Bounce rate is defines as the percentage of visitors who leave a site without navigating to another page. They arrive on the site and essentially “bounce” away. Bounce rate is a great metric that acts as signal to measure how sticky your website is. However, what it won’t tell you is the reasons why people aren’t navigating further in to your website. Common reasons include browser compatibility, poor navigation, slow page load times and poorly written copy, but without doing some research you are pretty much blind.
Obviously if your website is only one page bounce rate isn’t a metric that you should be concerned about, as every visit will be recorded as bouncing! However, if you want visitors to spend more time navigating your website (e.g. a blog or brochure website) or you want to convert them in to customers (e.g. an ecommerce store), here are some ideas to help you reduce your bounce rate.
The first step is to identify which pages have the highest bounce rates. Without this information everything you do will just be guess work and you won’t be able to measure the impact of your changes. Google Analytics is the de facto choice for many webmasters and one we use here at Heart Internet. For the purposes of this post I will presume you are using Google Analytics. To find out your website’s bounce rate and the bounce rate of individual page go to: ‘Content ‘> ‘Top content’.
Segment and analyse
Rather than tearing apart your website and making major redesign decisions I would start by investigating any groups that have a higher bounce rate than normal. For example are you seeing a high proportion of Chrome users leave? If so, that could indicate a problem with the browser showing the page incorrectly rather than a problem with the design or lay out. (To check your Chrome user’s behaviour go to: Visitors > Browser capabilities > Browsers > Chrome)
Use clear navigation and calls to action
As the designer of a website you can become blind to bottle necks, dead ends and hidden links. Because you know where links and tabs are, they are obvious to you. To ensure this is the case for all your visitors, use heat maps to check people are clicking on the areas of your website you want them to. If you are willing to pay, Crazy Egg is a good choice, if you want a free solution Labsmedia’s ClickHeat is often recommended (although I haven’t personally used it).
Check your page load times
Since as early as 1997 page load times have been identified as a major usability issue. The simple truth is your website’s visitors will be much more likely to go further in to your website if your load times are quick. Use tools such as Google Webmaster and Pingdom to check how fast your pages are loading. Anything over a few seconds and you should look at ways to speed this up. Scripts, external file and media are all major factors in slowing down a web page. For example, if you use a CMS such as WordPress deactivate any plugins you are not using to speed up the loading time of your site. If you have hand coded your websit,e can you reduce the number of files being requested (such as CSS files) by combining them?
Keep the page focused and to the point
Whether you like it or not and no matter how long you spend writing you website’s copy “on the average web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.” (source: https://www.useit.com/alertbox/percent-text-read.html). Headlines clearly positioning who you are and what you do along with short punchy sentences and paragraphs backed by images are far more effective than trying to force paragraph after paragraph of sales pitches on to them. I always think https://www.mailchimp.com/ is a great example of this being used in practice.
Provide a search box
If you have a complex website with hundreds or thousands of pages, offer a search box to give users the ability to quickly search and find the content they want without any fuss. As well as offering a way to send visitors directly to the information they are looking for, search boxes also act as an escape mechanism when they become stuck in navigation.
“Popular/ More like this/ related” links
Listing related posts or products on the page can help to reduce bounce rate, making it easy for those who are interested in reading more to find this information in one easy click.
Are there any methods you have used that proved to be effective you would like to share? If so, leave a comment below.
(Image credit: https://www.conversionstats.com/blog/website-analysis-some-like-it-hot/13/)