One of the top factors that any business looks at when deciding what to promote or to improve is the return rate (which is NOT the same thing as the “rate of return”). The quantity of returns is a key indicator of customer satisfaction.
If customers keep returning a toy or a gadget to the store, it most likely means that the product doesn’t work as expected or that it breaks easily. On the other hand, if people are buying it up in droves and nobody is returning it, let’s put that toy at the front of the aisle!
If searchers keep returning to Google from your website to seek another result, what does that tell Google about your website?
Maybe it’s broken.
Maybe it doesn’t meet people’s expectations.
Maybe it should not be placed up front. Maybe it should be placed farther down in the search results.Bounce rate is a key indicator of the quality of your website. Click To Tweet
The bounce rate with any given search is an indicator of not just the quality, but also the relevancy of your website to that particular search.
Do you think that Google and Bing (owned by Microsoft, don’t forget) fail to notice such obvious indicators? Let me rephrase that – do you think that two of the world’s biggest computing companies fail to notice the most obvious data that tells them if your site sucks?
What can you do to crush your bounce rate?
In its most simple form, bounce rate means the percentage of visitors to your site who hit the “back” button to return to the search results, as I explained on Kingged. Those are the single-page visits, and that’s what Google tells us it calculates. At least, that’s the “bounce rate” it shows us as webmasters.
However, Google is more than just a handheld calculator; the bounce rate it calculates for ranking purposes might be significantly more complex. For instance, Google might decide to place a time limit on its calculations; bounce rate might become the percentage of visitors to your site who hit the “back” button to return to the search results within one minute of visiting, for example. It can get even more complicated if Google adds a sliding scale with different values depending on how long it takes for people to bounce.
If you are concerned about the bounce rates Google is showing you, try adjusting the bounce rates in Google Analytics, removing scrolls from the bounce rate or removing returning visits.
Google won’t tell us exactly how they calculate bounce rate behind closed doors. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is to serve your users and engage them.
Leo Welder of ChooseWhat.com says, “One of the most critical steps to reducing bounce rate is to put yourself in the shoes of your site visitors by actually recreating their experience.”
To crush bounce rates, all you have to know are two things:
- You want people to visit more than one page of your website.
- You want visitors to be engaged, so as to remain on your website as long as possible.
There are many strategies to keep people digging deeper into your website. Start with the user in mind, and you can’t go wrong. Leo Welder takes a step-by-step approach to this:
Create a scenario where a person would be conducting a search and perform it yourself. In the search listings, what does your site’s title and description say? When you click through to your site, are you able to rapidly confirm that this site will provide you with what you need? You only have a couple of seconds to keep a person from abandoning your website. You need to make sure that the user experience is smooth and that your content immediately communicates to your targeted visitors that they are in the right place.
Speed up load time
One of the biggest wastes is that never even sees your website because they get impatient waiting for it to load. Those bounces could be good customers. So the most basic way to crush your bounce rate is to speed up the loading of your website.Pop-ups can slow load times, and also really piss people off when the page finally loads. Click To Tweet
Or just as they start reading or start scrolling, up pops a barrier between them and what they are reading. Some people will hit the “back” button. Double the reason to ditch the pop-ups.
Load speed is important for your rankings, too, especially for mobile searches. So this is a high-value fix with virtually no down-side. It is on my list of top things I plan to address over the next couple months on my own websites.
Urge them on
Whatever your revenue model is, chances are that your bottom line benefits from your visitors spending more time on your website and visiting more pages. So a second very important tactic is to urge your visitors to visit more pages of your website. There are a number of ways to do this.
Contextual links encourage visitors to click for more information on various elements of your content. However, these are passive; there is no call to action.Explicit links are more aggressive; there is a call to action urging people on. Click To Tweet
Here are a few examples of wording you might like to use:
- Read also [NAME OF RELATED ARTICLE]
- If you liked this post, here are some others you might like:
- Don’t miss out on this:
- Read our most popular article.
- For more tips on [TOPIC], click here.
I used the “Read also” approach at this post on ghostwriter contracts.
Neil Patel is blunter than I am:
“Remember that great calls-to-action will improve usability, and when that happens, your ideal customers will gladly stay put on your site. Every second spent on your site due to an enhanced CTA will improve your conversion rate, and lower your bounce rate.”
“Bribe” is such a dirty word, but it’s done all the time in Internet marketing. Offer a freebie and when they click submit, send them to a thank-you page. That page in itself removes their visit from the bounce rate, but you can go one better.
The thank-you page can list 3-5 popular pages that you would love them to visit. Done right, you can even get two visits out of one, plus get their names on your mailing list for future contact.
Make your content irresistible
In the end, of course, content is king. If your article sucks, or if it’s mostly amazing but the headline or the first few lines or the layout really sucks and nobody ever gets to the really amazing part, forget about crushing your bounce rate.
You need top notch content on your blog or website, for so many reasons. For our purposes, this will help with bounce rates in a number of ways:
- People won’t hit the “back” button in horror.
- If people like your article, they are more likely to be curious about what else you can do, and wander off along the garden paths of your website.
- If people like your article, they are more likely to click a contextual link for more information.
- The longer people are on your website, the more likely they are to click a sidebar link.
You’ll like that, and so will Google and Bing.
Make your pages more readable
No matter how good your content is, it has to be readable. That means using a font that is big enough to easily read and breaking up your text into readable chunks.
Try using bullet points when appropriate, make lists and use subheadings. And add images. Everybody like to see visuals. In short, don’t just make it worth reading, make it easy to read, too.
Reducing your bounce rate is not a holy grail. There might be good reasons for people leaving your website quickly and directly. For instance, they might have found what they are looking for in ten seconds, and they head back to Google to find something else. But in most cases, you will benefit from visitors spending more time on your site and visiting more pages.
Latest posts by David Leonhardt (see all)
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