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What is Bounce Rate and should I worry about it?

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We’ve all been told that having a high Bounce Rate % is bad, but what does it really mean?
Did you know having a high bounce rate doesn’t mean that everyone thinks your pages are rubbish?
So how do I get my bounce rate down?

Right, lets get the sums out the way……….

Bounce Rate is defined by a very simple equation and is the number of people that leave a page without viewing other pages on the same site.

Bounce Rate = The total number of visitors viewing 1 page only ÷ Total Entries to a page

The conditions for a visitor bouncing are:

  • Clicking on a link to a page on a different web site
  • Closing an open window or tab
  • Typing a new URL into the Browser Bar
  • Clicking the Browser’s “Back” button to leave the site
  • Session timeout (nominally 30 minutes)

 Is a High Bounce Rate Bad?

The answer is often No, but you’ve wasted an opportunity.
Bounce Rate - Google Analytics

This ‘Sierra_Rear Differential’ page is No.2 most popular page visited on a site – yet only half of the visitors are being converted or encouraged to look at more pages. I’d like to point out that this particular site is purely a database of information for enthusiasts, but if it was an on-line shop, think of the lost sales. This shop has a great front window and brilliant displays, but the checkout staff are standing around bored.

The page ‘/Sierra_Rear_Differential’ has a high bounce rate – 65.21%
Yet, the average time on page is nearly 8:29 seconds – so the page is obviously interesting.

This could be telling us, the page content is actually too good. The visitor has learnt everything they need to know; all on one page; then left.
It also tells us that this hit has not been ‘converted’. By ‘Converted’ I mean they have not visited the contact page or made a purchase etc…

When is a High Bounce Rate Bad?

If a page has a high bounce rate and the ‘Average time on page’ is only a few seconds (less than 10) then you should consider removing this page from your site; as it is only doing damage. If this page is getting lots of hits – it needs urgent attention!

How to Reduce Bounce Rate

How should I go about get this bounce rate down and increasing my conversion rate?

The page needs to be look at for:

  1. Word Count
  2. Link Bait
  3. Product links
  4. Images
  5. target=”_blank” Links

1. Word Count

If the page has 1,000 words, then consider splitting the page up into different sections. A page really needs 300 to 500 words. Don’t just randomly count the first 300 words and put a ‘Next page’ link, be a little more clever.
Take a look at your analytics to see what words people have been using to arrive at that page.
From within your Google analytics account, click through to the page in question (e.g. /Sierra_Rear_Differential) then click the entrance keywords link (bottom right)
Bounce Rate - Entrance Keywords
This should give you a list of key words and phrases people have used to find a page:
Bounce Rate - Keywords
So maybe this page could be broken down into pages for people looking for ‘Diff Rebuild’ and another for people looking ‘Rear Axle Codes’.
Doing this may not convert all the bounces, it may just split your visitors across more pages. Make sure the links between these pages and very obvious and ‘in context’. Having a link within a hidden drop down menu, is a total waste of time. Accompany that link with an enticing picture.

2. Link Bait

The link to the next page should be very tempting. Use some form of ‘link bait’ – a nice image of something interesting, a leading phrase or question, a freebie, a contact page, a comment button etc….

If you have a page that has a lot of detailed information on it, offer the readers a printer friendly page or a download version. At least then, although you haven’t converted the lead, you will have dropped your bounce and exit rates.

I’ve always found a leading question or phrase quite good. They are unoffensive and people are not scared of clicking them. I hate using ‘Read More’ or ‘Next Page’ links. Try using something similar to : ‘Find out how to Rebuild a Sierra Differential…’ – Couple it to a nice linked image and you’ll see a drop in exit and bounce rates.

For some people, offering a Freebie is a very good link converter. People don’t mind giving away their email address if they think they are getting something for free – especially if they can’t get it from elsewhere. When I say Freebie, don’t think ‘cuddly toy’, think:

  • ‘download’,
  • ‘discount voucher’,
  • ‘trial membership’ etc…

Some of the Social Media crowd find it great to leave a comment on everything they read. Offer them a chance to register and login, then redirect them to a comment box. In the progress, you converted one hit into many.

3. Product Links

Landing pages are great for getting traffic from search engines, but the trick is converting that hit into a lead. The landing page needs lots of descriptive text and data about the product/subject but these pages are not always part of the shop area of a site. A lot of the traffic to the above page is actually for people looking to buy, therefore even if the product isn’t sold on the site, it would be good to have a page hinting toward it, e.g.

  • ‘What to look for when buying a ……’
  • ‘Top Ten Tips about …..’
  • ‘Looking to buy a ….. Email us here’
  • ‘Download our ….. Brochure here’

If the product is sold then the ideal place is close to the top of the page. The human brain naturally reads from the top left of the screen down. Traditionally, across search engines and auction sites, the right hand column has been filled with annoying adverts, so avoid this area. Therefore, loose that huge banner and place an clear and interesting product image/link close to:

  • Left hand, Top 1/3, of screen
  • Centre, Top 1/3 of screen

Having a product for sale can actually add credence to the rest of the information on the page. The theory being, if you sell or manufacturer an item, then maybe you’ll be an expert on the subject.

4. Images

Images are a great way of getting visitors to click through to your gallery. Place a thumbnail size image on a page, with a link to view ‘Full Screen’. Again you haven’t converted the hit, but you’ve taken them to another page, getting that bounce rate down. Make sure that Gallery page has a back link or link to something else of interest.

Visitors expect commercial pages to be of a certain quality; if they are amateur looking, a purchase is unlikely. If a visitor is looking purely for information; just another generic forum site or blog is good enough. The goal is a get a professional looking page, that is fast to load and instantly has what’s been surfed for on screen. I find sites that have the top ¾ of the screen filled with a slow loading Flash movie unbelievably annoying, I don’t care what’s on the rest of the page – I’ve already left. – loose those big banners, especially on anything other than the home page.

5. target=”_blank” links

What does this mean? It is simple a piece of code that is inserted into the link that makes the page open in a new window.

Where and when should I use the target=”_blank” links? 

  • If you are linking to an external site, particularly one that isn’t yours, use this type of link
  • If you are linking to anything on your site don’t use this type of link.
  • If you are linking to a download then use this link
  • Avoid pop-up windows especially on popular pages.

I’m a little mean when it comes to giving other sites traffic. If they aren’t highly ranked and they haven’t already given me a reciprocal link back, you won’t find me giving my hits away! If I do link externally, I make sure my site is still open in the background somewhere.

When linking to pdf files, i use this link. Depending on a users browser set-up, these will open inside the browser rather than download. Therefore, to get back to the previously viewed page a visitor must use the browser back button.
NB. For commercial sites, I go a little further on downloads. I ask un-registered visitors to fill in their email address (only one field!), I then instantly email out a download link for the file. – a little bit of discrete email harvesting. 

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