How to Fix a Website with a High Bounce Rate
Written by Lee Smith-Bryan and published
If you have a high bounce rate on your website, you’re not alone. Analyzing the underlying factors which lead to a high bounce rate can be the difference between hitting your conversion target or consistently losing customers. A high bounce rate should be considered as 80% upwards.
To accurately measure the bounce rate metric, you need a pretty sizable amount of visitors. If your blog or website only gets around 50 visitors and you have a high bounce rate, I would suggest waiting until you get your traffic up to at least 100 – 150 visitors p/day before you start measuring. It’s much harder to spot patterns and trends with a smaller traffic amount. Anywhere less than between 100 – 150, and consistency becomes an issue.
The issues for a high bounce rate can be segmented into three different areas:
- Site Design / IA
- Technical Issues
Poor Site Design:
The aesthetics of a site is the user’s first impression of your company. You want to give them a reason to return. A visit to Web Sites that Suck will give you all the details on what not to do. If your site makes it on there, it needs changing — and quick.
A user should be encouraged to stay on your site. This means that if I hear music playing as soon as your website opens, you’ve just given me a reason to leave. It’s the user’s choice to decide whether he or she wants to listen to music while browsing your site. Never assume that you know what your user wants to do.
Hire a designer who understands the concepts of modern web design, which will give your company credibility. So, out are flashing gifs, Comic Sans font, and a table-based design. In are images that compliment the content, semantically structured copy, and readable web fonts.
Never autoplay video or music. Make sure the choice is available, however, in case that’s the user’s preference. Oh, and those annoying flashing banner ads need to go.
Poor Information Architecture:
A navigation that doesn’t aid or funnel the user into information is a wasted process. The user needs to be aware of where he is, how to get where he wants to go, where he has been, and to see it all on a consistent basis. Amazon does a great job of this. When looking at a product page, you can see which products you’ve looked at previously and which products you might like.
The presentation of your content can be a significant barrier to the user’s finding what he wants — so much so that the user may just quit trying and go to a competitor’s site. You may have the larger selection of items, but if the user becomes frustrated trying to find whatever he is looking for, you’ve just lost a potential sale. In today’s world of Social Media, that one negative experience could potentially be shared with the user’s friends, which in turn could cause you to lose future revenue.
A good navigation is based on simplicity – overly complex will only create confusion for your users. Think intuitively. There’s a reason that the vast majority of navigation on websites is predominantly the same – because they work. Don’t try to think outside the box when designing your navigation.
Without doubt, if you own or run an e-commerce site, displaying Top 5 or Top 10 lists of items in certain categories can provide an alternate form of navigation. They may not be related to the item(s) on that page, but you’ve just provided multiple options in case the user has been unable to find what he wants.
Content Unrelated to User’s Search Query:
If you check your analytics thoroughly, you will quite often find users who have found your site through the most unusual terms, like Mexican Donkey Show Pictures. Digging through your analytics is a must if you’re truly to discover the user’s intent. Obviously, there are only so many niches where Mexican Donkey Show Pictures would be an appropriate search. However, if you look hard enough, you will begin to see a pattern.
A web user can be split into two different categories — those who are just browsing and those who are searching. For the most part, the user who is performing a search query knows what he is looking for. The casual browsing user is searching without as much intent.
Contextually, an intentional searcher is much more open and along the purchase path than a casual browser. You need to find patterns and consistencies, then create funnels where the intentional searchers are concerned. Find out what page the user is landing on and work from there. However, don’t ignore the casual browsers. They can be persuaded by list items such as Top Sellers, Highest Rated, and also discounted items.
Content Unrelated to Inbound Link:
A user clicks on a link that lands the user on your website. However, the link the user clicked on is unrelated to your website. This leads to a frustrated user experience.
If the link is an organic link and you have no control over it, a good step to rectify the situation is to email the webmaster and suggest another page to which the website could link.
An alternative would be to display internal links on the landing page(s) with something like ‘perhaps you were looking for X, Y, or Z ?’. If you promote your site using Digg, Reddit, or StumbleUpon, another technique would be to suggest to the user something else he might like which is related to the page he landed on — for instance, a sentence similar to ‘If you like what’s on this page, you may also like these articles’. This encourages the user to further explore your site.
A user lands on your site and is struck by slow loading times, 404’s, and non-working links. As a result, the user has a bad experience and leaves the site. This is not an uncommon scenario, and it’s something the majority of us have experienced.
A valuable piece of software that should be part of any website owner’s tools is Integrity – Mac only (Windows users should use Xenu’s Link Sleuth). You will need to input your URL; the software will follow all of your internal links to find your pages and will check the server response code for all internal and external links found.
Google’s own Webmaster Tools can also be used to check how the search bots are crawling your site and will notify you of any spidering problems.
Remember, it’s entirely possible that the user found everything he needed without having to go any deeper on your web site. If you’re vigilant and check your stats often, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get that bounce rate down to within normal range.