Is a High Bounce Rate Killing Your Site’s Conversions?

bounce-rate-1Bounce rate is a critical measurement that many webmasters seem to overlook. When you’re constantly monitoring and analyzing your site’s search engine rankings for target keywords along with actual traffic and conversions, it’s easy to forget about something as simple as the bounce rate. However, a high bounce rate can negatively impact a website in several different ways, lowering conversions, rankings and visitor engagement.

What Is a Bounce Rate?

Let’s first go over the definition of ‘bounce rate,’ as some people are likely hearing about it for the first time. Basically, it’s a measurement of the percentage of visitors who exit from a website, or bounce, without visiting a second page.

A webpage with a 33% bounce rate means that 1 out of 3 visitors landing directly on this page from an external source are leaving the site (backing out through their browser, visiting external links, etc.) without clicking through to another internal page.

Allowing pages, or even your entire site, to suffer from a high bounce rate will only hinder your conversions while sending the wrong message to Google. Google’s ranking algorithm views sites with a high bounce rate as irrelevant and not meeting visitors’ expectations.

If people are constantly ‘bouncing’ from your site as soon as they enter, it’s usually because they aren’t finding what they are looking for. By showing your visitors the right content (whether it’s an article, video, image gallery, or product), they’ll naturally want to stay on your site; thus, lowering your bounce rate.

Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate: What’s The Difference?

Many people wrongfully assume that bounce rate and exit rate refer to the same type of metrics. Although they share some similarities, they are two entirely different forms of website metrics. So, what’s the different between bounce rate and exit rate?

Bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors who leave the website without clicking through to another page, while exit rate is defined as the percentage of visitors who leave the page in question.

Think of it like this – a website’s visitors can click through to multiple pages while still being counted on the exit rate. A webpage with a 10% exit rate means that 1 out of 10 visitors who land either internally or externally are exiting the page.

Identifying Bounce Rates and Exit Rates

Assuming you are running Google Analytics on your site (which you should – it’s free, easy-to-use, and offers tons of valuable data), checking your bounce and exit rates is a quick and easy process that should only take a couple of minutes.

After logging into your Google Analytics account, look down at the bottom part of your screen on the ‘dashboard’ section. Along with other metrics, you should see bounce rate defined in a percentage. It’s important to note, however, that this is site-wide bounce rate and not page-specific. To see which pages are suffering from a high bounce rate, and which ones doing well, you’ll need to click on the ‘Content’ tab followed by ‘Top Content.’

This will reveal a table of data related to your top pages, including metrics like page views, average time spend on page, bounce rate and exit rate.

Another tip I recommend is to check the bounce rate of your traffic sources. Click on the ‘Traffic Sources’ tab followed by ‘All Traffic Sources’ to see a similar table filled with data. This will allow you to see what traffic sources are performing well (low bounce rate) and which ones aren’t (high bounce rate).

So, what’s the average bounce rate for a website? There’s really no easy answer to this question, as it depends on the niche, site structure, function and the site’s overall goal. With that said, 40-50% seems to be the average most websites.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should strive for a 50% bounce rate, though. Webmasters should constantly analyze and work to improve their bounce and exit rates.

Tips For Lowering Your Site’s Bounce Rate:

  • Add links to relates posts or articles at the bottom of your pages.
  • Create an ‘About Us’ page (visitors will oftentimes visit this page to learn more about your business/site).
  • Interlink your content with relevant anchor text words and phrases.
  • Don’t limit your interlinking strictly to text, but also include images.
  • If you’re running a blog, add a ‘Popular Posts’ widget.
  • Only publish well-researched, engaging content that visitors actually want to read.

Google also offers some helpful information regarding bounce rate. In this article, they advice webmasters to “Analyze specific data. A general site-wide bounce rate can vary too much due to the different marketing activities that run concurrently.

Consider your bounce rate for specific traffic sources. Using other dimensions, like medium, campaign, landing page, to evaluate your bounce rate can also be more actionable than your general bounce rate.”

Ultimately, fixing a site with a high bounce rate boils down to trial and error. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your site’s design, structure, layout, font, etc.