6 ways to reduce bounce rate

Is your bounce rate killing sales?

First of all, what is “bounce rate” when it comes to search engine optimization? Bounce Rate is a key indicator of content value for a given web page.  Google declares a “bounce” when a searcher clicks from their search results to a certain page on your website, and then exits the session after viewing only that page.  A number of things can contribute to a high bounce rate.

What does a high bounce rate mean?Bounce rates and session times

Well, it could indicate:

– Google matched a user’s search to your content, but that’s not really what they wanted.
– Your content is not emotionally engaging.
– Your content provides little value or information.
– There may be accessibility issues.
– Spelling and grammar errors.
– The site may be difficult to navigate or lack calls to action.

Let’s ask a few questions about the above.

Is it Google’s fault?

Probably not. While it is still possible to get some mis-matched results from Google’s algorithm, these days it is becoming increasingly rare. After all, Google is in the business of providing searchers with the best results possible. As a multi-billion dollar company and the undisputed leader in internet search, they’re pretty good at it. They use advanced techniques and incorporate Latent Semantic Indexing into their algorithms to gain a pretty clear understanding of your content. I’d suggest looking at the other possibilities before pointing the finger at Google.

How does your content feel?

Today’s internet users are looking for an experience along with information.  As a content provider, you should be generating exciting, emotive content for your users.  It is increasingly important to help the users actually feel the experience of utilizing your product or service from the comfort of their homes, possibly thousands of kilometers away.  The internet is the right tool for the job, we just have to use it in the right way.

How valuable is your content?

People want answers.  How would you feel if you came here actually expecting to read about six ways to a lower bounce rate and ended up with a skeleton list and no explanations?  Bounce time, right?  Right.  Try your best to give users the information they seek.  Be descriptive about your products or services, include technical data, reviews and testimonials.

It’s not just users either, Google is on to content-thin sites.  2012 and 2013 have seen large-scale updates to Google’s algorithm which rightly demote sites that don’t have much to offer users.  This includes sites with too many ads “above the fold,” too little text or otherwise low-value pages.

Is your site accessible?

The new age of dynamically-created styling and the now universally supported use of cascading style sheets means that your site should be accessible to everyone.  If you think all users are still sitting on a desktop computer when they access your content, you are living in the dark ages (er, that’s 2007  in internet time).  In today’s world, website design has changed with the use of mobile devices skyrocketing.  Your site must be marked up for instant compatibility for display on smaller screens.  Also, extended consideration for visually impaired users with screen readers is a great signal of corporate social responsibility.

In addition to content accessibility, technical accessibility is another issue.  Things like dead-end links, missing pages and server downtime will negatively impact users’ experiences on your site and have them bouncing like Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s.  Finally, it is now clear that Google is using page load time as a critical ranking factor.  In today’s internet marketing world a site must be lean, mean, and available on every machine.

iz ur sight speld gud and haz grammer innit?

Wow, that was painful to type.  Improper spelling, grammar and capitalization are killers in terms of your site’s credibility.  They not only send the wrong signals about the way your company does business, it can also lead to confusion.  I seem to remember something about helping one’s uncle Jack off a horse, but I digress.

Yep, you guessed it Google is on to it too.  Google now factors in spelling and grammar as indicators of a site’s overall quality because, well, they are.  Shameless plug for our English language copy writing services occurring in 3, 2, 1… Go.

Is your site easily navigable?

Having a confusing layout leaves users, well, confused.  The most common locations for navigation today are across a top menu bar or along the left side of a two-column layout, basically what you see here.  There are more technical ways to discuss internal linkage with mind-numbing terminology like taxonomic structuring, hierarchical sequencing, breadcrumbing, etc. but you don’t need to worry about that here.  Just grab a couple of friends and ask them to locate a specific page about “x” on your site.  Ask them about their experience.

Bounces can also occur because users finish the content on the page and don’t know where to go next.  The bottom of every page should feature a clear call to action pushing users on to more content, toward a sales-focused page, or to contact your organization.  At minimum, the footer of your website should have a link to contact you via email.  If you want to get uber-snazzy you could have a fancy fly-in, kinda like the one that is about to slide in from the bottom right corner of your screen if you scroll down just a little further.

Final thoughts on bounce rates… for now.

Undertaking steps to reduce your site’s bounce rate will help increase exposure to your brand and increase familiarity with your products and services because users will spend more time on the site, viewing more pages.  Along with properly placed calls to action and a well focused sales funnel this will ultimately lead to increased inquiries, conversions and a higher ROI on your internet marketing investment.

Island Media Management is located on the gorgeous island of Bali.  While we primarily focus on serving clients across Indonesia and the rest of Asia, we also do business with companies worldwide.  Our approach to internet marketing is a business-first model where our primary focus is to help our clients analyze, set, achieve and review specific goals for their SEO and online marketing efforts.  Contact us if you’d like to improve your website’s performance.  We’ll have a look and get back to you, no obligation.

Finally, I leave you with this “bounce-related” video.  All I can say is “Oops!”