Bounce rates are frequently seen as a plague for websites. Indicating the portion of your audience who leaves your site without taking any further actions, high bounce rates mean you’ll see fewer conversions, lower rates of engagement, and ultimately, a lower ROI for any traffic generation strategy you implement. Fighting against these sometimes-inevitable stragglers can be a long, difficult battle, but as you make iterative progress, you’ll start seeing higher levels of user engagement, and of course, more conversions.
Fortunately, you don’t have to make a massive investment or completely overhaul the architecture of your site to accomplish this. You can reduce your site’s bounce rates with cumulative, non-intensive tweaks:
Your first job is to make sure the users who visit your site have a reason to be there. It makes sense that if a user isn’t interested in what you have to offer, he/she will leave almost immediately. Accordingly, you’ll need to ensure all your page titles, meta descriptions, and offsite brand associations are all aligned with your actual purpose—that means no optimizing for keywords. Instead, focus on highlighting who you are and what you do best. The rest should take care of itself.
Your onsite content needs to be readable—we’re talking a middle school reading level vocabulary and a conversational tone—or you’ll alienate the majority of your users. It also needs to be specific, telling users exactly what they need to know as early as possible in each respective piece. The entertaining factor also can’t be underestimated—create a vibe that keeps your visitors reading. These content qualities should extend throughout your entire site—not just your blog.
It’s tempting to include advertising on your site, especially some for your own products and services, but there’s a fine line between useful and annoying. Hammering your visitors with frequent or unavoidable pop-up ads is a sure way to influence bounces. Obnoxious ads on the side of your pages could also alienate your users.
There are probably a handful of key pages you want your customers to visit, such as a sale page for an e-commerce platform, a contact page for a B2B company, or a blog for a heavily invested content marketers. Your goal should be to make these important, informative pages as prominent as possible both in your site’s overall navigation and internally, with frequent callouts.
Minimalism is underrated when it comes to web design. It might be tempting to load up your website with “helpful” materials, such as a prominent, well-described search bar, a list of popular posts, advertising, and baroque designs to fill in the gaps, but realistically, the less you include the better. Minimalistic designs keep your users focused, and help prevent them from leaving your site altogether.
The speed of your site is important—some users will leave immediately if a site doesn’t load in the first several seconds of the attempt to access it. Reducing your load times, however you can, is essential. Lower your image sizes, streamline your design, eliminate any hosting issues, and keep your information cached and clear. This is especially important for mobile users.
Keep the pages of your site tightly interlinked. Each page of your site should link to at least one other page, and every page should have multiple links pointing to it from other pages of your site. This will keep your users venturing deeper and deeper into your world, and as a pleasant side effect, this process can also increase your search ranking. Sites with tightly connected page networks tend to have higher domain authorities.
If you find your users are dropping off at a certain point, try directing them to new areas with visual cues or verbal instructions with content. For example, you could include an arrow that points to a subsequent page, or include text in your article that tells users to “read more about it here.” This will naturally lead them to remain onsite.
Your bounce rate could stem from your content speaking too generally about a topic or about your industry. You have a specific target demographic, so do everything you can to target that group in your writing, design, and offers. If you’re unsure how to do that, conduct more market research and user surveys to guide your improvements.
Onsite search bars are easy to install no matter what type of site architecture you use. This will help your users find exactly the information they’re looking for, and will prevent bounces that occur out of frustration or the inability to find meaningful content.
As you learn more about how your users are using your site and what’s important to them, you’ll be able to make an educated guess about which new features will excite them or which current features are frustrating them. As such, optimizing for lower bounce rates is an effort in knowing your customer as much as it is an art of website development. Read into user behavior metrics in Google Analytics, conduct user surveys regularly, and don’t be afraid to experiment. The more you learn, the better you’ll get, and the fewer bounces you’ll have to deal with.