Doing bounce rates the right way

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A bounce rate is defined by Google Analytics as people who visit one page on your website and leave your website on the same page, without visiting another page on your website. This is not always a bad thing. If customers are getting all the necessary information they need from the page they visit, they may not have a need to visit another page. For example, a visitor who wants to give your company a call and sees your phone number on the first page they visit will be a satisfied site visitor. However, if you have high bounce rates combined with low conversions or sales, this may be a symptom that there are some significant flaws with your website that are drawing customers away.

Here are some of the most common reasons for high bounce rates and what you can do about them.

1. Poor design/navigation/site structure
If users visit your website and it is not obvious or easy to find what they are looking for, this creates confusion. This will lead users to exit and search for answers on a competitor’s website. To avoid this problem, make sure your design is clean (embrace white space), text easy-to- read, and you have an obvious navigation menu at the top of the page (horizontal menu bars tend to work best).

2. Slow load times
Users expect sites to load in three seconds or less. Load times in excess of this will likely trigger high bounce rates. This means users may not even see your webpage or content before they choose to exit. To check if this could be the reason for your site’s high bounce rate, check your page’s load speeds with this free tool from Google. Common reasons for slow load times include excessive use of multimedia or widgets or using outdated technologies like Flash. Google’s free tool will not only show you what your current load speed is but give you suggestions on how you can improve it.

3. Annoying pop-up ads
A well timed pop-up asking people to subscribe to your newsletter can increase conversions, but if the timing of the pop is wrong it can interfere with the user experience and alienate site visitors causing them to exit immediately. One of the best practices for pop-up subscription lightboxes is to have them activate when users click the X button to exit your site. This avoids interrupting the user experience. Never utilise more than one pop-up on the same page. This makes your site seem spammy and reduces your brand credibility.

4. Lack of security
If your web page asks users to input personal information e.g. credit card details and your site doesn’t have a valid security certificate, uses HTTP rather than HTTPS or lacks encryption you may have high bounce rates. Protecting the security of your customers should be your top priority.

5. No calls-to- action
Often a user may exit your website because you have not encouraged them to take any action. Every page on your site should feature a call-to- action that is prominent and marked by a big, colourful button or box. Colours and graphical elements direct users’ attention and help them to focus. If you want users to buy something feature an obvious “buy now” button; if you want users to subscribe to your newsletter, tell them to “enter your email address now”. Equally as bad as no call-to- action is having multiple calls-to- action on the same page. This creates confusion which paralyses prospects from taking action. Limit your calls-to- action on each page and focus on the most important actions you want users to take.

6. Sites not optimised for mobile
With over 60 per cent of web traffic now coming from mobile devices and many businesses still not having websites which render appropriately for mobile’s smaller screen sizes, bounce rates may be significant among web visitors using mobile devices. Check out how mobile-friendly your site is by using this free tool. If your site is not mobile-friendly consider upgrading to a responsive mobile design. I have written lots of other articles that provide useful tips on how to create a mobile-friendly website.

These are some of the most common reasons for high bounce rates. For many of these issues, the solutions are very simple and can be implemented immediately. Examine your website critically and see whether any of these issues may be present on your site. Take the actions suggested and use analytics to see if your conversions increase once you have addressed these common problems. For additional help, consider getting your website independently appraised by a trusted web designer to find other ways to reduce bounce rates and improve conversions.

Click here and see 5 more great reads from our digital expert Luke Chaffey:
1. What is seasonal marketing?
2. How to avoid 4 common SEO issues
3. 7 social media tactics you need to avoid
4. How to get and retain email subscribers  
5. Improve your ecommerce conversion rate

Luke Chaffey
Luke Chaffey is a senior member of the KBB Digital team, and heads up the search marketing division. With a keen eye on innovation and developing digital trends, Luke regularly attends the Google Partners Masterclass, and is also a prolific writer for websites such as Yahoo, The Australian Government (Digital Business sector), Kochie’s Business Builders, Smarter.Digital, KBB Digital.

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