Having a high bounce rate can be frustrating.
You know it’s not supposed to be that high, but you don’t know what to do about it or why it matters.
Does it mean people hate your site? Does it affect SEO? How can you fix it?
In this article, I’ll go over a few ways you can decrease your bounce rate and increase the stickiness of your website so people read more content.
What Does Bounce Rate Mean?
A bounce is when someone visits your website, checks out one page, and leaves. they don’t click through to other pages or interact with the rest of your website.
Or in Google’s words…
A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.
Why it Matters
Google takes bounce rate as a sign of how user friendly your website is. Websites with a high bounce rate are considered to be less user friendly. If you have a low bounce rate, Google thinks people like your site and it will act accordingly.
Some search engine optimizers argue whether or not bounce rate affects SEO, Brian Dean from Backlinko has this to say.
Not everyone in SEO agrees bounce rate matters, but it may be a way of Google to use their users as quality testers (pages where people quickly bounce is probably not very good)
It makes sense. If someone doesn’t spend time on your page or doesn’t interact with your website, it can be an indication that you’re not giving them what they want.
How to Decrease Your Sites Bounce Rate
1. Make Sure Your Website is Fast Enough
Page load speed plays a huge role in lowering your bounce rate. If your site doesn’t load within 3 seconds, people start to abandon your page.
In fact, most mobile users are willing to wait 6-10 seconds max before they decide to abandon your site.
Bad news if you’re trying to sell something.
There are a couple of ways you can make your site faster. I’m not going to into much detail, as that would be a whole article in and of itself.
- Get better hosting
- Use page caching
- Use a content delivery network
- Use WordPress themes that don’t have a ton of extra code
- Lazy load images
- Minify CSS and JS files
- Use the right image format
Luckily, if you’re running WordPress, there are a couple of plugins that do these things for you. Here are a couple of good ones:
2. Make Your Content Scannable
It sucks, but that’s the way it is. People first scan the page in an F-like pattern and then decide whether or not your content is worth reading.
So if you slap them in the face with a wall of text, they’re going to do this:
Your content is a lot better if you break it up in easy to read chunks. Chunks that make it easy for your visitor to figure out what you’re talking about and what the point of the article is.
Here are some tips to make your content more scannable:
- Max 5 lines per paragraph.
- Break up your text with subheaders.
- Break up big blocks of text with images.
3. Give People Time to Check Out Your Website
This may sound obvious, but give people some time to check out your website.
If you bombard them with a popup, welcome mat, and a slide over all within the first 5 seconds, your increasing the chances of people leaving.
I get it, you’re trying to grow your business. Emails are important. You don’t get it if you don’t ask.
It’s ok to ask for an email, but at least give people some time to check out what you have to offer first. People visit your website because they have a question they want to see answered or they have a problem that they want to see solved.
Slapping a popup in their face the moment they land on your page can be a good way to scare them away.
You can collect emails without being annoying by using exit intent popups. With exit intent, the popup will wait until the user moves his mouse to the close button to show the popup.
4. Make The Next Step Easy to Take
In order to reduce your site’s bounce rate, you’ll have to get people to take multiple actions on your site. And in order to do that, you have to show them hat the next step is.
There’s a great book by Nir Eyal called Hooked. In the book, Nir talks about how companies like Facebook keep us coming back for more. In short, the process goes something like this:
1. Trigger — The trigger creates an itch that the user wants to scratch. There are two types of triggers: external (ads, email newsletter,…) and internal (problems the user might have).
2. Action — Thanks to the trigger, the user takes an action and hopes they get something out of it.
3. Reward — The user gets something out of it and is looking for more.
4. Investment — The user makes an investment ( time, money, data,…)
Although the hook canvas originally applies to software. You can apply it to a blog as well. The process might look something like this:
1. Trigger — Your visitor sees a headline of yours and it catches their attention.
2. Action — They click on the article hoping to get valuable information out of it.
3. Reward — They learn something valuable (or not, but more on that later)
4. Investment — They sign up for your email list or start reading more of your articles.
Some useful ways you can increase the likelihood of people clicking through your site:
- Related post plugins like Related posts for wp
- Give a clear call to action at the bottom of the page
- Popular posts in the side bar
5. Beware of a Message Mismatch
A Message mismatch is when the page that people land on doesn’t match the trigger that got them there. Here’s an example.
When people click on the ad, they expect to get what the ad promised. the ad sets certain expectations that the visitor wants to see fulfilled. In this example, the landing page is completely different and fails to deliver.
It has a different value proposition, different headline, even the design is completely different.
It’s like going to a pizzeria and getting served taco’s. Both are good, but it’s not exactly what I was expecting to get.
This doesn’t only apply to advertising, though. If people click on a link in Google and it takes them to a completely different piece of content, they’re not going to stay.
6. Give ’em What They Want
People visit your website for a reason. they’re either looking for a solution to their problem, they’re looking to be entertained, or they’re looking for something that can make their day better.
If your content doesn’t deliver, they’re going to leave. I mean, why would they stay? If you go to a store and you realize they don’t have what you’re looking for, chances are you’re not going to wander around for much longer. You’ll leave and look for a store that does have what you’re looking for.
There are several reason why your content might not be what your visitor is looking for. The content might be:
- Not comprehensive enough
- Too abstract
- The same as other articles
So what can you do about it? How can you make your content more valuable so people are more likely to check it out?
First and foremost you need to make sure your content is relevant. If you’re writing an article about ways you can get your dog to do tricks, write an article about how to get your dog to do tricks.
You can make your content more valuable and interesting by adding different elements. Elements like:
- Templates & scripts
- Step-by-step instructions
- Quotes from influencers
The more of these elements you add, the more perceived value your content has.
7. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly
In 2016, mobile overtook desktop as the preferred method of browsing the internet.
That means if your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re going to have a bad time (and bounce rate).
“Mobile friendly” usually means your design adapts itself to the device that is being used. If you’re using a desktop, your design tends to be wider and contain different columns. when you use a mobile device, your design changes into a single column design that makes everything easier to read.
If your design is the same on mobile a it is on desktop, your site is not mobile friendly.
If your current design is pretty new, it’s probably mobile friendly (if not, you need to have a word with your web designer). There’s no easy way to make an old design mobile friendly, it needs to be built in from the start.
8. Don’t be Desperate
We’ve all seen the articles that promise you “10 different reasons to do X” and give you a slideshow with one slide per page.
That’s done purely for pageviews. The more you click around, the higher their pageviews are going to be.
The problem is you’re making your site incredibly user unfriendly. It’s annoying, it has no benefit besides pageviews, and the content generally isn’t amazing. It’s better to give people what they want and give them a clear call to action at the end.
Here’s another example of something you shouldn’t do. A few weeks ago someone on Reddit posted a gif of a popup that appeared on the German KFC website.
It appears right after the page loads. if you try to close it, the close button moves around the popup and you have to close it again. You have to do this 4 times in order to close the popup.
Great work, Satan.
They removed it once it got negative attention, but boy is it a perfect example of asshole design. Just look at it:
You might as well just tell your visitors to fuck off.
Make people happy, lower your bounce rate
In the end, lowering your bounce rate is all about meeting your visitor’s needs and making it easy for them to get what they want.
You don’t need fancy tools or a ton of experience to do this. You just need some insight into what your visitor is looking for and what they expect from you.
Also, don’t be like KFC and annoy the fuck out of people.
Here’s what I want you to do next:
- Pick 3 ways to lower your bounce rate and implement them.
- Tell me what your favourite way of lowering your bounce rate is