What is bounce rate? How to improve it quickly?

What is bounce rate? How to improve it quickly?

Let’s start with an ugly fact: We can not convince all the traffic on our website to stay. We can’t. If our page doesn’t have what they want, they will leave immediately. Therefore, in his talk named “Bounce Rate: The Simply Powerful Metric”, Avinash Kaushik emphasized that “We came, we puked, we left,” which became a very famous saying to define the bounce rate.

If you are still confused with the bounce rate, don’t worry. This post will help you have an in-depth understanding, starting from what the bounce rate exactly means, how to differentiate it with exit rate, why it is considered important, and finally, how you can improve your bounce rate.

Table Of Contents

What is a bounce rate?

The bounce rate implies the percentage of visitors who land on your website and completely do nothing on the page they entered. They don’t click on a menu item, fill out a form, hit a ‘read more’ link, make a purchase, or access any other internal links on the page. This means that the Google Analytics server doesn’t receive any trigger from visitors.

If your bounce rate is high, it doesn’t necessarily mean your web page is doomed. Several scenarios might have happened, to which you can generally find a solution. Most likely, your visitors:

  • Click the browser back button (most common)
  • Close the browser (window/tab)
  • Access a new URL in the address bar.

Access a new tab

Here, visitors’ bounces reflect their dissatisfaction due to the fact they find your content not attractive enough, land on your page by mistake, or they don’t find what they are looking for.

But there is a high possibility that he or she:

  • Clicks an external link/ad
  • Is busy for a while and has the session timeout
  • Reloads the page due to slow response time
  • Finds what he/she needs right on the 1st page.

See? It’s not always as negative as you may think! You can use the bounce rate as a metric that indicates the quality of your web-site and/or the “quality” of your audience. By the quality of your audience, it means whether the audience fits the purpose of your site or not.

What is a good bounce rate?

According to the research of GoRocketFuel, the average bounce rate lies between 41 and 51%. To make it specific, Custom Media Labs found that there were significant differences in the bounce rate among different types of websites.

Average bounce rate between website categories

As you can see, dictionaries, blogs, and portals have the bounce rate that goes all the way up to 90%, while e-commerce sites come in with the lowest average bounce rate of 20-45%.

The definition of a “good” bounce rate actually depends a lot on your industry and where your traffic comes from.

For example, if you have a blog that answers a specific question, and the primary source of the traffic to your page is from organic search, the bounce rate of the page could be as high as 90%. This doesn’t mean that the page is necessarily “bad” because there is a high possibility that the visitor found exactly what they were looking for, and no longer had any need to view any other pages. On the other side, a page with a low bounce rate may not totally be “good” if it has a poor user experience.

Bounce rate vs Exit rate

There is a common misunderstanding that the bounce rate and exit rate are synonyms, or at least they ultimately provide the same data. This is a huge error and can lead to false analysis and poor decision making.

Bounce rate, as previously described, measures the percentage of visitors that leave a website before interacting with it in any way.

For example, let’s say someone lands on Page A from your site, then he hits the browser’s back button a few seconds later. That’s a bounce.

Bounce rate

Meanwhile, the exit rate is the percentage of visitors that left the site after viewing a specific page, no matter how many pages they have visited before in the session.

For instance, a visitor lands on Page A from your site; then, he clicks over to page B. After reading Page B, he closes the browser.

Exit rate

Now, to make it easier to differentiate the bounce rate and exit rate, let’s imagine your site has 3 pages, named 1, 2 and 3. From Monday to Friday, the interaction might look like this:

  • Monday: Page 2 => Page 1 => Page 3 => Exit
  • Tuesday: Page 2 => Exit
  • Wednesday: Page 1 => Page 3 => Page 2 => Exit
  • Thursday: Page 3 => Exit
  • Friday: Page 2 => Page 3 => Page 1 => Exit

The percentage of bounce rate and exit rate calculations are:

Bounce Rate:

Page 1: 0% (there is no single-page session beginning with Page 1) Page 2: 33% (3 sessions start with Page 2, with one leading to a bounce) Page 3: 100% (1 session starts with Page 3, and it leads to a bounce)

Exit Rate:

Page 1: 33% (3 sessions included Page 1, 1 session exited from Page 1) Page 2: 50% (4 sessions included Page 2, 2 sessions exited from Page 2) Page 3: 50% (4 sessions included Page 3, 2 sessions exited from Page 3)

In some specific cases, you can base on the following formulas to calculate how much percentage that visitors bounce or exit from your webpage.

Bounce rate and exit rate formula

While a high bounce rate needs some consideration, high exit rates of some pages can be a good sign. For example, within e-commerce stores, leaving a page after completing a purchase points towards a satisfactory outcome to a transaction.

Does the bounce rate really matter?

So, is it really worth spending time understanding the bounce rate on your site?

Yes, absolutely!

The bounce rate can tell you more useful things than you expect. Understanding your site’s bounce rate helps you answer these following questions:

  • How well is your conversion rate: Someone that bounces from your site (obviously) didn’t convert. So when you stop a visitor from bouncing, you can also increase your conversion rate.

  • Is your content & design engaging: Your bounce rate can give you insights into flaws from site design to content. Without watching it and spending time on improving, you’ll likely be on the losing end.

  • Are users encountering difficulty when navigating your site: It is vital to know whether visitors bounce from specific pages because they’re confused about the ways to find what they want or not. It can help you improve your navigation as well as the ease for your visitors to access your site.

However, as stated above, remember that the level of importance of bounce rates depends on the type of page and the traffic source. Bounce rates are considered essential when the page is an e-commerce product page, sales page, or any page where visitors have commercial intent such as homepages, landing pages, and service pages, or the traffic was paid for PPC, display or paid social.

Bounce rate by page type and traffic source

In some cases, bounce rates really don’t matter when the page is a news site, blog, and, of course, websites with only a single page. If visitors have found exactly what they need on a single page on your website - such as contact information or business hours, the high bounce rate will be an easy-to-understand thing. Or, a high bounce rate can indicate that your page is different from the other pages that show up in search engines.

For example, you published a blog post about a product review. Your post might appear in Google searches for the product’s name. It’s possible that some people searching for the product click through to your blog post, read your review, but then leave your site since you’re not actually selling the product.

9 ways to improve your bounce rate

Consider your website content

Content is king! You might have heard this before, and it is true to a certain extent. If there is a lower time rate spent on your site, then your content could be a significant factor in that.

Your page should offer unique, relevant, and engaging content to keep visitors staying, and prevent your bounce rate from going up. So, remember these things before writing anything on your website:

  • Define your niche and value proposition. If you don’t address topics targeted to your audience, you will attract the “wrong” people, and here goes the bounce rate.

  • Write it right. At least, your content needs to be grammatically correct and be deprived of spelling mistakes. You can use Google and other spelling-check integrated tools to help you with this. Also, it’s better to use easy-to-understand language in a normal conversational tone.

  • Make it readable on all devices. Use font sizes that are large enough on smaller screens. Besides, there should be enough line spacing, padding, and margins to make the text look clean and beautiful.

Examine your loading time

Think about your own experiences as an internet user. Do you have enough patience to wait for a slow page to load? Or do you immediately switch to another site to find what you want? This is when page-load time makes all the difference.

Nowadays, competition is fierce, and internet users have so many alternatives to choose when they look for a product, service, or information online. Thus, a slow website is viewed as time-consuming and becomes one of the most critical bounce rate boosters. Just remember that, if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay may cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

Loading time

In fact, there are many things that programmers and webmasters can do to reduce your loading time and make your website more performant. But, if you are not so knowledgeable about the technical aspects of it, you can simply start by minimizing the size of photos and reducing the number of plugins you use. You can find some other useful tips to speed up your page-load time and keep “bouncers” far away.

Provide clear calls to action

Your calls to action (CTA) is a necessary part of your advertisement that tells your target audience what they should be doing once they hit your website or landing page. Clarity here is the key. If users are confused by what you are inviting them to do next, they bounce.

So, let your audience know exactly what you want them to do, and don’t dilly dally - start the CTA with the desired action. If you are:

  • Running an online e-commerce store? Start your CTA with some words like “Add to cart,” “Buy,” “Shop,” or “Order now.”

  • Promoting a newsletter or report? Start your CTA with “Download” or “Subscribe”

  • Wanting someone to learn more information? Try “Fill out this form for…” or “Find out how…”

Calls to action

Consider a site redesign

A website redesign is an opportunity to take a fresh look at all of the aspects of your website, including the inappropriate features as well as solutions to deal with this. There are many schools of thought when it comes to the redesign of a website, but a few factors may mainly drive this decision:

  • User-friendliness: Although the user-friendly design may sound subjective, it has a great deal of influence over site visitor engagement. So, just rate your site in terms of friendliness to humans, and put the ease of finding as to the priority. Page layout matters. Fonts matter. And the size and quality of images matter.

  • Navigation: All crucial information should be easily accessible from the main menu to on-page hyperlinks. In case you carry multiple products in different categories, break them into smaller classes so they can be easier to follow.

  • Colors. Colors affect emotion and can have an impact on visitors’ time on page and willingness to stay. Therefore, examine sites that you love and try to determine how the colors used are affecting your perception.

Using internal links on your website is a great technique to boost your SEO strategy. Moreover, it is also a great way to keep visitors for a longer time, which eventually converts into a better retention rate.

Internal links

On top of decreasing your bounce rate, internal links can also be a great way to gain “expert” status in the eyes of your visitors and start building a relationship with them. Think about it: they will land on your page with the expectation that you have solutions to their problems. How happy would they be to explore that not only you can fulfill this need, but you provide tons of related interesting stuff as well! Indeed, easily accessible relevant content shows the full extent of your knowledge, which encourages audiences to trust you and regularly come back to check out your new update.

Insist on responsive design

When potential customers are exploring your website, it is essential to accommodate your content to fit various mobile devices such as cell phones or tablets. If your site gets trouble in adapting to a particular device, your lack of responsiveness will drive away more prospective visitors than you think.

If that doesn’t convince you, maybe this will, according to a study by Annalect, which surveyed 500 smartphone-owning millennials, 55% of them expect your business to have mobile-friendly websites or apps.

Smartphone-owning millennials' expectations for brands' tech use

Question: “Please select the statement(s) that you feel best reflect(s) your expectations of how brands (tech or non-tech) use technology”

While creating a responsive web layout is an efficient way to follow, it is not that simple! It requires a web development team with a set of special skills, a content management system, and of course, investment in time and money. However, this investment will pay dividends over time!

Avoid intrusive ads and pop-ups

Imagine someone bombarding you with tons of ads and pop-ups while you’re having a look around an online shopping store. There’s a high possibility that you’d get irritated and leave right away. So, to restrict the bounce rate, try to avoid hosting intrusive ads and pop-ups.

intrusive ads and pop-ups

In fact, advertisements are considered as the primary source of income or revenue for most websites. In case you can not get rid of all the ads on your site, just minimize the number of ads to free your website from clutter, pick carefully and think thoroughly about where, when, and how often they should be displayed.

Keep in mind that by taking away the attention of the visitor and lowering user experience, some ads and pop-ups can contribute to a higher bounce rate.

Set realistic expectations

As stated above, bounce rates vary by the type of site as well as site execution and attraction methods. Therefore, don’t panic if your bounce rate is too high. Just use your historical data as well as your goals to set appropriate benchmarks.

Give it time

Changes that you make to improve the bounce rate may not show an immediate effect. Give it enough time for comprehensive data to be collected before passing judgment on your improvement methods.

Conclusions

As we have seen, visitors who bounce from your website don’t necessarily puke before they leave, despite what Avinash Kaushik says. Nevertheless, if you want them to engage with your site, you still need to take your bounce rate into consideration.

Bounce rate is an important metric for indicating problems with engagement and conversion on your site. When you meet all expectations from your visitors and make your pages more inviting, your website will become awesome. And we all know that awesome websites will create awesome results!

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