’t tell you much about how people behave when they visit your website. To understand this properly and its implications, you need to look at the bounce rate in the context of other analytics data such as dwell times on specific pages and the average time spent on the website. However, it can still be a sound base to understand where and how improvements can be made to discourage visitors from bouncing back off your website, encourage them to click through to other pages and increase your conversion rates.

Bounce rate is also helpful for identifying specific pages which may require urgent attention. You may need to consider evaluating pages if they have a higher than average bounce rate, to understand if there are any potential issues which may be causing visitors to exit your site without visiting other pages.  

How to reduce bounce rate 

If you want to reduce your bounce rate, there are a number of general changes you can make that will improve the user experience and help keep your bounce rates down. There are also a variety of common issues which can raise your bounce rate that you may want to look out for.

Ensure your website is responsive

Whether it’s a desktop, tablet or mobile device, your website needs to work on all platforms. As more and more people browse the web on tablets and mobiles, it’s vital that your website looks as it should and offers a consistently positive experience.

Don’t just focus on a positive visual experience though - it’s equally imperative that your website is usable too. Is it easy to scroll through page content? Is there simple navigation so visitors can browse other parts of the site with ease?

If moving around your website or accessing different pages and sections isn’t straightforward then you can guarantee your bounce rate will increase. Regardless of how your visitors choose to access the web, your site, its content and navigation needs to remain intuitive, responsive and usable.

Respect the reader

User experience is key to reducing your bounce rate, and in order to provide the best experience possible you need to respect your reader. Pop ups or intrusive third party adverts can be irritating for visitors, especially if they’re irrelevant, low-quality or fail to offer any value.

It’s true that pop ups can be effective so if you’re keen to use them, be careful and implement them tactically such as during campaign activity where they will add value and something relevant for readers. Whilst ensuring a limited use of pop-ups, to avoid them contributing to your bounce rate, make sure those you do have are simple to close allowing visitors to continue browsing and navigating around your site.

Update and optimise content

Content is also crucial for drawing visitors in, boosting dwell times and persuading visitors to remain on your site to browse other content which may be of interest.

First of all, prioritise readability, ensuring copy is clear, concise and conveys your organisations’ key messages. Use of subheadings and bullet points can aid this process and help readers to navigate the site and access your content easily.

Another way to reduce bounce rate is by updating your site regularly with new content which is relevant for your business or organisation. This way you’re more likely to be getting the right traffic from search engines - if visitors are genuinely interested in your content, it relates to their search terms or they’re keen to know more about what you do, they’re much more likely to stick around.

You should also consider implementing calls to action throughout your web pages – whether it’s asking visitors to fill in a contact form, check out another page, sign up, or make a purchase. Distinct and strong calls to action can be important in encouraging traffic to keep moving around your site, boosting conversion rates, and lowering bounce rate.

 The importance of a performance budget

Visitors are less likely to stick around if your content isn’t loading quickly - this can contribute to a higher bounce rate. The web is a fast-paced world and people won’t put up with anything less than speedy – in this modern age we all want information instantly and if isn’t provided within a second or two people will swiftly head elsewhere.

Speed is vital to ensuring a positive user experience, so make sure you’re setting a performance budget when developing a new website. It’s a great tool to ensure load times are fast and efficient for your visitors.

Before you start a web development project, set performance budgets that your new site must adhere to. Consider how many font weights are necessary on a page (as each weight means downloading an entire new set of font files), how many high quality images are to be used and the collective size of assets on any given page. Optimising graphics is a helpful way to achieve fast load times by using photo editing software such as Photoshop to greatly decrease file size while maintaining high image quality. Small optimisations such as minifying code can also help give a boost to page load times. Make sure your load times are 20% better than your competitors so you have an edge over them too.

If you’re struggling to stick to your performance budget metrics in the long-term, consider simplifying your site by removing old, outdated elements or, if you’re looking to add something new, evaluate whether the added value will outweigh any impact on performance budget.

If you want help understanding your website's bounce rate, or how to reduce it – get in touch with our experts. Our digital and online marketing team are here to help ensure you understand bounce rates, how you can improve traffic to your website and how to keep visitors browsing your site.

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Tags: Online Marketing

Posted by Beccy Gregory
on April 13, 2017