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The What and Why For's of Bounce Rates

A lot of visitors don’t bother to check more than one page of a website. Depending on the landing page 20 to 80% leaves immediately. If visitors don’t spend time browsing and taking the action you want, all the time and money spent to create the website will be lost. A small improvement can 'earn' you a lot of money!

Getting people to your page is just the first part of having a successful site. Making them stay there, is another matter. One of those important metrics in web marketing that measures the effectiveness of your site is Bounce Rate. Google’s definition of bounce rate is as follows:
Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.
So the lower the bounce rate the better, as this means more of your visitors are clicking through to other pages on your website. Though bounce rates vary wildly based on industry and type of site, in general websites have a bounce rate between 20 – 40%.

So how can I get to know what my Bounce Rate is?

If you really want to know your bounce rate, the easiest thing to do is to set up a Google Analytics account. Google Analytics is a free website statistics program where you can measure all kind of statistics, including your Bounce Rate.

Why is Bounce Rate important?

Bounce Rate can help webmasters to get insights from the data, for determining how landing pages perform as compared to visitor expectations.

Example 1: – if you run paid search campaigns, then you know the importance of testing a landing page (SEO, A/B Testing, etc.). I find that bounce rate at the aggregate level doesn’t tell you very much (site level bounce rate), but the bounce rate per page is extremely useful.

Example 2: - if you are driving paid search visitors to your landing page and you have a 80% Bounce Rate on that page, then you’ve got a problem. Why are that many visitors bouncing after clicking through your paid search ad and landing on a page that theoretically should be highly targeted?

But the impact of a high bounce rate goes even further. Google uses bounce rate as an indicator of the quality of the website (design, layout, content, etc.) and therefore can effect your search engine rankings – A low(er) bounce rate ensures a better ranking in the search engines.

What is a ‘Normal’ Bounce Rate?

As mentioned earlier, an average page from a webshop or website with good keyword optimalized content will have a 20 – 40% bounce rate. Direct response entry pages sometimes can generate a 90% bounce rate, but that’s because you either subscribe or you leave the page. But single-page websites also have a very high bounce rate, because the websites consists of only one single page, so the entry-page is the same as the exit-page!

Blogging sites in general have a 60-80% bounce rate because, e.g. visitors from your RSS Feed are only interested in your latest article, or visitors from search engines only want to read that single article matching there search keyword or phrase, etc.

How to decrease Bounce Rate?

Or how do you keep visitors from bouncing off your website? We will mention the most important factors which can determine the height of your bounce rate and keep your audience engaged.

1. Load time

No one likes to be kept waiting, your page should take no more than about 4 to 6 seconds to load if possible. Optimise your images and code, and cut out any clutter. Check your website for HTML code errors by running it through an HTML validator. HTML errors can cause web pages to render incorrectly in some browsers like Internet Explorer or FireFox and increase their loading time.

2. Relevant and High-Quality Content

Most online viewers spend less than 60 seconds at an average site. The challenge now is how to attract readers and keep them longer on your site? By giving them what they need, of course, through relevant content. Boring content or content that is overloaded with certain words or phrases that are intended to help your search engine ranking will turn people off quickly. You know the old saying, .. bla bla Content is King, bla!

Tip: Along these lines, it’s often best to include posts that are part of a series that pushes someone who is interested to come back sometime in the near future.

3. Clear and Intuitive Navigation

Websites also need an easy navigation structure with common names people expect to see. A visible navigation, labeled accordingly and no broken links are essential to keep visitors on your site.

It has become common practice to have the main company logo link to the site homepage, so if all else fails and the visitor hasn’t found what they want, at least make it easy for them to find their way home to start again.

4. Target Group or Audience

If your advertising reaches the wrong audience, it will result in a higher bounce rate. For example, young girls are not attracted by a site that only sells anti-wrinkle solutions for 35+ women. One of the main aspects of having a high bounce rate probably means you’re not getting your message across to your target audience.

5. Technical restrictions

If your page relies on a Flash movie to demonstrate your product, are you certain that your visitors will be able to see it? Quite often corporate networks are restricted and block this kind of content, not to mention some iOS devices. If users see a blank box, or error message they will probably find the 'back' button faster than light.

6. Audio and Video

Sounds and hard music do irritate people, especially if they didn’t ask for it. Many users will exit your site immediately if they start hearing something they don’t like. Use this kind of media at a minimum in your website and if you really need it, let the visitor choose whether he/she wants to start the video or that groovy song.

7. Advertisement and other Distractions

Advertisement, for an external advertiser it maybe could mean success, but for most common people it’s an enormous annoyance factor. Remove automatic popup windows, modal boxes, scrolling text, spinning logos and floating ads where possible. It’s all about the content ..!

8. Design and Usability

Your website needs to instantly portray an image of quality. If the overall design of the website/page is visually appealing to your average visitors, the lower will be your bounce rate. But what is a commonly accepted visually appealing website? That depends on your target audience, your product, message or purpose of your website.

.. It is daunting to be presented with 100 line paragraphs. Break it down into bite size chunks with clear headings above each one. That way they can scan down and pick out what’s relevant to them. A simple and clean layout, a great web usability, simple navigation, .. you know the works. A well chosen image/picture, such as a screenshot of your product can give an instant idea of what it is about, what it looks like and some of its features. And I could go on and on and ..

Tip: The best way to find out if your design is working for your business? Test, measure and improve your website step by step.

9. Commenting and Sharing

If possible, offer RSS subscriptions, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page and email newsletter along with anything else that might be relevant.

Give stuff away to your visitors, allow readers to comment on the topic of the article, mingle freely with your visitors and answer their questions. People are also much more likely to subscribe (extra returning visitor) if they get a free e-book, white paper, set of icons, quality content, etc.

Encourage readers to write guest posts, once readers have left their 'mark' on your site, they are less likely to forget or ignore your site.

10. Forms

If the required action is for the user to fill in a form, make it as short as possible. If they are requesting a downloadable product, do you really need to require they enter their post/zip code and force them to do so using form validation? I know it myself, too long contact forms scare me away .. don’t want to fill in the history of my life to order a damn pizza!


Realistically, you can’t make your site sticky for every single visitor, some will leave and never come back. But if you can grasp even a smaller percentage more of those new visitors, it can have a huge impact on your site’s growth. This is why it’s important not to focus on perfection, but rather, .. focus on improvement! Website statistics just isn’t about driving traffic to your site, but it’s about making people want to stay there and come back over and over again.


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