What’s a Bounce Rate and How to Improve It

You may have heard the phrase “bounce” to mean that someone is leaving. Having a website bounce is something very similar meaning they have left your site after viewing only one page. This can be any page of your website.

Having some type of monitor helps to identify your bounce rate, and often, which page the bounce comes from. I always recommend Google Analytics be added to your site, it has your bounce rate and many other items for Search Engine Optimization readily available for you. You can even set up Google Analytics to email you this information on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, creating even less work for you.

While the average bounce rate depends on the industry and type of website, a normal bounce range is between 40-50%. Usually, anything over a 60% bounce rate is a bad thing. Again, there are many exceptions to this rule, but most websites can follow these percentages. Below is an example of statistics for one month of a website from Google Analytics.

Bounce Rate from Google Analytics

Positive Reasons for Bounce Rates

A bounce rate of 0% can never be achieved, but below are a few positive reasons for bounce rates:

Contact Information

Many customers are simply looking for a phone number, email, business hours or a physical address on your website. If they successfully find this information on the first page they see, you have given the customer the information they were looking for. They would, most likely, otherwise already be familiar with your business and there is no reason for them to click on additional pages, which would create a bounce.

Resources or Informational Pages

Search engines (like Google) now create subpage listings in search results. These could link directly to the page or resource the person was looking for. Other websites may have links to a specific page on your website as a reference or promotion. This would mean many people would leave your site after viewing this content and return to the original website. This not only gives a link to your site, but also shows you are a credible source for that information.

Blogs

Many business and bloggers post articles on a regular basis. If viewers can read the new material on the first page, they are likely to leave afterwards since they have likely already have read the other pages or posts previously. If this is the case for you, a good idea would be to check the average time for each page. Depending on the length of your posts, you will usually see a longer time per page than a normal website.

Negative Reason for Bounce Rates

Having a bounce rate of over 60% should be of concern for you. This usually means that visitors are seeing something that elicits a bad reaction and causes them to leave. Here, doing more in depth research to find out which page people are leaving on might be helpful.

Spelling & Grammar

Most of us are not English majors who always use proper grammar when writing; I know I am one of these people, but I can easily spot if someone uses ‘there’ instead of ‘their’, or ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’. The opposite is also true, writing in a way your general audience cannot understand with surely make them leave. Always take the time to proof, and if possible, have someone else proof your blog articles or pages for you before publishing.

Out of Date Material

One of my biggest issues with websites is very old copyright dates*. I looked at a website today that I would estimate cost in the five digit range originally and the copyright was from 2008. For me, that means the content is also most likely out of date. Some other examples would be: having a staff page with people that no longer work for the company, using dates in your content that are very old or no longer apply, or even a blog that has not been used in a year or more.  This outdated or inaccurate information is very damaging to your reputation as a credible source.

*There is a simple bit of code that can be added to most websites that updates your copyright automatically every year, so there’s really no reason for this to be wrong.

Poor Navigation or Layout

We have all probably seen the “Page Not Found” error when trying to view a page or website. Adding a broken link checker plugin, or creating a sitemap and uploading to Google’s Webmaster Tools will help you find and correct these problems.

Having a very complex navigation of pages could also be problematic to a viewer. Sometimes a person will quickly click through a few pages to try to find what they are looking for, or sometimes they will just leave and not return to your site. A good rule to follow is to make every page accessible by no more than two clicks. This can be accomplished by drop down menus, listing subpages in a sidebar, or having a site index.

Multiple Ads or Music/Video

If you have so many paid ads on the site that your content is hard to find or read, or if the ads are animated and distracting, a visitor is almost sure to leave. The same goes for music and videos that start automatically. Let the user decide if they want to listen or see the media, do not force them.

My opinion is small business should not use ads, unless they are for an affiliate that is also promoting your business. Bloggers or informational sites should use limited, discrete ads that do not interfere with content.

Consistently checking your bounce rate and for broken links will help keep you informed of any problems within your site. Want an expert opinion or need help setting up Analytics or Webmaster Tools? Contact us to get a free quote!