The bounce rate percentage can be seen in your Google Analytics. High bounce rate indicates that your website is not retaining its visitors. Before you get anxious about a high bounce rate you must understand the goal and role of your website; if you aim for visitors to take a specific action off your website (such as: calling your freephone number, clicking affiliate banner links, filling a lead form) then the high bounce rate may be appropriate and even warranted. On the other hand, if you are looking to maintain your visitors within your pages for as long as possible so that they are drawn by the content, the experience and the products and/or services offered, then it’s time to consider the following action points:
1. Page load time: is this optimized?
People like fast sites; Google likes fast sites, so much that it is moving towards what is known as ‘mobile first’ index.
Site speed is a major ranking factor and perhaps the biggest reason for a bounced session. On desktop, anything taking over 3 seconds to load increases the chance for a bounce off by 60% or more. Let’s not forget that on mobile, we are talking about a 2 second load time or less. According to Radware data, mobile users facing a 500ms connection speed delay results in up to a 26% increase in frustration and up to an 8% decrease in engagement. Sites that live by conversion rates such as ecommerce websites, suffer huge losses with shopping cart abandonment due to delays in page loading.
There is no easy or quick fix to loading time optimization, but the more steps that can be taken, the lower the bounce rate will be. Some strategic factors to keep in mind include an investment in a better host, enabling site compression of HTML/CSS files, optimize images and enable browser caching.
2. Eliminate Sidebars, popups, banners
Cramming the digital margins of your content pages with ads, offers, and other material, may in theory be interesting for your audience. However, this may certainly backfire due to your visitor being overwhelmed and cause them to bounce. Additionally, Google has already started punishing mobile sites with intrusive pop ups.
You must give your visitors enough time to engage with your content before any newsletter sign-up offers or other promotions are being pushed.
3. Website structure
Your website’s navigation and structure must be designed such that it is easy for visitors to access the information they are looking for. You should avoid multi-level hierarchical structures. Additionally, make sure that your wording is clear; ambiguous content can be a pushing force, making visitors click away from your website and switch to a different website.
The text of your website’s content must be legible. Text size and the contrast between the background and font colors must focus on readability.
Your visitor should be able to find what they are looking for in less than 5 clicks once they land on your site.
4. The world is going mobile
Accessing the Web primarily from mobile devices is increasing every year with over 63% of search queries coming from mobiles.
With this in mind, don’t force your visitors to bounce and take their business elsewhere just because your site is not optimized for mobile devices.
This issue should not be underestimated and can be resolved (understandably at a considerable cost sometimes). A streamlined mobile experience is priceless and your bounce rate will definitely improve.
5. Tackle those 404 and 410 pages
When pages are moved or removed completely from a site but still indexed in Google search results (possibly due to incorrect use of Robots.txt and/or the no index tag) a user may land on a 404/410 page (the first indicating that a page was not found and the second indicating that the page does not exist). The pure annoyance of reaching such a page causes the visitors to bounce off the site.
To combat this, make sure that all of your old pages are redirected to the replacement page or if such a page does not exist, then redirect them to the homepage. It is also a good idea to ensure that you have created a custom 404 error page with a search function and an HTML sitemap of the website, so that users have the option to locate what they were looking for to begin with.
A few closing words
It is important to understand the bounce rate you are aiming for which depends greatly on your site’s offering and call to action. In order to minimize the bounce rate it is clear that well designed websites with high quality content designed to engage with users keeps them coming back for more. The power of social media can also increase the return to your site and this strategy needs to be incorporated from your website to your social media channels and vice versa. You have the chance to bring your audience back; just make sure you are taking all the necessary precautions as noted above so that you minimize losing the audience.