Is your website’s high bounce rate worrying you, now that Google is using it more and more as a ranking factor?
Do people visit your site then leave after a few minutes (or seconds?)
Do they leave your website without visiting any page, except the one where they landed on?
If the bounce rate for a mortgage rate, contact form, lead-magnet, or landing page is high, perhaps you have nothing to worry about. Those pages are designed to initiate a specific action—to get their email, call your listed phone number, check a rate or purchase something. After that action is done, a visitor has nothing else to do so he closes the window to your site. And you accomplished your goal, so the high bounce rate is okay.
But what if it’s for something else?
What if you have a high bounce rate on one of your blog posts, service pages, or your home page? What then?
What could be causing it and how can you reduce bounce rates?
Why Your Website Drives Visitors Away
1. Poorly Implemented Pop-ups
How do you react when a pop-up obstructs the article you’re supposed to read the moment the page loads?
Annoyed? A lot of people feel the same.
However, many experts say pop-ups can get you more email leads and have stats to back it up. I say only a well thought out pop-up can do that.
A decent rule of thumb is to give people a little time to read your website, before asking them to sign-up for anything. That way they’ll have a chance to decide if they like what you’re offering or not.
With that said, it all comes down to testing. While some people find 10-12 seconds is a good delay, other sites have done well having a pop up right when the page loads.
You can also make the pop ups based on exit intent and or have them be more contextual, like appearing at the end of articles using scroll triggers.
Neil Patel of Quicksprout says: “Exit-intent popups have doubled my email opt-in rate. When done right, you can see an instant 10% lift on driving sales.” And he likes a form building and pop up software called OptinMonster.
Check out these nice insights on the pros and cons of pop ups and ideas for implementing them from Ott Niggulis of ConversionXL, before you simply abandon the idea of pop ups. Having more raving fans on your email list will actually increase engagement.
2. Slow Loading Pages
Who has the time to wait for a webpage to load? No one. Certainly not your visitors if Google can give them 1000++ search results.
Any page that takes more than four seconds to load, loses visitors to a competitor with a faster site.
Below are a few of the common culprits behind slow websites:
- Cheap hosting
- Issues caused by plugins
- Too many external scripts
- Too many huge images and not specifying image dimensions in the code
- Custom fonts
- Overly fancy website effects
Responsive WordPress themes are a great start but also check out an option called accelerated mobile pages (AMP), that can get your load time to around 1 second.
3. Misleading Information and “Matching Scent”
The information displayed in search engine queries often come from your website’s meta tags. So if the text in those tags don’t match the information on your website, visitors who click on your site might visit it thinking you have what they’re looking for, when in fact you don’t.
Like a bloodhound sniffing out a trail, users want what they searched for and if what you offer is not matching what they expected, they will bail. Conversion rate expert Bryan Eisenberg calls this “matching scent”.
If this is the case for your website, rewrite your meta tags to match the page’s content. Do this site-wide because Google may just grab some text from the page to display instead, if meta descriptions are missing. Having missing meta descriptions can also negatively impact your rankings since it makes you look sloppy.
4. Unreadable Text, Small Fonts and Thick Paragraphs
White text on black background stands out but it can strain your eyes after a few minutes of reading. Gray text on white background is almost impossible to read. Small fonts save space but they’re a nightmare to read.
Wrong text and background color combinations can cause readers to close your site in hopes of finding a better reading experience.
Break paragraphs up into 4-5 sentences maximum and break things up with bullet lists and numbered lists.
5. Technical Errors and Blank Pages
Blank pages, missing pages, and technical errors all cause a high bounce rate because your visitors can’t see the information they’re looking for.
To check for errors, visit pages with a high bounce rate on popular browsers (Chrome, Safari, Mozilla) on both your mobile and desktop. Do any of these pages turn a 404, or perhaps a blank page? If you see an error, ask your webmaster to fix it.
Google Search Console that is provided by Google can help immensely to fix these technical site issues.
Make sure you have a custom 404 page and here are some funny examples.
6. Bad Backlinks
A couple of years ago, it didn’t matter much whether your site got its inbound links from article directories or shady websites. But times have changed.
Google is continuously devaluing websites with a bad link profile. Aside from that, poor links with bad anchor texts mislead people. Even if someone clicks on the link to your site, they may not find what they’re looking for so they’re just going to close your page.
7. Poor Layout and Too Many Ads
Anything that makes your website look like a scam drives people away. The same goes for anything that makes your site cluttered and hard to navigate. I’m talking about weird navigation menus, too many distracting images, and huge blinking text.
Websites with out-of-date designs make people question your business’s legitimacy. Of course, if you don’t look legitimate, they’re just going to close your website in search of a more credible one.
Too many ads can also make people want to run for the hills, including Google.
8. Not Mobile-Friendly
More and more people are using their mobile phone for their online activities. That means your website should be readable and usable on mobile phones if you don’t want to get left behind.
People are getting tired of having to pinch, squint, or zoom in just to read a website on their phone. They’ve come to expect convenience and mobile-friendly layouts, because other businesses have started the trend. There’s even a study confirming that bounce rates of mobile website visitors are higher by about 10% than desktop visitors.
Still not convinced? A 2012 Google survey confirms that 74% of over 1000 respondents are more likely to revisit a mobile-friendly site, while 61% will ‘move on’ from a non-mobile friendly site to another one with a better reading experience.
9. Pages that Suck at Deepening Visits
Go into Google Analytics and sort by the top content.
Find pages that are driving lots of traffic but have a high bounce rate. Add internal links, video, podcasts and or images to beef up the pages.
You can also check out Behavior Flow and Visitors Flow Reports in Google Analytics.
In the article above, my team member John Maher of McDougall Interactive says:
“Look for places where a large percentage of visits to a page are dropping off (the thick red lines). Take a deeper look at these pages, and figure out what you could do to make people stay on the site more. Perhaps you could add links to similar/related content, or make your calls-to-action more prominent or obvious on the page.”
If you don’t use analytics, you are shooting in the dark.
10. Lack of trust
Create trust by adding a photo of your company on your contact page. Add your mission statement and pics of your team doing something fun or working with a charity on your about us page.
Add insight / thought leadership like links to blog posts from your home page, bio pages and throughout your site.
A site with real people behind it will have a much lower bounce rate than a site that seems like a lame lead generation device built buy a guy in a garage.
11. Missing Calls to Action
If it is not clear what you want users to do they may not take action.
Here are a couple top issues:
- Having forms to fill out that have too many fields
- Only having bottom of the funnel calls to action that relate to hiring you
Try having a free e-book or an interactive quiz. These calls to action that are for the user will at least get them to visit more pages, satisfy them with a freebie and give you their email.
Google is now looking at what they call “needs met”. If users’ needs are not met, Google may also lower your search ranking.
Go Improve Your Website’s Bounce Rate
High bounce rates impede your digital marketing efforts. They hinder any chance you have of building your authority online and ultimately of creating loyalty and repeat visits.
But what is a good bounce rate? One that is always going down! Ok seriously, shoot for under 50%.
So now that you know how to avoid a high bounce rate, it’s time to put your knowledge into action.
If you know of other reasons for a high bounce rate or have any good tips on improving the user experience, let me know in the comments.