If you’re a business owner with a website set up with Google Analytics, you know from first hand experience that the sheer amount of data to look at and analyze can be a huge deterrent for figuring out what to optimize on your site. So which metrics should you be tracking? What are some actionable steps you can take to improve your metrics? And what changes will improve online conversions?
A good place to start is taking a look at your website’s bounce rates. Bounce rates are an important metric to track in order to understand and improve the quality of a visitor’s interaction with your site. A high bounce rate may reveal issues with your website’s navigation, design, content, or keyword targeting. Not only do bounce rates make good indicators of the quality of your visitor’s experience, they’re also a key indicator to how well your site ranks in search engines.
Google Analytics defines bounce rate as “ the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page)”. In laymen’s terms, when a visitor “bounces” from a page on your website, it means that she or he left your site after just viewing one page.
When a visitor “bounces” from your site, they left your site:
– By clicking the “back” button
– By typing in a new URL
– By closing the window/tab
– Or were inactive after 30 minutes
Bounce rate is a measure of visit quality and a high bounce rate indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. Although a 40% bounce rate is considered to be average by Google, average bounce rates differ depending on the industry and type of page.
Landing pages, products pages, blog posts, etc. will all have different bounce rate averages. Holding pages (a single webpage that acts as a place holder as you develop your website) that have no internal links and minimal content will have a high bounce rate. A product or service page should have lower bounce rates as visitors browse through your products/services and are actively trying to learn more about what your business offers.
If you have a Google Analytics account for your website, checking your bounce rate is simple. You can find your bounce rate in the “Site Usage” section of your analytics dashboard. If you want to find out which pages on your site have the highest bounce rates, click on “Content” and then “Top Content”. You’ll reach a table labeled Content Performance. On the fifth column from the left, you’ll find the bounce rate of each page. If you see a page with a high bounce rate, you may want to direct your attention to changing the page layout, checking if the content matches the keyword or header descriptions, or even looking into the speed of the page load.
There are a number of ways to decrease bounce rates but the solution for each website, even each type of webpage is different. We’ll give you five possible ways to improve your website’s bounce rate. Examine the data from your Google Analytics dashboard, get feedback from your friends and family on the usability of your website, and reevaluate its design and copy to make a educated decision as to which solution is the right one for your website.
1. An unclear navigation menu is often a deterrent for visitors especially if it’s their first visit to your website. If the organization of the menu is unclear, or if the navigation menu does not stand out in the design of your site, take steps to remedy it. Read our blog post on navigation menus for best practices for menu design and organization.
2. Long page load speeds will also affect bounce rates negatively. The slower the page response time is, the higher the chances your visitor will abandon your site. Get rid of unnecessary widgets or third-party content to decrease loading time.
3. External links on your pages also increase bounce rates. Linking your content to other sites isn’t necessarily a poor practice, but it does affect your bounce rate if your visitors are leaving your site. If you do want to link to other websites, use the option of opening the link in a new window so that it will be easy for your visitors to go back to your site. Another way to prevent visitors from leaving your page is to place external links toward the end of your content so that your visitors will read through your webpage before leaving.
4. You should also focus on setting the right expectations for your content. This means use the right keywords or phrases to title your webpages or blog posts. Especially on blog posts and landing pages, don’t try capture your visitor’s attention by misleading them. If a visitor stumbles upon your website because of a catchy title, but your content doesn’t match the expectations you’ve set, the visitor will leave immediately.
5. Divide up large blocks text. If your visitors stumble on your website and they’re confronted with a large block of text, it’s likely that they’ll leave even before a quick skim. Large blocks of text illicit an immediate reaction from visitors. So divide up the content on your webpage with images or other visual markers. This can be as simple as coherently organizing your content into shorter paragraphs, or consolidating some of your content into bullet points. Content that is organized is easier to skim, and is much more approachable.
There are many other ways to reduce your website’s bounce rate, but keep in mind that every site and every page will have different reasons for visitors leaving it. You’ll have to conduct a little research into finding the right solution.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons