How to Reduce Bounce Rate on a Website: 8 Easy Steps You Can Take Today

How to Reduce Bounce Rate on a Website: 8 Easy Steps You Can Take Today
Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron Feb 20, 2020 — 8 min read
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No matter what kind of website you have, getting more traffic and visitors is probably one of your major goals. But once those visitors arrive, your goal should be to get them to take action – whether it’s subscribing to your newsletter, purchasing your product, downloading your app, or filling out the contact form.

If website visitors leave without taking any action, your bounce rate will reflect that and increase. And most times, a high bounce rate is a bad signal that affects both your website’s SEO and conversions.

So, if you’re wondering how to reduce bounce rate on your website, we’ve put together eight easy steps to help you with that pain point.

First, we’ll talk about what a bounce rate is, how it varies for different business niches, and what causes a high bounce rate. Then, we’ll walk you through actionable tips to help reduce bounce rate on your website.

Let’s begin.

What is a bounce rate?

The most common understanding of a bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits. A single-page visit occurs when people landing on your website leave without checking other pages. For example, if a thousand visitors land on your website and 470 of them leave without further browsing your website, your bounce rate is 47%.

Bounce rate = Bounces/Total Visitors x 100%

Now, here comes a tricky part. For some websites, a single-page session does not mean a bounce. For instance, if your goal is to get visitors to view a video, click on a button, or fill out a form, these events can be viewed as important engagement signals and tracked by your web analytics.

In this case, a bounce will be a single-page session when a visitor does not interact with the website in any way.

From a visitor’s perspective, a bounce typically happens when they:

  • Decide to click an external link from your website (for example to follow you on Facebook or Instagram)

  • Type a new URL in the address bar while on your site

  • Click the back button in their browser

  • Close their browser

  • Experience session timeouts due to a hosting error

While the above is normal behavior for people browsing the Internet, keep in mind that there is a good bounce rate as well as a bad bounce rate.

What is the average bounce rate across industries?

Bounce rate varies for different business industries – that’s why it can be difficult to give a precise answer on what is a good and what is a bad bounce rate. According to QuickSprout, these are the benchmark averages for various website types:

  • Content websites — between 40-60%

  • Lead generation websites — between 30-50%

  • Blogs — between 70-98%

  • Retail websites — between 20-40%

  • Service sites — between 10-30%

  • Landing pages — between 70-90%

Taking the industry into account, the average bounce rate ranges between 44.50% for real estate and 65.62% for the food and drink industry according to CXL Institute.

Based on the numbers above, if your bounce rate is higher than 60%, you should conduct a thorough website and content audit and implement changes that will help you reduce bounce rate.

Bounce rate displayed in Google Analytics

If your bounce rate is lower than 50%, you’re good and if your website is lower than 10%, it’s time to celebrate and keep up the good work.

What is a good bounce rate for Google Ads?

When it comes to Google Ads, the same study from CXL Institute lists the average bounce rate at 44.10% for paid search and 56.50% for display ads. With that in mind, if you’re running Google Ads, you should aim for a bounce rate that’s between 40-60%.

What causes a high bounce rate?

So now you know what the average bounce rate is across industries. But what causes the high bounce rate in the first place?

A high bounce rate usually means that a visitor didn’t find what they were looking for. This could be because the content they were expecting to find has moved and you didn’t implement a redirect. Or maybe this content was never there to begin with.

A high bounce rate often shows that your website is too difficult to use or there is no clear call to action telling the visitor what the next logical step is.

Why you should improve your bounce rate

Bounce rate is proportional to the user experience that your website provides. A high bounce rate means poor user experience, and it means your conversion rates will suffer. For you, that’s fewer subscribers, fewer leads, and less money in your bank account.

On top of that, if the search engines notice that your visitors are leaving your website quickly, they will more than likely push your website lower in the search results – and that means less organic traffic.

8 ways to reduce bounce rate on your website

So now that you know what a bounce rate is, what’s causing it, and what the good and bad bounce rates are, let’s talk about eight easy tips you can use to reduce the bounce rate on your website.

1. Display website exit surveys

While Google Analytics can tell you what your bounce rate is and which pages have a high bounce rate, it doesn’t exactly tell you why your visitors are leaving. This means you’ll be doing a lot of guessing and shooting in the dark, trying to lower your bounce rate.

Instead of guessing, consider using website exit surveys to ask people directly why they are abandoning your website. Add a survey to your critical pages and display it once a visitor is about to exit.

For instance, Getsitecontrol provides website exit survey templates like this: timely, minimalistic and easy to customize.

Use the See live preview button to see this survey popup in action, and if you want to quickly add it to your website, just follow the instructions that will appear in the preview mode.

2. Ensure your landing page is visually appealing

Like it or not, design matters when it comes to your website. This is especially important if you’re using paid advertising. Imagine the confusion your visitors must feel when they click over from a beautifully designed ad and land on a visually confusing or unappealing page.

As such, it's important to make sure the page content meets the expectations of a visitor who reads the meta title or the description that shows up in the search engine result page. This is also true for when they click over from the ad text on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

3. Optimize page load time

Nobody likes slow websites. According to Hubspot’s studies, 47% of people expect your website to load in less than 2 seconds. In other words, if your website loads slowly, chances are visitors might not even wait until it loads completely – they’ll just close the page to never return.

Start by examining how fast your website loads using tools like Pingdom or Google Page Speed Insights. All you have to do is enter your website URL and let the tool analyze your page.

Pingdom page load speed analysis helps reduce bounce rate

Once you get the report, it will tell you how long it takes your site to load and what you should do to boost the performance. And if slow speed is the reason why people leave your website too soon, here is what you may need to do to make bounce rate lower:

  • Optimize images on your site

  • Use a caching plugin (such as WPRocket if you’re on WordPress)

  • Switch to a better hosting plan or company

  • Minimize the number of plugins you use

  • Minimize script and style files

  • Use a content delivery network to serve your images and static files like MaxCDN, KeyCDN

4. Display clear calls to action

Lack of clarity might be another reason why your bounce rate is high. If you don’t have a clear call to action – well, then your visitors won’t know what you want them to do, and they certainly won’t stick around trying to guess.

Every page on your website should have a clear call to action.

The call to action will depend on your customer journey and what you consider a conversion at each stage. For example, if you have an online store, your call to action could be to take advantage of a special deal or just to purchase a product. If you provide services, your call to action could be to book a free consultation call or to fill out a contact form. If you’re building an email list, your email signup call to action should reflect the value from subscribing to your newsletter.

5. Improve user experience on mobile

According to Statista, mobile traffic accounts for 52% of all web traffic worldwide. So, if your website is not mobile-friendly, you could be losing a significant chunk of potential customers.

If you’re not sure whether your website is mobile-friendly use a tool like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. Within a few seconds, you’ll be able to get a report like this one:

Google mobile-friendly test tool report

If your results are not as good as anticipated, you can start to optimize your site for mobile devices by:

  • Using a responsive theme or making sure your website is responsive

  • Making sure form fields are easy to fill out on smaller screens

  • Using larger buttons that can easily be clicked on smartphones and tablets

  • Ensuring input fields on your forms are configured to trigger the correct keyboard. For example, the number keyboard should be triggered for phone numbers and the text keyboard – for input fields such as name, address, and coupon codes.

6. Implement internal linking

Another easy way to reduce bounce rate is to link to relevant pages and blog posts on your website. You can use regular text links in the body of your post, display related articles under each blog post, or use your sidebar to display your categories or recently published content.

If you want to link to a must-read article, for instance, you can use a slide-in popup that will serve as a call to action. This is what it may look like:

7. Use exit-intent popups to reduce bounce rate

Exit-intent popups have been long recommended for growing your email list. And they are also a great way to reduce bounce rate on your website.

Larry Kim, the founder of WordStream, was able to reduce bounce rate by up to 60% using exit-intent popups.

One of the best practices when it comes to exit-intent popups is to offer a lead magnet in exchange for an email. Not only does it help you lower bounce rate because it ignites user interaction, but you also get a chance to grow the list of subscribers.

What is a good lead magnet example? Practically anything, as long as it delivers value to your audience. Depending on your business niche, consider using checklists, guides, email courses, eBooks, discount codes, or special offers.

Just like website exit surveys, this popup will display right before a visitor closes the page.

If you want to add a popup like this one to your website, use the live preview mode and follow the instructions. You’ll be taken to the Getsitecontrol dashboard where you’ll be able to adjust the copy and the creative before publishing it on your website.

8. Add social proof and credibility to your landing page

People do business with people they know, like, and trust. In other words, when people trust you, they will be more inclined to buy from you.

A few ways to build trust when a visitor lands on your website for the first time, include:

  • Displaying testimonials you’ve collected from past customers

  • Showcasing product reviews from your store or third-party websites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and others

  • Displaying logos from media outlets you’ve been featured in

  • Featuring logos or accreditation badges from professional associations

For example, when your business has both testimonials and media coverage to showcase, it may help convince your visitors to take a closer look at what you offer. The longer they stay on your site, the higher your chances to convert them into subscribers or customers.

Start working on reducing your website’s bounce rate today

A high bounce rate is often a clear signal that your website’s landing pages don’t meet the expectations of your visitors. Start with checking your web analytics tool to see which traffic channel has the highest bounce rate. Then take a closer look at the messaging you use on that channel. Is your meta data accurate and up to date? Do your ads on Google lead to the right page? Do your social media posts communicate the right message?

Once you’re able to look at your website from visitors’ standpoint, you’ll get a clear idea of what steps you need to take to reduce bounce rate on your website.

Brenda Barron is a writer from southern California. You can find out more about her at The Digital Inkwell

Main illustration by Icons8

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