Reducing the bounce rate of a website is always a good thing. It's directly related to your user experience and it's one of the most controversial analytics metrics.
Google defines bounce rate as following:
“The percentage of single-page visits (i.e., visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page).”
Essentially, this means that when a visitor “bounces” from a page, they have left the page and site after only viewing one page.
While this definition is pretty simplistic, the underlying cause of a bounce can sometimes be more complex.
Sometimes a high bounce rate can indicate that a user experience is poor.
However, at other times, a high bounce rate can be an indication of a positive user experience.
For example, if a user is searching for a recipe for chicken marsala to make for dinner and they click on a search result, and immediately see the ingredients that they need and hop off the site, then that would be a great user experience.
The visitor instantly found the information that they were looking for and then left.
On the flip side though, if a user comes to a site thinking that they are going to see a chicken marsala recipe, and instead see a recipe for chicken parmesan and quickly hop off the site, then that would be a poor user experience.
The visitor was misled and did not find the content that they needed. The high bounce rate in that situation would be a negative one.
In the last few years I have worked with many websites and I want to share here 21 proven techniques that reduce bounce rate and improve user experience:
1- Relevant keywords
One of the best ways to reduce your bounce rate is to target relevant keywords. There is no point in targeting keywords that have low or no value for your website. People search for queries and expect to have relevant content/ product/ service according to what they search, which means the keyword you are targeting must match their intents. I would suggest you to check your bounce rate for blog posts that have low search CTR.
2- Relevant content
The second very important way to reduce bounce rate is relevant content. When people search for keywords and land on your website, they expect to read content that gives them value, solve a problem, show a guide, entertain and other thousands of reasons.
HubSpot found out that businesses that update their blogs with relevant content, have 126% more leads than those who don't.
If you generate relevant content, you will make people come back to your website because you have increased their trust.
You can generate more revenue from repeat visitors because you’ve established a level of trust with them.
Note: a good bounce rate is not measuring strictly who isn’t buying. This metric is determining the site visitor who isn’t interested in staying on the site. If people stay, read and look at other parts of your site, there is a good chance you have developed trust and they will return.
3- Readable content
This is an appendix of the previous technique. There is no point in having lots of content if it's not made readable for both humans and search engines. I could write a book about how to produce readable content and it's plenty of advice on how to do it, but please remember you need perfect grammar, an introduction, a main part and a conclusion. Also between paragraphs, it's good to put sub-titles to differentiate different part of the same article.
Here is an example of non readable content with a huge chunk words:
As a consequence of this, customers do not even bother to read the whole article.
If you look at my posts, it's easy to read them because I use easy to read formats:
Here some tips on how to write readable content:
Use sub headlines to highlight key points
Use bullet points to explain benefits
Bold keywords a few times
Use images, charts, quotes from experts
End your content with a "Conclusion"
4- Relevant tasks
In my experience working for e-commerce websites, I have seen all sort of mistakes regarding tasks. Websites asking users to perform things like subscribing to newsletter, giving a feedback, downloading an e-book and buying the product at the same time on the same page. Obviously, what happens is you have a high bounce rate. So my advice is make sure you know what you want people to do and make it simple and fast for them.
5- Website loading speed
It has been found that loading speed affects sales, via bounce rate. Users expect the website to load quickly and a lower page has a significant drop in revenue. Some estimates say up to 1% loss for every 100ms delay in page load time.
It can be difficult for websites to measure the impact of page speed on user experience themselves. Google Analytics takes a very basic measure of website speed as experienced by your visitors - they show overall page load time for a sample of 1% of visitors.
Now, the link between page speed and bounce rate is clear. This graph below shows what's the bounce rate of a website according to the time it takes to load a page:
The bounce rate increases as page speed goes up, meaning that more people are only visiting one page the slower the first page they visit is. For users with an average page load time of 2 seconds, the bounce rate is quite low - only 9.61%.
6- Limit pop-ups
Pop-ups are very annoying marketing tools for visitors. In 2013 70% of users said they find pop-ups to be annoying.
They interrupt the user experience but there is of course a way to make it work without reducing the bounce rate. How? It depends. If you have a blog, your goal is not just to make people read what you are writing, but also to collect email addresses. In this case, pop-ups are not recommended up until the visitors has scrolled at least 75% down the page. Have a look at my guide on how to track visitor page scrolling.
If your intent is to only create an email database of prospects, then you can make the pop-up appear within 5 seconds. In this case, make sure they are really motivated to leave you their email, otherwise they will just leave the page and your bounce rate will sky-rocket.
As a general rule, if you want to use pop-ups to generate email list, fine. I have been using pop-ups myself and they work really well, however the experience of your users can be improved if you follow these simple rules:
Choose to be unobtrusive. If you have to choose between full page pop-ups and a tiny bar on the top, I would advice you to check the data. If the tiny bar is having the same conversions as the huge full page pop-up, choose the bar.
Offer real value to your customers. Instead of saying: "subscribe to our newsletter", say this: "Down the case study: how to use UX analytics to improve SEO". As you can see there is much more value.
Mind your language. Some pop-ups which cause me to leave give you the choice: "Increase my conversions or no thanks, I want to ruin my website". This is a bully language that instigates fear of missing out. Don't shame your visitors into agreeing with the offer.
7 - Improve internal search
Internal site search is one of the most important features of your website and it can make or break your bounce rate. Finding out how people use your internal website search box is an important insight. Each time a user is searching your website, they are telling you what they are looking for. This means that if they don't find the right results, your bounce rate will increase.
A few tips on how to find out the performance of your internal search box:
Check data on keywords they are using. Go to search keywords and find out the list of words users are searching for within your website.
Find out if they are satisfied with what they find. Check % Search Exits report. % Search Exits tells you the percentage of searches in which the user simply left your site after searching instead of clicking any of the results pages that you offered.
Check Results Pageviews /search. A related metrics to find out search performance is Results Pageviews / search. This is the number of times users viewed a search result page after searching.
8 - Outbound links on new tabs
Sometimes you have to link to external websites from your own website. It happens because you have made reference to a research, as I have done in this post, because you have affiliate links and for many other reasons.
With any CMS, it's possible to link to websites but what most marketers don't do is opening those links on a new tab and letting users slip and visit another website. This causes your bounce rate to increase. So I would suggest a simple trick: just make sure you open a new tab when people click on outbound links, this way users do not leave your website and your bounce rate won't go up.
If you use WordPress, you can probably see this feature to open links on a new tab:
These 8 proven ways of reducing your bounce rate will also improve your UX, which in turn will increase traffic to your website from search engines. For any questions, please contact me directly or comment and I am happy to reply.