How to reduce bounce rate

Every once in a while, we come across a problem that simply will not go away despite what we throw at it. Everything we try, every solution we employ, every piece of advice we follow either has a temporary effect or makes matters only slighter better. If the first thing to spring to mind is your bounce rate, you are a true marketer and you know from experience what we are talking about. The reality is that when it comes to an out of whack bounce rate, all of those tricks we read about and implement are only part of the solution. You know the drill, but let’s cover a few of them anyway.

Five Common Bounce Rate Solutions:

  • Make the Title (Headline) and Subtitles short, direct, and use keywords
  • Use short – Information filled Paragraphs
  • Use an attention Grabbing Image
  • Make a user Friendly Menu
  • Clearly place a Call to Action

The fact is that all of these make sense and should work. However,  bounce rate is not a simple problem. It is complex in that it is caused not by one or two fixable factors but many different factors in any multitude of combinations. Before we more on, let’s take a closer look at what a bounce is and what causes a high bounce rate.

Define: Bounce Rate

Not to be confused with the Exit Rate, a Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors who leave a website after only a short visit on the page upon which they arrive. The average “Bounce” visitor is gone within 8 seconds of landing on a poorly designed webpage.

For a more specific definition of what a bounce rate is and what this powerful metric can do for your overall marketing strategy; check out this video featuring Avinash Kaushik, an American Author and Entrepreneur speaking on behalf of Google Analytic’s Conversion University.Google Analytics – Bounce Rate: The Simply Powerful Metric


Asking the Right Questions

Your Bounce Rate is the most informative metric in your analytic report because it alone can inspire you to ask the right questions about your website… the kind of questions that improve conversions. When you have a high bounce rate metric, three questions should instantly pop into your mind.

  1. Does my traffic come from the right sources?
  2. Am I attracting the right kind of traffic?
  3. Do my entrance pages convey their purpose efficiently, or is the information my traffic is looking for not clearly seen or understood quickly enough for them to retain and convert?

If you are not asking yourself the right questions, how can you expect to implement the right solutions? All of those quick fixes mentioned above are great, but do they address the actual problems that cause a high bounce rate. The three most common causes of a poor bounce rate are as follows.

  1. You are not attracting the right visitors
  2. Your site’s pages are not providing their purpose to the visitor clearly
  3. Your poor design is confusing to visitors of your page

There are many other contributing factors that cause a high bounce rate, but these three are the most common, the most damaging, and the most correctable.

Common Solutions Vs Common Sense Solutions

Having a great design is always a good idea; however, one of the problems of implementing a solution is not going the extra mile. You have to think outside the box. This means that whatever you do to decrease your bounce rate while increasing your conversion rate needs to be thought through completely. When we really think our actions through, common solutions can become common sense solutions, like this example from our “Five Common Bounce Rate Solutions” list in the first paragraph of this post.

More than “Just an Image”

Take the solution of having a great image on your page that draws the visitor’s attention. It is a fine idea but let’s take it further. A full 9 out of ten times, the inexperienced marketer or webmaster chooses an image to which they are attracted. It is pretty, has plenty of color, and it stands out on the page. The problem is that many visitors to the page do not share the same taste with the page’s designer. This means they will not find it as attractive and eye catching as the person who chose the image.

With a little research, we find the type of image that attracts the majority rather than the few or the one. An image that appeals to a wide variety of tastes is the better way to go. Research shows that the majority of us are attracted to the image of a beautiful person, be they a man or a woman, especially if this person is smiling or laughing. It is simple yet effective psychology.

FYI… Once you have captured the visitor’s attention with your smiling image, a slick trick to make that visitor’s next move a specific point on the page is to have the gaze of the smiling image resting on that point. Whatever the person in the image appears to be looking and smiling at is where the vast majority of your visitors will focus their new found attention. (Sounds like a good place for a CTA)

Common Sense Solutions You May Not Have Considered

Rather than spout a list of obvious fixes for your high bounce rate, list look at the more subtle things that you can do. These common sense solutions are extremely effective at easing the effects of multiple bounce rate causes.

Stop the Pop

A new marketer recently asked us to take a look at his landing page. He could not understand why, after all of his enthusiasm and hard work, no one stayed on the page long enough for him to convert them. What we found was pretty amazing. There was a pop-up in every third sentence of his copy. You could barely move your mouse without running into one of those annoying boxes that block your view and force you to click the X.

Our enthusiastic friend and obvious newcomer was so excited at learning the concept that he did not stop to consider that he might be stepping on his own toes. Pop-up ads are annoying, especially on an entrance page that is supposed to contain an answer or solution to a problem the visitor has come seeking help with. Our common sense solution: Lose the pop-up ads and place standard ads together and out of the way. If your visitors want to view your ads, they should be visible but not in the way. Besides that, Google penalizes website pages that place too many ads above the fold using their Page Layout algorithm.

Less is Always More

Have you ever entered a website to get information only to be confronted with several thousand words of copy in huge, chunky looking paragraphs? Do you remember the feeling of dread that you felt when you could not find what you wanted in a quick scan of the page and realized you would have to read the entire page to get it? Too much copy, even good copy, is a surefire way to invite the visitor to bounce. You may as well build your page on a trampoline.

This is especially true if your visitor is searching from a mobile device. (You are optimized for mobile visitors, right?) The problem is that sometimes, you need all those words and images. The common sense solution is to break it up into readable chunks. You can use more than one page (With clear, easy to find links) or convert to Lazy Loading to appease those with short attention spans. For an example of Lazy Loading, a process where the content of a page does not load until it is needed, see the Mashable home page. Once there, scroll down and watch the page quickly load as you go. Lazy Loading is anything but lazy as it speeds up load time and is great on conversion.

 Click to Stick

If the goal of your website is to solve a problem or provide information, you may be causing your own problem. The trick to make visitors stick is in the click. You want to answer questions and solve problems; however, if you are so good at it that you do so right off the bat, the rest of your website will be ignored and your bounce rate will soar. You now have two choices.

  • Choice #1

You can dangle a carrot, or hint at the answer or solution (Which could be your product) and then provide a qualifying link or links to it, or…

  • Choice #2

Provide other features and copy that are so inviting, that your visitors feel the need to click to another page of your site to get to it.

Fix it Before it Breaks (An Ounce of Prevention)

The truth be told, some solutions must be implemented in places other than your website. That’s right… your bounce rate could be occurring before the visitor ever gets to your website. It is called attracting the wrong type of traffic.

There are two steps to fixing a bounce problem before it occurs

  1. Research your keywords thoroughly by using the metric at your Google Analytics/Traffic Sources/Keywords in order to understand which of those keywords is causing you the most pain by attracting the wrong traffic.
  2. Understand exactly who it is that you want to visit your website and target them where they live, work, and hangout. Make your Social Media Marketing campaign the most comprehensive and thorough part of your overall marketing. If you cannot do this or do not have the time, hire a good social media management firm to do it for you. We suggest Dynamic Buzz.


When All Else Fails…

If your bounce rate is too high and you have tried all of the usual suspects of tips and tricks without much relief, it may be time for some common sense solutions. Try putting yourself in your visitors shoes and ask yourself what you would want if you were them. Take those common solutions and really think about what they mean in order to improve upon them and turn them into common sense solutions that work. You may be surprised to find that very often it is just a matter of common sense.