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Is Your Website Bounce Rate High? Here’s Why

Want to know why your website bounce rate is so high? Wait, what’s a bounce rate? It’s that number, or metric, that reports whether your website is performing in the areas of interest, usefulness, relevance or, yikes! not interesting, useful or relevant at all. The technical definition for bounce rate is “the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.” Hence, if your bounce rate is high, it’s because people aren’t sticking around very long after finding your site. There may be a number of reasons why.

Before you get up in arms, all sites experience a bounce rate. Whether because visitors are finding what they need quickly and moving on (which is not a bad thing) or just surfing the web and reading top lines from a lot of different sites. But, if your site is bouncing at a rate higher than 70%, you likely have an issue. If you can stay below 30%, you’re well ahead of the game. Here are some things to consider.

Sluggish Page Loads

We’ve written before why speed/performance is a critical element in the design and development of websites. First and foremost, if your pages load slowly – say, more than 2.5-3 seconds – you’re going to lose a large number of visitors and potential customers. They either close the browser in frustration, press the back button, or click on another shortcut and you’ve lost them. That hurts your bounce rate and your business.

Slow-loading pages also ding your SEO performance and ranking. While no one is certain of how Google’s algorithms work (if an agency tells you they do, run in the other direction), we do know that punishment is doled out to slow websites. If you’re not sure about your own site, there are several tools that you can access on your own to determine if your site is suffering. Here are just a few.

Google Pagespeed Insights 
GTmetrix 
Pingdom Tools 

Too Much or Not Enough Content

There is no perfect metric here. The only thing we know is that users are finicky. So much has been written regarding the statistical analysis of how long users stay on a site, why they stay, and what makes them do what they do. Humans are complicated and no one set of metrics fully defines the user experience.

One thing that is somewhat discernible is that too much, or too little, content makes a difference. If visitors are spending less than 30-45 seconds on a page, it could mean that there isn’t enough content or the content isn’t relevant. If they are spending 2-3 minutes on a typical page, that is a signal that they are probably finding the content somewhat, or even very, relevant.

There are many tools available to audit content as well as determine which content on a page is most relevant. We really like Screaming Frog but there are many others.

Bad Content

Sorry to be blunt, but some content is just not good. It’s either poorly written, has errors, is not segmented properly or is just plain boring. Have you ever sat in a sales or company meeting complete with a bad Powerpoint presentation – you know, the one with 5000 words per slide in 12 point Times Roman font? Well, that’s what some websites are like.

We can’t all write award-winning literature, but there are some things you can do to make your content better. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Make sure you have natural breaks in the content with relevant headers to summarize.
  • Use images or diagrams to describe the content, especially if it is complex or technical in nature.
  • If you’re not a great writer, use a tool like Grammarly to make suggestions and make sure you don’t have lots of subject-verb agreement errors, or sentence fragments, or the ill-regarded hanging participle.

But seriously, bad writing diminishes the content’s credibility and may lead to a higher bounce rate. Doing some proof-reading or basic content auditing, maybe even bringing in a pro, could benefit your site tremendously.

 

Mobile-Readiness

We’ve written about this before too. Mobile traffic dominates the internet, and at a growing rate every day. If your site is not mobile-ready, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity and diminishing the credibility of your brand. The bounce rate may be the least of your concerns here. You can check the Google mobile-friendly test site to see how you’re doing.

Make mobile-readiness a priority. You may have heard of it in the context of your site being responsive. That simply means that your site’s design responds appropriately to the device on which it is being viewed. Responsive design should be the hallmark of any agency and that will ensure that visitors to your site are not left wondering, or worse, wandering.

 

Misleading Tags

You may not even realize this, but most elements on web pages have tags. If you’re really interested you can get technical with this article from Google. These tags can tell the browser how to display the information therein, and equally important, tell the search engine how to organize the search results. Title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, where does it end?

The most important thing here, visual design aside, is to make sure that your tags and meta descriptions are relevant to the content. We often find sites where a “developer” as copied and pasted elements but failed to update tags and metadata, so the search engine ends up taking the searcher to a page that may be completely irrelevant to their search.

This is an easy fix by just conducting a site review to make sure that all of your pages and content are properly and relevantly tagged. Make sure that tags are relevant to the content they belong to as well as the context of the information on the page. Google likes it that way.

Technical Glitches

This one is self-explanatory. We’ve all been to a website and got the dreaded 404 error, or maybe even worse, a code dump on the page instead of the content we came hoping to find.

It happens, but it really shouldn’t. Or at least, it should be caught and fixed very quickly. Page errors are credibility killers as well. Having a sound process for auditing site uptime and real-time monitoring should be an important part of your digital plan. Don’t leave your prospects to wonder if your business is paying attention, or much worse, still open.

Intermittent technical errors can often be discovered in high bounce rates. If you have a page that is constantly bouncing at 85% or higher, this could be the culprit.

Total User Experience

Most high bounce rates boil down to something in the user experience. Thanks, Captain Obvious! It’s always a good idea to get some outside perspective on how users perceive your site. If you don’t want to hire a professional, ask a few friends to visit your site and navigate through it, and then give you their opinion. You may find this enlightening. In fact, you may find it shocking.

As the owner of the site, you may not see what others see. It’s like finding errors in your term paper. You lived it and read it so many times, you just can’t see the problem even when you’re looking right at it. Your site should be easy to navigate, have easy menu access to relevant pages, have no difficult-to-find or hidden navigation, and certainly be easy to use no matter which device is being used to access it – again, responsive.

If you have higher than normal bounce rates, you may have one more critical issues with your site, so don’t let it go unattended. Try some of the tips listed here or, if you have any questions about bounce rates or other concerns, feel free to contact us! We would be happy to help.

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