Where your website traffic total is a good metric for measuring how effective your marketing is, your bounce rate is the most important metric to understand how well you’re engaging your visitors when they hit your website. How do we define bounce rate? It’s the percentage of website visitors that hit your web page and leave without interacting at all. This may be because your website didn’t engage that user, your website didn’t load properly or your user found your site then clicked on an external link which directed them away.
It should go without saying that if your bounce rate is extremely high not only are you not engaging your visitors effectively, you will actively be losing money. No person that leaves your website without interacting will ever convert. So what is a reasonable bounce rate we hear you ask? An acceptable level is around 40% across most industries – if you’re seeing a bounce rate that’s much higher it may be time to stop ignoring the problem.
If you think about your website as a shop on the high street, would you be thrilled if customers came through the front door, glanced around and left in under a minute without even looking at any of your products or talking to your staff? We didn’t reckon so. Here’s 9 ways that you can bring down that sky high bounce rate.
1. Clear navigation without surprises
There’s nothing more frustrating that having no idea how to navigate around a website. If your menu is cluttered or not well organised, it’s likely that this is a good reason why people are leaving quickly. Consider simplifying your menu structure and where this isn’t possible, utilise drop down menus to categorise your web pages.
Alongside your menus, make sure that your content links are contextual and clickable. Users should have a clear idea of where they’re going before they even click – if links lead to different destinations that are not expected your users will leave.
Similarly, make everything clickable. It’s common to include normal links and buttons that are clickable but less so to link with icons and images. The more opportunities your visitors have to navigate around your website the better.
If a user finds it easy to explore your website then this is normally what they’ll do – explore. If you’re able to get a user to stick around for a while then it’ll be easier to convert them in the end.
Design that includes a smaller amount of content that is easy to follow outperforms longer content and inconsistent formatting. In fact, people following instructions that includes images do far better than those that follow instructions alone.
If your website is text heavy, this may be another cause for your high bounce rate. Consider chunking your copy into several sections, each with a clear heading that refers to what the content is about. Couple this up with relevant images that help your users to digest what you’re trying to convey.
It’s easy to get carried away when writing your written content so spend some time cutting down any waffle and don’t be afraid to keep it informal and conversational. Industry jargon is impressive to your competitors but utterly meaningless to your customers.
3. Responsive designs
For some industries, 80% of your website traffic will be visiting on a mobile or tablet. Even in the B2B sector, at least 40% of your users will be on mobile. For these reasons we won’t bother labouring the point that websites NEED to be responsive these days and we’re sure that if your site was built in the last 5-10 years, it probably is. However have you ever spent any time actually looking at your website on a mobile device?
There are a lot of website design elements that don’t work that well on mobile. Perhaps your main call to action gets hidden into a mobile menu, buttons get resized or content is inadvertently hidden. If you’re seeing a high bounce rate in your analytics software that is specific to mobile, it’s likely that something is happening on these devices to put people off. Whilst your optimising your site properly for mobile, bare in mind your mobile load speed too.
4. Website load speed
There is nothing (NOTHING) worse than a website that is slow to load. You’ll lose a significant amount of your website traffic if your site takes longer than 2-4 seconds to load. In the age of instant gratification, a delay in your website loading will undoubtedly cause an increase in your bounce rate.
The main culprits of a slow load speed are images, video and code scripts. There are a number of ways that you can boost your website speed, from deleting unnecessary plugins, compressing your images, enabling a caching plugin and reducing the number of videos on each page. What ever you do, prioritise the optimisation of your website’s load speed as you’ll benefit from a lower bounce rate and a higher position in search results.
5. Browser compatibility
Your website visitors will be using a variety of website browsers, from Safari, Chrome and Firefox to Microsoft Edge (god forbid!). For a variety of reasons, your website will display differently in each of these. Sometimes the differences are minimal whereas others will be drastic – think background images not showing (not ideal if you’re using white text), functionality that doesn’t work and other general styling issues.
Ensure that your high bounce rate isn’t due to a browser compatibility issue that is stopping your website from rendering properly. Usually these issues can be ironed out easily however if you haven’t tested it you won’t know where to start. Consider using a tool like Browserstack to do all of these tests for you!
6. Compare your good pages to bad ones
Your greatest resource when it comes to optimising your site to reduce your bounce rate is to compare the pages that perform well to the ones that do not do so well. Often almost insignificant differences across pages can have a big impact on your bounce rate. Do your good pages have a clear call to action opposed to the underperforming ones? Do you have an issue with formatting, lack of information or slow load speed on certain pages that perform badly? Do a little research using the content metrics in Google analytics and record any obvious differences between good and bad pages. From here, start optimising!
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent many years working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.