Bounce rates are online marketing killers. You might be radically successful in your inbound marketing strategy, funneling thousands of visitors to your site through search engine, social, and referral traffic, but if your bounce rates are too high, all that traffic won’t mean anything. If you want your users to stick around long enough to convert or at least learn a thing or two about your company, you’ll have to get those bounce rates down and keep your users engaged.
Unfortunately, lowering bounce rates isn’t always a straightforward process. It often includes major design changes that are more appealing to the eye or more inviting to the user, but not all business owners have the means or desire to experiment with such design changes. As an alternative, you can use one of these design-free strategies to decrease your bounce rate:
The first strategy you can use is also one of the easiest, though it might take some time for you to get your existing website up to speed. The process of interlinking involves tightly connecting the internal pages of your website together through hyperlinks, usually embedded in your page text. Interlinking accomplishes two goals: first, it gives users something to do by giving them a chance to venture further into the site, and second, it makes your internal pages easier to stumble upon because each page can be accessed in a fewer number of clicks. It also makes your site easier for search robots to understand, which can improve your domain authority.
Who is your audience? If you can’t answer that question, or you answered that question with “everyone,” you’ll be in serious need of adjusting your written voice. Your internal pages need to speak directly to your target demographic, and your target demographic needs to be as specific as possible if you want to minimize the chances of someone leaving. For example, if your target market is highly experienced marketers and you explain basic marketing concepts in simplistic terms, you could easily alienate your users and cause them to leave your site.
SEO best practices demand that there be an ample amount of written content on your site, across all your internal pages. Unfortunately, some business owners misinterpret this to mean that the more content you have, the better.
If you’re trying to lower your bounce rates, you have to focus on quality over quantity. It’s true that having more scannable text on your site can oftentimes make you appear more authoritative, but only when your material is well-written. Fluffy content or content stuffed with keywords is only going to irritate your users; if you want them to stick around, you need to reduce your message to the smallest possible space.
Make sure your on-page content adequately reflects the purpose of your page. If you have a page called “Services,” but instead, you talk more about your capabilities, you might feel like you’re capturing the intentions of your page, but you’re actually diverging from what your customers will expect. Do a thorough audit of your current site structure, including how your content engages your users on each individual page. Are you giving your users exactly what they expect to find? If not, you can be assured a large portion of your users are going to leave.
Another way to keep your users on your site for as long as possible involves increasing the value of each of your internal pages. You might have content, images, insights, facts, or something entertaining on your page, but is it truly valuable to your customer, or is it just filler to round out your web space? The easiest way to do this in a web format is to provide valuable information, but at the same time you have to understand what information is most valuable to your users, and deliver on that.
Oftentimes, users will bounce from a site simply because they don’t have anywhere else to go. They feel like they’ve reached the end of the road, so to speak, and will exit to move on to their next destination. In order to prevent this loss by apathy, you’ll have to direct your users through action-based language, or immediate calls to action. For example, at the bottom of one of your pages, you could lead into another with a phrase like “for more information on this, please see our page on…” Doing so gives your customers motivation and direction to venture further into the site.
Finally, simplifying your sitemap can work wonders for your bounce rates. Complicated navigations are one of the biggest contributors to user dissatisfaction, but if you can streamline your site structure and give your users a very clear path to any desired destination, you’ll instantly eliminate the problem. If you’re concerned about how your sitemap and navigation appeal to your target audience, enlist the help of some user testing to get a clearer picture.
If you want to keep your bounce rates as low as possible, you’ll need to commit yourself to nurturing your site. It’s highly unlikely that your first round of changes are going to instantly solve your problem; instead, you’ll need to monitor the effects your changes have, analyze which changes have had the greatest impact, and revise accordingly.