When it comes to content analytics, the bounce rate is one of the most important metrics there is. The bounce rate is reflected by the amount of visitors who land on one of your web pages and then leaves straight away. There are a few different ways that this can happen; they may have clicked on a link through to some content on your site or they could have just manually typed in your web address to find something they were looking for. Once they have arrived on your landing page though, they have then either quickly closed their browser, clicked on the back button or immediately moved onto another site. Whatever happened, they did not hang around to read or do anything on your site.

Bounce rate is often confused with exit rate, but they are not the same thing at all. Every single visitor to your site will generate an exit rate whenever they leave the site, whether that’s after just a few minutes or even after a few hours. The only way a bounce rate will be generated though is through visitors that only view one page on your site before leaving.

Bounce-Rate-1 7 Simple Steps to Dramatically Reduce Your Bounce Rate

Unfortunately, bounce rate is often a reflection of how a visitor perceives your site. If your site or content is of low quality, then they are not likely to stick around and look at it, never mind visit different pages for a length of time. Statistics show that around 42% of people who have bounced off your site will never return and will actually be more likely to then visit a site of one of your competitors.

So how can you cut down your bounce rate and really improve visitor retention? Here are some great starting points:

Avoid Pop-Ups

Everyone knows how annoying pop-ups are. They are intrusive and distracting and may black mark your site to a reader very quickly. You want your visitors to focus on your content, so make sure that is their main focus.

It has been shown that self-starting videos and moving images can sometimes be just as annoying to visitors as pop-ups, so make sure you provide a clean landing page to match your visitor’s needs.

Use Clear Navigation

If someone has landed on your site and you want them to stay and move between pages, then you need to make sure it is clear enough for them to see how they can do that, without them looking around for ages and feeling stupid.

It may be that they know what they are looking for but have just typed in your home page URL, or maybe they have clicked on a link but want to find out more about you – show them where they can go using clear navigational links.

If you feel like your page navigation is already fully optimised, then try using Crazy Egg to track where your visitors are clicking. You will be able to see from a heatmap whether users are easily navigating round your site or whether they are clicking on something else which you need to focus on making clickable.

Be Mobile Friendly

More than 20% of web visits now come from either smartphones or tablets, and the likelihood is that this figure will grow rapidly. You need to make sure that your site is mobile friendly and not turning people away.

Having a responsive design can make the world of difference when it comes to reducing your bounce rate. If tablet and smartphone users find your mobile site to be functional and accessible, then they are more likely to stick around and continue to browse.

Create Relevant Content

Powerful content is vital, and if your visitors do not think that the content you provide is interesting or relevant, then they are not going to stay to read it. Make sure your keywords and meta data matches the content it links through to.

Your visitors will be looking for content that not only meets their search criteria but that is also easy to read and understand. You don’t want to lose readers in a sea of writing, but you also don’t want to provide them with a simple page that has no CTAs.

Design Useful 404 Pages

It happens to all sites at one time or another, a page no longer exists or an incorrect link is posted on a social network by mistake. This leaves visitors on a 404-error page and not the page they had hoped to end up on.

Before they have a chance to wonder why they ended up on that 404 page, turn what is potentially a negative situation into a positive one. Add a search box for any keywords they have and provide them with some links to your most popular pages. You can also add a fun and quirky design to show you are making an effort for anyone who does end up on that page.

Make Pages Load Faster

Over 40% of visitors will actually abandon a website that takes more than three second to load. Over 80% of that initial number will never come back either. This means that your page load time is key in reducing your bounce rate.

There are two main ways to improve the load time; the first is to focus on on-page optimisation such as picture size, unnecessary plugins and caching, while the second is to implement a CDN such as Edgecast or Amazon CloudFont.)

Optimise External Links

One key mistake that sites can often make, is not optimising any featured external links. If you are going to link to other sources from pages on your site, then you need to make sure that visitors are not clicking on them and ultimately leaving your site for good.

In WordPress there is a box you can tick that tells links to open in a new tab or window, but you can also just add the following code in your link:

<a href=”http://example.com” target=”_blank”>anchor text</a>

Take Aways

Bounce rate is really important, so you need to maintain your site and make sure that visitors have no reason to be leaving in a hurry. You need to ensure that nothing on the landing page is annoying and distracting and that the content they are presented with is relevant and easy to read.

Check your 404 page is optimised and present a clear navigational route throughout your site. With all these steps in place, your bounce rate should be dramatically reduced.