Traffic is always a good thing. Getting more people to your site means you’ll have more opportunities for conversion, which ultimately means more revenue. But traffic numbers can make you think you’re doing better than you actually are—getting 1,000 visitors a month is a decent start for a site, but what if only a fraction of those visitors stick around for longer than a few seconds?
Today’s average user is impatient, discerning, and fast. If you don’t give them what they want, they’re going to leave before you even have a chance to convince them you’re a worthy brand. If you notice significant volumes of traffic bouncing before taking any meaningful actions, it’s probably due to one or more of these seven motivations:
If you go to a site, and your first impression of it is a row of ads across the top, followed up with a pop-up ad, would you stick around? Neither would the average visitor. A handful of ads won’t be a problem for anybody, but if you bombard your users with advertisements, don’t expect them to stick around for long. This includes ads for outside products and vendors as well as direct ads for your own services. Keep your priority on your own design and content, and keep those ads to the sides, to small spaces in the header, and to slow-delay pop-ups that can easily be clicked out of.
Design can be a subjective thing, so unfortunately no matter how “good” or “modern” your design is, you’re bound to get a handful of people leaving your site because of it. However, with an obsolete or clearly old-world design, you’ll wind up alienating the majority of your potential audience. If your site looks like it’s from 1997, or if it doesn’t seem to fit with sites of your competitors and contemporaries, it could be time for an update. You’ll also want to make sure your site is optimized for mobile—otherwise, you’ll lose out on a major percentage of the population immediately.
Nobody likes to be forced to take action before they even get a look at your content. Forcing your users to sign up for an account or hand over their email address for a newsletter is a surefire way to send most of them out the door. Asking for this information isn’t bad—in fact, it’s a good way to get more leads and learn more about your target audience—but do so only after a user has been on the site, and don’t withhold your content to force the move. Make at least some of your content visible no matter what.
The content on the first page your users land on will be the most significant in persuading them to stay. Because users could theoretically enter on any page of your site, it’s in your best interest to make sure every page of content is informative, clear, interesting, and written in your unique brand voice. If your words don’t “speak” to a consumer the moment they enter, you can say goodbye to any chance of them looking around for more.
Loading time may not seem like that big of a deal, but users can sometimes abandon a site within seconds if it doesn’t load fast enough. Modern users are used to near-instant connection speeds, so if your site has even a brief hiccup, it could be enough of a dissuasion to force a departure entirely. Your big obstacle here is the mobile realm—sites tend to load slower on mobile devices, which means valuable seconds are added to your loading time. Be sure to clean your images of meta data, shrink your images, remove any unnecessary plugins, and remove old content to keep your site in working order.
Users need to be shown where to go immediately or they’ll lose interest and never come back. A clear, concise navigation bar will help them immensely. Offer up your most important pages (usually four or five), then group your sub-pages into those broader categories. Theoretically, in a matter of seconds, users should know exactly who you are, exactly what you do, and exactly what pages they need to find out more or make a decision. You’ll also want to include a sitemap in the footer.
This is the most subjective item on this list. If your content and purpose are deemed irrelevant or impractical by your audience, they’re going to leave. This could be because a user doesn’t fall into your target demographic or because your messaging isn’t clear or concise enough to make a compelling case. Which reason is up to you to decide—it either calls for an adjustment to how you’re attracting an initial audience or an optimization of your content.
Now that you understand the main reasons why people leave websites prematurely, you can take action to stop it from happening altogether. Like optimizing ads for maximum potential or optimizing a content strategy, it’s almost impossible to do all at once. Instead, you’ll have to take it one step at a time, making a fix, checking the results, and keeping the fix if it appeared to do some good. Be patient, watch your data closely, and eventually, you’ll be able to keep your visitors onsite for longer.