High Bounce Rate and What to Do About It
I'm sure that you've all had one morning where you proudly opened Google Analytics to analyze the performance of your new website only to realize instead that your bounce rate is catastrophic. Scandal! After a few minutes of anguish and existential questions, you jump on Google to find a good article on "high bounce rate and what to do about it" hoping to find good solutions for your boss. Ok. Let’s get this out of the way: this is NOT catastrophic. It’s not necessarily because your site is ugly, that your content is not interesting, that your business has no value, that you are not in the correct domain or [insert any other major drama]. Your site is not in critical condition.
Now that the crisis is over, I will explain four different reasons why your bounce rate can be high. First, here’s a crash course on Analytics 101: What is the bounce rate, exactly?
"Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page). " (Source: Google Analytics)
So no, bounce rate does not mean a person lands on your site and then runs away. (OK. It's possible, but try to stay positive). This means that a person came to your page and did not go further on the site. So they came back to the previous page, left the page or typed a different URL. This leaves room for 1000 different interpretations. Okay, but how do I know if my site REALLY has an issue with relevance or interest? That's the real question and here are the different paths to determine the actual problem.
1. The niche of your site naturally has a high bounce rate
Before you embark on tedious analyses, determine what type of niche you fit in. For example, if you own a blog, it’s NORMAL that the bounce rate is high. Why? Because, as I said earlier, Google labels each visitor who took no action on the page as a bounce. So if a person finds your article on the search engine, reads it and returns on Google to continue their search elsewhere, this person will be considered a bounce, even if they read your article. If you have a landing page, a website about news, photography or even recipes, it is possible that the bounce rate is high for the exact same reason.
Add calls to action clearly inciting the reader to explore your website. Hyperlinks (like this) pushing visitors to learn more are excellent for this. These links, however, must lead to a page on your site, or they will increase the bounce rate even more!
Otherwise, you can always add a script that detects scrolling and sends an event that calculates the number of people who went down the page. Comparing this with the "average time spent on the page," you will get a good idea whether people actually read your page or whether they are just testing the fluidity of their touchpad.
2. Your users experience technical problems
I’m glad to inform you that you do not have a single website, you have dozens! Your website will offer a different experience to your user depending on:
- Whether he is on mobile or computer
- The brand of his device
- His browser
- The size of his screen
- The download speed
So the question is: is your website well suited for all platforms? Is it responsive? If your site crashes on a particular platform or if your site is too slow, it is a clear bounce.
How do I know?
Super easy! You open Google Analytics and you go under the Browser and OS tab like this:
Audience <Technology <Browser and OS
From this page, you will have different key dimensions as follows:
With these dimensions, you can know the status of your site! So, you know which are the most popular platforms and formats to prioritize. If you notice a platform with more than a 50% bounce rate (make sure there is a sufficient number of sessions, because 1 session with 100% bounce rate does not count!) it tells you there’s perhaps a problem. So you can push your investigation a little further with the help of your favourite developer.
Here is another useful report for the type of device:
Audience <Mobile <Devices
And another for the speed:
Behavior <Site Speed <Overview
For speed, you can still have data via Google Analytics, but personally, I highly recommend Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool gives you an overall idea of the speed of the entire site through a score out of 100. It’s easy to use and even suggests corrections. Isn’t that beautiful?
3. You do not attract the right visitors
This recommendation is primarily for people with SEM campaigns (for others, it's always good to know, because these tips are also applicable for SEO). It is possible that you did not use the right keywords in your ads or that you’re not even targeting the right audience (for Display ads). How does your "good" customer find you? What expressions does he use? A word that seems obvious to you may not be right for him. There are a lot of tools that allow you to select the right keywords. Use AdWords keyword planner, it's free! Otherwise, there are several paid tools such as Keyword Finder which is super easy to use and inexpensive.
Another important tip: keep your promises! When a user clicks on your ad, does he land on what he wants to know or must he seek information elsewhere on the site? I'm sure it has happened to you: you see an ad (or even a description on the search engine) on the desired subject, and then click on it. Unfortunately, you land on the home page and can’t find the information in question. Everyone has the same reaction: they leave! When you choose your landing pages, think of one thing: if I would recommend my product or my service to my best friend, what link would I give them?
4. Your content is not appropriate for your reader
Ok. I know I said in the intro that this was not necessarily the case, but we must face the facts that maybe it is! Anyway, as they say, "challenge yourself to better understand others," and that's exactly what you can do to improve your traffic. However, one important thing to mention: your content IS interesting. Of course. Why else would you have written it? However, is it really suitable for your readers?
Sometimes professionals are so engrossed in their environment that they forget that average people (i.e. their customers) don’t necessarily understand their jargon. It is not because they are part of your community that they are knowledgeable in your field. Why else would they call you? Get into details, use attractive pictures, write in a tone that will engage your reader. In short, write for him and not for you!
I can’t say it enough: get to know your customers! Make surveys, study your competitors, let them know that YOU have the best solution, but to convince them, you must know what motivates them to adapt your content accordingly.
Moreover, to improve your content strategy, I suggest you read this great article by my colleague Cassandra!
So what’s a good bounce rate?
There is no right answer, because it depends on your niche. I strongly recommend this infographic from HubSpot, who created an excellent summary of the different niches. To give an average, a good site has a bounce rate between 40 and 55% while blogs and landing pages are closer to 70 to 98%.
As I said, it’s not dramatic if your bounce rate is high. You have to see it as a constructive remark. This information is there to challenge you to improve your site. It is thanks to it - if you pay attention – that you will become a better web actor.
If you need more advice, I strongly suggest you to contact our team of experts, here. We will be happy to guide you through the various improvements you can make to your site! Otherwise, we have plenty of articles that can help you on our blog and of course, you can subscribe to our newsletter to receive them before everyone! (Look! Lots of hyperlinks!)
And good luck on improving your bounce rate!