Have you been struggling to increase visitor engagement, improve conversions and acquire more clients through your website? It’s quite possible that your website’s bounce rate is too high.
But before we try and fix our bounce rate, it’s important to fully understand what a bounce rate is. To put it simply, a bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who visit your website or landing page and leave without viewing any other pages on your site. In short, a bounce is defined by a single page visit.
It is important to note that a high bounce rate is not always a bad thing. Let’s say, a user clicks on a link to a blog post on your website and spends 5 minutes reading every last word and then leaves completely satisfied. This would still count as a bounce even though the user got exactly what they came for. So, why do we want to reduce it?
Well, lowering your website’s bounce rate would mean more page views, which may help to increase engagement, boost conversions and build a stronger connection with your readers.
Now that you know what a bounce rate is, let’s take a look at the 12 ways to help reduce your website’s bounce rate.
1. Optimize Your Website’s Page Speed
Most visitors expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. This is why your website’s page speed is so important in factoring your website’s bounce rate. After all, it doesn’t matter how good your page’s content is if the user can’t even see it.
So, how does page speed affect your bounce rate? A visitor might start loading a page on your site, get tired of waiting, and eventually abandon your site to try another. By this time, Google Analytics has already triggered a visit to your site as well as a bounce off. Oops!
I love slow loading pages – said NO ONE EVER! So, it’s important to make sure your website is as fast as it can be on desktop and mobile. This is important from a user experience point of view and also forms part of Google’s mobile ranking factors.
So, what’s your website’s page speed like? To find out, you can use the free Pingdom speed test tool. All you have to do is type in your website URL and click on “Start Test”.
Since the ideal load time of a web page is 2 seconds or less, you may need to optimize your website to increase its speed.
Here’s a great post written by Marcus Taylor on VentureHarbour to help optimize your website’s page speed.
2. Create A Mobile Friendly Site
When a user visits your site on their iPhone, iPad, tablet or any other mobile device, does it display properly?
The number of users that access the web from mobile devices is at a rise every year. This is why your website must be optimized for them.
Firstly, test your site using Google’s Mobile Friendly Site Tool. Just type in the URL of your website and click “Run Test”. The test will give you insight on how easy (or difficult) it is for a user to view your website on a mobile device.
If your site is mobile responsive, you’ll see a result like this.
If not, then you will see a result like this.
Use the insight you get to fix any issues and to make your site mobile friendly.
Make sure your website has a responsive design and works flawlessly on all devices to provide users with a great user experience.
3. Have Multiple Landing Pages
Ever notice that most users are exiting your site from your homepage? If you look at your Google Analytics dashboard, you’ll see the rate at which users exit your site’s homepage often correlates to a high bounce rate.
You can solve this problem by creating more landing pages, based on the high-value keywords that people are searching for in your niche. This also helps in increasing your search click-through rate.
Once you have more landing pages, you need to make sure that they are easy to navigate to from your homepage. You might have a higher bounce rate if users can’t find what they are looking for on the first look.
4. Use Clear Navigation
Imagine a user’s typical browsing session on your website. They visit a page on your site and after evaluating the content for a few seconds they realize that although this isn’t what they were looking for; your website could possibly give them what they want. So, they attempt to find the page they are looking for, only to find that your navigation is hidden behind overly innovative menus, or hard to understand navigation or some other similar navigational disasters.
Can you guess what they’ll do next? That’s right; they’ll bounce straight off your site.
Your website’s navigation should be simple, easy to understand and offer the user a smooth transition from one part of your site to another. They shouldn’t have to struggle to get around on your site.
Start by examining your website’s navigation and identify any opportunities to simplify it. The goal is to make navigating your site as effortless as possible.
5. Invest In Good Web Design
Remember the old saying “your first impression is the last impression”? Well, the same applies to your website as well.
In 2012, Google conducted a valuable study on “The role of visual complexity and prototypicality regarding first impression of websites”. According to the study, users build a first impression based on a website’s aesthetics within just half a second. This initial judgement helps them decide whether they are going to stay or continue surfing to other sites. The study concluded that website’s that are visually complex are considered less appealing as compared to simple ones.
A good design is one that is attractive to look at, inspires trust and makes navigating your site effortless. Users don’t spend time on websites they don’t trust or find hard to navigate. So, make it easy for them by having a great design to begin with.
So, does your website provide a positive first impression?
6. Avoid Disruptive Popups
Most people (including myself) absolutely hate annoying popups. I know that when I visit a site and I’m greeted with a popup right on entry or during the process of reading, I may just decide to leave. Popups can be awfully disruptive for the user experience of a website.
On the flip side, popups are proven to be a great way to increase conversions and grow your email list quickly.
So, what should you do?
If you need to use popups, I recommend keeping them to the minimum while making sure it doesn’t disrupt the user experience.
You can use an exit-intent popup that tracks a user’s mouse to identify when they are about to bounce off your site. Not only does this help improve the user experience but also keeps your bounce rate down. You may even get a few extra signups!
7. Include A Clear Call To Action
Think about all the times that you’ve probably signed up for something in your life. Maybe you once downloaded a free eBook or signed up for an online marketing course?
Each of those signups would have been a result of a compelling call to action.
Once you’ve attracted visitors to your website and built their interest in your content, your next step should lead them to perform a desired action. A clear CTA can engage your visitors and lead them deeper into your site, thus lowering your bounce rate.
You may want your visitors to sign up for your newsletter, buy your product, or simply get in touch. Whatever action you want them to take, make sure your CTA is clear, attractive and compelling enough to make the user click.
Here’s 31 Call-to-Action Examples to help you identify what’s effective and what’s not.
8. Provide Fresh Content
Companies that regularly update their blog with fresh content generate 126% more leads than those who don’t. However, it is important to keep your content relevant and interesting.
When you regularly add fresh and relevant content, you start to establish trust. This is when you will see an increase in repeat visitors as well as your conversion rate.
Keeping your old content up to date is also crucial when it comes to reducing your website’s bounce rate. No one wants to read a post that is 5 years old, so it’s important to keep it fresh! You can also repurpose your old blog content by turning a blog post into an infographic, video or even a podcast. Remember to let people know that you have spent time in improving your old posts by adding an “updated on” date.
9. Improve Content Readability
Another reason that might cause your visitors to leave your site is lack of content readability. Content readability can be defined by the level of ease to understand a written text.
Content that is easy to read will result in more return visitors and a higher conversion rate.
Here are a few tips to make sure your content is well formatted and readable.
- Use simple words: You may have a great vocabulary, but it’s always good to replace long and complex words with short and simple ones.
- Shorter Sentences: As good practice, break long sentences into several shorter ones. As a rule, try not to exceed 20 words per sentence.
- Use A Conversational Tone: When writing, imagine that you’re talking to someone in real life. You’ll notice that when writing conversationally, you naturally use shorter and simpler words along with shorter sentences.
- Use Images: Use images to break the monotony and to help segment your content into different parts. The image you choose should be relevant to your content and add value to your readers.
- Headers & Sub headers: Use headers and sub headers appropriately to segment your content and distinguish hierarchy.
- Bullet Points: Use bullet points to organize your content.
- Text Decorations: You can use text decorations such as bold, italic or underline to emphasize important keywords. But don’t overdo it.
You can check the readability of your website at www.read-able.com. Just type in your website’s URL and click “Calculate Readability”.
If you use WordPress like I do, you can also install the Yoast SEO Plugin (Free) to check the readability score and SEO score of every page on your website.
10. Add Internal Links
Internal linking is not only a great SEO tactic to increase your rankings, but it also helps reduce your website’s bounce rate.
Adding logical links to other interesting and relevant articles on your website helps keep people on your site longer.
I can’t stress enough on how important it is to provide your users with further reading options. However, you need to make sure you don’t go overboard with it. I have seen a few sites that have linked internally on almost every sentence. This just makes your website look awful and also reduces the readability of your content.
So, only use internal links when you know that it will add value to your reader.
11. Related Content Recommendations
If a user found your blog post useful but left right after they finished reading, it is still considered a bounce. A great way to avoid this is to add a related posts section below all your blog posts. This will help engage a user further and keep them on your site for longer.
You’ll notice I have added a related posts section at the bottom of all my posts to help readers find more content relevant to them. I have also included a most popular posts widget on my sidebar to drive more views to my best performing posts.
On WordPress, you have access to some really nice free plugins that you can utilize. The WordPress Popular Posts plugin lets you showcase your most popular posts on the sidebar. While the Yuzo Related Posts plugin and the Yet Another Related Posts plugin adds a related posts section to the bottom of your blog posts.
Use these plugins to help your readers find your best content easily.
12. Open External Links In A New Window
If you run a blog, it’s quite possible that your high bounces come from users clicking on external links in your posts.
When a user clicks a link to an external page and it opens in the same tab, they would have to click the back button to come back to your site. However, if the user gets distracted by what’s on the external site, they may not return to your site again. This increases both your exit as well as your bounce rate.
So, remember to add target=”_blank” in all of your external links. If you use WordPress, you can simply install the WP External Link plugin or the Open External Links In A New Window plugin. This will set all your external links to automatically open in a new tab or window.
In this article, I’ve shown you 12 ways to help reduce your website’s bounce rate in order to increase user engagement and boost your conversions. While some of these methods may give you quick results, in my experience they are only as effective as your content is. Without high quality content, the chances of your bounce rate increasing again is high.
So, along with implementing the methods above, it’s important that you stay consistent, focus on creating great content that adds value to your readers and keep growing your audience.
Did you find any of these methods for reducing your website’s bounce rate helpful? Let me know in the comments below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’m Christina Michael, an independent web designer & developer based in Mumbai, India. I’ve been building websites and businesses since 2007 while working virtually with clients from around the world. I specialize in branding, web design, website development, and website consulting.