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High Bounce Rate? This Might Be Why

Whether you’re in marketing, own a company, or even run a blog—understanding your website traffic (and loss of traffic) is imperative. In order to do so, you will need to understand the term ‘bounce rate’, which means “the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page”. The data that is available in analytics is extremely robust, but it won’t help you understand your site if you don’t understand what that information even means.

When you think of bounce rate, you might think it just means users are arriving to your website, and then without any explanation—they’re leaving—and increasing the bounce rate. In order to understand what causes a high bounce rate, you need to first look at why people may want to leave your website. A high bounce rate is a good indication of a disconnection between you and your customers.

Bounce rates directly relate to the amount of time users are spending on your site. These four types of actions typically register as a bounce from your site:

  1. Visitor clicks the back button
  2. Visitor closes the browser
  3. Visitor types a new URL
  4. Visitor does nothing, and session times out

Now that you understand what bounce rate means, and what triggers a bounce, let’s review some common reasons why a visitor would leave your website. In a perfect scenario, users will spend a long time on your website—reading content, utilizing any tools or resources, exploring blog posts, and so on. Customers develop a first impression of your site in seconds, so you have to be sure you are making the best first impression possible. Often times, website owners create a site that completely misses the mark with their target audience. These six scenarios are some of the most common reasons why your visitors may be leaving your website quickly.

1. Bad Website Design

Not only should your website have a great design so that it’s aesthetically appealing, it also needs to be a responsive website design. Now that more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers, if your site’s design doesn’t respond to fit the screen of desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, your visitors will likely have a terrible user experience and leave. The design of your site is one of the first things customers will see, so make sure it represents your brand and the quality of your work.

eMedia’s Tip: Design your website in a way that helps tell your company’s story. Showing the personality or uniqueness of your company through your website design will help keep customers on and clicking through your website.

2. Complicated Site Navigation

Your audience wants instant results. There’s an unofficial web design rule referred to as the “three click rule” pertaining to website navigation. This rule suggests users must be able to find the information they’re looking for within three mouse clicks or less, otherwise they will leave and go back to their search results.

eMedia’s Tip: Organize your content in a way that makes sense and label your content correctly. For the most optimal user experience, people should have an idea what the page’s content is about before they even click on it.

3. No Calls to Action

This issue also directly relates to complicated navigation, and could be detrimental to your bounce rate. If there are no calls to action on your site, visitors arrive to your site, and have no idea where to go next. For example, if you have someone looking to sign up for your blog, or if they want to make a purchase but can’t locate the shopping cart,  there is a huge problem.

eMedia’s Tip: When putting together your calls-to-action, keep your objectives in mind. What actions do you want your visitors to take on each page? Help them accomplish what they need to with clear and simple calls to action.

4. Wrong Use of External Links

Your website could be fabulous, but if you include too many external links (links that lead to other websites), people will click them and leave your page. Use external links sparingly, yet strategically.

eMedia’s Tip: Figuring out how and where to place external links is an art form. Linking to external websites can benefit you by increasing your site’s SEO value, but you also want to make sure your visitors read and explore your content before they click on an external link. We always recommend setting up the external links to open in a separate window. That way, users will still have your site accessible, but can explore the external link as well.

5. Slow Website Speed

It’s no secret, we all get annoyed with slow websites. Would you stay on a page for more than 5, or even 10 seconds for it to load? The answer is no, and neither will your website’s visitors.

eMedia’s Tip: Ugh, the spinning wheel of death… “Ain’t nobody got time for that”! There are many detrimental effects from having slow website speed, especially from an SEO standpoint. We could spend hours discussing the technical nitty gritty of optimizing website speed, but this is where our clients’ eyes typically start to glaze over. We definitely recommend addressing this with your web developer. If you aren’t working with one, there are tons of great resources available online, but it would probably be in your best interest to leave this to the pros. Moral of the story, optimize your website speed!

6. Irrelevant Content

Customers are quick to realize if your site is unrelated to what they need. Quality content with high relevance is one of the biggest SEO factors in Google’s search algorithm. The more relevant your content is to a user’s search query, the better your chances of appearing in search results, and for someone clicking through to your site.

eMedia’s Tip: This is where you really need to roll up your sleeves and dig in to keyword research before you write or have someone create your content. Find out what your target audience is searching for, and incorporate those keywords into your copy. You wouldn’t want your website showing up in search results that have nothing to do with what your website is actually about. Google rewards sites with great user experiences and effective SEO strategies. Invest some time in developing a content strategy built to target your ideal audience.

Of course, these are just some of the most common reasons for a website’s high bounce rate. Your bounce rates will always be contingent on your website’s unique challenges and audience. The important thing is this—in order for visitors to convert into users (and more importantly, customers) they have to stick around on your site. Ideally, they’re on there long enough to trigger a conversion. Lowering your bounce rate is possible—it just requires figuring out why people are leaving and fixing it.


Author: Autumn Crosier

Self-taught disruptor, brand storyteller, and lover of all things Barbra Streisand, Autumn oversees our creative tasks and finds new ways to shake things up. As Brand Experience Director, Autumn makes sure that every project for eMedia or Clients is on-brand, edgy, and tells a story.

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