What is ‘bounce rate’ and how do I improve it?

We’ve come up with an easy way to describe what bounce rate is (hopefully!). Think of a “bounce” as someone landing on your website, not clicking on any other pages, and then leaving. The bounce rate is then the percentage of people who go rather than stay and take a look around your website. Easy right?

What should my bounce rate be?

Your bounce rate will depend on a number of factors, but here are the main ones:

  • The type of traffic you are attracting. Are the visitors to your website specifically looking for your company, or are they there just to look for information? People who are familiar with you will bounce less than those who are in information-gathering mode. If you’re an eCommerce store, does your traffic have intentions of purchasing, or are they simply researching future purchases?
  • The sources of your traffic. Visitors who come from Google search results tend to “bounce” much less than visitors from Facebook, for example. People are in very different frames of mind when they’re in work or play modes.
  • The pages your visitors are landing on. Blog pages tend to have higher bounce rates than product or service pages, for example. If people are coming straight to your homepage, they should not be bouncing off as there should be many things to interact with. But if they are landing on an old blog post that doesn’t link to anything else on your website, you should expect a high bounce rate.
  • The design and layout of your website. Sites that are difficult to navigate, confusing, or out-dated all tend to have higher bounce rates than new clean, easy-to-use, mobile-friendly websites. Is your site something people want to look at? If not, they will be leaving as soon as possible.
  • The speed and usability of your website. Slow-loading websites have high bounce rates and low conversion rates. It’s that simple. According to Google, 53% of mobile users leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load! This should be your go-to when figuring out how to improve your bounce rate.

You should be aiming for a bounce rate under 40%, which is considered pretty good. 40% to 55% is usually okay, while 55-65% shows significant room for improvement. If your bounce rate is above 90% or below 20%, that often indicates a tracking or code installation error.

How can I improve my bounce rate?

So you’ve probably been wondering this whole time how you can improve it. Now we know what sort of bounce rate we’re aiming for and we’ve established the most common causes of a high bounce rate, let’s look at some ways to reduce bounce rate and increase engagement with your website.

The easier visitors find it to use your site, the fewer of them will react with horror and bail. Improving your website’s usability should be a never-ending process of testing, monitoring stats, and talking to customers. But for some quick wins to take away with and apply immediately, let’s look at the most common bounce-reducing usability tricks:

  • Clear navigation. Your users want to be able to navigate around your site a quickly as possible with minimum stress and thinking.
  • Meaningful homepage. Your homepage needs to be as useful and helpful as possible. It needs to tell people what they are here for and where they need to go next. It needs to be obvious what your business does, so having a clear headline that describes what you do and who for, is a great start. For eCommerce stores, you should be placing your top categories at the start of the page to direct visitors to the products they’re looking for.
  • Call to action (CTA) on every page. Remember, not everyone will enter your site through the homepage (think about how you got here). More often than not, they’ll get here through a subpage. You need to shorten the time and remove the effort required for people to do what you want them to do on your website and you’ll improve your bounce rate. Placing a handful of CTA’s on your page will immediately improve the bounce rate.
  • Speed up your website. According to Kissmetrics, 47% of people expect a page to load within two seconds, while 40% abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. This study by SOASTA found that an extra one second of load time on mobile increased bounce rate by 56%.
  • Useful popups and live chats to help engage users. There’s a right way to do website popups and a very, very wrong way. You don’t want a generic ‘Sign up to our newsletter’ popup all the time. It’s generic, there’s no clear benefit, and calling the email list something like “our promotional mailing list” is about as appealing as calling it the “junk email list”. The right way to do popups is to time them to appear when someone is about to leave your site. As they move the cursor to exit the window, a well-targeted popup gives you one last chance to save the session and tempt them back for more.

Next steps

If you’d like some help implementing your changes or would like to discuss how we can help improve your bounce rate, drop us an email at hello@hagertydigital.co.uk.