Erase Your Bounce Rate Fears and Doubts with our Ultimate 2019 Guide

Erase Your Bounce Rate Fears and Doubts with our Ultimate 2019 Guide

Erase Your Bounce Rate Fears and Doubts with our Ultimate 2019 Guide
57 min read
Georgina Wilson
Georgina Wilson 11 Jul 2019

At Together Digital, we love talking about online marketing strategy

We have an almost unhealthy obsession about ensuring our clients’ sites convert beyond expectation. 

But we also experience first hand in house marketing managers and teams within large B2B organizations who have given up on some of the key metrics we know make a massive difference. 

One of the major overlooked metrics is bounce rate. When measured and interpreted accurately, bounce rate data can bring about transformational marketing and financial impact. 

So many in house marketing teams seem to give up on this vital data before realizing how invaluable it is!

Some have a notion of what it is, but do not see how it fundamentally impacts their company. Some get exasperated looking for answers on the internet only to be met with confusion or outdated information.

And some assume that bounce rate is more of a B2C phenomenon which has little to no impact in a B2B setting.

If any of this sounds familiar, then read on!

By the time you are through, I am confident you’ll be shocked at how actionable and meaningful bounce rate data can be.

In fact, 2019 is the year to eradicate any blind spots you might have about bounce rate and propel this data into your decision making processes.

And, as Together Digital’s resident SEO geek, why would I personally think this is so vital from a traffic generation perspective?

It’s because I know how insanely valuable organic traffic is to businesses all over the world.

It’s because I have helped marketing managers change their and their bosses’ stars by revolutionizing the value they get from their websites.

And it’s because I learned years ago - the hard way - that getting traffic to a site which does not convert is much more than a waste of time, energy and resources…

It is soul destroying.

And above all, it often spells disaster for the business.

But enough about me. Why should you be interested in bounce rate?

Managing a website which fails to convert is a situation every Marketing Manager wants to avoid - at all costs.

The problem is that there is so much noise and misinformation out there.

Because of this, many marketing managers and inhouse Heads of Marketing understandably focus on the wrong things.

They look at stats like traffic increases and impressions before what really matters for 99% of all websites:

Interaction and conversions from the traffic received.

It makes perfect sense if you think about it:

What is the point of spending time and money to drive more traffic to your business website when you do not know for sure if it will result in proportionately more leads and sales?

I’m not talking about a handful of extra sales here and there when traffic has doubled.

I’m talking about fulfilment, Return on Investment and new revenue limited only by how much traffic you can get and your ability to fulfil.

As search engines like Google and Bing have become more complex, they have started to factor in more than just keywords in key areas of the page and incoming backlinks.

They now factor in user behaviour on your site, too.

Again, it makes sense if you think about it. Seeing visitors interact and spend time consuming content from a site is a pretty good signal that the site is helping the visitor with whatever they were looking for.

And this all brings us on to the concept of bounce rate.

Before looking at ways to optimize the bounce rate for your site, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some essential information.

Let’s do that now!

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Settle down & leave your bounce rate woes to us

Bounce Rate Basics

What is bounce rate?

Bounce rate is a measure of how “sticky” a website’s pages are.

In other words:

How effective a website is at keeping visitors on the site for the right reasons.

There are two different types of bounce rate: “sitewide” bounce rate and “page” bounce rate.

Sitewide bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors who visit your website and then leave it without either ‘converting’ (as defined within your analytics set up) or navigating to other pages on your site.

In other words, they ‘bounce off’ your site before you have really had a chance to help them or convert them into a customer.

Page bounce rate is similar, but applied on a page by page basis. In other words, a bounce happens when a visitor lands on a page on the site (called the ‘entrance page’) and then leaves without converting.

Each page on your site therefore has its own individual bounce rate.

Bounce rates can be measured over various lengths of time, for example weeks, months or even years. It can even be analyzed to identify trends, for example seeing if bounce rate is seasonal or periodic a specific parts of the week or month.

Websites whose important landing pages have a high bounce rate typically perform poorly.

What is considered a 'good' bounce rate?

This is a very valid question, but it is impossible to answer!

Let me explain why…

Imagine you are the Marketing Manager of a highly successful emergency plumbing business, with offices all over the country.

The website is top in class and converts like crazy.

Now imagine that you are the Marketing Manager of an equally successful global publishing business. You manage a global news website which keeps people informed and educated better than any of your competition.

How often do you think website visitors are going to bounce from the plumbing site? How often from the publishing site?

Will the bounce rates of these sites be the same?

To help understand, let’s think about two scenarios where website visitors might interact with these websites…

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“Get me a plumber NOW”

Scenario #1: The ‘married father of three’

Imagine if a married father of three’s home is filling up fast with water from a broken boiler or a leaking toilet.

Do you think he would be likely to marvel at the majesty of the plumbing website he just found for half an hour before deciding to call?

Or do you think he would jump straight on the phone and try to get through to that business immediately?

He’d want a plumber there ASAP, right?

Scenario #2: The Business Executive

Now consider a business executive accessing some high-quality news on the publishing site.

Would this executive be likely to behave like the married father of three with the rapidly flooding house (i.e. read it for ten seconds, make a phone call and then leave the page)?

Or would he or she be more likely to access and then read the content, possibly then navigating to other related articles?

Hopefully, these examples will show why the bounce rate varies so wildly between different industry sectors, website quality, website types and even where that visitor is within the marketing funnel for that site.

How is bounce rate calculated?

Bounce rate is expressed as a percentage. It is the percentage of single-page web visits (the jargon used for visits within Google Analytics is sessions).

In order to work out the bounce rate of a page, you need to divide the number of single visit website sessions to a page by the total number of sessions to that page over the same time period.

To work out sitewide bounce rate, this process is applied to all pages and the average bounce rate can then be calculated.

These calculations involve coding, technical expertise and mathematics, so luckily there are a number of easy ways to get this information.

By far and away the most popular tool out there - which is also FREE - is Google Analytics. All you need is a website and a Gmail address.

There is some excellent information online on how to get Google Analytics set up on your site. I’d recommend YouTube and Google’s own Analytics Academy as good places to start.

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Google's Analytics Academy.

Beyond the free version of Google Analytics, there are also paid solutions including a premium Google product called Google Analytics 360.

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It’s okay to not know what you’re doing

Are the bounce rate and the exit rate the same thing?

No, they are not.

The bounce rate is how many website visitors ‘bounce off’ the site before taking any action or becoming a customer. See the above for more detail on this.

Importantly, the bounce rate is only counted on bounces where the visitor bounces off the first page they visit.

In contrast, the exit rate is the percentage of visits to a page which were the last in a session. In other words, what percentage of a page’s traffic results in the traffic leaving the site before going elsewhere or interacting.

This can be confusing at first glance, so here is some official guidance from Google on this point together with some useful examples.

Is bounce rate important?

In a nutshell, yes.

Understanding bounce rate and being able to improve it enables marketing teams to increase time on site.

This improves the chances of conversion.

At the very least, longer time on site will give more data on what needs to be improved to increase conversion and user experience.

Aside from conversion and user experience, user engagement data is almost certainly being used by Google and other search engines to assess site quality.

This, in turn, is likely to affect organic rankings and therefore traffic. In fact, studies in 2018 have shown that if your website is stuck on page two, or even midway on page one, the user experience might well be the only thing keeping you from the top of page one.

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How does Google Analytics calculate bounce rate?

How is bounce rate calculated on Google Analytics?

Bounce rate is calculated in Google Analytics using the methods shown above.

If you haven’t read above, or have forgotten what it said, don’t worry! Here’s what you need to know:

An individual page’s bounce rate is the number of single page website visitors to that page divided by the total number of visitors to the same page over the same time period.

To work out sitewide bounce rate, this process is applied to all pages and the average bounce rate can then be calculated.

Bounce rate only gets counted on ‘entrance pages’

Entrance pages are the FIRST page a visitor lands on.

Bounce rate is expressed as a percentage.

Google Analytics is a sophisticated tool which can specify bounce rate not just by page and sitewide but by traffic source (organic traffic, social media traffic, paid traffic etc) and even by new or returning traffic.

What bounce rate is acceptable?

There is some evidence that sitewide bounce rates can be entirely acceptable anywhere between 20% and 70%.

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Source: https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/bounce-rate-sm.png

That having been said, “acceptable” is a very subjective term. There are so many variables involved that it is impossible to answer concretely in an article. Factors to bear in mind include:

  • The age and authority of your brand
  • The nature of the website’s business
  • The calls to action you want your website traffic to complete
  • Your attribution modelling strategy
  • The type of website you have
  • The industry standards in your particular markets

And so on…

Rather than looking for an ‘acceptable’ bounce rate, the best thing in house marketing teams and Marketing Managers can do is optimize their own website with a view to achieving the following aims:

  1. Getting the right traffic to the site
  2. Solving the problems behind why the right traffic arrived on the site
  3. Going beyond expectation, which, therefore:

Gets results in terms of increased social shares,

Gets results in terms of increased traffic and links, and ultimately,

Gets more sign-ups, more micro-commitments and more conversions.

How can I check my website’s bounce rate in Google Analytics?

Bounce rate is pretty easy to see in Google Analytics, but it comes up in all sorts of different places and this can be confusing.

The begin with, you are going to want to know:

  • What the bounce rate for individual landing pages is, and
  • What the side wide bounce rate is

If you want to find the bounce rate for individual landing pages, then log in to your Google Analytics account:

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Then select the Property and View containing the site you are looking to examine.

Once logged in, you can see page bounce rate by navigating to Behaviour ➡ Site Content ➡ Landing Pages. Below is an extract from our Google Analytics account:

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To find the sitewide bounce rate, head to Acquisition ➡ All Traffic ➡ Source/Medium

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Why measure and track bounce rate?

Measuring your site’s bounce rate and those of your target pages (target pages are pages you want to get seen and to convert for you) is very important.

It enables you to understand how well your site is attracting and maintaining website traffic.

In turn, this allows you to make data-backed decisions designed to improve user experience.

Improvements like these typically lead to better conversions on the site.

What factors influence bounce rate?

Bounce rate is influenced by a great deal of factors. Some of these include:

  • The type of site - studies show that website traffic behaves differently on different types of site.
  • Where is traffic is in the funnel - prospects landing on the site looking for information are more likely to spend time researching than prospects who are ready to buy. The latter might even register as ‘bounces’ in some cases whereas in reality, they are typically the best type of traffic.
  • Load speed - website visitors had waiting for pages to load. This is especially true on mobile devices. Fast load speed is essential if you want to optimize your site’s bounce rate. Load speed is a subject in itself, but investigating the following should help:

 •  What is your site’s load speed now? You can check Google’s official Page Load Speed Insights tool or free third-party sites like GT Metrix, Pingdom or the little-known Web Page Test, which gives some excellent insights backed with data.

 •  Check that your site enables GZIP compression. This is very technical, but ultimately GZIP compression makes file sizes of your website smaller, thereby enabling them to load faster when someone tries to access your site from their phone, tablet, or desktop.

 •  Check that your site leverages browser caching. This enables website visitors to avoid the need to reload whole pages each time they visit. Instead, cached elements of a website’s page can be stored as a cookie on visitors’ browsers. In this way, pages can load much faster for repeat visitors and this improves load speed.

 •  HTML files on the site can be compressed further in a special way, or ‘minified’. The more minified the files, the quicker they load. You should check this has been done with your website, and which files can be minified further. Google’s Page Load Speed Insights tool (see above for link) helps you work this out.

 •  CSS can also be minified, in exactly the same way as HTML can be.

 •  Javascript files can be minified, too!

 •  Longer term, you should check to see whether superior hosting and a Content Delivery Network, or “CDN”, are appropriate for your business.

  • Content Strategy.  Marketing Managers and in-house marketing experts should also consider whether Accelerated Mobile Pages and Facebook’s Instant Articles are a good fit for their business.  These solutions take cached versions of your content and store them on external servers. That way, when website traffic searches and finds your content they will be served a cached version of your AMP page (directly from Google) instead of the page on your site. Facebook will serve your article in a similar way from their own servers. The benefit is superior rankings (Google) and reach (Facebook) as well as super-fast load speed (both). The downside is that traffic will not be going to your site, but to Google and Facebook respectively. Additionally, any links built to the cached versions of these pages, a key SEO factor, will unlikely to be to your version of the content. In other words, you are building assets for the likes of Google and Facebook, and not for your own company.
  • Your website’s design. Calls to action, good user experience and effective copywriting are essential. All of them affect bounce rate fundamentally.
  • Advert-heavy pages. These can slow load speed and frustrate users immensely, leading to adverse bounce rate effects.
  • Confusing menu structures. Some people think this is only an issue with huge sites. Not true. Here is a case in point:

 •  A few months ago, I was looking at a six-page spray foam insulation website

 •  This website had a ‘home’ item on the left-hand side of the main navigation.

 •  On most websites, this leads to the home page.

 •  But on this occasion, it was a section of the site for ‘home insulation’, as distinct from office and industrial spray foam insulation.

 •  The main navigation was ambiguous and no doubt frustrating for people looking to get to the home page.

There are a great deal of factors beyond this list, but this is a good start.

Key Definitions

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What is a session anyway?

What is a session on Google Analytics?

A session is the collection of actions a website user takes on a website before the session ends.

Actions include navigating between pages, reading a page or pages, signing up for emails or newsletters, watching video which has been embedded on the site, buying items on the site, and much more.

There can be multiple sessions on the same site from a single user.

What is the duration of a session?

A session lasts until one of the following factors terminates the session:

  • The visitor could leave the site, by navigating to a new site in the same tab or by closing the browser.
  • A session timeout i.e. 30 minutes of inactivity.
  • A timezone expiry. All sessions terminate at midnight according to the time zone that the Google Analytics account has been set to.
  • Campaign timeouts.

The 30 minutes timeout for a session has been established as an industry standard for some time. However, this can be adjusted if it makes sense for your business.

What is the exit rate?

The exit rate is the percentage of visits to a page which were the last in a session.

Put another way, how much traffic leaves the site or terminates the session with that page as the last page of the session.

It is easy to confuse bounce rate and exit rate, but they are fundamentally different.

Here is some help on the differences.

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Entrance pages and exit rates

What is an entrance page on Google Analytics?

An entrance page is the first page a web visitor lands on when they access your site and therefore begin a session within Google Analytics.

This could be the homepage, a product or services page, an About Us page, or any other page on the site.

What does a bounce rate measure on my Alexa score?

Alexa is an Amazon-owned company. They offer a range of marketing services including competitor analysis.

They incorporate bounce rate data. Their version is very similar to the Google Analytics version.

Official Alexa documentation tells us that the Alexa bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who navigate away from a website having visited only one page.

High Bounce Rate Considerations

Why does my website have a high bounce rate?

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Why is your bounce rate so high?

Essentially, this will be because of technical issues, poor user experience, or both.

Technical issues include poor load speed, inconsistent web hosting, poor or broken design, and lack of mobile-friendly layout.

It may also be because you are not blocking spam or ‘bot’ traffic effectively from your Google Analytics account. There is a good discussion on how to do this here and also how to block spam traffic using your htaccess file here.

You can also use ‘filters’ in Google Analytics in order to remove a large amount of what has become known as ‘Ghost Spam’. Here is a Ghost Spam filter guide covering this technique.

Please bear in mind that changing your .htaccess file requires real expertise if you do not want to break your website. Very often, solutions not involving the .htaccess file are preferable.

So that covers off all the nerdy techy stuff...

But where does user experience fit in?

Poor user experience factors include poor calls to action, bad copy, poor branding, confusing menus, ad pop-ups or ad heavy landing pages, and many other factors which Google helpfully spent a lot of time and energy researching from a mobile perspective.

You can access their conclusions here.

Why is a high bounce rate bad for my website?

A high bounce rate might not necessarily be bad for your website: it depends on the type of website you have and the industry dynamics in your markets.

However, not having an optimized bounce rate will almost certainly harm your website and your business.

An unoptimized bounce rate is one where the website does not provide a good enough user experience.

In turn, this means website traffic goes elsewhere - fast.

Not only does this cost sales and other conversions, it also sends out negative signals to search engines. This can lead to lost search engine traffic from dipping rankings.

This is a downward spiral you want to avoid.

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“My bounce rate is 100%”

Why is my bounce rate 100%?

There are various reasons your site’s bounce rate could be 100%.

Often, Marketing Managers in charge of one-page websites (for example, brochure sites) fail to discern that most of their traffic will register as a bounce.

Perhaps the traffic coming to the site is all paid traffic (for example, Google AdWords and Facebook Ads) but it is being sent to a completely incorrect page. In this instance, most if not all of the traffic would bounce.

More usually, this happens due to coding errors either in the site itself or in the Google Analytics implementation or platform set up.

Why has my bounce rate suddenly increased?

There are a number of reasons why your bounce rate might suddenly increase. These are both technical and commercial.

If you have recently made updates to your website, especially a relaunch or rebranding, you might find that your new website is not working exactly the same as the old one.

This is not massively well-known, but there are millions of automated ‘bots’ out there on the internet whose job it is to access websites and crawl pages.

Many sites are designed to filter out some of this bot traffic.

For example, the file which tells search engines and other bots what files to access and which to avoid (the robots.txt file) is sometimes not copied across exactly to a new site, especially when the new site has a different structure.

This can be problematic because pages can end up unintentionally indexed in search engines. The result? Poor user experience and… you guessed it… a spike in bounce rate.

Another common problem is the way the ‘.htaccess file’ works on many new sites. This is quite techy - definitely do not try and play with this file yourself(!) - but this file can be used to block bot traffic accessing your site.

If the .htaccess file is not set up in the same way on the new site then you might see an influx of bot traffic which almost always amps up the bounce rate in your reporting.

The .htaccess file stops traffic landing on the site, but even if this traffic does appear there are ways to exclude it from your Google Analytics reporting numbers.

Many Marketing Managers or agencies advising businesses tend to set up new Google Analytics properties or views when updating a website. Herein lies the problem…

If spam is not excluded from the new Google Analytics set up then massive bounce traffic will start getting recorded and your site’s bounce rate will appear to spike upwards. You can learn how to exclude referral spam from your Google Analytics reports here.

The factors mentioned so far are all technical. But it could be that there are marketing reasons for a spike in bounce rate.

Have you recently updated your titles and meta descriptions? These are typically the ‘blue’ (title) and grey (meta description) texts on a search engine results page:

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If you have, then it is very possible that visitors to your site are not getting the same user experience as before.

The result - higher bounce rates when they navigate away and look for a better website to help them.

Low Bounce Rate Considerations

Can my bounce rate be 0%?

Typically, this indicates that there are technical considerations which are throwing off your data. Some of the most common 0% bounce rate causes are outlined here.

Bounce Rate and SEO

Is bounce rate important for SEO

Search engines are becoming more advanced with every passing day.

In the early days of search engine optimization, inbound links seemed to be the major factor in determining ‘site quality’ and therefore what would rank.

In today’s SEO landscape, however, things are much more complex.

It is known that engagement metrics are probably being factored in by Google and other search engines to assess site quality.

If this is true, then organic rankings and organic traffic will be impacted.

In fact, recent reports have shown that inferior user metrics may well be the only factor stopping sites shooting to the top of the rankings for competitive search terms.

Is bounce rate a ranking factor?

Probably not directly, but it is very relevant indirectly. Let me explain...

The bounce rate that you see within your Google Analytics account is 100% not a ranking factor used by Google.

For one thing, you can adjust the time which defines when a bounce is a bounce. Yes, you did read the previous sentence correctly: you can define what a bounce is.

Studies have shown bounce rates dipping from over 90% to under 12% just because of this manual adjustment in Google Analytics.

If this were to affect rankings, then webmasters would all be scrambling to adjust their bounce rates manually and Google’s search engine algorithm would be completely useless!

That having been said, Google’s income is almost all from ad revenue and people access these adverts in large part through the Google search engine.

But why do people choose Google?

There is only one real reason: it’s the easiest way to get the best results.

Google is therefore entirely dependent on maintaining the best results. If they get overtaken by a competitor or if the quality of their results starts to decline, then their business model no longer works.

In this context, they are using user metric data to check that sites on top of their search engine pages are the ‘best’ results.

So whilst bounce rate specifically is not a ranking factor, the things this data is telling you almost certainly are part of the data Google uses to decide between competing sites at the top of its search results.

Interactions with other Key Performance Indicators (‘KPIs’)

How can I work out if the bounce rate for my site is good or not?

Ultimately, it is impossible to tell whether your bounce rate is good or bad unless you look at it in conjunction with other KPIs.

Additionally, you need to measure and compare KPI sets over time to compare how each is improving.

First of all, you need to decide on your KPI set.

For most sites, I like to see a KPI set comprising the following when looking at organic traffic:

  1. Impressions of each URL on the site.
  2. Clickthrough Rate (“CTR”) of each URL on the site.
  3. Organic Traffic to each URL on the site.
  4. Bounce Rate of each URL on the site.
  5. Conversions on each URL on the site.

Data for the first two of these reside in the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools).

Data for the last three can be found in Google Analytics.

So if you do not have both of these set up, prioritize getting them set up.

Both are vital for getting the data-backed evidence you need to make good marketing decisions.

If your website’s pages are all increasing in impressions in Google and improving as regards CTR then this should be driving more organic traffic.

If the bounce rate is then trending down, but conversions are going up, then things are going really well.

Any other trends or relationships between these KPIs will likely mean that some work is needed to improve the website in some way.

For other types of traffic (for example, Google Ads, Facebook Ads etc) you will need to adjust the ‘Organic Traffic’ KPI to ‘Cost Per Click’. You may also wish to add ‘Earnings Per Click’ or ‘Cost per Conversion’ as a sixth metric.

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Your KPIs show just how strong a site is

Should bounce rate be one of my KPIs?

Absolutely.

However, on its own, it is an unreliable metric and it needs to be viewed within a meaningful KPI set.

For most sites, I like to see a KPI set comprising the following when looking at organic traffic:

  1. Impressions to each URL on the site.
  2. Clickthrough Rate (“CTR”) of each URL on the site.
  3. Organic Traffic to each URL on the site.
  4. Bounce Rate of each URL on the site.
  5. Conversions on each URL on the site.

Data for the first two of these reside in the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools).

Data for the last three can be found in Google Analytics.

What should the bounce rate be for my industry?

Bounce rate in the absence of other KPIs is an unreliable metric.

Additionally, bounce rates vary hugely between traffic type, sectors, site types, and even individual sites.

Even so, research has been done in this area and the results are enlightening. I found some decent work here which gives you some insight into the variance between different sectors.

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Source: https://conversionxl.com/guides/bounce-rate/benchmarks/

What should be bounce rate be for my type of website?

Different types of websites naturally have different website bounce rates.

There is a great deal of research out there on this topic. This is a piece of bounce rate by website type data which we saw and liked.

What are the typical bounce rates for ecommerce sites?

This can vary wildly from platform to platform.

Big brands like Amazon and Etsy, for example, specialize in keeping website traffic on site and their platforms are built for conversion.

Third party platforms like Shopify and Gearbubble, for example, also have very slick themes which again are built for mobile conversion.

That having been said, studies have shown that e-commerce bounce rates vary from 33% up to very high numbers. Interestingly, bounce rate is often linked to conversion when it comes to e-commerce.

What is a good bounce rate for Facebook Ads?

Facebook Ads traffic can tend to be higher than organic traffic.

So you should look at the differential between your bounce rate for organic and your corresponding bounce rate for Facebook Ads.

If the Facebook Ads bounce rate is more than 30% higher than the comparable average bounce rate for traffic across the site then there are likely steps you can take to improve your Facebook campaign performance.

What is a decent bounce rate for a landing page?

This depends on your definition of a landing page and how it is built.

It also depends on the traffic type.

Not to mention, your objectives from your campaign.

With these variables in mind, it is impossible to give a definitive answer in this type of post.

It is also critical to remember that every campaign is unique and it needs to be managed accordingly.

However, the process we use is:

  1. We decide upon a KPI set designed to analyze and dial in campaign performance.
  2. We factor in bounce rate within that KPI set.
  3. We get initial benchmarking from test data when we start a new campaign.
  4. We measure, test, retest, and improve.
  5. Through this process, we end up at an optimized campaign which by definition optimizes the bounce rate.
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Mobile & desktop can work together beautifully

Is the bounce rate materially different for mobile and desktop traffic?

It can be and usually will be, yes.

Mobile traffic generally bounces more than desktop traffic.

The reason is that the average website user has less patience on a mobile device than on a desktop. It seems to be something in our DNA!

There is desktop versus mobile bounce rate research to back this up.

What should the bounce rate be for my one-page website?

If you have a one-page website, then your bounce rate will be close to 100%. This is quite normal given the definition of what a bounce is within Google Analytics.

If you have a one-page site, time on page and average session duration should probably be the more meaningful metrics for you to focus on as part of your KPI set instead of bounce rate.

What should be bounce rate be for my mobile app?

It is possible to get bounce rate data by hooking up your mobile app with Google Analytics, but in the context of a mobile app, there are some other really important metrics to prioritize.

These include:

  1. Acquisition rates: how many visitors download the app as a percentage of those who landed on the app download page.
  2. App retention rates: how many people who downloaded the app still have it downloaded after ninety days.
  3. App retention frequency: how many people return to the app at least once every thirty days.

What should the bounce rate be for my Google Ads (formerly AdWords) campaign?

With any paid traffic campaign there is a myriad of variables.

What type of campaign is being run? Is it focused on brand awareness? Is it lead generation?

What are the objectives of the campaign? Is it to gain email addresses? Is it to get a phone call?

How effective is the landing page? Where is the traffic being directed to?

Beyond the Google Ads campaign settings themselves, all of these impact on bounce rate. With these variables in mind, it is impossible to give a definitive answer in this type of post.

It is also critical to remember that every campaign is unique and it needs to be managed accordingly.

However, similar to a Facebook Ad campaign, the process we use is:

  1. We decide upon a KPI set designed to analyze and dial in campaign performance.
  2. We factor in bounce rate within that KPI set.
  3. We get initial benchmarking from test data when we start a new campaign.
  4. We measure, test, retest, and improve.
  5. Through this process, we end up at an optimized campaign which by definition optimizes the bounce rate.

With standalone landing pages, bounce rates of 90% or more are not inconsistent with excellent campaign performance.

Sometimes we even ignore bounce rate if the conversion metrics and cost per conversion data demonstrate a good return on investment.

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Bounce rate & conversion rate

How do the bounce rate and conversion rate interact on my site?

Usually, they do correlate so yes.

After all, an excessively high bounce rate is telling you that the user experience is poor.

And how many people buy regularly from websites which irritate them?

There is extensive data that this is the case and as more traffic becomes mobile it is likely that more buyer traffic (also known as ‘bottom of funnel traffic’ given the mindset of the visitors) will shift to mobile from desktop.

Against this backdrop, bounce rate and conversion stats will likely align even more closely than they do presently.

How do the bounce rate and average time on site interact on my site?

Bounce rate and time on site are connected KPIs in some respects.

A bounce is a one session visit to an entrance page. In its simplest form, this means that a website visitor landed on a page of your site and then left again without interacting with the site.

Average time on site is a metric of how long website visitors are spending on the site overall. In general, most websites have an inverse relationship between bounce rate and average time on site.

In other words, when one increases, the other decreases as a general rule.

Ideally, Marketing Managers want to see time on site increasing and qualitative action (ideally conversions) increasing at the same time.

How do the bounce rate and CTR ('click through rate') interact on my site?

In a direct sense, these two metrics do not correlate.

But as part of a KPI set, they work as a pair to highlight how successful your titles and meta descriptions are as a means of attracting the right organic traffic.

If your CTRs are going up then you are doing a good job of persuading searchers to click through to your site.

But if CTR is increasing as well as bounce rate then searchers are not receiving a good user experience.

This might be because your meta descriptions and titles are misleading. It might be because the load speed is poor.

It might even because the website copy is poor.

In any event, you need to work with your KPI set to understand what is happening, and you perhaps need to commission a user experience audit (also called a ‘UX Audit’) to help you understand what is needed.

What is the difference between my bounce rate and my drop off rate in Google Analytics?

These are fundamentally different metrics.

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who enter a website and then leave without interacting with the site.

Bounce rates can be calculated for individual URLs or as a sitewide average.

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In contrast, the drop off rate of a page is the rate at which web visitors deviate from the set path (known as the “Users Flow”) you want them to follow at that particular page.

For example, let’s say you were a Marketing Manager for a supermarket chain. As head of Online Marketing, you put in place a content marketing strategy around seasonal meals.

Your marketing plan involved creating content around different Christmas traditional meals.

From here, visitors would see the ingredients and the recipe needed to make those meals. The ingredients and recipes would be on separate pages.

On the ingredients and recipe pages, you then had links to e-commerce product pages corresponding to the ingredients being sold in the supermarket.

In short, the intended Users Flow would be:

Traditional Meals Pages

Recipes and Ingredients Pages

Product Pages

Cart/Checkout

Drop off rates can be calculated for individual URLs or on a users flow (i.e. a marketing funnel) basis.

You can, therefore, find out if a type of page is causing website visitors to deviate unexpectedly, or whether it is a particular page or set of pages which is causing this effect.

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“Why do people leave my site?”

The bounce rate and the abandonment rate of my e-commerce store are not the same. Why?

This is entirely normal. The two metrics are measuring different things.

A website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who land on a single page of the website and then leave without doing anything else on the site.

Google Analytics allows webmasters and Marketing Managers to see bounce rates for individual pages and as a site-wide average.

A completely different metric is abandonment rate (also called “cart abandonment rate”).

This is an e-commerce metric which shows the percentage of website visitors adding products to their shopping cart but then not finalizing their purchase.

There are many reasons why people abandon their shopping cart and here is some excellent research showing some of the data.

Bounce rate versus page views in Google Analytics

A page view (also referred to as a ‘page view’, ‘page view hit’, or ‘page tracking hit’) is the loading of a website’s page in a browser where there is tracking code on that page.

Multiple page views are recorded if a page is reloaded. Multiple page views are also recorded if someone loads a page, navigates elsewhere, and then returns to the page.

The plural term ‘page views’ refers to the total number of views on a page, set of pages, or website.

There is an important difference between ‘page views’ and ‘unique pageviews’. Unique pageviews aggregate multiple page views during the same session.

Bounce rate, on the other hand, is the percentage of single entrance page visits on either a specific page or averaged out across the site overall.

Bounce Rates and Email Marketing

What is the 'bounce rate' of my email marketing campaign stat telling me?

When it comes to email marketing, we are not talking about websites. The bounce rate of an email campaign is, therefore, the percentage of emails sent which did not get delivered.

When emails are not delivered, they get returned by the recipient’s mail server.

This can be for a number of reasons, depending on whether the non-delivery was a soft bounce (also called a ‘block’) or a hard bounce.

What is an email marketing 'soft bounce'?

An email marketing soft bounce is when the email address to which the email was sent is a valid one, but even after reaching the recipient’s email server the email was not delivered.

Why does this happen?

  1. Sometimes, email servers go down and they cannot deliver messages. This results in soft bounces.
  2. The email message might have been too large. This is very common when attachments or significant rich media content is included in the email.
  3. Inboxes have size limits. When inboxes become full, subsequent incoming email is likely to experience a soft bounce.

What is an email marketing 'hard bounce'?

An email marketing hard bounce happens when an email is rejected by the recipient’s email server. This normally means the contact was ineligible to receive emails.

Hard bounces normally happen when the email address contains a spelling mistake or when the email address does not exist at all.

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How good is your email marketing?

Optimising Your Website’s Bounce Rate

Typically, marketing managers want to reduce their website’s current bounce rate.

In fact, it is a key measurement of how well they are doing their job.

Improvements in bounce rate can lead to more search engine traffic, more email sign-ups, more chatbot interactions, more phone calls, more enquiries and more sales.

On the flip side, if your bounce rate is too high then these metrics tend to suffer.

The million dollar question is often:

“What steps can I take - right now - to lower my website’s bounce rate?”

If you are looking for some quick bounce rate wins, look at the below strategies.

These are the strategies we have found work best for dialling in our clients organic and search visibility.

See which ones you can fit into your website immediately. Then see which are possible with a little bit of effort.

Finally, draw up an action plan and, as is often heard in Miami…

Dale

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Are your landing pages well crafted?

Bounce Rate Tactic #1: Personalise your landing pages

When web visitors land on a page on your site they need to feel as though they have “come to the right place”.

But what makes a visitor feel like they have arrived at the right place?

To some extent, it depends on the device they are searching on. It can depend on the type of traffic they are (paid, organic, referral and social traffic all typically have different motivations).

It can even hinge on the search term they were searching.

That said, there are some key best practices:

  • Ensure that the landing page headline is congruent with the search term they searched.
  • Make sure the headline is visible and above the fold.
  • Include early, consistent messaging around the benefits to the reader of reading the content.
  • Include a compelling call to action - more of which below.
  • Make sure the messaging resonates on an emotional level with the target audience.

Getting all these ingredients in place for every buyer profile is not easy.

Many marketing campaigns are based around creating more landing pages. In this way, the various pages can be personalized more closely to the different target markets.

This tactic works well for paid traffic campaigns, but there are some technical limitations of taking this approach when looking at organic traffic.

It is therefore usually a good idea to set up hyper-specific landing pages for paid traffic campaigns, but longer form authority content for organic traffic.

Technical expertise is needed if you want to do this successfully.

Make sure you have in-house expertise or an expert SEO agency if this is something you feel your business is lacking.

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Readability is key

Bounce Rate Tactic #2: Work hard on content readability

One of the main reasons visitors leave a site is that the content they see is in some way different or unexpected compared to the information they thought they were going to see.

This can happen for a number of reasons.

One reason can be the visitor seeing the wrong page or type of page on the site.

For example, if an engineering company’s ‘Project Assessment Consulting’ services page is ranking for informational terms like ‘how to select the right engineering firm’ then an unhealthy percentage of visitors will almost certainly bounce.

Why?

Well, people visiting the project assessment consulting services page were looking for information. They were not looking to be pitched. In other words, they were higher up the funnel.

What they saw when they visited the website, however, was a pitch. It was a pitch to choose that company’s project assessment consulting service. What they saw was much lower down the funnel compared to what they were looking for.

So they left.

Good Marketing Managers generally identify the issues and then either fix them directly or else have their agency look at solutions.

But many overlook a more subtle version of exactly the same problem.

Imagine the same engineering company ranking for the same term (‘how to select the right engineering firm’) but this time with an informational page entitled ‘factors you should consider when selecting an engineering firm’.

I know what you are thinking…

Problem solved!

And I can see why you would think that:

  • This time, the content is going to match the intent of the search;
  • the searcher is, therefore, going to find what they were looking for, and;
  • they are much more likely to digest the content.

And all of this is going to lead to a lower bounce rate for that page… and for the site overall.

Well, not necessarily.

One of the biggest improvements we make on client sites is around the readability of the text.

Whilst branding and messaging are critical, often simple tweaks to the layout can be critical.

But what are these tweaks?

Every website is different, but here are some of the more common layout factors we tend to focus on:

Ensure the font size is big enough - at least 14 pixels.

If some of this sounds a little technical, do not worry! There are some easy free tools which help.

The free Chrome Extension ‘What Font’ specifies the font size and line height being used. If you see a site which looks particularly impressive, you can use this Chrome Extension to find out what font and spacing they are using.

Armed with this information, you can then design pages with eye-catching font and spacing.

Spacing between lines

Line height - font plus space above and below the font - is also important. We generally recommend line-height of 24px to 30px on most of our client websites. The same ‘What Font’ extension also provides this information.

Page margin

Page margin is the space to either side of the main text.

Looking at some good examples of websites whose page margin is good will give you a very clear idea of whether your site’s page margin is in the right ballpark.

In contrast, here is an admittedly old site whose page margin probably needs some work!

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Avoid blinding users with your site’s harsh colour scheme

Text and background colour coding

Poor readability is almost always the result when there is a clash of colours between fonts, or between the background and the foreground including the font.

Here is a particularly good (i.e. bad!) example of what to avoid.

Crisp, clean contrasts between background and foreground are extremely important. Pinterest has a very slick design in this regard.

Paragraphs

In general, people do not want to read large slabs of text. Computer screens and mobile phones are not really designed for such activity.

Additionally, good user experience online tends to revolve around quick access to information. A long passage of text undermines this.

Ideally, paragraphs should be no more than three lines. And that is a maximum - not a target!

Use of subheaders

Have you ever found yourself scanning up and down a page looking for a specific piece of information?

If so, the chances are the page you were scanning did not use subheaders. And even if it did, it was not using them well.

Does your website’s content require detailed scanning to find specific details? If so, replan the page and break out the content into sections. Then draft a compelling subheader for each section.

Inclusion of rich media and pattern interrupts

Even if text is broken up effectively, having nothing but text still makes readability poor.

Mix up your content by including pattern interrupts (often called ‘Bucket Brigades’) and rich media.

Embedded videos are known to improve bounce rate and time on page. Well-chosen images (including GIFs) also help break up the text.

We try and have no more than one and a half page scrolls before a Bucket Brigade or some other type of pattern interrupt, including rich media.

Bullet points and lists

Did you notice from reading this article how many bullet points or numbered lists we included?

This is not by accident! Bullet point lists also break up long text and make for better readability.

When you review your site’s content, check to see if any content might be better presented as a list. It will help your readability no end!

Simple sentences

Finally, simple sentences are important. A tool like Grammarly can give you excellent guidance on how simple and readable your main content is.

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Nobody likes excessive pop-ups

Bounce Rate Tactic #3: Reevaluate your use of Pop-Ups

Let’s keep this one quick and simple:

Pop-ups, when you are looking for information, can be seriously irritating.

There is, therefore, a trade off to be made between the benefits of having the pop up (for example, more email addresses, more newsletter signups or increased traction to a particular page, etc) and the diminishing returns overall of poorer usability and increase bounce rates.

Ultimately, you need to split test the use of pop-ups and see if you have them to see how much harm, if any, they are doing.

Instead of automatic pop-ups, consider using ‘exit intent’ strategies. These are pop-ups which only appear when users are about to navigate away from the page.

Additionally, we have seen success with scroll related pop-ups. These occur when someone has read scrolled down enough to have read 25%, 50% or 75% of the content on the page. Typically, we match scroll related pop-ups so that they expand upon and add more value to the section at which the pop-up is triggered.

For example, imagine your business is a large commercial drain repair company. Your company blog includes an article entitled “Do I need a plumber or a drain contractor?”.

If you were considering a scroll related pop up for this article, you might consider offering a free report delivered via email explaining the seven major signs that your office is showing signs of wastewater damage.

This would suit well at points in the article which talk about the merits of consulting with a drain contractor when wastewater, as opposed to fresh water, is involved.

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We all like to imagine our calls to action are amazing

Bounce Rate Tactic #4: How relevant and compelling are your “calls to action”?

There is a huge amount on the internet about calls to action.

It seems that you cannot read an article or go on a course about content marketing, website conversion rate optimization or lead generation without some mention of it.

Why, then, do so few websites or email campaigns convert so poorly?

The answer to this question hinges not only on whether you have calls to action or not but whether they are the right ones.

Right in terms of tone and language. Right in terms of the type of action you want the visitor to take. And right in terms of where and when they appear in your content.

The key question is, therefore ‘what is right for my business?’

Before tackling this question, it still needs to be said that a surprising amount of informational content - even on large corporate websites - lacks clear and consistent information for visitors to take that vital ‘next step’.

When businesses approach us to help them with online conversion, we see a surprising amount of relevant and well-crafted content. In some cases, the user experience is good and the traffic targeted.

But the website is still not converting.

Here are some of the common themes we see in this kind of situation:

Your calls to action aren’t being seen; or worse, they’re being seen at the wrong time

Just how visible is your call to action? Is it easily noticeable, or is fighting for dominance with all the other elements on your page?

Is your call to action too high on the page, or on a part of the page that users just don’t reach? Consider using scroll tracking. This will help you keep track of how far down your site a user actually scrolls. There’s no point having a call to action at the bottom of the page if nobody ever scrolls that far.

Additionally, make sure your calls to action are contextually relevant.

If, for example, you have captured a prospective clients interest with your fantastic video or content piece, why not ask them to sign up for notifications then and there?

If you have just written a killer piece on the 10 amazing benefits of your new line of ‘healthy chocolate’, why not invite users to your online store - or even better offer to send them free updates via email or Messenger?

There is a time and place for every call to action. Make sure yours make sense. You’ve grabbed their attention, now add value with a meaningful call to action!

Your calls to action just aren’t enticing enough.

Very often companies haven’t given their target audience a good enough reason to act. Entice them. Why should they subscribe to your newsletter and not your competition’s? What are you offering them in return?

Be very clear about your value proposition and how your call to action might benefit them:

Have you made it clear how your service will fix their grievances and make their life easier, so long as they act right now? If not, do so now. If it fits your business model, tell a prospective client know that you’re available to take their calls and answer their queries.

Offer up an enticing discount if they purchase now, or a free trial to your premium service.

Perceived and actual value are the keys to driving more engagement. Each business has a unique brand proposition. Calls to action need to find that sweet spot between brand value frameworks and conversion. Once struck, however, the rewards are immense.

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Try to be more enticing

Your calls to action don’t prioritise your business goals or your audience’s priorities.

There is a limit to what a user is willing to do on a website. If you keep adding calls to action, there comes a point where their value turns into irritation.

You need to really ask yourself who your target audience is and what do you want them to do.

It is tempting to create a call to action for every individual buying persona, but this isn’t always realistic. It only ends up diluting your funnel and distracting your users. We’ll cover funnels in more detail in Tactic #8.

A better approach is to prioritize your ideal customer or client and then two or three high value but secondary client or customer profiles. You can then build strategically aligned content for each profile.

Sometimes, we see examples where the calls to action prioritize what the company wants the visitor to do as opposed to what the visitor really needs. This is particularly the case with large B2B companies.

Aligning perceived and actual value to what the target audience priorities are should be paramount in the design of calls to action.

In other words, if signing up to a newsletter would benefit your company immensely, but if for some reason a newsletter signup is incongruous with the reasons your target audience reads this content, then find another call to action which aligns better with their needs.

Your calls to action don’t use the right language.

There are two things to consider here:

Are you making use of strong or compelling marketing language?

Look up resources on strong marketing language (such as this) for examples of good converting language to put into your calls to action. These will continue to evolve over time as markets change in turn. Make sure to keep abreast of current trends and what suits your brand and your audience.

You’re using language that is inappropriate within the context.

Remember that you’re selling to a person, not a machine. You could have a textbook-perfect call to action, but if it comes across as forced or unnatural you’re going to turn people away. Make sure that you’re using a tone that is relevant in the context.

If it helps, always read your calls to action out loud to check how naturally it flows on from your content piece.

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Emotional marketing is important—Tell a compelling brand story

Bounce Rate Tactic #5: Connect on an emotional level—tell a compelling brand story

One of the major aspects which influence a user’s engagement with your brand is the degree to which they can connect with you emotionally.

Is your brand coming across as cold or disconnected from your audience? You’re human, so don’t let your prospective clients forget that:

  • What is your history: your origin, your mission and what you’ve had to overcome?
  • Who are you: you, your team and your clients?
  • Visualise: use high-quality photos to put a human face to your brand.

Allow your clients to get a sense of the team behind the machine.

Are you addressing your potential customers’ fears and concerns?

There is a great wealth of powerful keyword tools available that can help answer this question. Consider Google as an anxiety-machine: users input their problems hoping for a suitable solution.

What questions are they asking when they arrive on your landing pages, and are you offering up the right solutions? Think about how to structure your SEO content in a way that closes the gap between the two.

Use website analytics tools to find out what questions people are asking.  Then figure out how you can help them!

Is your language contextually appropriate?

There are a great wealth of marketing language resources online; however, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. What might make sense in one context, may be entirely inappropriate in another.

Always write with your audience in mind (how might they feel; how are you trying to help them) and try to use language accordingly. Always use this type of language within reason — too much can always backfire and come across as insincere.

You can read more about emotional marketing here.

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Take care to cultivate your blog

Bounce Rate Tactic #6: Take your blog seriously and keep the content on it fresh

Are you putting out high-quality content on your blog? Is it relevant to your target audience? Are you adding value to what you post? Are you posting in a timely fashion?

Approach your content with a particular goal in mind. Are you aiming to convert traffic?

Make sure that you're putting out high-quality content. Consistency is key: maintain a template structure that you can use across your content. Different types of content may work better with different structures.

Maintain a balance between long-form and short-form content. Sometimes a shorter and media-rich article of between 1,200 and 1,500 words is a suitable length.

If you have read all of this content so far, you will probably have realized that much longer ‘authority’ content is preferable for strategically important topics.

Planning an effective content calendar and sticking to the deadlines in it is important. This will enable you to plan ahead and maintain the interest of your existing pipeline with varied, engaging content.

Track how long it takes you to research and write up different forms of content. Use this to create a realistic release schedule based on your current abilities.

Use content planning programs to schedule content well in advance and maintain consistent release schedules.

Evaluate user engagement and traffic on blog posts after you’ve posted them. Ask for feedback (as a call to action) either in the form of comments or in the form of a more standard call to action.

Some marketing managers make the assumption that content marketing always means making new content.

This is absolutely not the case.

Don’t forget about your old content: consider updating older blog posts with current information. Industry tools, standards and best practices are always evolving and brand damage is often associated with obsolete online ‘thought leadership’.

Most information can become obsolete and no longer worth keeping on a website. If this is the case, there are some technical things you can do to assess and, where appropriate, preserve the SEO value of the outdated content.

Be realistic about how much content you can put out and how much your audience can consume. You don’t want to overwhelm and turn off your audience. It’s better to release a handful of quality articles a month than diluted blog posts every other day.

Stay up to date with what is new in your particular industry: Stay on top of trends, upcoming new technology and major changes.

Don’t just recycle what others are saying, make sure you add your own value to whatever you say. Be aware of the time-sensitive nature of certain trends. Be flexible in rearranging your content schedule in order to capitalise on a viral trend.

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Rank quickly with keyword clusters

Bounce Rate Tactic #7: Mix Keyword Clusters with high traffic seed keywords

High traffic keywords show that there is a discernible demand for a particular topic.

The higher the volume of search traffic that exists for a buyer-intent keyword, the greater the likelihood that there is going to be a strong level of competition vying for the coveted top spots.

Unless you’re a firmly established brand, or in an extremely niche market, you’re going to have a tough time competing for SERP positioning for certain keywords.

This is where Keyword clustering comes in. Using this method, you can rank faster for topically relevant and high-converting keywords within a topic. In time, you can then build up your website’s authority and trust to start ranking for the most competitive keywords in that space.

So, what is keyword clustering?

In order to understand this properly, a quick Google history lesson is needed.

Back in the early days of search engines, it used to be possible to rank web pages at the top of the search engines through primitive, low-quality means. As a result, the top results for important terms were often of questionable quality.

Google listed on the stock exchange via an IPO in 2004. Its main revenue source was (and still is) advertising spend by companies. The demand for this advertising spend was (and still is) generated because of the sheer numbers of people using Google for information and commerce every day.

Against this backdrop, the quality of the search results was - and still is - an essential component of Google’s business model.

Poor or controversial results in search leads to poor user experience. This, in turn, leads to brand damage for Google and advertisers on Google, reputational risk and ultimately less demand for advertising on the Google search platforms.

Alphabet Plc, the parent company of Google, knows this all too well. Look at what happened in 2017 on one of Google’s main content platforms, Youtube.

Ok, history lesson over. So what does all this have to do with keyword clustering?

Well, Google is committed to providing the most authoritative and meaningful search results. In other words, the best results.

Therefore, your online visibility and rankings will depend on having the best content for your goods and services.

In most contexts, ‘best’ means detailed and comprehensive, but actionable at the same time. Typically the best content adds something in terms of thought leadership of ease of accessibility which is not available elsewhere.

Such content usually covers lots of ‘keywords’, not just one keyword as used to be the case in the early years.

In other words:

  1. Work out the general topic your article is going to be about (eg “foundation repair costs”).
  2. Then work out a list of tightly niched keywords (eg “brick foundation repair costs”, “pier and beam foundation repair costs”, “foundation repair cost averages” and so on).
  3. Even advanced online marketing experts often end here. But there are at least three more critical components:
    1. Research all the industry-specific terminology
    2. Research all the questions people are asking online about the article content
    3. Create original and actionable answers to all questions being asked
    4. Optimize the page so that the most competitive terms are being targeted by the most SEO sensitive aspects of the page (the url, the title and the ‘H Tags’).

This process enables Google to recognise that your webpage has a large amount of relevant content related to the seed keyword topic; therefore, you are more likely to receive a higher SERP ranking across a broader range of terms.

In turn, keyword clustering also encourages you to write better and more in-depth articles. From a bounce rate perspective, this also means that a user is more likely to find more relevant content on your website and is less likely to click off immediately.

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The stages in your funnel working together

Bounce Rate Tactic #8: Create effective funnels

Here at Together Digital, we orient everything we do around results.  In the context of bounce rate, this means getting the right target audience to make the right decisions for them and for you.

To work efficiently and effectively, it is important that each part of your online user experience directs a visitor towards the next stage and eventually a conversion when they are ready.

What an effective funnel looks like is going to depend largely on your business model and lead generation process. It will also heavily pivot around your audience profiles.

Typically, high bounce rates tell us that there are some imperfections within the company’s online funnel.

Sometimes it is the upper funnel which would cover aspects of your marketing plan such as SEO, ad campaigns and referrals; essentially how you get people to your website in the first place. Is your site driving consistently new targeted traffic, and if so where is this traffic coming from?

Often, the bottom of the funnel lead capture process needs some refinement. Are your sign up forms working? Are they too long? How effectively do your signup forms segment your audiences? How responsive is the follow up to them? Can any of the lead capture or onboarding process be automated, perhaps via video or webcast? Are your forms working fine but the tracking not?

In a B2B context, the middle of funnel sections of a website often shows a high bounce rate. There are usually several disconnects between the top and bottom of funnel lead nurturing which need to be identified and then addressed.

So what can you do to optimize your funnels?

Revisit your content, site architecture and calls to action to make sure that users are being directed towards conversions, rather than around in circles. It is usually the case that content needs to be created to serve and convert the middle of funnel traffic more effectively.

In other words, make sure the content on the page matches the search intent behind the traffic coming to the page.

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Are you catering to your target audience?

Bounce Rate Tactic #9: Attract the right visitors

It is a question as old as marketing itself...

Who exactly is your target audience?

In our experience, this is the number one B2B challenge for most in house marketing teams. In the vast majority of cases, businesses overestimate how well they think they know their clients and their prospects.

As a result, marketing and sales efforts underperform or lack consistency.

This is much easier to do if you have an established website with established historical data. Many businesses have the former, but in our experience, many lack the latter.

Getting your Google Analytics set up live and functioning is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, Google Analytics is rarely suitable for accurate data collation as it comes out of the box.

We routinely perform twenty-five Google Analytics checks on all new client accounts: if the accounts are more than 60% accurate in terms of set up and data collection then this is a great start. Typically 25-50% is a more accurate reflection of what we see.

It is only with accurate data that you start measuring how accurate your audience profiling is. There is software available that can automate the process for you but it is almost always critical to audience profile accurately and this means via internal business collaboration and consensus.

Once your content is resonating on a conscious and unconscious level with your perfect buyer audiences you will see your bounce rates find their optimal level.

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Are you asking the right questions?

Bounce Rate Tactic #10: Ask visitors the right questions

A simple but highly effective technique is to ask visitors to your site a question which directly taps into the motivations they had when they decided to visit your website.

For example, let’s say you had a blog article on the most reliable industrial solar water heating solutions. Your target market was:

  • Heads of Facilities;
  • within fast moving consumer good companies;
  • based in Texas;
  • above 50 employees, and;
  • $3million or more in annual turnover.

Finally, let's assume that your analytics was set up accurately and that you knew traffic was arriving at a key website page via “upgrade tankless factory water heater” related terms in Google.

Wouldn’t it make sense to ask a question on that page along the lines of:

“why do so many Heads of Facilities in FMCG dynamic growth corporations shy away from committing to tankless water heater upgrades when in over 80% of cases this is more economical than the alternatives?”

If you were a Head of Facilities in such a company, would this not interest you?

This is not just theory: the chances are you arrived on this page either from a search engine or from a Together Digital blog post. read the first three introductory sentences of this article again…

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Are you avoiding your meta tags?

Bounce Rate Tactic #11: Revisit your meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are the ‘grey’ descriptive text which you see when you look on a Google search engine results page.

It is generally considered that the text in meta descriptions does not directly impact search engine results. We have data that seems to contradict this, but the main thing to bear in mind is that meta descriptions are what either persuade or dissuade searchers on Google to click through to your website.

Therefore, revisiting your site’s meta descriptions and adding a clear call to action in them which is congruent with the page content is vital. Avoid using vague or misleading language.

If you can give visitors on your website’s pages what they hoped and wanted to see (from the meta description) then they will feel they are in the right place and your bounce rates will benefit.

Make sure you stay within Google’s guidelines for meta descriptions.  SERPsim is an excellent resource for checking that your meta tags are of the correct length - especially on mobile devices.

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Coding isn’t always as elegant as it could be

Bounce Rate Tactic #12: Page Load Speed

The attention span of web traffic is incredibly short. There is some debate about whether it has been shortened by social media or not, but the reality is that unless your content resonates with the target audience fast you will lose them - probably for good. These exits from the website because of impatience raise bounce rate significantly.

And for B2B companies, one lost conversion infers significant financial implications.

Rich Media Influences Load Speed - a lot!

Page load speed optimization is a large and technical subject matter in its own right. But in general terms, any rich media (videos, images, downloads and other embedded material) can have a dramatic impact on how long a page on your website takes to load.

Other code should not be ignored

Beyond rich media, certain types of code (tracking code, certain types of technical code like CSS, Javascript and even some standard web code) can cause problems.

Hosting can also be important

Depending on the type of website you have and your audience, hosting quality will likely also be a key consideration.

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External links help build connections

Bounce Rate Tactic #13: Reference high quality external content and link to it contextually

Why should you include links that direct away from your website?

There is a complex technical Google algorithm answer.

But on a common sense level, if websites didn’t reference each other the internet would be a very difficult place to navigate. And very few websites have a monopoly on all the valuable information on a topic unless they are in serious breach of copyright.

External references can lend credibility and authority to your site

There is a large amount of trust involved with publishing content online: you want to show your readership that they can trust you and your site as reliable sources of information. If your sources are credible and well trusted, then they will only serve to support you.

It is important to use external links to show research and knowledge as they can demonstrate familiarity with expert and well recognizable sites. From an attribution perspective, it is important to show where it comes from.

By directing your readers where to look for extra information, you keep them engaged

High-quality external links give context and background information that makes it easier for your reader to understand the topic and keep reading.

Remember, you are making their life easier by doing the research for them and presenting it in an easy to digest format. They also lend credibility to any assertions you are making in your content.

Links help establish relationships with other sites and audiences

It is possible to attract the attention of prospective clients and partners within your industry by referencing them. For example, a wedding venue linking out to local bakeries might encourage business referrals and traffic from the bakeries’ audiences. Additionally, in the mind of audiences, your brand becomes identifiable with theirs in terms of quality and trust.

If done right, this does this not have a negative impact on your traffic.  Steer clear of questionable sites, include around one to three outbound links in standard articles and make sure to have any links open in a new tab in order to not automatically trigger a bounce or exit.

Bounce Rate Tactic #14: Ensure all outbound contextual links open in a new page

This was mentioned in the previous tactic, but opening all outbound links in new tabs enables your website to stay ‘open’.

This eases navigation and also means that any clicks on outbound authority links do not result in exits or bounces from your site.

There are some technical aspects if this is then implemented correctly so in many cases you will need to involve your web development team.

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Watch as your bounce rate levitates before your very eyes

Bounce Rate Tactic #15: Adjust the bounce rate to reflect what works for your site

Bounce rate is connected in some ways to a ‘session’ in Google Analytics. Remember - a session in Google Analytics is a website visit. Unless specifically adjusted, sessions time out at 30 minutes of inactivity. ‘Inactivity’ means not accessing another page in those thirty minutes, and in this case leading to a bounce on the site.

The standard setup does not always make sense, and in such cases, you can use “adjusted bounce rate”. An example of when adjusted bounce rate might be sensible is this article: many people read it from start to finish and take more than 30 minutes to do so.

These readers would be technically treated as a ‘bounce’ even though they read the article and interacted.

Setting up adjusted bounce rates is a rather technical task: it involves setting up a custom ‘event’ in Google Analytics based on time spent on page. For best results, it also involves setting up comparisons between the standard and revised (adjusted) bounce rates. Typically, expertise is needed for successful implementation.

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How much are your pages actually worth?

Bounce Rate Tactic #16: Create a Page Profit report

One of the most important steps you can take in the short-term is to understand which of the pages on your site are driving conversions.

In order to identify these pages, you need to know which pages are the ones people visit immediately before converting for you.

By definition, these pages will have a low bounce rate: they are pages which are driving conversions and this will typically mean taking an action on the page or navigating to another page.

Once you know these pages, you can give extra care and attention to them in order to optimize them and increase visibility even more.

So, how do you find out what these pages are?

The answer is to set up a report which factors in conversion-oriented analytics data. We have a proprietary set up which we custom build for each client who needs it, built with Google Data Studio.

Get in touch if you want to find out what this looks like: it will revolutionize your marketing.

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Watch as low-value traffic disappears

Bounce Rate Tactic #17: Examine channels for low value traffic

It is also critical to understand which pages on your site are underperforming. Typically, in house marketing managers focus on pages with low traffic, low inbound link equity, or both.

These metrics are important, but they overlook something: poor traffic quality.

Low traffic quality often comes in two types:

  1. Informational pages such as blog posts, which do not bring in target traffic.
  2. Product or services pages which are targeting the wrong terms.

The solutions to this problem will be specific to each website, but they normally involve reexamining the copy, understanding page value (see tactic 16) and also reexamining the user experience of the site.

If you would like to see what our custom report looks like for low-value traffic, please get in touch and we can see how best to help you.

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Now to find a decent landing page

Bounce Rate Tactic #18: Revisit your Landing Pages

For a variety of reasons, landing pages can give rise to bounce rate data anomalies which can affect marketing insights.

Most often, this occurs when paid traffic is sent to a no-indexed landing page. Depending on the type of campaign, conversion best practices can involve removing the main navigation and other ‘distractions’ on the landing page.

More often than not, this type of landing page results in bounce rates even when it is wildly successful.

Revisiting these landing pages in order to set up adjusted bounce rates for them would make a lot of sense.

On a broader level, examining every page which serves as a point of entry from search engines and examining it for bounce rate and content improvement is another immediate step which can be taken.

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Smaller chunks of information are easier to digest

Bounce Rate Tactic #19: Break up your content and make it bite-sized but problem-solving.

If you want to know what this tactic looks like on a real site, just do this:

Skim back over this article to see how long each paragraph is.

Hopefully, you will see quite quickly that it is broken up into short, bite-sized chunks.

This is not accidental: people do not like reading huge paragraphs on a computer or on a smartphone. There is a reason Amazon Kindle devices were so popular: if people didn’t mind reading books on a screen, this device would never have been needed or successful.

Another good example is Google’s ‘rich snippets’ - the small information boxes and instant answers often seen on the top of search engine results pages.

Sometimes I see marketers making an understandable mistake: they confuse the breaking up of text (formatting and presentation) with a perceived ‘dumbing down’ of the content. This is absolutely not the case.

We simply want to make content easier to read and more engaging online.

Every website is different but most sites can make use of one key tactic: making the content bite-sized and problem-solving.

Sometimes this involves the inclusion of a ‘frequently asked questions’ section. Sometimes are more structured approach is needed. But ‘less is more’ when it comes to paragraph length.

Beyond written text, try and include some rich media or a line break of some kind each time two screens of scroll have elapsed. This could be an image, or video, or even some sort of interjection.

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Why not stay a while longer?

Bounce Rate Tactic #20: Encourage visitors to stay (“you might find these useful”; “see also” etc)

This is another simple to implement and useful measure you can implement in your site in order to keep visitors engaged with your content.

By making strategically relevant content available at the end of your articles you can help readers ‘join up the dots’ or find out more about your business.

In addition, adding contextual links within your written content to other webpages is a key way to help people navigate to the source of their interest in your site.

Did you read up on Tactic #16 (creating a profit page report)? If not, this works brilliantly in combination with internal links from other pages.

After all, the more of your targeted traffic you can get to the best-performing pages on your site the better!

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Surveys can be a great source of data

Bounce Rate Tactic #21: Run page level surveys

Finally, there is a more mechanical way to lower bounce rate: ask people what they think of key pages through surveys. These can be live customers, although bear in mind this might affect conversions in the short term.

Alternatively, it is possible to find user experience experts or freelance website visitors on websites like UpWork.com.

Using the insights generated from this exercise you can then identify improvements to key pages on your site.

Bounce Rate—Final Thoughts

Your website’s bounce rate is one of the most insightful pieces of data you can extract. It tells you how effective your site is in terms of attracting and retaining your target audience.

Increasingly, search engines are looking at ‘social metrics’ including bounce rate as a sign of quality.

It is, therefore, becoming increasingly important to get user experience right if you want your website to dominate rankings in competitive markets.

Most companies have unreliable or contradictory bounce rate data. Sometimes this is because Google Analytics has not been configured correctly. Other times, the data lacks commercial context.

Bounce rate data needs to be fine-tuned and placed in its proper context in order to deliver meaningful insights.

Once it does, you will open a new world of data-backed discovery and website improvement.

What did you think of this article? Are there any other tactics you would like to see included in our list?

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If so, get in touch with us and let us know!

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