Has this ever happened to you? You open your Google Analytics, take an excited look at your data…and bam! A huge bounce rate hits you in the face. It probably did – that’s why you are here. 🙂 Today, we are going to learn some awesome tips to reduce your bounce rate for good.
What is Bounce rate in Google Analytics?
Bounce rate in Google Analytics is the percentage of website visitors that landed on your website and left without interacting with your content. They didn’t click on any link or a button, nor they went to a different page of your website. They just came, saw, and left.
As a result, Google Analytics’ servers weren’t triggered by the website visitor who bounced. Which ended as a single-page visit.
Understanding bounce rate is really important for taking the right actions to fix it.
You did all the great work to actually make your target audience land on your website. Excellent! But you work doesn’t end there. Now that the user is there, you have to keep him entertained.
So why did he not interact with your content? Was the information not what he was looking for? Did the page take too much time to load? Was it difficult to navigate?
Today, we will find what are the different reasons a website visitor might bounce away. And when is the actual time to worry.
What is a good bounce rate in Google Analytics?
Before you panic about your bounce rate percentage, it is important to set up realistic expectations. It is absolutely normal to have some percentage of people who bounce away.
After all, users are different, and you can’t satisfy everyone at the same time.
According to Hubspot, these are the benchmark averages for the most popular website types:
- Content Websites – between 40% and 60%;
- Lead Generation – between 30 – 50%;
- Blog posts – from 70% up to 98%;
- Landing pages – 70 – 90%;
- Retail & Shopping Websites – 20-40%;
- Service sites – 20 – 40%;
As you can see, a bounce rate of about 20% is completely normal for the majority of the websites.
Some types such as blogs and landing pages, however, can reach 70%!
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should resign with the average benchmark and leave it there. You should do your best to keep it as low as possible.
However, it also means that you should know the industry benchmarks to put your bounce rate into context. Sometimes, when we think that bounce rate is high, it is actually more normal than it seems at first.
How does Google Analytics calculate bounce rate?
Bounce rate is measured as the ratio of one-page sessions to all sessions.
It is calculated by dividing the total number of one-page sessions by the total number of website visits. The formula looks something like that:
Bounce rate = Number of One-page visits / Total number of visits to the website
21 tips to reduce your Bounce Rate
Now that we understand a little bit more about the algorithm behind a bounce rate, let´s see how you can reduce it.
1. Content relevance
Probably the most important factor that affects bount rate is content relevance. This means that your content should be able to answer the query of your user.
The other day, I was looking for “best free plugins for google adsense“. So, I clicked on the first result that I saw, and I started reading.
Now, I am not interested in any paid plugin at the moment. Especially a plugin that costs 60 EUR to purchase – I am not even making that much money with my blog yet!
So, after clicking on the article, I quickly realized that the vast majority of the list was with paid and really expensive plugins. Needless to say, I was out just 5 seconds later.
And of course, without any interaction, which probably affected the bounce rate of the author´s article.
Because the content wasn´t true to my search query, I bounced. It not only didn´t answer my question, but it was the exact opposite of what I was looking for.
Of course, Google will always try to show you the results that have the highest probability of answering your query. However, as a company / advertiser, you need to help Google understand that your result is relevant for a certain search query.
How do you do this? With…
Keywords are the language that you use to communicate your content relevance to Google. It helps the search engine understand what your website or blog post is about.
So, one of the most efficient ways to reduce bounce rate is to make sure that your content is fully optimized for search engines.
If you don´t know how to do that, I highly recommend you my article Introduction to SEO for beginners.
Your goal should be to match the user´s search query to your content.
So, if a user searches for “cheap flights to Peru“, this is exactly what he is getting. Not the most expensive flights to Peru ever!
Here are some paid and organic examples:
2. Make your content easily readable
Now that you’ve made your content relevant, you also need to make sure that it is easily readable.
A landing page or a blog post that is difficult to read and understand won’t keep users for long.
A user wants to find the answer that he is looking for quickly. If you take too much time or the content is impossible to read, he will leave without interaction. Which, consequently, will increase your bounce rate – instead of reducing it.
The image above is from an article from Hubspot’s blog. It is called 30 Growth Hacking Tools Your Sales Team Will Love You For.
As you can see, the tools are listed with clear headlines and bullet points to indicate important information such as prices and utility.
This way, the user can easily scan the content in search of the best growth hacking tool.
Another great way to improve your content formatting is to add visuals:
These are my top tips for making a page or a blog post easily readable:
- Divide your content into sections with headings and subheadings;
- Try to keep your paragraphs short – not more than 5 lines per paragraph;
- Use bullet points to enumerate products, benefits, etc;
- Add visuals such as images, videos, infographics, charts, or quotes (but don’t over do it);
- Mix short and long sentences to give a more natural flow to your paragraphs;
- Focus on using active voice rather than passive voice when writing;
- Use formatting tags such as bold, italics, and underlines (as you can see, I use a lot of bold!
The paragraph’s length is especially important to take care of.
Long paragraphs are not only usually skipped by users, but they are terrible to read in mobile.
3. Take it easy with the Popups
As I was just browsing the web to take examples for this post, I just got reminded of why popups can be so annoying.
On the first page of Google, 9 out of 10 webs that I opened triggered a popup within my first one second on the page! Needless to say, I left the page directly without even closing the popup first.
I will probably never understand the point of launching a popup the first 5 seconds of a web visit. I fail to see any benefit to it for Marketing performance.
Popups might seriously disrupt the user’s reading. On top of that, how is he supposed to get excited about your popup if he hasn’t even had the chance to check out your content first? Which is probably a priority for the user who is just looking for an answer to his question.
The worst for bounce rate is when a popup takes the whole page and you can’t find the way out:
But seriously, if you really want to use a popup to market your product, you can. Just give the user more time! If he is still on the page after 30 or 45 seconds, he might actually become interested in your popup. Because he already found what he was looking for.
And if he left in the first seconds, your content didn’t match his search anyway. So a popup isn’t the one thing to worry about.
4. Improve your page load time
Another really important factor that impacts your bounce rate is page load time.
If a page takes too much time to load, the user might leave and try his luck with another search result.
This is especially true for mobile. According to Google, more than 53% of mobile users will leave a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Considering that mobile traffic accounts for more than 50% of global web traffic, page load time is definitely something to take into account!
Google´s comprehensive study also concluded that most pages still take over 15 seconds to load!
So, optimizing your page load speed is a huge factor to consider if you want to reduce your bounce rate. As you can see in the statistics above, the slower your page is, the higher your bounce rate will be. Which might not only affect user experience but also your overall search engine positioning.
Don´t know how to improve the loading speed of your website? You can visit Google´s developers page for their tips and recommendations.
You can also check your exact loading speed here.
5. Make your website responsive and mobile friendly
Smartphone devices are currently dominating Google´s search. According to Statista, more than 60% of Google searches are done via mobile.
Having said this, having a non-responsive website is a guarantee for high bounce rate.
Mobile-friendliness is not only a ranking factor but it is also key for retaining users on your website.
If you want to reduce bounce rate, you need to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile.
Otherwise, users coming from mobile traffic will find your page hard to navigate (or read), and leave without any interaction. A non-responsive website, combined with slow loading speed, is almost a recipe for bounce rate disaster.
You can take this mobile-friendly test to find out if your web responds well to mobile devices.
If the results are negative, don´t worry! Here are some tips on how to make your website mobile friendly.
6. Match your content to the right target audience
Bounce rate is directly associated with your target audience.
Let´s say that your website is all about cats and cat products. What will happen if you decide to target organically and with paid campaigns all people who has a pet?
Let me give you an example.
So, I have two guinea pigs and when I travel somewhere, I usually need to find someone to take care of them. Once, I got an ad for a web designed exclusively to connect pet owners with pet caretakers. I was just looking for someone to take care of my guinea pigs for two weeks, so I clicked.
When I got there, I realized that the web had three main sections:
I quickly realized that there was no product nor pet caretakers for guinea pigs, so I left without any interaction. Which probably affected the bounce rate of the company.
It might seem obvious, but many companies are tempted to expand their audience in an attempt to generate more leads.
However, you need to do this gradually and carefully to avoid being counter-productive. In this case, the company convinced me to visit their website with a targeted campaign, but they didn´t have a product for me. So, despite their Marketing efforts, they didn´t manage to retain me on their page due to imprecise targeting.
Having said this, make sure that you have a product or a message to match with your ideal audience.
If the user lands on your page expecting to find a cheesake recipe, don´t talk about tiramisu. 🙂 And vice versa. If your content is about a recipe book for desserts, don´t target people looking for soup recipes.
Your audience needs to be big enough to make sense for your company/product to exist in the first place. But not too big to disperse your purpose and message.
7. Improve your site navigation
Website navigation should be seamless and effortless for the users.
If they can´t find quickly what they are searching for, they will simply look for it in another place.
Try to think from your own perspective as a user. When you land on a page, even if you can’t find the answer to your query right away, you are subconsciously evaluating the utility of the page.
Within just a couple of seconds, you already know if you have interest in keep on browsing the website.
If your web navigation isn’t clear and easy to understand, users will probably not stay for long. It has to be as simple and intuitive as possible. After all, your audience isn’t here to complicate their lives trying to demystify the structure of your website.
8. Diversify your content
Let’s be honest: landing on a page just to see huge chunks of text without any visuals can be overwhelming.
Remember that your audience is different and people are stimulated by different types of content. Some people prefer to read without distractions, but others are more attracted by images or videos.
By diversifying your content, you give multiple options for a user to consume it. This way, he can choose the best format that answers his search query – and that he actually enjoys consuming.
Additionally, visuals such as videos, images, and charts, are also a great way to make your information more clear and well-structured.
Image credit: backlinko.com
9. Optimize your ad placement
If you are running ads on your website, optimizing their placement will be essential if you want to reduce bounce rate.
Ads can be just as distracting as popup windows. In fact, they can actually be even more annoying.
With popups, users can at least click on the X button to close the popup. And they will most probably not see it anymore.
Ads, however, are not as easy to get rid of. Even if you close them, you will still see a distracting message by Google asking you why did you close the ad:
And sooner or later, a new ad will appear on its place.
The most optimum ad placement will depend on your website or landing page. But, as a general recommendation, try to reserve the placement of static ads to just the sides of your pages.
This way, the user’s attention is not divided between multiple elements at the same time.
Additionally, you should avoid stuffing your webpage with too many ads.
Image credit: searchengineland.com
A user who lands on your page and immediately gets bombarded by multiple ads will probably not stay for long. It is not only annoying but also causes the impression that the website doesn’t care about actually helping its audience.
10. Website credibility
The lack of transparency on the Internet, combined with the millions of deceptive pages out there, definitely makes users think twice before staying for long on a landing page.
Users evaluate a website’s credibility within the first couple of seconds after arriving on it. If they feel that they can trust you, they will stay and interact with your content. As a result, you will manage to reduce bounce rate effortlessly.
If they don’t trust you, they will probably leave immediately and without any interaction. Which, consequently, will have a negative impact on your bounce rate.
Peep Laja, founder and author at the CXL Institute, shares some of his key tips for achieving website credibility:
- Web design – people often say that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. According to Peep, the same can be said about web design. People tend to trust attractive websites much more because they are perceived as more professional.
- Company contacts – keep your address, phone number, and any other relevant contact data visible at all times. If possible, place them in the header and/or sidebar apart from the footer.
- Make it easy for users to contact you. Besides from your address, email, and phone number, enable a contact form if hey have additional questions.
- Keep your language simple, relevant, and with flawless spelling. Broken grammar, incorrect spelling and complex terms are confusing and might cause the user to bounce off.
- Prices, testimonials, and reviews are a great way to gain your audience’s trust. Especially for online retail and ecommerce businesses.
You can check the full 39-point website credibility checklist here.
11. Clear CTA
If you are looking to reduce bounce rate, you need to have a clear and visible Call to Action placed on your website.
You will be surprised by how many times users don’t know what action is expected from them on a landing page. Your CTA should give a clear indication for that.
Do you want them to download your whitepaper? Or get a quote? Maybe directly buy your product?
If they can’t locate a clear CTA within the first seconds after arriving on a landing page, there are high chances that they might just bounce off.
On top of that, your Call to Action should also be compelling and enticing enough for users to take action. Otherwise, they will just take a quick look at content and not stay for more.
Here is an example of two clear and beautifully made CTA buttons by Sprout Social:
12. Perform proper analysis with Analytics
Analytics is extremely important for measuring and understanding the performance of your Marketing actions.
Google Analytics registers the bounce rate of both your website and its specific pages.
You can use this data to find out which pages have the highest bounce rate and impact the overall percentage for your website. This way, you can actually understand which one perform well – and which ones need improvement.
One metric that you should be monitoring carefully is the Exit page.
If you look at your Analytics dashboard, you will probably notice that many people exit through your home page. This usually indicates that they are not landing on a page that gives them the information that they are looking for.
To solve this problem, it is recommended to create more landing pages optimized for high-value keywords that your audience is searching in your niche. This way, you can ensure that they are designed to answer the user’s search query.
13. Use a session recording tool
Session recording tools are a great way to reduce bounce rate by understanding user behaviour.
If you haven’t used a tool like this before, it might sound creepy at first. But don’t get alarmed; the recorded data is completely anonymous.
Watching recorded sessions of user’s activity on your website can help you understand how they engaged with your content. You can see how far they scrolled down and at exactly what point they left. Did they read through your page? Or just scanned quickly and left?
Common patterns from multiple sessions can help you identify why a bounce rate is high for a specific page. If all users just scan the page rapidly and leave, it probably doesn’t answer their question.
Now, you should try to identify what search query makes them arrive to this page. And why it isn’t giving them the information that they are looking for.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, a good and completely free session recording tool is Yandex Metrica.
It is an Analytics tool developed by the biggest Russian search engine: Yandex.
Its session recording feature gives you detailed information about user’s activity on your pages. Details such as the date and time of the visit, traffic source, and the time on page can be quite valuable. Especially when combined with the actual recorded session across different pages!
14. Use heatmaps
Another tool that often goes hand by hand with session recording are heatmaps.
A heatmap is a visual representation of data that shows you which were the most clicked elements of a specific page.
A heatmap will help you discover the areas of your page that don’t attract visitor’s attention. These are the ones that contribute to a higher bounce rate.
By identifying non-engaging elements, you will be able to improve your page navigation. This way, you will be able to remove or fix any links, images, and buttons that users don’t interact with.
Combine it with an analytics and a session recording tool, and you have enough data to help you reduce bounce rate significantly!
15. Open links in new tab
User experience should always be on your mind when designing your website.
Something as little as having your links open in the same tab can actually have a negative impact on your bounce rate. It can create user experience fatigue for your audience.
This also means that the risk for user distraction with the new site or page increases. On top of that, having to click back to return can be annoying. Especially if the user clicks on multiple links and repeatedly has to click back to continue reading.
As a result, your exit and bounce rate might increase. Thankfully, you can avoid that by setting all your links to open in a new tab. Even if they link to another page within your website!
If the new page provides better information, the user can simply close the tab that he isn’t using anymore.
16. Add other related content
The goal of each website is to keep its audience engaged for as long as possible.
Adding related posts or pages can be a great way to do that. Here is why:
- Even if users don’t find the answer to their query immediately, they might find it in the recommended content;
- The number of page views within a single session will increase, and this will reduce bounce rate as a consequence;
- The time spent on page will increase as well, improving your overall performance;
And, as we already know, an engaged audience means lower bounce rate.
When a user interacts with your content by clicking and moving through pages, he will stay longer on your website. For Google, it means that your content is highly relevant and responds well to his search query.
17. Use internal links
Internal links guide your audience through additional content on your website that might be helpful for them. Internal linking is not only a great SEO practice, but it also keeps your users entertained for longer.
This way, they might stay on your website even if they found what they were looking for. Just as recommended posts, internal links help you increase engagement, page views, and session length. Which, consequently, will help you reduce bounce rate.
Of course, don’t go overboard either! Internal links should be used in moderation. And of course, don’t forget to configure them to open in a new tab.
18. Optimize your meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are an HTML attribute that provides a summary of your page. To put it simply, they are the brief texts that appear below the headline of a search result:
Google uses meta descriptions to showcase a snippet of your web page. If you don’t provide such to the search engine, it will display it automatically by extracting text from the page itself.
Meta descriptions provide an additional information to the user to let him know what the page is about. They also help him decide which result to click on from the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
This means that your meta description needs to be clear, helpful, and exciting. It needs to convince the user that this is the best result to click on.
However, meta descriptions can also help you reduce bounce rate. How?
You see, a meta description sets up certain expectations to your audience. When they read it, they will expect to find certain content – and probably the answer to their query.
However, if your meta description is poorly optimized, it can end up being misleading. It means that your users will expect to find something that isn’t actually on this page. And of course, they will bounce once finding out that your content isn’t what they were searching for.
For this reason, it is really important that you optimize your descriptions with the user in mind. What will he find upon landing on your page? Try to be as clear and transparent as possible, and always include your keyword for that page.
And of course, don’t let Google pull this information automatically! This doesn’t always end up well.
The Yoast plugin recommends an ideal meta description length between 121 and 156 characters.
19. A/B Test your landing pages
Another great way to observe user behaviour is by A/B testing different landing page designs. Sometimes, what we think will work does not coincide with what the user actually prefers.
Even if you are implementing the best possible practices for a landing page, it is important to remember that every business and industry is unique. What experts recommend that worked for them doesn’t always mean that it will necessarily work for you as well.
For this reason, it is always the best idea to let the users decide. Try with multiple designs, observe their bounce rate and conversion rate, and see which version keeps your audience the most engaged.
20. Offer live chat support
The main reason why people go to Google is to look for answers.
In an ideal world, the results that show up on the first page are supposed to give the best answers for a specific search query. However, this is not always the case.
Implementing a live chat support is a great way to provide additional help and information for the user. This way, even if he doesn’t find the answer that he is looking for right away, he might go straight to the live chat to ask directly.
A well-prepared customer support professional might not only resolve the person’s query, but also speed up the conversion process. This way, a live chat support might significantly increase user engagement, and in turn reduce bounce rate.
If you are looking for a live chat widget, you can consult this page for more information.
21. Update outdated content
As blogs grow and time goes by, your content often gets outdated.
It happens to me all the time. As a Marketing professional working in a constantly-changing industry, I often find my articles outdated within the matter of months. It is hard to keep up! Especially when you write about a digital tool that completely changes from one day to another.
It is extremely important to keep your content fresh by updating it constantly. This is essential especially for blogs where new content is published weekly.
When I first started my blog, I wrote this detailed article about Moz’s domain authority tool. Just one or two months later, they completely changed the whole outlook and features of the tool! Suddenly, my article was no longer helpful to anyone.
Sometimes, it’s very easy to spot when content doesn’t correspond to its reality. This ends up in increased bounce rate as users move away to an article that answers their query with current information.
There are no shortcuts to having a consistently low bounce rate. No matter what Marketing gurus say, users are unpredictable and their behaviour can change over time. You just need to keep implementing the practices that we talked about in today’s article.
It is also important to avoid obsessing over bounce rate. As we already discussed, benchmarks show that a certain percentage of users leaving your page without interaction is completely normal. This means that you can lower this percentage, but you can’t eradicate it completely.
Now it’s your turn! What are some of the practices that you are already implementing to reduce bounce rate? Was there something that surprised you?
And of course, if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article! See you in the next one!