Getting a lower bounce rate for your site

Some people view their site metrics the same way they view their bank statements: rarely and with trepidation. All those counts, percentages and graphs can be overwhelming — and in the case of the Big Bad Bounce Rate, downright scary.

It doesn’t have to be like that. Watching your bounce rate and taking the time to understand and analyze it can give you valuable insight into things like conversions and user satisfaction: important information whether you’re running an online business or writing a personal blog.

Defining bounce rate

Google analytics expert Avinash Kaushik sums up bounce rate as: “I came, I puked, I left.”

Put differently, bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits followed by no subsequent action other than leaving the site entirely. Someone lands on your site, blinks at it for a couple of seconds, then “bounces” off someplace else.

Of course, you’re never going to engage, sign up, and sell to every visitor to your site (nor should you try). Most experts agree that a bounce rate of 50-55 percent is acceptable, although it depends on the type of site (Neil Patel has a great infographic that delves deeper into benchmarks for specific site categories). Once you know where you’re at and what number to shoot for, you can set to work on making your site more clickable and sticky.

Study your traffic

Two questions every site operator should be able to clearly answer:

1. Who’s visiting your site?

2. What do they want?

A little market research goes a long way. If you don’t know who your target user is, it’s difficult to connect with them. Gather as much information as possible about your visitors — then shape your content and design accordingly.

Prioritize user experience

UX” has been getting a lot of play lately, and for good reason. Good UX can mean the difference between someone landing on your site and spending several minutes exploring and engaging with your content, and someone taking one look and deciding it’s not worth their time.

So how do you improve user experience? Let us count the ways.

First and foremost, you’ll need a clear navigation system to guide visitors through your site. If you make your visitors hunt for information, they’re going to leave. 

Responsive design is another big one. You don’t want to make your site inaccessible to the 60 percent of people now accessing the web from mobile devices, do you?

Speeding up your site will also encourage visitors to pull up a chair and stay. According to KISSmetricssites that take more than four seconds to load are 25 percent more likely to have a higher bounce rate; for sites that take longer than 10 seconds, that bounce rate increases to 30-40 percent.

Make your site more clickable

This is what it’s all about, right? Getting a visitor to click somewhere (anywhere!) else beyond the homepage means that they’re reading and engaging with your content on some level and therefore not a bounce.

Encourage clicks by breaking up lengthy posts, providing relevant internal links, categorizing and tagging your posts in a value-added manner, and featuring top posts in either a sidebar or excerpts (then reward those clicks with fresh, attractive, killer content).

Embrace trial and error. Take the time to know your audience, implement some small changes, and watch the reaction. If you can meet visitors’ expectations for content and product, and streamline their experience with superior design, there’s nothing stopping you from getting a lower bounce rate for your site.

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