How to Reduce Your Website's Bounce Rate

Lots of handy tips and techniques to help you reduce bounce rates on your website.

Bouncing ball and graphIn How to Measure Your Website's Bounce Rate, I showed how you can use Google Analytics to measure various important bounce rates on your site, such as the overall site bounce rate, landing page bounce rates, and search keyword bounce rates.

Armed with this information, you have a good idea which areas of your site are performing well, and which parts could benefit from a lower bounce rate.

In this article you'll discover many useful tips and ideas for reducing your bounce rates.

If you're new to bounce rates, check out my article What is Bounce Rate?.

Use good quality, fresh content

Naturally, if you want visitors to stick around, your content should be worth reading and regularly updated. This also ensures that your content gets linked to from other sites, which will in turn increase your traffic.

It also helps to make your content easy to read. Learn the rules for writing good Web copy: Use short, single-topic paragraphs; condense content to bullet lists; highlight important phrases in bold; keep page lengths short.

For more on this topic, see Top 10 Free Ways to Build Traffic to Your Site.

Make sure the content is relevant

In order to engage visitors, your site's content needs to focus on the topic that those visitors are interested in.

  • Each page of your site, as well as the site overall, should be on-topic. For example, if your site is about dog breeding, don't have a page on the site that discusses horses.
  • Think about your site's overall objective, as well as your audience. Does all of your content help to achieve your site goals, and is it content that your audience want to see?
  • Use the Google Analytics Keywords report to see what people are searching for when they reach your site. Are you attracting a lot of traffic for keywords that have high bounce rates? Maybe it would be good to add some new content that gives visitors the information they are searching for.
  • Each page's title should match the content within the page. Don't use misleading page titles.

Use "related info" links

A great way to encourage visitors to read more than a single page of your site is to offer links to related information on the page.

For example, a product page might have a list of links to related products. Similarly, you could add a list of related articles or a "further reading" list at the end of an article page.

Use clear calls to action

If the purpose of a landing page is to encourage the visitor to take action — such as buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, or exploring your site further — make sure the call to action is obvious. The call to action is an element of the page — such as a button or a piece of text — that indicates what the visitor should do next.

For example, if your landing page needs to encourage people to buy an ebook then a large "Buy The Book Now" button would work well.

It's also a good idea to reduce page clutter. Remove unnecessary or distracting elements from the page so that the call to action stands out.

Use clear navigation

If you want visitors to engage with your site and explore it more deeply, make sure your site navigation menu is easy to find and easy to understand.

  • Place the menu in an obvious place, such as near the top of the page.
  • Use clear, simple words for your navigation options. Don't use jargon.
  • Try not to have too many main nav links. A maximum of 7 links is a good rule of thumb.

Use a professional, authoritative site design

First impressions count. When a visitor first lands on your site, the look of your site design can influence the visitor's decision to stay or leave. Generally speaking:

  • A professional, appropriate design lends an air of authority, inspiring confidence in the visitor and encouraging them to explore your site further.
  • An amateur or unattractive design can put people off and send them back to the search engines. It can also make your site harder to navigate, which means that visitors will spend less time exploring your site.

Of course, you may not be a professional designer, or you may not have the budget to hire one. However, there are some basic design rules — such as minimizing the number of colours and fonts in the page — that can have a big impact. For more design tips, see our Web Design and Style articles.

User-test your landing pages

Testing your site with real people can be a great way to find out the underlying causes of high bounce rates.

Show your key landing pages — particularly those with high bounce rates — to friends and colleagues. Ask them what attracts them on each page, and what turns them off. Are they inclined to buy your products or explore your site further? Or is there something about the page that discourages them from staying on your site?

A/B test your landing pages

As well as testing your landing pages with friends and colleagues, you can run A/B tests on your pages: Randomly serve 2 different versions of a landing page, and see which page results in more sales or other conversions. Google Website Optimizer can help automate this process.

As an alternative to A/B testing, you can make improvements to 1 landing page and measure how the bounce rate changes compared to other landing pages. For example, if bounce rates generally stay the same or increase over the course of a month, but your changed landing page shows a drop in bounce rate over the same period, then the chances are good that your changes reduced that page's bounce rate.

A final word on bounce rates

In this series of articles, you've looked at:

Now take a look at your own site's bounce rate and see if you can lower it. By reducing your site's bounce rate, you're increasing visitor interaction on your site. This usually means happier visitors and a more successful site. Have fun!

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Responses to this article

7 responses (oldest first):

23-Jan-10 11:49
Google Website Optimizer as mentioned is a good tool to help in optimizing landing page to reduce your bounce rate. Another useful tool is because it will actully help you ' really see' what visitors are upto when they visit your site. This information will then help you know areas to focus on.

I actually know of a company that fired their web designer because they noticed that they were having a high bounce rates for several consecutive months despite their various efforts to rectify the situation. I believe this situation could have been avoid if the guy had applied some of these tips in this Elated post.
25-Jan-10 03:11
Thanks for your feedback mauco. ClickTale looks very useful, if a bit "Big Brother"-like! Great for usability testing.

14-Sep-10 05:54
Saw this interesting research about site metrics:

Looks like a typical bounce rate is about 40 %.
14-Oct-10 14:44
Bounce rate is extremely important. I'm constantly trying to reduce it on several sites. Nicole, I wish I could get it down to 40% -- I could live with that. I may be wrong about this, but it seems that people can spend considerable time on a web page, and then exit, and that counts as a bounce? If that's the case, it may be important to know how long they "viewed" your page before exiting. For example, if they spend 1 second, ouch! But if they spend 5 minutes, not so bad. I'll be sure to check out clicktale.
14-Oct-10 18:32
"Bounce rate" is only "important" for PPC landing pages. It means absolutely nothing at all for "organic" search.
14-Oct-10 22:32
@chrishirst: please elaborate on your comment?

Because I feel its important to both, but the level of importance (to either the landing page or 'organic' search) depends on the overall theme/purpose of the site. Or am I missing something here?
25-Oct-10 14:01
Yes, you are missing what "bounce rate" actually means for various types of page.

"organic search" is mainly just random individuals clicking links.

They may or may not be looking for your products or services, even moreso if you engage in the random, machine gun marketing of "social media".

These visitors are NOT targeted in any way shape or form.

What are they there for?
Why would they want to stay on your site?

What if your page is a lead generating page, Adsense or Affiliate ad loaded page?
100% bounce rate is desirable in those cases because visitors arrive and leave via the adverts.

Now if you have PAID FOR THAT VISIT to a specific page so you want them to leave via the checkout page. So in that case 100% bounce is NOT desirable.

"Bounce rate" means different things to different people, before you can state what "bounce rate" is best, "right" or "normal" you HAVE to know the purpose of the page.

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