A content and social media marketing specialist, Ben Jacobson joined the Lean Labs team in the summer of 2014. Ben has been active as a digital branding professional since the early days of social media, having overseen projects for brands including MTV, National Geographic, Zagat and Wix. His writing has appeared in Social Media Explorer, Search Engine Journal, Techwyse and the Mad Mimi Blog. Ben resides just south of the Carmel Mountain ridge in Israel with his dashing wife and two sprightly descendants.
When you open up Google Analytics, one of the first metrics you spot is bounce rate. This is the percentage of people who leave your site quickly after arrival, having loaded only one page. If your bounce rate is high, you are probably asking yourself whether this is something to worry about. Sure, the stickiest websites will draw people in with immersive experiences that demand several minutes and page loads, but in many cases, bounces aren't bad.
How to Fix Your Bounce Rate
It’s possible that visitors are coming to your site, quickly finding what they want to know and leaving. Even if your site is rich with valuable, exclusive content, a quick look may be all that’s needed. On the other hand, a high bounce rate can also be a warning sign that your visitors are not satisfied with what they are finding on your website. If you want to lower your bounce rate, here are some things you can do to engage visitors and keep them around for longer.
1) Use Google Analytics Event Tracking
Event tracking captures actions on a page and records each one as if a new page has been loaded. For example, if all of these actions are one offer page, you can log how many people watched a video, downloaded a pdf and viewed an ad as separate events.
This is largely a cosmetic change, as your bounce rate will go down in your reports but visitors will still be interacting with your content in the exact same way. On the other hand, you will get interesting metrics on how far users scroll down on your pages and what elements are of most interest to them.
2) Conduct an Audit
If you’re interested in finding out why visitors are leaving, audit each individual page to see which ones have particularly high bounce rates. Eventually patterns will emerge.
Is the bounce-happy content useful, compelling or entertaining? If a given page is none of these things, then it’s time to rewrite it to provide real value to visitors. If that seems like an insurmountable task, you probably have a superfluous page on your website that you should take down.
3) Add a Call-to-Action
Are your visitors bouncing simply because you haven’t given them an alternative? Landing pages are generally designed with call-to-action buttons that tell people clearly what to do next, but static content pages and blog posts are often neglected in this regard.
Consider adding a "related content" module to blog posts and a newsletter subscription form or downloadable media offers to pages. Help your visitors take another step and click through to more content before leaving the site.
4) Create More Internal Links
If all your links are outbound, then you may be unintentionally sending people away from your site. Moreover, if these links open up in the same tab, visitors are unlikely to return after they go off to that other resource you linked to.
Look through all your content and see where you can link internally to other pages on your site. Old blog posts are often missing links, because they were published before newer related posts went up. A periodic sift-through to find missed link opportunities can help lower your bounce rate.
5) Change Your Linking Policy
If your internal links are set to open in new tabs, change that. You want them to open up in the same tab to retain a sense of continuity.
A visitor might click on a link but then abandon it when it opens in a new tab, assuming it’s an external link. Instead of going back to what he or she was already reading, your visitor will likely look on a different site for answers.
6) Add More Contextual Links
Internal links should not be just in your sidebar or at the end of a post. Invite your visitors to delve deeper and find out more about specific subjects with links within the text.
Instead of creating one long page of content, write shorter pieces and link from one to the other. This lets readers choose which elements interest them most and increase their knowledge on only those points. If they want to read all of it, they will click through more pages and spend more time actually reading as opposed to skimming.
7) Check Out Your Exit Rates
The exit rate for a given page can tell you how many people left your website entirely after viewing that specific page. Sometimes a high exit rate is to be expected. A visitor who reads a four-page article is likely to leave after the fourth page. A visitor to your Contact Us page has probably clicked around much of your site, sent you a message and has left. These visitors are exiting at the right time and are not a cause for concern.
On the other hand, if your homepage has a high exit rate, you'd do well to seriously ponder the extent to which your content is appealing. If the first page of a multi-page article has a high exit rate, that means people are not reading this content. Think about a rewrite or a redesign to capture and keep people’s interest.
Your Bounce Rate and SEO
A website’s bounce rate is an internal indication of how healthy the website is, but it is also an indicator to Google of the quality of the website. Google assumes that a site with a high bounce rate is not providing value for searchers, and it will devalue the SEO of the page if it consistently inspires bounces.
When you see that specific pages, or your site as a whole, is showing alarming levels of bounces, take steps to improve it – both to boost rankings and to provide your visitors with a better content experience. Test different fixes to bring your bounce rate down, and increase visitors’ time on your website.
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