One metric many website owners don’t know affects SEO is bounce rate: the percentage of visitors coming to a website who quickly leave without clicking around. Simply put, bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits in which people have left the site from the entrance page without interacting with that page – often leaving the site after only a few seconds. Google analytics calculates and reports the bounce rate of a web page. Some amount of bounce rate is normal, as it’s impossible to get everyone to stay on your web page. A rule of thumb is to have a bounce rate between 26 to 40 percent. But if your bounce rate is above 55 percent, that can be a problem for business objectives like conversions and for SEO. If you can keep people on your page longer, your site will be more visible in search engines and have a higher chance for potential conversions.
What Causes High Bounce Rates?
So what kind of things can drive up a site’s bounce rate? A high bounce rate can be a result of many things, but most fall into one of two categories:
- You are acquiring the wrong type of traffic to your page(s)…OR
- You are acquiring exactly the right type of traffic to your page(s).
The first reason is pretty straightforward: people come to your website, realize it isn’t what they’re looking for, and leave immediately. But the second reason may seem a little counterintuitive. Why would someone leave if your site is what they were looking for?
Think of it this way: if someone visits your site and finds what they were looking for right away, they have no reason to stick around any longer (e.g., a phone number or address). Sites that are very good at solving problems quickly often have high bounce rates because visitors enter, get the answers they need, and leave. Often, though, those visitors come back looking for new information. When this happens, there is nothing to worry about.
But for websites that need visitors to click around the site in search of content, having a high bounce rate can be a real conversion-killer. Here are some tips for reducing your site’s bounce rate, which will help you convert visitors into new customers.
Make Site Navigation Easy
As with most online problems, great web design is a critical factor in lowering bounce rate.
A site visitor who finds it difficult to navigate a site is a visitor who’s going to leave that site in a hurry. Your visitors need and deserve to be led down clear, obvious paths in order to find the content they are looking for – if they can’t see a clear way to get to their objective, they’ll simply leave. Everyone has had the experience of landing on a web page only to become completely lost because they were unable to navigate properly.
Clean site structure, menus and logical navigation are vital to keeping a user’s attention. Adding content categories is a good way to organize content so the visitor can quickly find what he/she is looking for. Internal linking in the body of your webpage copy is another way to make it easy for visitors to jump around to different parts of your website.
Decrease Website Load Time
Nobody wants to sit and stare at a screen while a website struggles to load. A slow-loading website worsens user experience, negatively affects search rankings and wreaks havoc on conversion rates. Unsurprisingly, long load times also contribute to high bounce rates.
If your site is sluggish and slow to load, there are many ways to speed up load times. Cut down on the number of images you use, split up long pages into multiple short pages, keep your code clean and remove excess “whitespace” – all of these strategies can help to minimize load times.
Additionally, be sure your videos and photos are compressed and optimized for SEO purposes. Large image files can severely slow down a website. Finally, make sure you have a mobile-optimized site that loads a different interface for mobile users. Most mobile users surf the web on data networks, which generally have lower bandwidth and load slower than desktop users.
While pop-ups can sometimes be an effective method for generating conversions, most people absolutely despise pop-ups – and who could blame them? Pop-ups are annoying! They disrupt the user’s experience and break up the flow of your website, and many visitors will simply leave when assaulted by an unwanted pop-up. In fact, many visitors become so angry when having to literally chase a pop-up across the screen in order to close it, they simply leave the page altogether to find the information they need elsewhere.
Avoid using pop-ups on your site, especially when a visitor first arrives. Instead, opt for unobtrusive lightboxes and banner capture widgets to improve conversion rates. Exit-intent pop-ups are also a good strategy, as these launch only when a visitor tries to leave the page.
Freshen Up Your Content
Fresh content isn’t just important for SEO – it matters to users, as well. Tone, style and organization trends in online content change almost by the hour, and if your old content from several years ago is still showing in the search results, visitors may click, take one look, and then leave. If you find your older content is still getting traffic, concentrate on freshening up your website and adding new content to make it more current and relevant. You can do this by adding interesting statistics and case studies, and incorporating new insights.
Simplify Your Content
If you have a massive amount of content on a page, your visitors may take one look at it and decide they don’t have time to read it all. It is far better to offer your content in smaller, more meaningful and mentally digestible chunks of information. When writing online content, keep things simple. Use fewer words and more sentences. Make statements in the clearest, most straightforward way possible.
Once you’ve simplified your content, add some clean graphics that help make your content easy to understand. Most people are visual thinkers, and images are often a much more compelling way to communicate information than words. In fact, infographics are a great visual way to educate patients on a variety of health topics.
Test and Refine
Whether it’s a website for a dentist, doctor or any other business, lowering your bounce rate is a key part of optimizing your site for search engines and improving conversion rates. These tips can help you get there, but as with any online strategy, the most important thing is to test and see what works for your own website. Give each of these tips a try and see if any have a positive impact on conversion and bounce rates – then use that data to continuously improve your website and create a better experience for your visitors.