Friday June 19, 2015
As a small business owner, you need your website to be in tip-top conversion form, whether you sell directly from your site or not. A small business website can be a huge source of leads, brand awareness, and industry authority, but only if people stick around long enough to absorb your messaging.
Google Analytics offers tons of insight into your website—it’s worth developing at least a beginner’s knowledge of how to access basic statistics about your site. One of those basic metrics is your site’s bounce rate.
Understand What Bounce Rate Is and Isn’t
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after looking at only one page. It’s a very simple statistic, but it has two big misconceptions associated with it:
- Many people think that bounce rate has to do with time spent on your site.
But someone who reads an entire blog post on your site and then closes the window is generally much more valuable than someone who just glances at your homepage, decides it’s not what they’re looking for, and leaves. But both count as a bounce.
If you want to incorporate time spent on your site into your bounce rate, you can adjust it to get a better idea)
- Others will tell you that Google uses your bounce rate to decide where you rank in a search. This is also not strictly true. But if people get to your site from a Google search, then immediately return to the search page, they do notice that.
People returning straight to the search page tells Google that your site isn’t what people searching for those keywords are looking for, so they’ll penalize you.
All that your bounce rate tells you is the number of people that only viewed one page on your site before leaving. This tells you a lot about how well your site is meeting your visitors’ needs. A low bounce rate also tells you that people aren’t looking at your products or buying anything.
Look at Bounce Rate by the Page
Look deeper than your site’s average bounce rate. Some kinds of pages tend to be “bouncier” than others, and some tend to be extra “sticky.”
Here are some average desired bounce rates for different kinds of pages, according to QuickSprout:
- Blogs – between 70% – 98%
- Ecommerce – between 20% – 40%
- Lead Generation – between 30%- 50%
- Landing Pages – 70-90%
Check see how each type of page on your site compares to these guidelines. See any big discrepancies? Now it’s time to dig in and see what might be the problem.
Here are 5 common factors that can inflate your bounce rates, and what to do about it.
Reduce Frustrated Bouncers by Increasing Loading Speed
People are getting more impatient every year. Studies show that most users will only tolerate 2-3 seconds of loading time.
If your site loads slowly for whatever reason, people are probably hitting the back button out of sheer frustration. This is a fixable problem!
Most sites load slowly because they’re badly coded, or because they contain one or two big elements that slow the whole process down. Here are some common culprits:
- Videos, large pictures, or Flash elements. Videos and pictures can usually be compressed with a little help from an expert. Flash is totally outdated, and should be replaced.
- Sloppy code. You might want to consider switching to a new developer if they aren’t up to the task of ensuring your site loads quickly.
- Unreliable hosting environment. Most cheaply hosted sites (aka, a lot of WordPress sites) share a server with tons of other sites, which can slow down your load time.
- Poorly Integrated Plugins. This is another problem common to WordPress. If you’re using a lot of third party plugins, they may load unreliably, or refuse to cooperate well with each other.
If your site has a lot of these problems, you may need a significant site overhaul. Trust me, it’s worth it. If people aren’t even getting to your site, you’ll never convert them.
Look for hosting services that give you a designated server, so your pages load reliably. If plugins are a big problem, look for a different kind of site-builder, which includes those extra features as part of their toolkit.
Give People What They’re Looking For
One of the main reasons people bounce from a page is because the content isn’t what they expected. Especially if people are bouncing after finding you from search engines, this is fixable.
First, make sure you’re targeting the right keywords. Think about what problems your business and your website solve, and target keywords that relate to that. This holds true for organic keywords and PPC keyword-based campaigns.
Check your SEO titles and meta descriptions, or get some help to optimize them. Make sure that the little blurb that comes up when people search for you describes you accurately.
Make Sure Your Site Looks Reputable
People are very selective these days about what websites they view as reputable. Content may be king, but the way it’s presented determines whether people take the time to read it.
Here are some basic things to check for:
- Limited, related ads, which are attractively integrated with your site design. Annoying pop-ups, flashy ads, or too many ads visible at once sends a bad message.
- Modern, well-branded design. “Design has become a legitimacy signal” according to Nick Eubanks of Search Engine Watch.
- High-quality content, updated frequently and formatted in easily-digestible chunks. No one wants to read a solid screen of text.
Your customers want to feel that the information they’re getting is current, and that the products you’re selling are supported by an active, concerned brand.
Tell People Where to Click Next
This is another huge factor in bounce rates. If you don’t give people anywhere else to go (or if you give them way too many options to choose from), of course they’ll bounce!
Include a clear, timely call to action on each page, with a clear link to get to the next step. What that next step is depends on the page they’re already on.
- Related or complementary products on product pages
- Clearly visible “Add to Cart” and “Checkout” buttons
- Links to similar posts on blog pages
- Conversion steps on landing pages
In general, you want to increase the internal links on your site, so people have other places to click to. AllProWebTools offers a Dictionary Tool that’s designed to help with this. First, you create pages that define key words for your industry. Then, the tool goes through and finds all the times that word is mentioned on your site, and automatically links to the dictionary page.
Make it Easy to Use Your Site
In general, if your site is user-friendly, people will stick around longer. This means that your menu bar is well-organized and highly visible. Make sure to include a search bar—that one feature alone could dramatically reduce your bounce rate. It promises an easy way to find what your visitors are looking for.
Finally, make sure your site works well on any size screen. That means it’s mobile-friendly. This is no longer a luxury. It’s the industry standard, and mobile users will leave your site if it’s not set up to accommodate them. Here are my tips for making this as painless as possible.
Track Your Progress
Make sure you A/B test any changes you make to your site. You don’t want to be left guessing that the changes you made are an improvement. Plus, knowing how much of an improvement justifies your ROI.
If your website suffers from any of these problems, fixing them is almost certain to reduce your bounce rate. Enjoy the increased conversions!