Understanding Bounce Rate (And How to Keep it Down)

Written by Brenda on January 8, 2015 How to sell online.

The bounce rate. You see this stat in Google Analytics, but what exactly does it mean? Well, it’s quite simple actually. It’s the percentage of people that come to your site and then navigate away from it after viewing only one page.

Every single time a visitor does this it increases your bounce rate, in turn affecting your search engine rankings a little bit. High bounce rates are bad, but you must understand that every industry has its own average benchmark for bounce rates, so sometimes comparing to other companies is not always the best thing.

Go Rocket Fuel explains that bounce rates have an even deeper meaning where they include all single interactions such as transactions and single events such as clicks. They explain that the average bounce rate usually sits somewhere in between 26 and 70 percent, but this is a rather large range, so what should you shoot for?

You should see what bounce rate you are currently experiencing on your site and set a goal to improve that mark in the coming year. This helps in understanding what your business is capable of doing in terms of benchmarks instead of comparing yourself to other companies.

Just for fun though, Go Rocket Fuel says that the worst bounce rates are the ones that reach 90 percent and above. However, this is extremely high, so I would recommend shooting for something much lower if you run an e-commerce site.

Most experts seem to agree that going for a bounce rate under 60 percent is at least a good place to start, but once again, it all depends on the site you run. You might be able to push your site to a 25 percent bounce rate or even just a 70 percent bounce rate.

So, the first step is taking a look at Google Analytics, waiting a few months to get some real data and then using this bounce rate to set a goal for the future. That’s all fine and dandy, of course, but a goal without action is simply a dream, so how do you go about pushing your bounce rate down? Let’s take a look.

Try to Remove Anything That Moves on Your Site

Although some components on your site might help to push sales, it’s important to always evaluate the moving parts to ensure they don’t turn off your visitors. A huge problem with many sites is popup ads that jump out in front of the real meat of your site, trying to get people to sign up for newsletters or other things.

These popups and other moving parts such as videos and animated gifs are fun and sometimes engaging, but they often confuse people and take them out of the moment. Many people can’t even figure out how to clear out a popup ad when it comes up, forcing them to leave your site. If you plan on having a distracting video or pop up ad on your homepage, run some split tests to see if they actually work, and consider making them smaller and out of the way.

Ensure Your Content is Relevant and Attractive

This is somewhat of a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many ecommerce sites forget about revealing relevant content when people land there. This is huge when you create ads online, since people will see an ad and have a clear vision of what they are about to see.

If you post an ad on Google about a discount you have on shoes, but then when people click through they land on your homepage, this is a sure fire way to increase your bounce rate. Make things relevant and design a killer homepage to keep people around.

Clean up Your 404 Pages

404 pages are simply pages that pop up when your users have clicked through a broken link. In short, the page doesn’t exist, so they have to move elsewhere to find the content they need.

By default, most 404 pages don’t help the user at all, and they are quite ugly. Create a 404 page that cracks a joke or makes people smile, then give them clear instructions on navigating to the right pages on your site.

Speed Up Your Site

Speed up Your SiteOne of the main reasons ecommerce sites have high bounce rates is because the site runs too slow. If users come to your site excited to purchase an item and they have to sit there and wait for your slow page loads, there is a strong chance they will navigate away.

People don’t have patience to wait around for a slow site, and they often know that there are plenty of alternative options online to get something you sell.

Check your site speed on Pingdom and think about improving the speed of your site with an upgraded hosting account. Make sure you optimize your images and use tools like W3 Total Cache to deliver pages a little quicker to your customers.

Grab Those Accidental Visitors

How many people end up on your site accidentally? The number is probably much higher than you think, considering just about every organic visitor is simply browsing around and maybe thinking about purchasing a product you sell.

Accidental visitors usually come from the search engines or consists of those who accidentally click through on an ad or reference from another site. The problem with accidental visitors is they have no intention of staying. Fortunately for you, there is a huge opportunity to convince these people to stay, get them to pay for an item, and decrease your bounce rate.

Start by looking at all of the pages on your site. What is your biggest selling point? How do you differentiate yourself from other sites? Do you have a current promotion that is hard for people to pass up?

Answer these questions then figure out if these promotions and selling points are visible on every single one of your pages. Utilize your headers and sidebars to show selling points everywhere people go on your site. Then include clear calls-to-action and links to push them through the sales process.

Make a Clear Path Through Your Checkout Process

Clear a pathThis typically just involves constant testing and feedback to see if customers get frustrated with your checkout process. Check your abandoned cart rates and use this in correlation with your bounce rate to test your site and figure out why people are dropping out when they have something in their cart.

Conclusion

Keeping your bounce rate down is all about testing and implementation. It’s definitely a trial and error process, but you shouldn’t let that discourage you. In fact, let that motivate you into pursuing ever greater heights with your website.  So go ahead and make a goal and try to reach that goal by implementing a few of the tricks outlined here.

And please do let me know in the comments section how it goes. Also, be sure to let me know if you have any other tips for keeping your bounce rate down. I’d love to hear all about them!

Image sources: ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser, adactio, Damian Morys Photography, mreillyphoto

7 Responses

  1. Chook
    January 10, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    Hey Thanks for the article,
    I do have one question…
    Would a 1 page theme hurt your ranking? Since it’s all in a continuous scroll most of the info a visitor to your page is there.

  2. BWPThemes
    January 12, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    Hi, This is very informative article.
    I think, my site has a lower bounce rate and it’s good for me. Thanks!

  3. John Weidner
    January 28, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    Watching how real users interact with your site could give you insights on to what is causing a high bounce rate. A new service called UserBob will give you videos of users using your website and talking about what they think of it. Prices start at 75¢.

  4. mmmmbbbb
    March 3, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    Dear All, I don’t know if this is the right place but I am a starter…
    Sorry!
    On the check-out page I have a message below the ordered itmes saying (in italian): Nota: Le spese di spedizione sono solo stimate e saranno calcolate esattamente al momento dell’acquisto, in base alle informazioni di fatturazione e di spedizione fornite.
    It means forward costs are only an estimate and will be carefully defined at the closing of the order.
    I don’t like this message. Can anybody help me on how to delete it?
    Thanks a lot! Massimo

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