Bounce rate is defined as the number of people who enter a page and then exit from that same page. High bounce rates, while not always a negative thing, are often an indication of some fundamental problems with your website.
It is important that people can find your website in the first place, but finding your page and staying on it are two different things. If visitors are not sticking around long enough to engage with your content, then you need to reevaluate your approach. Here are five reasons your bounce rate may be high, and what you can do to fix it.
1. Non User-Friendly Web Design
It doesn’t take a professional web designer to recognize bad design. Your visitors will judge your website the moment they see it, so make sure you give them a good impression. Pay attention not only to color themes but also to layout and navigation. Your site design should reflect the values and personality of your company or brand. Is the design clean, easy-to-read, and navigable? These factors all play into a seamless design.
The more user-friendly your site, the more people will stick around to check it out. Even if you have the most amazing content in the world, you won’t be getting the traffic you want if your design isn’t up to snuff. If your web page is cluttered, overly bright, hard to read, or difficult to navigate, you will lose visitors – increasing your bounce rate.
For example, white font on a black background, a cramped layout, and hard-to-find information will send your visitors packing faster than you can say “bounce rate.” Make it easy for them to find relevant content and choose design that improves their search experience, rather than hinders it.
2. Long Loading Time
Another common problem that directly affects your traffic and bounce rate is your page loading time. We live in an age where “instant” is a virtue. If your website doesn’t load in a few seconds, you will lose traffic.
People want to find the information they are looking for immediately. Give them what they want by decreasing your loading time. Not only will this translate to a reduced bounce rate, but your page will rank higher for it, too. Google considers page speed as a ranking variable now, so it is important that you optimize this component of your website if you want to be seen.
3. Lack of Mobility
Today there are over 1 billion smartphones in use around the world. And, according to Televox, mobile traffic is increasing at a rate of 3.5 percent per month. What does this mean for you? Well, if your website is not optimized for mobile search and navigation, you could be losing a lot of traffic.
The 2013 Mobile Path-to-Purchase study, conducted by Telmetrics and xAd, found that 46 percent of smartphone and tablet searches use mobile exclusively as their primary online search tool. Forty-six percent. That is a lot of potential traffic you could be missing if your site isn’t mobile.
Key takeaway: Go mobile or go home. If you want to reduce your bounce rate, you need to jump on the mobile bandwagon and get optimized for mobile search. With the global smartphone use projected to reach 2 billion by 2015, your website may depend on it.
4. Poor Keyword Selection
Choosing the right keywords is vital for attracting the right traffic to your website. A solid search marketing campaign will set you up for success online by targeting relevant keywords to rank in the search engines. When people search those terms, your goal is to send them to your website where their queries are answered and the information they are looking for is available.
However, if you choose the wrong keywords – or rather, irrelevant keywords – you will receive traffic from visitors who are not interested in your content. That is why it is so important to conduct thorough keyword research before you start optimizing.
Consider what terms are most relevant to your content and analyze which keywords are likely to be used. Google Analytics is a great place to start. It can give you valuable data and keyword information to help you choose the best keywords for your site.
5. Outbound Links Opened in the Same Window
Finally, simple mistakes can lead to some negative results for your bounce rate. One of these common errors is improper outbound linking. Including outbound links can be a valuable and useful practice for your website – assuming you are linking to relevant content that is useful for your visitors. However, if your links open in the same window, you are essentially driving your traffic away from your site, increasing your bounce rate.
The key to a healthy bounce rate is to keep your visitors navigating through your site. This is often accomplished by building a web of inbound links. In other words, linking your content pages to each other. But if you link to other pages off your site, you will want to ensure that your visitors remain on your page.
To do this, create links that open in a separate window. This will allow your visitors to check out the resource you gave them without leaving your own page. This has the dual effect of keeping them on your page and, if the outbound links were valuable, encouraging your visitors to engage with more of your content. The result? A lower bounce rate.
Edson Senna is a business student. He enjoys applying what he has learned by writing about investing, finance, entrepreneurship, and other business-related topics.