Does your website suffer from a high bounce rate? Studies show that most sites have a 30% to 5o% bounce rate. While there are always exceptions, a bounce rate greater than 50% usually indicates a poor user experience (UX), which can hurt your site’s search rankings.
Bounce Rate Explained
Bounce rate is the percentage of a website’s visitors who leave or otherwise end their session without accessing the second page on the site. If too° people visit your website, and 600 of them leave without clicking through to a second page, your site would have a 60% bounce rate.
A bounce occurs when a visitor does one of the following:
- Closes their web browser tab or window.
- Clicks the back button in their web browser.
- Clicks a link to an external website.
- Leaves the page open for at least 30 minutes (known as a session timeout).
You can monitor your site’s bounce rate by installing Google Analytics. The free service reveals both site-wide and page-specific bounce rates. A site-wide bounce rate is the average total of all pages’ bounce rate.
Link to Related Pages on Your Site
Publish links to related pages on your site at the bottom of posts and articles. If a visitor reads an article about cyber-security, perhaps he or she would also be interested in reading about ransomware. When a visitor clicks a link to one of these related pages, your sites bounce rate decreases.
If your website runs the content management system (CMS) WordPress, you can even use a plugin to automate this process. The Yet Another Related Post Plugin (YARPP) is designed specifically for this reason. Once installed and activated, YARPP displays links to related pages at the bottom of your posts. YARPP is fully customizable and can even display related links in your site’s RSS feed.
Avoid Popups to External Sites
Once a popular vehicle for online ads, popups have since become the bane of internet users everywhere. These intrusive ads cover content and dilute sites’ UX. Furthermore, they provide visitors with a means to exit your site and trigger a bounce. You can experiment with popups to internal pages, which do not trigger a bounce, but even these popups should be approached with caution.
Check for Browser Cross-Compatibility
Assuming you have Google Analytics installed on your site, analyze your average bounce rate by visitors’ web browsers. If your bounce rate with Chrome users is 46%, but your bounce rate with Internet Explorer users is 68%, perhaps there’s a cross-compatibility issue.
Different web browsers use different software and processes to “read” websites. Just because your site loads and functions properly in Chrome doesn’t necessarily mean that it will do the same in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or other browsers. If there’s a cross-compatibility issue that’s contributing to your site’s high bounce rate, you need to identify and fix it.
Display Links to Popular Pages on Sidebar
Try showing links to your site’s most popular pages and posts in the sidebar. If a particular page receives a lot of traffic and visitor comments, add it to the sidebar. On the other hand, displaying links to your most recent pages could reveal less-popular pages that users are less likely to visit.
WordPress has a built-in widget for displaying popular pages and posts. Assuming it’s compatible with your site’s theme, you can add it to your sidebar to automatically display these links. Alternatively, you can create links to your most popular pages and posts manually.
You can also lower your bounce rate by implementing a site search feature. If a visitor is looking for specific content but cannot find it using your site’s standard navigation, he or she may search for it in the search box.
Display the search box in a prominent, easy-to-see location on your site, such as the top-right corner. Designing the search box with contrasting colors can further increase its visibility while potentially lowering your site’s bounce rate in the process.
Make it Mobile-Friendly
Statistics show that more than half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices If your website isn’t optimized for smartphones and tablets, these mobile visitors may leave without clicking through to the second page on your site.
Smartphones and tablets have smaller screens than traditional desktop monitors, which can lead to viewing problems. Mobile devices also use different web browsers than desktop computers, further increasing the risk of compatibility problems.
To prevent mobile compatibility issues from increasing your site’s bounce rate, consider using a responsive web design (RWD). Responsive sites automatically adjust to provide visitors with a fluid, functional design, regardless of the device on which it is accessed.
Create a Custom 404 Page
You should strive to eliminate all instances in which a visitor encounters a 404 error page, but this isn’t always possible. Even if your site is meticulously coded with no errors, visitors may still encounter such errors. If a user on another website, for instance, clicks a link pointing to your site — and that link contains the wrong URL — he or she may encounter your 404 page and increase your bounce rate.
To minimize the negative impact that 404 page encounters have on your site’s bounce rate, create a custom 404 page. By default, a typical 404 page contains nothing more than the words: “Not Found: The requested document was not four on the server.” Without any links pointing to other pages on your site, any visitor accessing this page from an external link will trigger a bounce. A simple solution is to create a custom 4o4 page with links pointing to other pages on your site, such as your home page, popular pages, and top-level navigation pages.
A High Bounce Rate Isn’t Always Bad
It’s important to note that some web pages are designed to have naturally high bounce rates. Intermediate landing pages, for instance, often have a 70% or higher bounce rate. When visitors access a landing page, they see links pointing to other websites, as there’s little-to-no original content on the landing page itself. Upon clicking those links, the visitor leaves the site, thus triggering a bounce.
Bounce rate is just one metric you should monitor when optimizing your website. You should also look exit rate, average time spent on site, unique vs returning visits and traffic source. By analyzing these metrics, you can optimize your site to excel in its niche.