24 Jun What is Bounce Rate (and how to improve it)
By Paul Barrs
Google defines bounce rate as the “percentage of visits that go only to one page and then exit”; meaning they visit a page on your website… and then leave again without viewing any other pages.
They bounce in, and they bounce back out again. It’s not a good thing.
Why does this happen?
There are many reasons why a visitor to your site may look at only one page and then leave again; perhaps the content isn’t what they’re after, or maybe the page loads to slowly – could be a large video, or large graphic. Perhaps there are design issues, maybe your site isn’t compatible with the device they are viewing it on (eg. Mobile).
It could even be that they found what they wanted and didn’t NEED to go any further. Or, you’ve simply got the wrong kind of traffic coming to your site in the first place!
Usually though, bounce rate is looked upon as a negative thing, an indication that your site isn’t providing what your visitors want from it.
How do you track bounce rate?
The best and easiest way to track bounce rate on individual pages is to install a simple analytics tracking application such as Google Analytics. Once the code is in place it can take a little as a few hours to start getting metrics which enable you analyse and identify potential problems on your site.
How do you know what is a good result and what isn’t?
First things first, it’s important to UNDERSTAND that there is no ‘rule of thumb’ for what is good or what is bad in terms of bounce rate. For example; a single page website that’s only goal is to ‘sell a product’ (the buy now or go away strategy) will always have a high bounce rate – unless your visitors have been “pre-sold” in some way and they already know what they are going to get, and are going there to get it. This is common in a first launch affiliate program strategy.
However, if the purpose of your page I to ‘guide people’ to the next point of call, or, more information on your site, your product, or your service, and you see that 3/4 of your visitors leave… then that’s not so good.
The most important thing is to decide what your goal is. If you don’t know what you’re hoping to achieve then you’ll never know if you’ve achieved it!
What’s a good measure?
If you have a single page site that aims to sell a product and you have a bounce rate of 90% (9 out of 10 people leave your site without making a purchase) that’s pretty damn good – because 10% of all your visitors DID make a purchase and went further into the site (thank you page). However, if your page has half a dozen paragraphs on it, each informing the reader where they can get more information; and your bounce rate is over 50%… then you might want to make some changes – because half your visitors don’t find your information “interesting enough” to go further.
There’s another important metric here….
Just as it’s important to take note of bounce rate, it’s also important that you take note of your visitors “Time On Site”. For example, let’s say that you have a page with a video on it. Your goal is to have people watch the video. The thing is, after they watch the video, they’re done, so they leave – and you’ve got a HUGE bounce rate.
Don’t stress. In Google Analytics you can adjust your bounce rate analysis so that it effectively ‘turns off” after a set period of time. Perhaps the video is 5 minutes long… the bulk of its information is in the first 3 minutes so you adjust your analytics to not count those people who go past the three minute mark in your bounce rate statistics. This is a really neat way to measure the engagement of your visitors.
However, if your goal is to have them watch the video then click a link to watch more, read more, buy more… and your bounce rate is still over 30%… chances are something in your copy, your video, or on your site just isn’t working properly for the visitor.
Unless of course your visitor is the wrong kind of visitor!
Did you realise that there are two different types of visitors? Of course there are – there are those who are interested in what you offer and those who are not!
A common mistake made by people who “buy” their traffic (through programs like Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, Banner Ads etc), is to “buy” the wrong kind of traffic.
Many people are under the belief that all traffic is good traffic… No!
Aside from frustrating the hell out of you as a business owner, you’ll also be screwing up your website analytics and making it harder to determine just what component of your web site needs to be tweaked (improved) to get better results and ROI.
How to improve bounce rate.
There is ONLY ONE WAY to effectively improve your bounce rate, and that’s one-step-at-a-time.
Let’s say you’ve got a sales letter up; lots of information, perhaps a video, some nice graphics, and a call to ACTION at the end (contact me, buy now, subscribe now). Imagine that you’re paying for your traffic through banner ads and directing all visitors to that page… and your bounce rate is 63%.
The FRIST THING you should do is stop your traffic from your banner ads and get it elsewhere–
Doing this may dramatically improve or decrease your pages’ bounce rate. If the number goes down (say to 34%) then you know that the majority of your traffic wasn’t targeted. If your bounce rate goes up (gets even worse), then you know that your new traffic source isn’t working either.
Once you know that your traffic is OK, then you can start making changes to your page.
- Change your Headline… wait a day or two (or a few hundred visitors) and then compare the old headline results vs the new.
- Change the graphics – are they large and bulky, are there too many of them (are there not enough!)? Wait a few days then compare the bounce rate results.
- Maybe you need to change the length of the page (cut it in half… or add more content).
- Do you have a video? Remove it and compare the difference…. Maybe you don’t have a video… add one and see how that changes things.
- What about the price, or the words that you use in your CALL to action… maybe you don’t have a call to action. Do you ASK people to go further into your site? That could help 🙂
The point is… you only want to change ONE THING AT A TIME and then wait a moment to compare the results. If your bounce rate goes up, then that’s bad, if it goes down, then that’s good. Just make sure that you ‘act’ on the numbers that you’re getting.
It’s the old A / B split testing rule.
Have you ever heard of split testing? It’s the process where you take two almost identical pages and compare the two to see which gets better results. The exact same principle applies to testing, measuring, and making changes according to your bounce rate for individual pages on site.
In fact, Google Analytics also offers a brilliant tool which allows you to do this and watch your results live as they are collected. They are called ‘content experiments’.
In a nutshell, it comes down to this –
Do you have a page / pages that you consider IMPORTANT to the conversion process on your website? If you do, then these are the pages that you’re going to want to start looking at both bounce rate and exit rate analytics and analysis.
I suggest that you select (no more than) about half a dozen pages, and list them in order of ‘importance’. Then, one by one (and step by step) make small measureable changes to these pages and compare the changed results to the previous. Doing this little by little will enable you to make measured improvements on your site and improve your overall conversion goals.