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The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Website’s Bounce Rate


It’s no secret that running an online business can be extremely challenging, and regardless of whether you simply have a website to help improve the sales of some store or are already fully digital, it’s important to remember that a few differing components go into the creation of a really full on the successful website. And one of the most essential elements of knowing whether you’re fully connected with the market you’re targeting is to track your analytics.

While the majority of people who own a company know that their analytics are mandatory to success, many don’t fully understand exactly what those numbers are telling them; you can acknowledge any upcoming changes and write down figures all you want, bit if you don’t take time to really grasp what influences said analytics, you won’t be really, truly successful in this regard. You have to understand and know the ins and outs of each change and each number.

Amongst misunderstood analytics, the bounce rate is often paramount, as it can be confusing. So from us at Trent & Hanover, here are some tips and info on exactly what bounce rates mean and are, and most importantly, what they tell you about your company.

Just what is your bounce rate?

In short, it is the number of people coming to your site, viewing a single page and then choosing to leave your website after. Put most simply, these are the website visitors who are likely not to explore beyond a single page. Bounce rate is usually expressed as a percentage that you will want to be as low as is humanly possible.

It exists to inform you whether or not your site is actually retaining readers. Is your content holding real attention, or are you somehow pushing potential customers away from viewing other pages of your website? If your bounce rate is low, then most visitors to your site are looking through more than one single page. This is what you want.

Conversely, a high bounce rate will likely cause you to struggle to either attract or retain high quality leads for your site.

When they are deciding just where to place your content in a relevant search, Google will look carefully at your bounce rate. If visitors are most commonly landing on your home page, for example, then only remaining on that one page before leaving, search engines may very well then place your content lower on the list than other sites.

But if your site is seen as providing real, high-quality content in an authoritative manner, your content will definitely be placed higher in Google ranking and the like.

This isn’t a black and white rule, however. Sometimes having a lower bounce rate means that visitors find it hard to locate whatever info they need from your website, while a higher bounce rate may mean the opposite and thus be a good thing.

So when is a Low Bounce Rate a Bad Thing?

Trapping or confusing your visitors in a maze of hazy content isn’t what you should be aiming for, for one. It may certainly cause your bounce rate to be lower if they are clicking through pages and pages of content, but any such visitors are equally likely to find this process frustrating or difficult, and this is the point where they may leave your site for a competing one.

The experience of any site visitors is often related to the flow of your website – this is extremely important. For this reason, keep all such things at the front of your mind when you are in the process of designing your site. Don’t go around placing unnecessary clicks in your pages to try and increase your bounce rate – this will only cause greater confusion, and harm the online side of your company far more than high bounce rates could.

And when is a High Bounce Rate a Good Thing?

Clearly, you want any visitors to your site to explore more than just a single page; but many don’t go about it this way. Often, they’ll simply land on a site, see and/or get whatever info they require and then leave. Regardless of how high quality your content is, you may then have a high bounce rate.

Obviously, there are certain types of content likely to create higher bounce rates. If a shopper is searching for a particular product, they will most probably click through a few differing pages before they decide what they want; this will lower your bounce rate. But when they’re reading through a blog post, on the other hand, they may take the time to read the article on your site and then leave afterward. No matter how much you want them to hang around on your site, this kind of higher bounce rate isn’t necessarily an indication your site isn’t giving them what they need or want.

Understanding your Bounce Rate better

To understand properly whether or not you’re making a real impact on your target audience, you can’t simply check your bounce rate. There are quite a few other metrics if you need to grasp just how well your site is performing in general.

Checking your Bounce Rate for Individual Pages

There is a tool called Google Analytics which you can use to determine the bounce rate for your entire website; however, this is merely an average of each individual page. There is good info to be found here which can aid in your understanding of how successful your website is, but again, you may not learn a great deal.

The really interesting fact here is that, once you’ve examined your site a bit more deeply, you’ll likely discover your bounce rate ranging quite strongly in different ways from page to page.

Begin to identify what pages on your site are either lowering or raising your bounce rate overall; a site which is filled with blog posts, for example, may have high bounce rates on an average page, and this is perfectly normal.

On the other hand, if your homepage or product-based pages are high in bounce rate, this could be an indication that you’re failing to effectively capture your strongest leads.

When it comes to any of your site’s pages which have higher bounce rates, you need to check the call-to-action carefully. Let’s say you have a strong call to action which makes the visitor want to pick up the phone or take any action which takes them away from your website; this will naturally explain any high bounce rate. At this point, however, you need to relate that activity to the number of leads you are converting via that pathway. So, if any people are calling or emailing you instead of looking through your site, this is a case where it’s ok to have a high bounce rate.

Ensure you’re Monitoring Social Shares

Your blog posts may cause your bounce rate to increase; this, however, shouldn’t lead you to assume your readers are uninterested by them. It might sound strange, but some of the content you create which is the most popular may not be retaining your readers; so, to truly know if you’re hitting the right marks with your content, you need to be looking at other factors around this.

One way of telling if your visitors enjoy or appreciate your content is via Social Shares. This means that while they may not click through and/or read another post, they could choose to share it with their family, their friends or even their own colleagues or other contacts. This can be a far better indication of the strength of your content (the number of social shares).

Then again, if visitors are failing to engage further on your website, regardless of how much they are sharing your content with others, there are clearly opportunities you’re still missing out on; this is when you need to be searching for methods to get them into looking at additional content. For example, recommend similar posts to them once they’ve finished examining one of your articles.

Tracking Time on Pages

Of course, as with social shares, your bounce rate may not always be the most accurate indication of your content’s strength. One other way to get a better idea of whether you’re making a solid connection with your visitors is to analyse how much time they’re spending on certain pages of your website.

For the most part, a typical pattern is for a visitor to realise your page isn’t what they’re looking for upon reaching it, then leave your site. So naturally, if the visitor is only spending mere seconds on your page and your bounce rate is already high, this is a clear sign you’re likely not providing what they’re really seeking.

Then again, if they are spending a good few minutes on your page, even if your bounce rate remains high, they’re probably having a proper read of your content; this doesn’t guarantee they enjoyed it, but typically means they’ve engaged with it in some manner.

So check your call to action carefully when it comes to all your pages your visitors are viewing but leaving within a few minutes; they’re taking the time to absorb your website’s content, and naturally you should thus make efforts to further that connection – prompt them to take additional steps, engage with it, share it.

Making Improvements to your Bounce Rate

It’s not directly an indication your website is failing if your bounce rate is low, but nevertheless, you definitely want visitors to be exploring more than one of your site’s pages. If your site visitors are looking through and studying your pages, learning more about you and what your business has to offer them, they’ll be more likely to remember your company when they decide to make a purchase.

Linking to internal information is one of the most effective ways to improve your bounce rate. Adding in links to other relevant pages, whether in your web copy or blog posts, can be a great way to encourage visitors to check out further information; and you can expand more upon this by doing such things as adding links to your website’s sidebar. You want to make it as simple as possible for visitors to discover other pages which they may find interesting.

Even more so, you can increase your bounce rate by improving elements of your content which flow together; break down individual pieces into highly detailed overviews or provide supplemental content, for by doing so you can make it more likely for your readers to look for something else even whilst just on your page.

In closing, while elements such as SEO and retaining leads are impacted hugely upon by your bounce rate, that’s not to say you should be basing your success on these percentages. What you need to do is be taking a more in-depth look at what your bounce rate tells you about your website, you can then establish connections of real strength with your target audience, land a great many more sales and attract far better leads.

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