Bounce Rate

Bounce rates may sound cool and get you thinking about space hoppers and rubber balls cascading down San Francisco streets.

But when it comes to your website, it’s not all fun and games.

What is bounce rate?

Your website ‘bounce rate‘ is calculated by what percentage of folk arrive on your website, and then leave, before clicking anything else.

The amount of time they spend on that page doesn’t matter though.

So when someone lands on your site, instantly realises it’s not for them, and leaves within a nanosecond, that’s a bounce.

Imagine someone checks your website to find your phone number, sees it on the first page, and then leaves.

Bounce.

But what about if they spend their whole lunch break digesting your content instead of their sandwiches?

Yep. Still a bounce.

Take a blog post for instance.

You could read it all, with nods and all the lols and get right to the bottom feeling enriched.

But if you leave without clicking to do anything else, then that’s a bounce.

Boo.

How does bounce rate impact my business?

Do you think of your sales process as a funnel?

You drive leads into the top and conversions pop out the other end?

Well, what if we told you your funnel had a hole in it? And you were leaking leads.

You’d pull a face, right? Like an ‘Eek’ face?

If your car radiator has a leak, you might get a warning light.

A high bounce rate could be your warning light.

So, what is bounce rate? And what might it uncover, that could be losing you sales?

Is your website sticky?

Your website should aim to be ’sticky’.

You want your website visitors to hang around.

Because simply the longer people stay on your website (dwell time) the more likely they are to buy something.

Or trust you enough to do business with you.

So, as a business owner or marketer, you should care about improving your bounce rate because:

  • It could uncover website gremlins and missed opportunities
  • Will help optimise your content for better results
  • Improving your conversion rate
  • And potentially helping you to climb rankings

Why does my website have a high bounce rate?

A bounce isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But a high bounce rate could be an indicator of a more serious issue.

For instance,

Your page might not be relevant enough

Understand what people are coming to find/do and align your content with that goal.

Your traffic might not be relevant

You could be attracting the wrong crowd for what you offer. A misplaced link on a forum perhaps.

Your offer might not be as compelling

A competitor may have lower prices, be advertising a sale, or offer free delivery.

Ugly page or website design

Ugly design can lead us to believe the website or company is not credible enough. Our brains are wired to make character judgements in nano seconds. Same goes for the trustworthiness of your website.

The page isn’t engaging enough

The key to improving bounce rates is to encourage users to click onto other pages. So perhaps the landing page isn’t tempting the user to do anything else.

There are actually too many options

The paradox of choice. Conversely, too many options can be stressful. A busy page with too many choices can result in the visitor making no choice at all.

The page gave the user everything they needed

Like we said at the top, a bounce isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes the user just got all the information they need and then they left, satisfied, Checking a menu before heading to the restaurant you were going to.

  • Viewing show times
  • Checking opening times
  • Loading a recipe
  • Pulling up the contact information for a business

There are many natural reasons why a user wouldn’t need to do more on the page than what they came to do.

The goal is to spot the difference.

What is my website’s bounce rate?

A bounce rate is calculated by dividing the number of single-page sessions by total page visits.

But that’s heavy maths. So to quickly discover what yours is, head to Google Analytics instead.

Don’t have Google Analytics on your site?

Then stop what you’re doing right now and go fix it. Here’s how. Or contact your local Nettl studio for help.

You might immediately see the average, site-wide bounce rate on your Analytics homepage, like in this example.

But if not, once in Google Analytics, just navigate to your behaviour reports.

Click on “Site Content” and then “Landing Pages”.

Like this.

What is a good bounce rate?

It depends. Sorry.

If it helps, around 40–50% is the average. But that doesn’t really help you at all.

Because it can vary dramatically depending on what industry you’re in and what your website is there to do.

Everyone is different. Every page is different.

Just focus on becoming a better version of yourself (Awwww!)

How can I improve my bounce rate?

Firstly, address each page separately

Focus on individual landing page performance.

Not just your site average.

Some pages on your site will naturally have a higher bounce rate than others. Like a blog for instance. And that will be ok.

But others, like your homepage, for example, should encourage people to do something else.

Camping site? Maybe you want people to navigate to a ‘local attractions’ page or booking calendar.

Restaurant? Perhaps you’d like them to view your menu or make an online reservation.

You should analyse each page on your site and come up with a plan for prioritising which pages will be first to get some treatment.

That being said, some adjustments you can make will go a long way to improving the overall bounce rate too.

Second, establish your goal for that session

What are your goals for when a user visits your website?

What would you like them to do?

More importantly, what has your website visitor come to do?

It doesn’t always have to be transactional.

Meet the team, latest blog, industry resources, investor page, careers.

These pages may all provide immense value in other ways.

Now you’ve got your goals in place and we’re assessing everything at a page-by-page level.

So it’s time to go to work.

The following actionable tips will help you immediately improve your bounce rate.

#1 Align user intent

It’s no secret the overwhelming majority of website traffic comes from search.

Honesty, it’s a monopoly.

Whether it’s organic or paid ads, most people discover new sites because they typed a search query into a search engine.

So what does that mean? It means they’re looking for something.

This something could be a product, but more often people are searching for information.

We are information hungry.

So how do we get people to stay on our site and maybe look around a little?

By satisfying their hunger.

The no.1 reason for a rapid retreat from a web page is because it wasn’t quite what you were looking for.

It might be good, but it’s not the one.

Or it might be pants.

Either way, work needs to be done to improve the quality of the page content to closer match user intent.

Or perhaps your meta title and description (The bit Google shows in the results) need to do a better job of representing the content that’s to follow.

The closer we can match intent, throughout the entire journey, the more relevant our content will become and the better the UX will be for the individual.

The key is to understand what the person is looking for help with, and answer that generously, with valuable and unique content.

If you don’t, chances are they’ll just bounce back to the search results and try again.

Either way, work needs to be done to improve the quality of the page content to closer match user intent.

Or perhaps your meta title and description (The bit Google shows in the results) need to do a better job of representing the content that’s to follow.

The closer we can match intent, throughout the entire journey, the more relevant our content will become and the better the UX will be for the individual.

The key is to understand what the person is looking for help with and answer that generously, with valuable and unique content.

If you don’t, chances are they’ll just bounce back to the search results and try again.

#2 Make your website easy to use

The goal for good UX is not to make people think.

Go check out the classic (yet still oddly incredibly relevant) ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ website UX book (yep, we said book. But you can download it if you prefer) by Steve Krug.

Krug explains if users have to wonder why ‘this isn’t working, what to do next, or where to find that’ — you’ve slipped up.

And as for testing everything is working as expected, when was the last time you used your site as a customer would?

Honest answer, please. It’s ok, you’re amongst friends.

So maybe it’s worth going back through each page and giving it all a little shake.

Or better still, ask someone else to do it too. Ideally someone new to it all, with fresh eyes.

A friend in a different business perhaps. Or if you’re B2C, try asking a relative.

Nettl Nugget: Watch other people using your site and see how they get on. Give them some basic tasks to do, sit back and enjoy the show. No helping! Pretend you’re not there

This will uncover interesting observations on how people navigate your site.

Do people struggle to know what to do next and where to go?

Are they left hunting for how to do something? Bamboozled by too many choices?

You’ll soon have a hit list of improvements you can make.

#3 Provide enough internal links

Still on the UX train, our next station is internal navigation. The two are intrinsically linked.

In general, you want to guide your user through your website so they don’t end up lost or confused.

Or worse, at a dead end. The horror.

Adding enough internal links is a great way to signpost other relevant content that the user may find interesting.

It’s also the main way to hold someone’s hand through their web journey.

And of course, any opportunity to take action on the site increases the chance of a click. And this is what ultimately improves bounce rate. Result.

Nettl Nugget: Have your internal and external links open in a new tab

You probably already have external links open in a new tab.

External links are the type of links that, when clicked, open up a page on another website. Not yours.

So you will often naturally want to make these links open a new tab, rather than replace yours.

But what about your internal links? The ones that link to other pages on your site?

Well, it’s a good idea to open these up in new tabs too.

It’s a better experience for visitors who are interested in the link but haven’t quite finished with the existing piece of content.

As you can imagine, this is often the case as you find links throughout the page.

#4 Add a table of contents

Size matters it seems.

Because ‘long form’ is all the rage when it comes to website content.

Both search bots and actual people love the in-depth approach.

Detailed all-encompassing articles are valuable resources and can be extremely helpful to website visitors at all stages of the purchase funnel.

Or just avid garden hobbyists.

That’s fine when you have the time to read it all.

But what about when you’re in a rush?

What happens when you just want to get to the bit you’re interested in.

You’ll have experienced this on YouTube videos for sure.

(Who knows, maybe you’re experiencing that now!)

You just want to skip to the relevant part.

That’s why YouTube videos (and search engines for that matter) go out of their way to timestamp the relevant sections.

And you should do the same with your content.

If it’s detailed, and there’s a lot to take in, provide ’time stamps’ at the top by way of a table of contents.

This list can provide ‘anchor links’ to the various sections on the page, helping your visitor fast track to that moment, and dive right into the content they are interested in.

As opposed to getting frustrated and just hitting the ejector seat button << back >>

Check out this example from a blog post on ahrefs.com

#5 Use related article sections

Another simple and user-focused way to instantly add some internal links is to feature a ‘related posts’ section.

This is similar to just adding internal links throughout the main copy but not the same.

When you touch on a particular topic within your article, it makes sense to add a link.

This gives the reader the chance to explore the subject in more depth.

Related articles are different because they recommend relevant content at the end of the post, rather than in the middle.

These are articles that you believe the user might also be interested in, most likely because the subject matter is similar.

Just like ‘related products’ or ‘customers also viewed’ on ecommerce sites.

But rather than recommending products, we’re recommending content.

And most blogging platforms will have a simple way to add this feature too.

Often it’s just a simple drag and drop widget.

Categorise your articles using categories or tags, and then simply recommend other articles in the same category.

It’s such a simple and user-focused way to encourage more clicks.

This is especially true at the bottom of a blog post, where bounce rates can typically be quite high.

#6 Encourage users to stay

Encourage users to stay on page longer.

This improves bounce rate.

Strange correlation because we’re exploring bounce rate, not dwell time.

But there’s a correlation nevertheless.

Perhaps the longer someone emotionally invests the more likely they are to want to know more, or do more.

So how do you get users to stay on the page?

Obviously, make the content useful but what else?

Well, great structure helps.

Bitesize ‘chunks’ of information that are easy for a reader to digest.

Video too. Embedding videos on your page is a surefire way to help visitors stay longer.

#7 Optimise page-load speed

The time it takes your website page to load is a huge bounce rate influencer.

Or more accurately, the user’s perception of how quickly your page loads is a huge influencer.

Or even more accurately, the user’s perception of how slowly your page loads.

Because people won’t necessarily notice if it loads fast, right?

But it will make them lose their ship if something hangs for a second or two,

If the content visually loads in installments. Or worse, not at all.

And given that search engines also have one eye on these metrics, loading speed is a factor in SEO.

So it’s well worth optimising.

But the most important thing is how fast your site feels.

A word on speed tools

There are hundreds of online speed tests out there which use various calculations to make assumptions about your site speed.

Sometimes this is helpful, but often it’s not the full story.

Work can be done in a myriad of ways to improve how efficiently content can be delivered.

And it’s not alway picked up by the speed tests.

They’ll mark you down for not having one thing in place, not knowing that you’ve addressed the issue in a different way.

Be wary of tools than can trick the reporting software into giving you healthy looking numbers.

When behind the scenes, they’ve actually slowed things down.

In one example we saw, a piece of software that changed the method in which your website fonts are delivered improved your test results.

However it also delivers a more clunky on site experience for the user.

Something Google are very hot on at the moment.

Take for instance metrics such as CLS (Cumilative layout shift), part of their Core Web Vitals programme.

They measure how much stuff kind of jumps about the page as it loads.

It’s damaging. Like a sunbed.

You may look tanned for a bit, but ultimately you’re damaging what’s important.

So what can I do to help my page load faster?

Don’t chase green lights on reports. Instead, play with a straight bat.

Analyse your page for opportunities to optimise content delivery in a balanced way.

Compress images

Why not try tinypng. It’s free and helps you compress your image sizes. But also bear in mind your iPhone takes humongous pictures. Making the dimensions the correct size in advance will help big time.

Employ a caching strategy

Using WordPress? Take a look at these recommendations.

Use a decent hosting provider

Cheap hosts are cheap for a reason. If you’re serious about your web presence, then it might be worth an upgrade. Nettl sites are hosted on AWS EC2. That’s the same infrastructure running famous names like Netflix, Pinterest, Expedia and Amazon.

Remove unused plugins and scripts

Run a report of what is being used in the background to load your page. Decide if there are any that you could update, improve or do without.

#8 Improve the design

There are a lot of tips here to help you improve your site.

Some will be more relevant to you than others.

But if you add up all the bounces in the world, the vast majority of reasons for leaving

(And often pogo-sticking. We’ll come to that another day) boil down to two main things.

  1. The site didn’t provide what the user was expecting
  2. The user didn’t like the look of the site.

We’ve covered the first point above.

But if you’re losing visitors because your site looks bad then hey, at least there’s some good news.

It’s relatively easy to fix.

How do I make my website look good?

  • Use a professional designer
  • Or choose a recent theme.
  • Avoid clutter and busy designs.
  • Give your pages plenty of white space.
  • Use quality images or illustrations.
  • Apply style choices consistently throughout the site.
  • Chekc you’re spelingh an grammah.
  • Don’t use too many fonts or colours.
  • Structure your text well with headings and sections, so it’s easy to read.
  • Don’t allow your lines of text to stretch too far across the page.
  • Have a clear call to action.
  • Or just ask your Nettl studio.

#9 Fix mobile appearance

You’re probably bored stiff of mobile stats. No? You want more?

OK, then how about…

Mobile accounts for over half of web traffic worldwide. Source.

In fact, according to search engine land, 57% of all online traffic now comes from mobile. Source.

Nearly three-quarters of the world will use just their smartphones to access the internet by 2025. Source.

So it makes sense that Google has adopted a mobile-first approach since 2019.

And it, therefore, makes sense that you should too.

Nettl Nugget: Be sure to check your own device stats. See this Organic SEO post for an example of how ours still showed almost 73% of our visits occur on a desktop.

Even if your analytics do indicate desktop dominance, ignore the relentless march of mobile at your peril.

Make a point to ensure your mobile experience is as good, if not better, than the desktop one.

Responsive design is about your layout adapting and flowing to suit varying screen sizes.

It’s not enough to only be ‘responsive’.

You need to consider the mobile experience.

Get your out-and-about hats on. What’s that look like by the way? Beanie? Dearstalker?

Use a free site like mobiready for a quick snapshot or if you’re in the industry you might want to invest in a cross-browser testing tool like Browserstack or Lambdatest.

However you go about it, the important takeaway here is just to use your website on as many phones as possible.

Using mobile data, if possible.

  • Make sure that everything looks tidy.
  • That the text is easy to read.
  • That you can easily click the links with your thumb.
  • That nothing gets in the way of other elements.

Then go old-school and get your pencil out.

Because just like the hit list we expect you to have after your first UX testing session above…

You’ll probably have a number of new things you want to iron out.

#10 Use exit pop-ups

Pop-ups are bad.

They’re irritating. Spammy. A fast-track way to get someone to ditch your website in a heartbeat.

But what if they were on their way out anyway?

Then maybe what have you got to lose?

In fact, this can only go one way, correct?

They were leaving anyway. The exit is inevitable at this point.

So anything that encourages even a small percentage to take some sort of action on the page will inevitably improve your bounce rate from this page.

Not sure you want to bombard the same person with this tactic all the time.

Might be enough to put them off ever coming back.

So just be mindful to set it up properly.

Maybe only have it trigger if they’ve reached the end of the article — so you know they’re interested.

Put a limit on how often it can be shown to a particular person.

Or how much time needs to have passed before they are shown it again.

Hasta la vista

While talking about exits, it seems apt to leave it there for now.

But we hope we’ve given you lots of actionable takeaways you can implement immediately.

Remember, it’s important to interrogate your analytics because, in general, it’s nice to improve bounce rates.

But it’s more important to find out exactly WHY people are leaving.

And with Google paying more and more attention to UX signals, it’s a double-edged carrot.

Could your site be ranking better?

Could your website be dropping catches?

We can help uncover the answer and address any underlying issues.

Originally published at www.nettl.com

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Pirate and amateur tree surgeon.

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Daryl Edgecombe

Daryl Edgecombe

Pirate and amateur tree surgeon.

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