We’re asked what this means by a lot of people as they are being told it’s an important thing to know about their website traffic, but no one (even their web developer, social marketing company or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialist) has ever explained what it is and why it’s important.
So let’s see if we can shed some light on it and answer the question – What is bounce rate?
Google tells us that bounce rate is the percentage of single page sessions. We’re pretty sure this description hasn’t switched any lights on yet for the majority. So let’s look further.
If someone clicks on a url link anywhere on the internet, in an email, from a document or anywhere that can access the web and it takes them to a page on your website, they read or look at the page and then leave your website without doing anything else, such as clicking a link to another page, they have bounced off of your site – now the phrase bounce rate is probably starting to make some sense.
Visitors could leave in a number of ways:
- Clicking the back button
- Clicking on a link to another website url on your page
- Closing the browser window
- A visit ‘times out’
So, to put a figure on this, 100 people visit your website, 85 of them leave doing nothing and 15 of them stay to take a look around – your bounce rate is 85%. Simple. But what does this actually mean to you?
Well, a low bounce rate would suggest that visitors to your site are engaging with your content and want to discover more of your website, just as a high bounce rate would suggest that visitors are not finding what they are looking for. If this is the case then you’ll want to look at a number of different factors around your website to ensure you are attracting the right visitors and giving them what they want when they find you.
It’s not just your copy that you’ll need to start looking at. You’ll need to start investigating your images, your website design, your SEO and much more. Really? Yes, really.
Where do you find out what’s wrong?
So, if you’ve a high bounce rate, where do you start to get this down, to keep people on your website and drive those all important visitor conversions?
Well, Google Analytics is a pretty good place to start. If you don’t have access to your website analytics, through your website developer, then get them to share them with you. It takes less than 5 minutes to get you set up for access through your own Google account. Any developer worth their salt would have already given you access to your own analytics and shown you the basics of what to look at to help you know what is and isn’t working throughout your website – don’t take no for an answer, ensure you get to see them.
Google Analytics can look like a minefield to the uninitiated, but there are plenty of places online (including your Google account) that will help you understand what you are looking at. We’ll cover more on Google Analytics in further posts.
If you don’t already have Google Analytics integrated into your website then now is the time you should. You won’t get a really good overview of how your website is being visited and used, for at least a week, as it takes time for the visits to happen and to be able to collect this data to workout averages across the many statistics available.
As Google collects data about your website you’ll see how visitors have come to you, how long they have spent on your website (or not) and it’ll also throw some interesting light on to which pages are most visited (and it’s sometimes not the pages that you thought were important).
We should also probably suggest at this point what a good bounce rate is. You’ll be thinking that it should be a low, low percentage, but this really isn’t the case. You have no idea what anyone is actually looking for on the web and you’ve no way of delivering content that 100% of your visitors will find engaging to bring your bounce rate to 0%. Focussing on your content for a very targeted audience will ensure that you attract the right visitors and keep the numbers down, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever reach that 0%. Anything lower than 40% for most websites is a very good figure – appealing to more than 60 of any 100 visitors is a very good achievement, so if you website bounce rate is lower than 40% you are already above average, with some more work you can bring this down further.
When you drill down into your own Google Analytics you’ll see that different types of pages have very different bounce rates. As average examples:
- A general content page will be around 40% (up to 60%)
- A landing page around 70%+ (and as high as 90%)
- A blog post around 70%+ (and as high as 95%)
These figures sound horrendous, all these visitors here then gone – and with all the hard work you’ve put into giving them some great content! Well, when you start to think about the nature of a landing page, usually to capture data, a lot of visitors like the carrot you’ve dangled but may not want it enough to give you their details (so is your call to action strong enough?). Take a look at the average blog and you’ll find a number of links going straight out to another website as a reference or related content. You’re already starting to see what needs to be done to lower that bounce rate.
So how do you lower that Bounce Rate?
Well, the good news is, it may not be that complicated. You’ll have to be honest with yourself. Just because you love your website doesn’t mean that your visitors do too – your bounce rate is already telling you that! So be honest with yourself and understand that change needs to be made. It may be your website, but it isn’t for you. It’s for your customers, clients, potential customers and potential clients – GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT.
So what can be done (and these are not in a definitive order as it may change depending on what is working and what isn’t on your website):
Create better content. If your content doesn’t connect with your visitors then it simply isn’t working. You need to be the professional to go to for what you do and if you don’t get that across in your content then you’ll never become that person or business. Don’t publish what you don’t think is quite right, perfection or nothing is what your visitors are looking for. Take your time if you need to and know who your target audience is, talk their language and give them what they want. Contrary to the numerous emails you’ll receive each and every day, you don’t need to cram a chosen keyword into every sentence. Just write with a focus and write well. If you can’t write your own copy then get someone to work with you, write what you want to say and allow a professional copywriter to make your words work commercially.
The design of your website can have a huge effect on its bounce rate. Now you’ve got great content, is it laid out in a logical way for your visitors? Is it obvious where to go next once your visitors have read the page they have landed on?
Are your images sympathetic to your brand, expressing the quality of your services or products, or are they of low quality, blown up to large, pixellated and miss-coloured?
With so many people using the internet and accessing websites on mobile devices, how your website appears to them on their phone or tablet is becoming more and more important – does your website need to be responsive (more on this in later posts)?
Keywords, Titles, Descriptions
All of these are incredibly important to ensure that you are attracting the right visitors. The wrong word will bring you up in the wrong searches which in turn brings in the wrong visitor. Use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to see what you are being found for and do some research into your competitors to see how they are being found. Just remember to keep things simple, overly complex search terms will not get you found – specific, niche and localising your keywords, titles and descriptions will all help.
There are plenty more things to consider that will affect your bounce rate, but these will get you off to a good start with things that you can do yourself. With a low bounce rate your chances of success with any Social Media Marketing will be greatly improved. You’ll know that the visitors already coming into your website are finding what they want, so bringing in new visitors through your social posts should not only boost traffic to your website, but improve your chances of final conversion.
As part of childsdesign’s review process for all of our clients we look into what is causing any higher bounce rates. We also give our clients a list of the actions required to bring bounce rate down, improving their website and current social experience (we can help action this list too if required) to make the best of our bespoke Social Media Marketing campaigns.