Six easy steps to reducing your bounce rate

While most enterprises today invest in increased site traffic, many forget to consider one important factor: their bounce rate. Focusing on social engagement, paid media, and content distribution are all effective ways to drive relevant traffic to your site, but understanding the power of a bounce rate is just as crucial to measuring your success.

Before we get into the numbers, we first need to understand: what exactly is a bounce rate?

A bounce rate is the percentage of site visitors who land on your website and leave after only viewing one page. For example, if you see in Google Analytics that your bounce rate is 50%, that means that 50% of your site users landed on one particular page and left without taking any further action.

Using Google Adwords can help you measure your visibility and traffic, but if your Adwords bounce rate continues to be high, you should reexamine your strategy and identify what exactly is going wrong.

Here is the importance of bounce rate, as told by the numbers.

  • Let’s assume a health industry website has about 20,000 monthly Google AdWords visitors, an 86% bounce rate, and those visitors did not complete a conversion on the first page.

  • According to Adgooroo, an average CPC in the health industry is $2.16.

  • 20,000 clicks at $2.16 per click would cost $43,200.

  • An 86% bounce rate means that only 2,800 out of potentially 20,000 visitors see a second page on the site. If visitors that get to a second page perform better at the end of the conversion funnel, this is the number you want to look at.

  • Reducing the bounce rate from 86% to 50% would mean that 7,200 more visitors would see a second page.

  • While a bounce rate remains at 86%, getting the same number of visitors by increasing AdWords traffic would cost well over $100,000.

Reducing the bounce rate in accordance with your website’s KPIs can come at a much lesser cost than the $100,000 required to increase visitors by paying per click. Moreover, the reduced bounce rate keeps on giving month after month (while the $100,000 investment would need to be repeated every month). This is all considering that your KPIs show that more pageviews result in increased conversions, of course.

But what are the benchmarks of bounce rate percentages? Typically, anything under a 40% bounce rate is considered good, under 25%-30% is considered excellent, under 60% is considered fine but better than the average, and anything over 75%-80% is poor.

However, these figures are very general, and obviously it’s important to identify accurate benchmarks (provided by Google Analytics) as they change according to industry, time of year and size of website traffic.

As an example, we took the web analytics & stats industry and found out that, according to Google Analytics, during July - Sept 2016 the benchmarks for bounce rate per traffic source (for a website with 500-1000 visits a day) are 62% for organic traffic and 66% for paid traffic. Therefore, a bounce rate lower than 60% would be above average in this case.

Reducing the bounce rate with the help of organic Google rankings (SEO) doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars in paid advertising. In fact, there are plenty of tactics that you can follow to increase your organic traffic bounce rates today.

Here are six tips to decrease bounce rates, improve your user experience and increase your users’ time on site:

1. Rewrite your meta descriptions

One of the biggest issues that we see with meta descriptions is that they don’t reflect the page’s actual content. As the old expression says, “Don’t promise what you can’t deliver”. The good news is, improving your meta description is an easy fix.

When writing the meta description for your page, make sure that you’re providing detailed, highly accurate information so that your users are less likely to bounce. As long as the description remains consistent with the page itself and your users discover what they’re looking for, your bounce rates will naturally decrease.

2. Improve targeting of paid campaigns

By narrowing down the targeting of paid campaigns, you ensure that the people who visit your page are the ones who are actually interested in what you offer. If a page has information about an online email marketing course, for example, make sure your LinkedIn campaigns target email marketers, not marketers in general.

3. Reduce page load time

One of the most prominent driving factors for high bounce rates is the page load time. User attention is increasingly limited today, and if a page doesn’t load within a matter of seconds, the user will abandon the site.

Believe it or not, 40% of people will abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. This is relevant for both Adwords campaign and organic SEO - if your page load times decrease, your users’ time on site will surely increase.

There are many ways that you can improve your site’s load time, but the easiest and fastest ways are to simply improve your site’s design by:

  • Streamlining the number of elements on your page

  • Using CSS instead of images

  • Combining multiple style sheets into one

  • Reducing scripts and putting them at the bottom of the page

4. Lead users to additional pages through CTAs

When users land on a page, there needs to be a funnel in place to guide them from one page to the next. If they simply read a product description, for example, but then there is no clear direction for purchasing the product and checking out, where are they supposed to go?

On each of your pages, make sure that there are clear CTAs that lead them to the next relevant place, whether it’s additional reading, product descriptions or check-out pages. (Believe it or not, 70% of small business B2B sites don’t have CTA buttons at all!) It’s crucial to make your site’s user experience as seamless as possible for the end user, so make sure you incentivize them to continue on through the site without abandoning it.

In order to identify where you should be adding your CTAs, track your users’ behavior with heatmaps to see where they’re becoming confused, where they’re naturally going to for next steps, and where they pause in their journey.

5. Optimize your content’s format

It’s common for users to land on a page - a blog post, for example - and immediately become overwhelmed by the post’s lack of formatting.

Users don’t have the patience to sift through a long, heavy blog post - it needs to be formatted in a way that makes it easy for them to skim, clearly identify the main points, and digest within a few seconds.

If a page’s user experience is poor and packed with inconsistent formatting, heavy block paragraphs, a lack of graphics, an unflattering color scheme and difficult navigation, it’s likely that your bounce rates will go up. Make sure that your site’s flow is well designed and easy to use in order to decrease your bounce rate.

6. Direct visitors to appropriate landing pages

By directing different visitors to specific landing pages, you increase the likelihood that they will find the content they are looking for. If you run campaigns for an upcoming webinar, for example, make sure the links direct to a landing page that is focused on the webinar (not to your website homepage). But no matter how many landing pages you have, they must each be optimized to ensure a positive digital customer experience.

As you can see, reducing your bounce rate isn’t hard. All it takes is following these steps, and you’ll be on your way to increasing your traffic, increasing your time on site and reducing your bounce rate.

This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness

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