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Bounce rates – High or Low?

Andy Topps
Andy Topps23.12.2016

Like anything that is linked to search engine ranking there is no magic wand that is suddenly going to reduce your bounce rate to 10% or less. But consider the following two facts and decide which one you think is correct: -
1. A high bounce rate could indicate that you are acquiring the wrong kind of traffic to your website
2. A high bounce rate could also indicate your website is receiving the right kind of traffic

The answer? Well they are in fact both correct. Think about it, if a user comes to a site and finds exactly what they are looking for; why in theory should they stay a minute longer?

Website's that are excellent at solving problems or blogs for example quite often have high bounce rates but visitors return regularly. On the flip side, some websites require visitors to stick around. You want visitors to spend time navigating around the site, digesting content and hopefully completing a conversion. In this instance, bounce rate is a conversion killer and the knock on effects are numerous - it is imperative that you attempt to increase time on site and the number of page views.

But before we look at how we can improve the situation it is important to understand what bounce rate is, where it can be found and how it is monitored by Google too.

Bounce rate (not 'exit rate') is a term used to describe the percentage of visitors who arrive at a website and then leave the page or, 'bounce'without viewing any other pages on the website.

Traffic-in-traffic-out.jpgThe most common example is where a user arrives from a search engine and then 'bounces' immediately back to the search engine if the website has not provided the correct experience and this is perhaps the most detrimental case to the site owner in more ways than one. Unfortunately, Google also measures bounce rate; like many of the algorithms Google uses to rank websites it is not clear what factors are used but it's a reasonable conclusion to think that a site that ranks on the first page and receives a lot of traffic that then sees the visitors leaving almost immediately is providing a poor user experience and hence the site receives a lower ranking.

If you're running a website that ultimately requires conversions, there's a whole host of elements to review starting with the copy. For a long time now, Google has stated that it favours relevance and spammy content should be left behind, so take the time to review your content and provide content for users, not the search engines.

So how can you tell which pages have a high bounce rate? Google Analytics calculates the bounce of individual web pages and the overall website. It goes without saying that you should be aware of which pages are required to provide conversions but if you don't, you should refer to the, Profit Index. This is an index of the pages that are viewed most prior to a conversion or transaction so if these pages have got a high bounce rate then it is going to significantly impact on your bottom line. Without the Profit Index you could spend a great deal of time optimising the bounce rate of a large number of webpages which may play no part in the game.

What else can be done to reduce bounce rate? Well you have to go back to basics really and review the keywords you are targeting and the marketing channels which are sending low value traffic to your website. If your website is receiving traffic that has nothing to do with the service or product that you sell, a visitor is going to bounce as soon as they reach the website. 
Educate, demonstrate benefit and convert. Poor landing pages and a weak CTA (Call to Action) are perhaps some of the biggest conversion killers. Individual landing pages are most definitely the way forward; we see so many companies sending traffic to existing webpages that are busy, full of vague copy and don't educate or satisfy a visitor's requirements - it's no wonder they don't convert!
Why should a customer convert? Every day we are bombarded with tons of marketing messages so why should a visitor to your site choose to leave their details by completing a form? (this is the point where the visitor becomes a prospect). The best landing page should contain content that can be consumed in a short space of time, have a CTA that is relevant to the landing page and above all demonstrate value - why should I hand over my details or buy from you?

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