Getting that second click can be tough business.
The "bounce rate" is the percentage of visits that came to your site and left before clicking through to another page. Most analytics programs compute bounce rates at the site wide level and or down to the individual page, which can provide a lot of valuable data when trying to lower bounce rates.
What is a good bounce rate?
In the past, I’ve been asked what a "good" bounce rate is and the answer depends on your business model. You would think that a high bounce rate would be bad in most situations because that means people are leaving immediately, but
- if you’re trying to earn money off affiliate ads then a high bounce rate on certain pages might mean clicks are funneling through to your ad partners nicely (and you’re getting paid).
- I’m sure Google.com has a pretty high bounce rate, especially when people find information on that first search page…
But if your goal is to keep people sticking around and reading your content then I guess you’d better find a few ways to lower that infamous bounce rate, so here’s a little food for thought:
How to lower bounce rates
- Motivate the user to click deeper into your site. Offer related information to augment the primary content. When a person clicks into your web page for the first time, something compelled them to click in the first place. If you can offer something else interesting or compelling, such as a block of related articles or recent user comments, you’re likely to keep the user on your site a little longer.
- Format your content in a reader friendly manner. Use bullet points, a few pictures and quotes/excerpts once in a while to help logically break things up. The last thing you want to do is dig through a lengthy paragraph and hunt for information… you want the reading process to be easy for viewers.
- Stick to specific topics. If your content reflects well thought out and descriptive paragraphs covering a specific topic, chances are you will pull in more well qualified longer tail traffic vs traffic that is broad and not all that interested in what your writing has to offer. Higher interest can mean clicking deeper into your site.
- Move important information closer to the top. Really, you don’t want to leave your best guns at home during the gun show and you don’t want to bury links that convert visitors. Place your call to action closer to the top of the page. If you’re hesitant about moving it up then maybe you should rethink your call to action all together.
- Add a search box if you’re CMS permits. People use site search often times if they don’t find what they’re looking for at first. Google also offers a free site search that can be integrated into any website.
- Lower your page load times. I take for granted when a site loads nice and snappy, but often find myself leaving if the page doesn’t load in, oh, 10 seconds (sometimes less). If you’re using a CMS that is database intensive then try caching information that bottlenecks performance. Have large pictures that load? Try using photoshop or have your graphic designer optimize picture sizes.
- Is your website design aesthetically pleasing? Is it conducive to click throughs? Depending on your traffic sources a good web site design can mean the difference between earning trust and losing it. One client we worked with found that their affiliate traffic bounce rates went down and converted better when they modified their CMS to reflect the look and feel of the affiliate website (same logo, same colors, etc.).
- Measure the bounce rate of your individual traffic sources. It’s probably a good idea to look at exactly where you’re getting traffic from. Sites like digg will send a pretty high bounce rate, so it might be difficult to cater to their desire. Places like stumble upon have a much lower bounce rate, which means you have more room to work with. Sometimes the best business strategy is to make a wise choice on who you partner with to send traffic. You can do a little demographic research with Quantcast and Compete.com to find out how fickle an audience your affiliates might send and how much traffic you might receive, respectively.
- Measure the bounce rate of your most popular pages. Just like the last point, you should dig down to which pages matter the most and see if you can’t funnel visitors else where that are bouncing.
- Partner with websites that complement or have a similar theme to your own site. This idea is a little broader in scope and isn’t something you do in 5 minutes, but if you keep in mind that related sites will send visitors who are already interested in the general theme you offer then chances are you will see visitors sticking around longer and returning more often than random visitors.
- Try testing one method at a time. Watch your analytics as you perform your tests and make sure to try one new method at a time when attempting to improve bounce rates, else you might not pin point which effort was the magical key.