As a small online business owner if you haven’t already discovered Bounce rate then you are missing a trick. This helpful, easy to understand measurement is arguably one of the most useful metrics around.
Web analytics help you measure, evaluate and ultimately improve the performance of your e-commerce business. However, the reality of running a small business means time doesn’t often afford you the luxury of becoming a specialist in any one area. Instead you are in a constant state of flux as a salesperson, accountant, marketer, administrator and even web analytics guru!
” If you could only choose one metric to look at, Bounce rate might be your best choice” Google Support
So if you want to get started with web analytics and measuring the performance of your website but aren’t quite sure of where to begin then this is where bounce rate comes into its own. It can help you quickly and easily understand your online performance, enabling you to implement improvements.
What exactly is bounce rate?
In a nutshell, Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors to your website who only view a singe page for a short period of time before leaving. For example during a visitor session a single hit on a page will be a bounce. So unlike many metrics with bounce rate it is usually the lower the percentage the better you are doing.
If your bounce rate is really high then it may indicate that when visitors arrive on your site there is nothing there to engage them or make them want to visit any other pages. Pulling no punches, web analytics expert Avinash Kaushik puts it in terms of customer experience as; ” I came, I puked, I left. Literally that’s the definition”.
Before we examine this further there are of course exceptions to this. Bear in mind that there are some pages that when having a high bounce rate is not an issue. For example if:
- your website is a single page website
- the page you are reviewing contains all the information your user requires , such as a contact page, an information page or your blog where visitors have just come to read your latest post offering.
Also, if you haven’t added a tracking code to your webpage you may also see a high bounce rate so check for incorrect tagging.
Why is your bounce rate so useful?
Rather the focusing on the general bounce rate for your website it is of more value look at the bounce rate for individual pages. Excluding the exceptions we’ve just mentioned above, a high bounce rate can help highlight areas of your website that are letting you down and need improving. Most importantly it helps you ask yourself the right questions. For example :
- Is my content relevant to my target audience?
- Do my landing pages match up with the offer /promise/ I”ve enticed them to you website in the first place
- Do my search term keywords and key phrases accurately reflecting the content of my website
- Is my website easy for users to navigate or confusing for them to get around.
Bounce rate is a straightforward, easily understood measurement that can allow you to quickly highlight potential problem areas of your website – giving you a focus and starting point from which to make improvements.
What should you be aiming for in terms of an acceptable bounce rate. Obviously bounce rates are going to vary for page to page, business to business but Avinash Kaushik offers the following benchmark from his personal experience. He suggests anything above 50% is a worry and that getting a bounce rate under 20% is difficult. So I would imagine aiming for around 30-40% sounds a sensible target to work towards.
How can you improve your bounce rate?
Once you’ve identified those pages with a high bounce rate what can you do to improve on them? Have a look at the following suggestions and think about how implementing them could improve your visitors overall experience and as a consequence reduce your bounce rate. Which in turn increases the likelihood of engaged visitors and higher conversions.
Landing Pages: Don’t underestimate the importance of your landing pages. If your bounce rate is high you may want to take a closer look at how your landing pages are working. Firstly are they pertinent to the email, banner ad, social media link or key word search that your visitor has clicked through on. If there is disparity between the promise and the actual landing page then visitors will simply leave. In other words makes sure your landing pages matches the message you are conveying in your promotional channel. Ideally you should have a separate and specific a landing page for each specific offer or ad campaign.
Content: Take a critical look at the content of the pages that have a high bounce rate. Are they written with your target audience in mind? Your content is the backbone of your website and should be central to everything you do. The higher the quality of your content the higher the likelihood you will attract AND retain visitors and thus reduce bounce. So ask yourself is your content:
- Compelling and engaging
- Interesting and informative
- Concise and digestible
- Relevant, targeted and reflects your visitors information needs
- Fresh and up to date?
Website design and navigation: You may have a great product and top quality content however if your website design means navigation is difficult and your pages lack curb appeal then visitors are not going to bother to stay around and find out more – they’ll take one look and leave. So make sure your website design is well structured, clearly laid out, easy to navigate and looks appealing.
Tracking code and keyword/ key phrase optimisation: Firstly check that the pages with a high bounce rate have got a tracking code. Sometimes when you are adding a new page it is easy to forget to add in the tracking code and consequently this incorrect tagging this can result in high bounce rate. If you tagging is all as it should be then spend a bit of time researching your keywords and phrases. Make sure you optimise the content of your pages to accurately reflect the search terms that are bringing users into your site.
Call to action: Sounds obvious but a surprising amount of landing pages don’t have a clear call to action. When an interested visitor clicks through to your site, it should be immediately apparent what it is you are asking them to do next. Visitors won’t want to play a guessing game so make sure your call to action is unambiguous and clear to see.
Bounce rate – useful resources:
Here are a few useful websites and interesting articles to help you get to grips with bounce rate a bit better:
- Goggle Support Bounce Rate
- Avinash Kaushik talks bounce rate in this short video
- Standard metrics revisited
- Kiss Metrics – what you can learn from your bounce rate
- Morevisibility – improving your bounce rate
We’d love to her your thoughts and experiences on this post, so please do leave a comment.
Tennis ball image courtesy of Feelart/FreeDigital/Photos.net