The Self-Help Guide to Lowering Your Bounce Rate

Does your site have unreasonably high bounce rates? Do your bounce rates seem to fluctuate without rhyme or reason? While it may not be apparent at first, there is always a root cause for high bounce rates. The trouble is that most people become so intimidated by the analytics, data, self-help guides, and general noise that they give up on the pursuit and settle for high bounce rates and poor numbers.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

With a proper understanding of what a bounce rate actually is and what dictates it, discovering the root cause can be rather simple.

bounce rate

What Does My Bounce Rate Actually Mean?

The bounce rate is one of the most misunderstood data points in Google Analytics. Google’s official definition of bounce rate is “the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).”

bounce rate EQN

A visitor can bounce from your site by clicking on a link to a page on another website, clicking the ‘Back’ button to return to where they came from, closing an open window or tab, typing a new URL into the browser, or timing out of a session. Essentially, your bounce rate calculates the percentage of visitors who view only one page before leaving.

According to this KISSmetrics infographic, the average website has a bounce rate of 40.5%. But in order to better understand how your website stacks up against competitors, it may be more useful to look at the following industry averages:

  • Retail sites: 20-40% bounce rate
  • Simple landing pages: 70-90% bounce rate
  • Portals: 10-30% bounce rate
  • Service sites: 10-30% bounce rate
  • Content websites: 40-60% bounce rate
  • Lead generation: 30-50% bounce

If after reviewing these averages you feel like your bounce rate is way off target, consider implementing some of the following 8 tips:

How To Reduce Bounce Rate

Tip #1: Stick to Your Word and Deliver

The failure to deliver upon expectations is a major driving factor of high bounce rates. Visitors come to a site page for a reason and expect to find an answer to their need, question, or desire. If they realize you don’t have the information they are looking for, they rarely have a reason to stick around.

Jason Squardo, executive vice president at ZOG Digital, says that a high bounce rate “may be an indication that your content isn’t engaging or that your advertisements are misleading.” He suggests setting up users’ expectations through content so that they don’t feel deceived or cheated.

It’s rather easy to get a user to your site; the difficult part is getting them to engage with your content. Delivering on promises will help you do the latter.

Tip #2: Be Socially Savvy

High bounce rates can be the result of too many ‘random’ visitors stumbling across your content. If you really want to engage with people and lower bounce rates, learn how to utilize social media to your advantage. Develop a healthy rapport with your followers and pepper your social media content with occasional links to site content. Visitors who voluntarily enter your site are much likelier to engage than random wanderers.

Tip #3: Invest in Responsive Web Design

If your site does not have a responsive web design, your bounce rate is going to continue to rise in the coming months. It is becoming vitally important to have a responsive design as more and more visitors are using tablets, computers, and phones interchangeably.

Tip #4: Encourage Visitors to Stick Around

If you aren’t encouraging visitors to stick around, how can you blame them for wandering away? One of the best ways to make sure visitors continue to engage with your site is to include related content at the end of each post or page. There are a number of WordPress plugins and internet applications that will do the heavy lifting for you. Some of the best are Nreate, LinkWithin, and Outbrain.

Tip #5: Shift Links

If you spend time tinkering with all of the bells and whistles, Google Analytics can provide you with some pretty detailed information. One simple way to improve an individual page’s bounce rate is by looking at the ‘Next Page’ report. Here’s how:

  • Go to Content / Site Content / All Pages
  • Click on the page you wish to analyze
  • Click on Navigation Summary
  • Look under Next Page Path

This will show you which links on the given page are receiving the highest engagement. You can then move links around to improve the quality of the page.

Tip #6: Develop a Better Web Design

Some simple design and navigation tweaks can be an effective way to reduce bounce rates. It is a good practice to conduct regular reviews of your site’s navigation, layout, and content quality. Make sure visitors can easily find what they’re looking for, all pages have clear calls to action, and content is easy to read.

Tip #7: Share Buttons

Business2Community recommends implementing social sharing buttons to reduce your bounce rate by 1%. While this is a very small number, every bit helps. Share buttons can increase engagement and bring in more visitors.

Tip #8: Take Advantage of Popular Content

In addition to using some of the WordPress plugins mentioned above, consider jazzing up your sidebar by inserting links to content everyone will love. These links should be visible to everyone on every page. Consider content that has done well in the past, as well as content speaking to first time visitors.

Bounce rates are tricky, but they are not impossible to conquer. There are many suggestions out there – I suggest you look into applying as many as you can until you find a formula that works for you.

Which of these tips have you found to be most effective in lowering your bounce rate?

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Schuyler Richardson

Schuyler was born and raised in Marietta, GA and attended college at the University of South Carolina, where he received a degree in Marketing and Management. He has always enjoyed writing and is now happy to do it professionally. Some of Schuyler’s previous job titles include landscaper, retail sales associate, and marketing intern in a Division I college athletic department. Outside of work, Schuyler has a wide range of hobbies and interests. He is a self-taught guitar player, novice woodworker, and avid sports fan. You can often find him watching his favorite teams: the Atlanta Braves and South Carolina Gamecocks. Additionally, Schuyler lives for the fall, because it means two things: good weather and college football.

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