8 Ways To Fix Your Website’s High Bounce Rate
If you’re like most website owners, you put a lot of effort into getting people to come to your website. Your SEO efforts, your PPC campaigns, your content marketing – all of it’s meant to help people learn about your business and find your website. But all that investment you’re making isn’t worth much if the people who come to your website don’t stick around.
Your bounce rate is an important metric to help you understand whether or not your website is doing its job once people land on it. Google Analytics knows it’s important, which is why they put it right upfront when you first log in.
What’s normal for a bounce rate can vary widely, but an average bounce rate is usually somewhere in the 40-55% range. If you feel like yours is too high and you want to do something about it, your first step is to do some sleuthing to figure out the likely cause.
Common Causes of High Bounce Rates
Most high bounce rates are caused by one a few key issues with your website. Here are the main things to look for when trying to track down the issue with yours.
1. Broken links
If people navigate to your website from an outdated link that no longer works, they’ll be seeing a 404 page rather than what they’re looking for. In most cases, that gives them little reason to stick around.
This kind of issue can occur if you moved your website to a new domain or did an overhaul of the site that included changing some of your URLs. Any old links on your own website and others pointing to those pages will now fail to take people where they expect to go, which makes them more likely to leave the site altogether.
The fix(es): You have a few steps to take in response to broken links.
To start, find and fix the broken links on your own website. Run your website through a tool like Broken Link Check. Once you have a list of broken links on your website, get to work fixing them. Not all of them will be links back to your own pages, but go ahead and fix the broken outbound links as well to improve user experience on your website.
Next, work on improving your 404 page. You probably can’t keep your visitors from ever experiencing a 404 page again, but you can definitely control what they see when they do. Make sure it’s entertaining and helpful, and that it makes it easy for them to try and search and find whatever they were looking for to begin with.
Finally, the hardest step here is figuring out how to deal with broken external links. You can’t control what other webmasters do and it’s not easy to identify the broken links out on the wide web. But you should be able to spot a few of them with the help of Google Search Console. Once you have it up, click on Crawl Errors and you’ll see a list of links that Google experienced errors with on their crawls.
You can click on an individual link, then click Source to see where it’s coming from. Unless you know the webmaster, you can’t expect to change the link on the website itself, but what you can do is set up a 301 redirect that takes the incorrect URL to the right page. That way people who click end up on the page they’re looking for without ever knowing the difference.
2. Slow loading times
There was a time when everyone expected to have to wait for the internet to connect and sites to load. Now that most of the web loads at lightning speed, people don’t have that kind of patience anymore. Most people won’t wait around longer than two seconds for your website to load. If it’s taking longer than that, they’ll bounce before they ever see what you have to say.
The fix: You need a better hosting provider.
While website features like images that are too large and flash video can slow your website down, the main problem behind most slow sites is a slow host. If you’re getting more traffic than your hosting plan can handle, then it may be time for an upgrade. If you’re pretty sure traffic isn’t the issue, then you may just need a new hosting provider altogether.
3. Too many pop-ups and ads
People hate pop-ups. 68% of people say they’d gladly block a site from search for having pop-ups and the ad technique has a 73% disapproval rating in surveys. Other types of ads don’t inspire quite the same level of ire, but people still feel they see too many ads in general and are less likely to want to hang out on sites where they feel bombarded by advertising.
That doesn’t mean your website can’t get away with having any ads at all. 83% of people say that not all ads are bad, but the ads that feel intrusive and distract from what they’re actually looking for on a site are a problem.
The fix: Test out different ways of displaying ads.
If you’re going to use ads on your website, do A/B testing to figure out the best designs for using them that don’t drive people away. If you’re using pop-ups, either stop using them entirely, or do testing to figure out the least intrusive way to use them in order to still get results, such as having them show up only after people have reached the end of the content and making it easy to close the pop-up window.
4. Autoplay videos
Have you ever been browsing the internet in a public place, clicked through to a website, and suddenly found yourself to be that guy – you know, the one whose computer is blaring noise that everyone around you now has to listen to. Even when you’re sitting at home alone, autoplay videos are obnoxious. And closing out the page entirely is often easier than trying to find the pause button to shut off the sound.
82% of people have closed out a page because of an autoplay video. They’re intrusive and they contribute to a bad user experience.
The fix: Just don’t do it.
Don’t set the videos on your website to play automatically. Trust that people who want to see your video can figure out how to press play and you won’t lose all the people who don’t want to see it before they get a chance to look at anything else on your website.
5. Content that’s not what was promised
The bait-and-switch never works out well. If your PPC ads and title tags suggest people will be coming to a page that provides one thing and they get another, they’re not going to be happy. Why stick around when they aren’t getting what they want and, worse, they feel lied to?
The fix: Do a review of all your PPC copy and meta tags.
Make sure that the information your prospects see before they click matches what they’ll get when they arrive on the page. Correct any information that isn’t currently accurate and make sure moving forward that all new ads and pages will provide accuracy as well.
6. Bad web design
Have you ever clicked away from a website because the design was ugly and outdated? A website that looks stuck in the 90’s doesn’t inspire trust in visitors. It looks unauthoritative and makes people figure they’re better off looking for information elsewhere.
Your website could look fine and still have design issues though. If people find it hard to navigate and get to what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to give up and look for what they need somewhere else.
The fix: Update your web design.
If you haven’t done a website redesign in a while, make this your incentive to do so. Hire a good designer or check out the available web builders. If you don’t have one yet, add an easy-to-spot search feature to your website to make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. And do user testing to make sure your navigation is intuitive so people are more likely to browse rather than bounce.
7. Your page isn’t mobile optimized.
People spend an average of five hours a day on their mobile devices, and almost a third of all shopping done online is on mobile. If you’ve done much browsing on a mobile device yourself, you know that a bad user experience on that small screen is, if anything, worse than one on a computer screen. If people don’t have patience for bad design on a computer, they definitely won’t on a mobile device. And the stats bear that out; bounce rates are 40% higher on mobile than on desktop.
The fix: Optimize your site for mobile.
Get this done ASAP. A lot of your visitors are coming from mobile devices and you need to make sure their experience on your site is as good as that of your desktop visitors.
8. Your content’s no good.
Whether it’s due to spelling errors, bad formatting, or because the information’s not helpful, if people are landing on your site and simply don’t find the content there useful, there’s no reason for them to stick around. Content marketing is a competitive game and your visitors know that if yours doesn’t deliver, someone else’s will. Why would they settle?
The fix: Invest more in content marketing.
Make sure you’re only publishing high-quality content that’s get enough to impress the people that come to your website and make them want to come back for more. It’s hard to do, but it can make a big difference in reducing those bounce rates and ensuring you start to build ongoing relationships with the people who land on your website.
Take some time to analyze what’s going on and see what diagnosis you can provide. As soon as you spot the problem, you can make a move toward the fix and get people to stick around longer and engage more with your brand. A site visit is only worth so much – a subscriber or regular visitor is worth far more.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.