As a website designer who is focused on user experience, I talk about bounce rate a lot. What exactly is a bounce rate?
What are user comes to your website, in general you want them to stick around for awhile. You probably want them to visit other pages on your website.
If you are an e-commerce site, you want them to go to your product page. From there, your visitors should go to your checkout page where they would purchase the product.
Meanwhile, if you are a blogger, most likely you want them to read a blog post and then go to an email opt-in page.
Or maybe you provide services, then most likely you want them to go to your services page and either learn more about what you do or contact you in order to schedule a consult call.
And all three of these scenarios, you are depending on your user going to more than one page on your website.
Your bounce rate is when the user lands on your website and does not navigate to any other page before they leave. That means that they’re not sticking around or visiting other areas of your site. Bounce rate is calculated to serve as a metric to tell you how many people are visiting other pages of your website.
According to Yoast:
Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by [the total] sessions or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.
Think of it like a guest coming to your home for the first time. Without moving past the doorway, they look around, shake their heads, and go right back out the door.
They didn’t see your custom ice cream parlor that you had set up in the back room because they didn’t get that far. Something about the entryway of your home scared them off before they knew how amazing your home is.
Because we want our users to go to other pages like email opt-ins, checkout pages, and others, we would like our bounce rate to be low. We would like our website visitors to stick around for a bit and to click on the other areas of our websites. We want them to find your ice cream parlor.
So if people are coming to your website and they are not sticking around, what can you do about it?
The first thing is to make sure that you are collecting data appropriately for your analytics. I highly recommend Google Analytics for this purpose. It’s simple to add the tracking code to your website and it tracks a lot of information. Did I mention it’s free?
They track so much information it can be overwhelming to a new user. Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s easier to focus in on the data you want to use.
Once everything is being tracked, you need to let it collect data for at least a 30 day time period. Anything less will not give you a complete picture of what’s happening.
Once your 30 days are up, you’ll want to start to look at your bounce rate.
If your bounce rate is high
You want to drill down and see where your bounce rate is the highest. This is the page where most of your visitors are leaving your website after just landing.
Is this a problem that is common all the way across your site? In that case most of your pages will have around the same statistics.
Where is most of your traffic coming from? Funny enough, social media traffic tends to have a higher bounce rate than other sources. So if the majority of your traffic is coming from social media, you can expect higher bounce rates.
If it’s limited to one or two pages and your traffic sources are varied, at least you’ll know where to focus your energy.
Once you have identified the culprit of your high bounce rate, it’s time to dig in and figure out why. Installing the plug in HotJar, can help you figure out exactly what your visitor is seeing when they come to your site and how they are interacting with it. It can also give you heat maps to show you where people are clicking.
One time I discovered that a link on my homepage wasn’t working thanks to HotJar. It wasn’t anything that I had done incorrectly for my user experience perspective. Instead was a technology issue on my end.
Once you have a few recordings on HotJar, evaluate how your visitors are interacting with your website. Are they scrolling all the way down to the bottom? Or did they leave right at the top? Is there something else that you could put at the top that would encourage them to go to another page?
Visitors will make a judgment call about your website in about three seconds. That’s why it is so important to make sure that you explain to your visitors what value you can provide them right at the top of your page. If you can’t do that, or if you use large graphics or headers that push your value down the page, that’s a great place to start.
What to do to reduce bounce rate
Once you have your suspicions of where your bounce rate it’s coming from, it’s time to set up an A/B split test. Some people will just go ahead and change their website without testing and see what happens.
This isn’t the best option because there are still many factors when it comes to bounce rates and user experience. You may actually change something that was working for you before. It is always best to test to make sure that something else isn’t happening that’s affecting your statistics.
For example, let’s say that your research has you suspecting that a particular button isn’t converting very well. You’ve decided to change the call to action in your button (always a good choice). This is a great thing to split test.
There are a number of tools that can be used to do this testing. I use Thrive Optimize, but Google also has a free tool that you can use called, you guessed it, Google Optimize.
A successful test will show you better statistics for one of the options. You may have to run the test a few times to pinpoint the best wording or setting. It’s well worth it to improve your conversion rates.
Remember, at the end of the day, your bounce rate is just a number. It can give us a lot of information about our website, but it’s not everything. If you have a high bounce rate but you’re killing it with your eCommerce shop, you’re obviously doing something right.
Most website owners will constantly mess around with their websites to decrease the bounce rate. What works today may not work tomorrow. What works for one traffic source may not work for another traffic source. So it’s always important to test before making a singular change.
Having trouble with your bounce rate? Getting a website audit may help you figure out what is creating issues on your website.
I'm a software engineer with nearly 10 years of experience in software and website development. I help women entrepreneurs with their website and technical business needs. I specialized in user experience and conversions.
I empower moms like me to run their website with confidence and feel in control of their business, all while juggling #momlife at the same time.