As a search signal, improving your bounce rate should be a part of your overall SEO strategy. But how exactly do you do that?
Let’s examine high bounce rates in more detail, when coupled with other particular metrics, to get a better understanding of bounce rate problems and how to fix them:
The old standby of fixing high bounce rates is to blame everything on intent – “what is the page about” vs “what was the visitor looking for.” Here’s a great example… a home electronics installation company offers a service they call “house music” that involves a server with music files and speakers in all the rooms, for a centrally-controlled whole-house music system. Most visitors looking for “house music,” though, are interested in that pounding techno beat stuff at trendy nightclubs. No wonder their website had high bounce rates on that one page. Do a quick search for the high bounce rate keyword to see if your page is in the same ballpark as the rest of the results.
Take a look at the distribution of mobile vs non-mobile visitors, in Google Analytics under “Audience”/”Mobile.” In the example below, over 12% of the site visitors use mobile devices which have a much higher bounce rate than non-mobile visitors. This could suggest that your website is poorly designed or hard to use with a mobile device, and you should consider investing in a more mobile-friendly responsive design.
It’s easy to forget, but your own activity can throw off your numbers. Consider the “All Traffic Sources” metrics below. The “direct” visits represent 36% of all visits, and have a substantially higher bounce rate. While that can represent other visitors typing in your URL on their own, a good chunk of these “direct” visits are likely you the website owner – popping over quickly to check something, then bouncing out again. Are you skewing your own results?
Yes, Google Analytics has a “demographics” view, but I’m talking instead about the nature of the visitors coming from particular sources. In the “All Traffic Sources” data above, notice that the bounce rates (and other metrics) vary dramatically based on the traffic source. What is it about visitors from those sources that bounce highly? What about those that hardly bounce at all? Can you increase visits from the low-bounce ones? Can you find other similar traffic sources?
Focus on the Top Performers
Consider this snippet of top organic keywords. Instead of trying to figure out why “cash receipts journal” has a higher bounce rate, look at the other two keywords. What can you glean from the pages they point to? Do they use a particular style of writing, types of illustrations, or other qualities that differ from the higher-bouncing page? If you try using similar elements on the higher-bouncing page, do the bounces come down?
Slash and Burn
I started with an old favorite, and I’ll end with another. It could be a bunch of crappy content, or bad web design, or a combination of failings. Sometimes, the only way to fix the problem is to start over again. Hopefully this isn’t you.
Got any other suggestions for different ways to look at bounce rates? Join the discussion below!