Bounce rate is an SEO key performance indicator (KPI) that we review with our clients on a regular basis. It’s a metric that can help us understand how people interact with your site and content, and the lower the bounce rate the better. Here’s Google’s definition of bounce rate:
A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.
Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.
These single-page sessions have a session duration of 0 seconds since there are no subsequent hits after the first one that would let Analytics calculate the length of the session.
Bounce rate is really telling us about user engagement – certainly, important as websites go. Obviously when looking at it in these terms a high bounce rate is bad, right? Well, not necessarily. Before getting into ways to improve your website bounce rate, let’s look at a couple of scenarios where a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a terrible thing.
Blog Bounce Rates are High
Blog posts naturally have a higher than normal bounce rate. We see many clients who range from 70 to 90 percent for their blogs and this is quite normal. People often find blog posts while conducting research or reading up on certain topics, so their visits are short – they read the post and get back to their search. This makes sense if you think about a buyer’s life cycle. People are probably not going to purchase a product or solution based on a blog post. They purchase after reviewing a product or solution page on your website, where they interact with the details or explore pricing, or review case studies, etc. Blog posts are thought leadership content and help people better understand products or solutions, but due to the top-of-funnel nature of the content itself, bounce rates are naturally high.
Blogs are also often part of an organization’s social media strategy since thought leadership content fares well in the social sphere. As people review their social media feed or platform of choice, they may come across a link to a blog. They check it out and then return to their feed. This equals higher bounce rates.
Paid Search Landing Page Bounce Rates are High
When you’re conducting a paid search campaign – be it Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter – you may use landing pages. In the case of business-to-business or solution selling, you’re likely trying to get people to download an informational asset or offer. While it would be nice to have people complete a form, or convert, at high rates, it’s often not the case. When people visit a campaign landing page, best practices suggest that all navigation is removed, and the only available action is to convert or bounce. In this scenario we often see bounce rates up there with blogs at between 70 and 90 percent (sometimes higher depending on the length of the form – more on that in a later blog).
With both blogs and campaign landing pages, we’d recommend creating a Google Analytics segment that displays traffic without blog or landing page (paid) metrics. This will give you a more accurate view as to the bounce rate of your site without these naturally high bounce rate segments. Otherwise, the bounce rate of your site may be skewed higher, when in fact your main site pages are performing well.
What Should My Bounce Rate Be?
Now that we’ve identified parts of your website that naturally drive a higher bounce rate, what should the bounce rate of your website be? That depends.
We can use a general rule of thumb that a decent, average bounce rate should be around 50 percent. But if you’re a retail organization or ecommerce platform that could mean a lot of lost sales. According to Hubspot, retail bounce rates, such as those, should fall into the 20 to 40 percent range. Consumer services sites should come in around 10 to 30 percent. We have a number of business-to-business clients that sell enterprise software and hardware. These organizations rely on their website as part of their lead generation efforts (there are not going to be selling a $250.000 data storage solution off their site). They are used to educate their prospects and customers. For them a good bounce rate can range in the 40 to 60 percent range.
Like I said… it all depends.
7 Tips to Lowering Bounce Rates
So how can you lower bounce rates or improve user engagement with your website? Here are 7 tips for consideration.
1. Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
I’m leading with this tip as more and more sites and seeing more and more traffic from mobile devices and tablets. It’s all about mobile these days. Make sure your mobile site loads fast and displays content that is legible. Make sure all clickable elements are not too close to each other so people can more easily navigate your site. An easy to use drop down menu can help. You may even want to consider paring down your website for mobile viewing and stick to your top pages or main product/solution pages. Regardless of what you sell and what industry you’re in you need a website that is mobile device friendly. If not, you’re setting your website up to fail! You can check your site for mobile-friendliness with this checker from Google.
2. Improve Page Load Time
There’s nothing more frustrating than typing in a website URL and waiting forever for the site to load. If you’re searching for a product or solution – especially via search – you likely were shown a number of websites that can likely suit your needs. If one of those sites is loading very slowly the chances are that person will likely go back to the search results and click another site. You can have the best content, products, or solutions available in your industry but if people have to wait too long, they’ll move on! In fact, according to Neil Patel, 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
3. Make Sure You’re Relevant From Start to Finish
We recently wrote a blog about Meta descriptions and their importance in SEO – not as a ranking factor but in a supporting role. And here too they play a pretty big role. If people are finding your website via search engine, then chances are they are reading your Meta descriptions. If the Meta description accurately reflects what the searcher will find at your site this will help lower your bounce rate. Along with a slow loading site, there is nothing more frustrating than clicking through to a website only to find that the site doesn’t reflect what you’re looking for.
Once people are on the page, you need to be sure that the content stays relevant to the page topic. There’s nothing wrong with lengthy copy but it should stay on topic. Stay relevant from the moment you consider keywords right on through to the last sentence on the page.
4. Employ Smart Interlinking
While the content on the webpage needs to be relevant, you can certainly add in links to other parts of your site. If you’re discussing search engine optimization, as example, and you reference paid search marketing, it’s perfectly okay to link to your paid search marketing page. See what I did there? This can increase the stickiness of your site as well as provide more opportunity for user engagement.
Interlinking Tip – Be sure to have the link open a new page on your site and not navigate away from the current page to the new page. You want people to explore your site but also stay rooted to what they were initially looking for.
5. Use a Custom 404 Page
Another sure-fire way to a high bounce rate is to have people navigate to a broken link. That said, it happens. If you just let people land on a 404 page you will likely lose that person. If you can’t set up a 301-permanent redirect to the most relevant site that no longer exists, then be sure to have a custom 404 page created. This custom page should have some navigational elements and options so that people click on a link and not their back button.
6. Consider Your Website Design
We see this quite a bit. You land on the homepage of a website and all you see above the fold is a big image. It’s a nice image but that’s all it is. If you’re not a photography site, then you should consider changing things up some. Scroll down below the fold on some of these image-heavy sites and you’ll see all kinds of good (RELEVANT) copy. Perhaps a nice call to action with a decent offer. This is the type of content that should be seen right away when a person visits and should therefor be above the fold.
Another design element we’ve seen work for several of our clients is adding in relevant blog posts in the side bar of a product or solution page. If you have a website page that discusses a software to reduce phishing threats, consider adding the blog titles for the last three blogs that are tagged “phishing” to the sidebar. Not only do these blogs stand out, but the thought-leadership nature of the content itself can help people along the buying cycle.
7. Write Good Content
I preach this in almost every blog post I write about content creation in general. You need to write content that people are going to want to engage with. As I mentioned way back in the beginning of this post, bounce rate is really a metric designed to help measure user engagement. If you follow all these tips to help lower your bounce rate and it’s still not working, then you need to think about what it is you’re writing and consider making some changes. There’s a lot of competition out there and you need to stand out and distinguish yourself from the clutter.
Lowering the bounce rate of your website is a smart idea and can help your visitors better engage with your content. For a complimentary SEO audit of your site, reach out to us.