Before anything else, take a look at the time on site. I have a website in the teaching space that has a high bounce rate, but the time on site is quite high. This means people are finding my website as an answer to their question then leaving.
So if your bounce rate is high and your time on site is low, then I would look into what needs to be improved.
What is a bounce exactly?
A “bounce” is a term used by analytical software to define people (who each have their own unique IP address) that came to your website, visited only one page, and then left without clicking anything else.
Now, not all analytic software evaluates bounce rate the same way. Google Analytics for example, considers a visitor a bounce when they visit your page and then leave without clicking anything else.
Clicky.com on the other hand for example, only counts a visitor as a bounce if they leave before 30 seconds are up.
Which method is better?
Most programs use the first metric. That is, a person visits one page and then leaves. But I like Clicky’s method because their data shows me people who visited, did not find what they were looking for and left…
Which is important to know. If someone is finding your website and not staying and not clicking anything you must discover why.
So which method is better? It’s really up to your personal liking.
It’s which ever makes more sense to you because at the end of the day the whole point of collecting this data is to ACT ON IT. It’s not simply for your own amusement.
WHAT IS A GOOD BOUNCE RATE?
Let’s keep this simple:
According to this analytics website, the bounce rate break down is the following:
- 40-60% Content websites
30-50% Lead generation sites
20-40% Retail sites
10-30% Service sites
70-90% Landing pages
A content website is a type of online resource about a specific topic that is updated infrequently. The content ranks well in search engines over time and attracts the majority of it’s traffic from people looking for answers to specific questions. Example below is the unattractive, but well thought out thesitewizard.com.
Lead generation websites are those one page website that ask you for your email or contact information. The way they work is that you drive targeted traffic with ads on Facebook or Google or really any relevant platform where your audience hangs out.
The bounce rate for these types of web pages should be in the 50% range because it’s targeted traffic.
Blogs are websites with constantly updated content that is published in a sequential order. Blogs are a popular way to promote a website, though in today’s online world you need to be on multiple platforms like YouTube or a podcast.
Blogs get traffic mostly from search engines and social media which then in turn is converted into email signups. Over time, an audience develops around a blog with visitors expecting new published content each week or so.
The bounce rate is at around the 80% (not always though, 60-88% is more normal from my own publishing experience) for two reasons:
1) New visitors finding your blog content for the first time via a share on a social media website or through a search engine. These new visitors are problem solvers and will read one item out of curiously or because they believe it can help them solve a problem.
These new visitors don’t trust your website and are not too keen on exploring your website until they believe it’s a worthy investment of their time and attention.
Think about your own behavior when you find a new website.
2) Your already established audience coming back and checking out your latest published masterpiece 🙂
Stores almost always have some of the lowest bounce rates around for the simple reason that people visit online stores to search and shop. Searching is shopping and in order to do that in the online space you browse around the store by clicking. Even if visitors only spend 10 seconds on each page, that still does not count as a bounce in most analytic software.
Design studios, pluming, heating, car repair, any sort of service website has a low bounce rate because visitors find these website through a search engine, a directory, word of mouth or a link on a website that is recommending their service. Like how design studios like to put “design by __________” in the footer.
The website then acts as a sort of sales man for the services of the website owners. The website should encourage visitors to explore the website more deeply as a way to prove that the service they provide can fix your problem.
A properly designed landing page should have some of the highest bounce rates around. Why? BECAUSE their should be nothing else to click on a landing page except to purchase the product or subscribe or to fulfill the call to action.
No menu bar.
No social media.
Buy, subscribe or go away.
It’s a yes or no type situation.
You either proceed with a purchase or you back out.
That’s landing page 101.
WHEN TO WORRY THAT YOUR BOUNCE RATE IS TOO HIGH
Worry when your bounce rate is outside of the “averages” as detailed on this page. But again, you need to deconstruct your traffic, your traffic sources and how much time people are spending on a page.
For example, if you have a landing page and your bounce rate is 60%, it’s too LOW. You have too many irrelevant links.
If you have a blog and your bounce rate is 80%, that’s normal from a high level perspective BUT take a look at your top 10 most visited pages and get deep into the details.
Let’s get more specific.
THE DETAILS TO PAY ATTENTION TOO
With whatever analytic program you’re using, the MOST important detail to look at is HOW LONG a visitor stayed on the page.
The second most important is to see if people are following your pathways.
The third most important is to see how they are finding your website.
TIME ON PAGE
If you have a website with a bunch of pages that have a high bounce rate BUT have a high time on site (over 2 minutes per page), that’s an indication that people are finding the content either relevant or entertaining but are not compelled to click on anything else to dive deeper into the website.
This sort of high bounce rate is fine if people are finding your website through search engines for specific search terms. It just means that they found what they were looking for. Remember, people are on a hunt for answers or entertainment when they’re on the web.
Now, if your bounce rate is high and your time on page is low, look into the details. Are people finding that page through social media or an image search?
Yes. Any images you put into your content will be indexed and could potentially be found in Google’s image search.
Social media can also send a lot of volume, but that volume is often not targeted to your websites topic. For example, StumbleUpon can send tens or thousands of visitors a day to your website. But the majority of that traffic is going to bounce rather quickly.
It’s time to worry about a high bounce rate if people are not following your pathways that you’ve set up. A pathway is the pages you want people to click on from a specific page.
For example, if on your homepage you have a “get started” page that no one is clicking on, it’s time to figure out why:
Do you need to change the wording, font size, color or overall call to action?
What are people clicking on instead?
Are people finding this page through relevant search terms or is the traffic from some unrelated source?
Which leads us to our next point…
HOW ARE THEY FINDING YOUR CONTENT
Traffic sources matter.
Don’t be discouraged by a high bounce rate if the traffic you’re getting is from an unrelated search term or source.
For example, this page about writing headlines constantly gets traffic from Google from search phrases like:
- Headlines on my birthday
- How to write a birthday headline
- Most popular headlines on my birth date
All of the traffic that comes from these terms are worthless. They’re looking for something totally different than an article on how to write compelling headlines for your published content.
Take a look at your traffic sources before you worry.
Worry when someone is finding your “how to teach English overseas” article through a search engine for a related term and is NOT staying long on the page.
GOOGLE, SEO AND DOES THIS MATTER FOR HOW YOU RANK
Yes, but it’s all relative.
Google does try to incorporate user experience into where they rank your website, but if your competition has a bounce rate equal to your website you’re not going to be penalized.
Just do your best to create the best user experience.
Pay attention to keywords and THINK about what someone searching for those keywords would want.
Make your article more sticky by interlinking related articles.
FINAL WORDS AND WHAT TO DO NEXT
Deconstruct your bounce rate. LOOK at where you’re getting traffic. Look at how long that traffic is staying.
Irrelevant traffic bounces fast. Traffic that found your content through relevant sources should stick around.
While it’s fun to look at your OVERALL bounce rate, it’s also totally useless. You may have a landing page or a blog post that is getting a lot of traffic from a poor source.
You always need to take a look at each page and take note of any warnings. Particularly traffic that is relevant, that is finding the right content, but is bouncing AND not staying on the page for more than 30 seconds.
Maybe your website is loading slow? Maybe you have too many grammatical errors or your website design is too busy.
Read up on the precursor to this post, our how to write a blog post for blog artists to understand how to craft compelling content.
Good luck and until next time,