Look carefully at your website. Does it suffer from a ‘high bounce rate’?
This is a matter of real importance, for studies have shown consistently that most websites have a 30% to 50% bounce rate. And any bounce rate greater than 50% generally is an indication of poor UX (user experience) – something which can definitely damage your site’s search rankings.
At Trent & Hanover, we are very well aware of the huge importance of how customers perceive a website upon first viewing, given our work as a London based SEO company and Web Design Agency – each of which must be finely tweaked to ensure a site’s bounce rate is not too high. After all, a really intriguing website isn’t the kind of place which a potential customer would lack interest in – it’s all about having a site which customers wouldn’t want to merely leave after looking at just the first page or which they’d backtrack from to elsewhere.
Here are some tips from us on how to lower your bounce rate.
Explanation of bounce rates
In short, bounce rates are the percentage of any given site’s visitors who choose to either leave or end their session without bothering to look at a second page on the website.
For instance, a website on which 1000 people visit but 600 of said 1000 leave before clicking through to a second page would have a bounce rate of 60%.
Bounces occur when a visitor to your website does one of the following things:
A. If they close their window or web browser tab
B. If they click the ‘back’ button on their browser
C. If they click on a link to another website
D. Or if they just remain on the page for a minimum of 30 minutes – which is also called a ‘session timeout’
If you install Google Analytics, you’ll be able to monitor every aspect of your site’s bounce rate – this covers both page-specific and site-wide bounce rates, a site-wide one being the average total of the bounce rate of all your website’s pages.
What else can you do?
Make sure you link to related pages on your site
If you publish links to related pages on your website, and do so at the bottom of any articles or posts you’ve made, and a visitor clicks a link to any of these related pages – such as articles related to ransomware or cybersecurity, for example – then your site’s bounce rate will accordingly decrease.
If you’re using WordPress to run your business’s website, plugins are also available to make this process automated; the YARPP (Yet Another Related Post Plugin) was designed for this reason in particular. It displays links to any related pages at the bottom of your posts and is completely customisable.
Avoid allowing popups to any external sites
While popups might seem useful – especially for their original purpose, which was as a vehicle for online advertisements – they have since become a form of intrusive advertising which not only dilutes websites’ UX (user experience), but also cover up content.
Only adding further to this is that they give visitors an opportunity to trigger a bounce by exiting your website.
While it’s fine to run experiments with popups if you feel it’s necessary or worthwhile, tread around them carefully. We’ve worked in Web Design and as a London SEO company for years and for this reason we know just how crucial it is for every aspect of a website’s design to be tailored and tweaked correctly, which is why we at Trent & Hanover are in an ideal position to give you these pointers.
Checking for ‘Browser Cross Compatibility’
Do you have Google Analytics installed on your site? If you do, use it to analyse your average bounce rate according to your visitors’ web browsers.
Let’s say your bounce rate with one platform – such as Firefox or Internet Explorer – is 68%. But with another – let’s say Google Chrome – it’s only 46%. This would naturally point to cross-compatibility issues.
Because each web browser uses different processes and software to read websites, this means that there’s no guarantee your site’s ability to function well on one web browser indicates it’ll function so well on another. You need to make it a priority to fix any cross-compatibility issues – especially ones which increase your site’s bounce rate.
Make sure you display links to any popular pages on your sidebar
If you notice one of your site’s pages receiving a particularly large chunk of traffic and/or visitor comments, then add it to your sidebar.
However, if you display links to your most recent pages, this could also reveal less-popular pages which a typical user might be less inclined to visit.
Try using WordPress’s built in widget for displaying popular pages and posts; if it’s not incompatible with your site’s theme then you can add it to your sidebar. Then these links will be displayed automatically.
You also have the option to create links for them manually, of course.
Another way to lower your bounce rate is if you implement a site search feature. Visitors will then be able to look in the search box for what they can’t find using standard site navigation.
As a Web Design Agency, we know the importance of tweaking your site correctly to make it most accessible to your visitors; display this search box in a place they’ll easily see and be drawn to, and take advantage of design features like using colour contrast to make it more visible and lower your site’s bounce rate simultaneously.
Your site must be mobile friendly
Given that statistics clearly show more than half of all internet traffic coming from mobile devices, you need to ensure your site is correctly optimised for both tablets and smartphones of all brands.
If it isn’t, then the average mobile visitor might just leave without bothering to look through a second page; no one likes to use a website which is poorly optimised.
One of the best ways to prevent mobile compatibility issues is to use a RWD (responsive web design), which means your site will automatically adjust to provide visitors with a fluid design regardless of whether it is accessed on a computer, tablet or smartphone of any kind.
Make sure you create a custom 404 page
While you should do your best to ensure no visitor encounters a 404 error page, it’s not always possible to accomplish this, no matter how well coded it is.
For example, let’s say that a user on another website clicks a link pointed to your website – but it contains the wrong URL. This may then lead to an increased bounce rate if they encounter your 404 page.
The best way to minimise any damage caused by 404 page encounters from your visitors is to create a custom one. This is because, unlike a typical 404 page – which is an error that, if a visitor accesses, will trigger a bounce – a custom 404 page, one with links pointing to other pages on your site – like your homepage – will not trigger a bounce.
Is a high bounce rate always bad?
It’s both a matter of interest and importance to be aware that some web pages, amazing as it may seem, are actually designed to have naturally high bounce rates. This is also related to landing pages, for when a landing page contains links to other websites – which is typical, as intermediate landing pages usually contain very little original content – then visitors will naturally be drawn to click the links, leave your site and trigger a bounce. In this case, it’s only natural.
The bottom line? It depends.
In our years of work as a London based SEO company, we at Trent & Hanover have made it our business to understand the importance of everything related to successful web development, including the importance of bounce rates; this is why we are able to give you such detailed tips. In the end, don’t worry too much, but just be aware of them: bounce rates, after all, are merely one metric you must monitor when optimising your website.
You should also take the time to look carefully at exit rates, the average time visitors spend on your website, unique vs returning visits, and, of course, traffic sources. And if you analyse these metrics correctly, you can most assuredly optimise your site to excel in whatever niche it fits.