Reducing Bounce Rates

By | October 4, 2014

an image of a cartoon cat bouncingWhen it comes to getting traffic to your website, just about everybody is obsessed with getting more of it. It's just like paying customers - you can never have too many.

However, more isn't necessarily better.

For instance, would you rather have 100 people walk through your store and buy nothing, or ten who shop and actually buy?

The online version of this scenario amounts to bounce rates.

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular page on your website who left without clicking to any other link. This is a metric that Google uses to measure the quality of your website. Google can "see" when someone clicks on a search result and then ends up hitting the back button to click on yet another listing.

What this says to Google is, that first site I clicked on wasn't helpful...therefore it's not high quality.

If you have a bounce rate of 95% that means that if 100 people visit your website, 95% leave without clicking through to any other page on your website - meaning you really only have 5 real visitors compared to 100.

So while everyone would like to have more visitors to the website, the other thing we aim to do is to increase the quality of the ones that we are getting; we can do this by lowering the bounce rate so that more people are clicking through our site.

How to lower your bounce rate

The trick to lowering bounce rates is understanding the intent of the visitor; when they come to a particular page, what are they looking for?

If you can answer that question and provide plenty of relevant resources for them to click on - they'll visit more pages and your bounce rate will drop accordingly.

Another great tactic is to include clickable images wherever you can on your website. Images tend to draw the eye and if they're compelling and appear to be relevant to the interest of your searcher - they will generally get more clicks from your visitors; people just love to click on images...so use it to your advantage.

One way to use this is by including thumbnail images on your blog. The images catch the eye and can help to arouse curiousity to see what the article or blog post is about.

The bounce rates on this website dropped noticeably when I added thumbnails to the blog page.

thumbnail photos can help reduce bounce ratesIt also doesn't hurt to make sure any of the links you want your visitors to click have a different colour - in the screenshot above you'll notice that the post headline is a definitive blue colour. The colour stands out and indicates that it's clickable...and the colour blue (long associated with the colour of an active link on the interwebs) certainly doesn't hurt either.

Beware External Links

I recently helped a client improve his bounce rates by having a few links removed from the home page of his website.

Why did I do that? Didn't I just say that links were great for lowering bounce rates?

Yes - internal links.

External links on the other hand take people away from your site. One of the biggest offenders of this are social media badges that link to your Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn pages.

It's hard to get traffic to your website, the last thing you want to do is have people click on a link and end up on Facebook - where they're sure to forget all about you in seconds.

In the case of my client Jason, he had what seemed like a dozen different links leading people away from his website. After removing them we noticed an immediate decrease in bounce rate. A positive by-product of removing the external links is that his time on site numbers are up as well - an increase of 9.14%.

The result, more people are staying on the website (reduced bounce rate) and they're staying up to 10% longer on average - which gives them more of a chance to become a subscriber or a buyer.

We're going to keep chipping away at his bounce rate while also applying growth hacks to increase the percentage of traffic that he gets each month by 10%.

It takes time, but by making incremental improvements to a website and measuring the results we can make meaningful progress; each change augmenting the one that comes after it until all new milestones are achieved.

How are the bounce rates on your website and what are you doing to bring them down? Do you know anybody who'd like to have higher quality visitors to their website? Share this article with them and they'll thank you later.

Image Credit (modified)

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