FAQ: Why The Heck Is My Website's Bounce Rate So High?

By Pete Czech

FAQ: Why The Heck Is My Website's Bounce Rate So High?New Possibilities Group

It’s question that is often asked (probably with more profanity) by marketers and business owners alike. Simply put, bounce rate measures the percentage of people who land on one of your pages, but do not click anywhere else and “bounce” right out of the site.

A high bounce rate on a website that’s supposed to be driving up business can be seriously frustrating, especially when the reason isn’t immediately apparent. It's the digital equivalent of a customer who walks into your store, then immediately turns around and walks out. 

Average bounce rates vary by industry. For example, retail sites have rates between 20 and 40 percent, while blog sites are between 70 and 98 percent.

But why should you care about it in the context of your site?

First, a high bounce rate will hurt your SEO. Google pays close attention to these stats and will start knocking down your page rank according, making it difficult for your customers to find you. Secondly, a high bounce rate is a symptom of greater problems. Either your visitors are not finding what they are looking for or your site is just too difficult to navigate.

Either option is not a good one, since both mean you are losing valuable business. So if this is you every time you take a look at your website analytics

The bounce rate is too damn high!

…then it’s time to start looking into why your website’s bounce rate is so high.

Poor Design And Usability

Ask yourself right now: Is the design of your site user-friendly? If customers can not immediately identify how to find what they are interested in, they will exit and try another site. It’s really as simple as that.

Take a fresh look at your design. Think beyond image placement and colors. Is the navigation intuitive? Is the font large enough? Is the page too cluttered? A clean design with a lot of whitespace and large headlines is most appealing. While your website is a great opportunity to get creative, balance creativity with adhering to what's familiar.

For example, visitors are used to seeing navigation across the top of the page and they'll usually look for a search box in the top, right corner. Keep the mainstays in their expected places.

Lastly, be sure your design is responsive on various devices. Your design might be perfect for desktop viewing, but if it looks like a jumbled mess on a user's phone, they'll just bounce right out. 

Unclear Direction And Content

It's no secret that people’s attention spans are shorter than ever, and the amount of time one is willing to spend looking for a solution to their problem will only continue to decrease over time. As with your navigation and page structure mentioned above, the clarity of your content might make all the difference when it comes to keeping people on your site.

Let’s return to the store analogy. If a customer looking to buy a pair of shoes walks into the store and only sees racks upon racks of shirts and pants, they’re more likely to walk right out of the store than if the shoe selection was displayed right at the entrance. Similarly, if someone visits your site looking to find, say, information about a particular SaaS product and is instead confronted with random text and stock photography, they probably won’t stick around.

This is a problem easily solved by strong calls to action placed above the fold, and designed in such a way that it takes no more than a few seconds to find and click. Want people to take a specific action? Make it obvious and easy for them. Tell them exactly what you want them to do and they’re more likely to do it than if they have wander around aimlessly to find the next step.

Untested Pop-ups

Pop-ups can be used effectively to increase conversions, offer assistance, or get visitors to sign up for your newsletter. However, be sure to test the timing of your pop-up. Many visitors find it irritating when a pop-up blocks their view as soon as they open a page.

Test the timing of your pop-up. See if bounce rates increase or decrease when timing is adjusted. Finally, be sure the "close" option on the pop-up is clearly visible. Making your visitors search for a way to close the pop-up will try their patience and cause them to just leave your page altogether. 

Slow Page Load

Gone are the days of patiently waiting for pages to load. Research shows users will not wait more than six to 10 seconds for a page to load before abandoning your site. A one-second delay can decrease conversions by 7 percent.

This is another reason to limit the use of images and multimedia. The more you have, the longer it will take to load your page. If your site does depend on a lot of visual content, make sure that your images are optimized and that you enable caching site-wide.

Don't lose visitors because your site loads too slowly. Use very little or no self-loading media. Not only does it slow your page speed, but it makes users feel out-of-control. If they want a video to play, they will click on it. Don't assume they want it and slow down the page load for every visitor.

If your business depends on your website, whether it’s to sell a product or boost brand recognition, the last thing you need is for people to wander away before they’ve had a chance to see what you really have to offer. By taking a good, hard look at your design, content structure, and page speed, you may be surprised to find that there are at least a few obvious, yet easily fixed issues that will make a huge difference in your bounce rate.

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