For anyone who runs a website of any kind,
Keep visitors on the page.
This is especially true for those who run an eCommerce website. Naturally, the longer someone sticks around on the site, the higher their chances of making a purchase become.
Of course, not every one of your visitors is going to stay on your site as long as you’d like them to.
Even worse, some might not stick around at all - deciding instead to close their browser or navigate elsewhere on the web before they even click through to
This action - called “bouncing” - is the exact opposite of what you want your visitors to do. A high bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave your site after visiting only one page) can not just be a sign of a significant problem with your website, but it can also be detrimental in itself.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the main reasons your site may have a high bounce rate and provide some resources to help you mitigate the situation if need be.
Before we dive in, though, let’s take a look at why assessing your bounce rate is so important in the first place.
Why Is Knowing Your Website’s Bounce Rate Important?
Imagine you run a brick-and-mortar store.
One day, you decide to watch what your visitors do the moment they walk into your store. To your horror, nine of the first ten visitors come in, take a quick glance around... and walk right back out without checking out any of the products you offer.
Clearly, you’d know something is wrong. But you’d need to do a little more digging to figure out what that “something” is.
Well, the same goes for your virtual store. A high bounce rate might not tell you exactly what’s wrong with your site, but it’s certainly a sign that you need to dig deeper into the problem - and fix it as soon as possible.
Not only is a high bounce rate inherently bad for your business, but it can also affect the way in which Google and other search engines rank your website, as well. Essentially, Google understands that when people quickly bounce from a site, it’s because they didn’t find much value in the content being presented (or the content was irrelevant to the search term they used). In turn, Google will drop the website’s ranking for the specific search term that the visitor had used to find the site in the first place.
In either case, you should take immediate action once you realize you have an exceptionally high bounce rate - not just to avoid providing a poor user experience to newcomers to your site, but also to avoid being punished by the virtual search engine gods, as well.
Now, the question is...what constitutes a “high” bounce rate?
When Is Your Bounce Rate Considered Too High?
Obviously, you ideally want your site’s bounce rate to be rather low.
But, as we alluded to earlier, it’s best to have a realistic idea of the typical bounce rate for the average website before you freak out about what appears to be a rather high number.
In a blog post titled Good, Bad, Ugly, and Average Bounce Rates, marketing agency RocketFuel explains that most websites show a bounce rate of anywhere between 26% and 70%.
As the graph shows, if your website’s bounce rate falls in the range of 25-45%, you’re doing something right. But, even if your bounce rate reaches up to around 65%, you’re not exactly alone - even if you do have room for improvement.
A bounce rate of above 75% or so is cause for concern. Perhaps the reason not many websites show such high results is because the site administrators of sites that would have fallen into this range have already recognized the problem and taken appropriate action to fix the issue.
What might be surprising, though, is that an incredibly low bounce rate actually isn’t a good thing. Simply put: there’s very little chance that a bounce rate of less than 25% is accurate. Sites that show this low of a bounce rate likely have a problem with their analytics tools or something along those lines.
A Quick Note on High Bounce Rates
While you generally want to keep your overall bounce rate low, there are a few circumstances in which a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
A couple examples:
- A visitor searches for a specific topic and finds an ultimate guide you’ve written on the subject. They read the entire piece, find the exact information they were looking for, and navigate away from your site. They had no other reason to be on your site except to check out your reference guide, so they simply moved on.
- A visitor searches for your company’s contact information and is brought to the page on your website showing your phone number and email address. Again, they got what they came for without having to click around, so they navigate away without going elsewhere on your site.
That being said, as an eCommerce entrepreneur your primary goal is to get visitors to navigate over to as many of your product pages as possible. So you should consider the above examples to be significant exceptions to the rule.
5 Reasons Your Website Has a High Bounce Rate
Okay, so now that we have a good understanding of what bounce rate actually is - and the implications of a poor one - let’s look at some of the most common reasons your site’s bounce rate might be unusually high.
Slow Loading Time
It’s no secret that Internet users today have relatively little patience when it comes to waiting for websites to load.
But just how impatient we all are might be a bit surprising.
According to Kissmetrics, 25% of a site’s visitors will bounce if a page hasn’t completely loaded in a mere four seconds. This number reaches more than 30% at 8 seconds and skews close to 40% at ten.
In other words, if your pages don’t load almost immediately, your bounce rate is likely to be exceptionally high.
When it comes to slow loading times, the typical culprits are:
- Large on-page and hidden file sizes (usually images)
- No use of HTTP caching
- Advertisements from third-party sites
- Hosting issues
If you find you have a high bounce rate, test your site and page load speed first before diving any deeper into the problem.
Misleading Titles and Page Summaries
As you know, when someone does a search on Google, they’ll be presented with a number of page titles, as well as a summary of what, exactly, is to be found on that page.
If the title or summary is nondescript or generic - but still possibly relevant - the only way for the user to determine whether or not it’s useful to them is, of course, to click on it.
Sure, if it is what they’re looking for, it’s a “no harm, no foul” situation. But if it’s not what they’re looking for, they’re going to navigate away from the page immediately.
Best practices, then, are to ensure your title tags and meta descriptions for every page on your site are informative and descriptive - and fit within the character limit required by Google.
Another thing to avoid doing (which we hope you wouldn’t think of doing in the first place) is to intentionally create attractive titles and summaries that don’t align with the content of your page. Repeat after me: Clickbait. Is. Bad.
Irrelevant Referral Links
Going along with the last point, if another website links to your page in a misleading or irrelevant manner, it could end up doing damage on your end of things.
Essentially, visitors to the referring site might click the link to your page, only to realize they had no reason to do so in the first place - leading them to bounce away from your site immediately.
This could happen for a variety of reasons:
- The referrer used misleading anchor text that made their readers think your site was something other than what it actually is
- The referrer accidentally used your link
inadvertently,or linked to the wrong page on your site
- The referrer intentionally filled their content with a number of links (including yours) while trying to game Google’s algorithm
If you find this is the case, you can either contact the author or administrator of the referring
Poor Site Content
This is a big one.
Naturally, if your site’s content simply isn’t valuable, your visitors have little to no reason to stick around. As we alluded to earlier, you want your visitors to fall in love with your content to the point that they end up clicking over to another page, and another, and another. But they aren’t going to do so if the first piece of content on your site they engage with is subpar.
In addition to creating valuable, informational content, you also need to ensure it’s presented in a way that makes it stick out above the sea of similar content available on the web. Among many other things, this means:
- Using concise sentences (or bullets!)
- Avoiding chunky paragraphs
- Including multimedia throughout your pages
Check out what marketing expert Neil Patel has to say about creating top-notch web content for more advice on how to keep your visitors on your site.
Poor User Interface
Have you ever visited a site that seems like it has a lot to offer... but interacting with its content is literally painful?
If your website is:
- Difficult to navigate (e.g., your users can’t figure out how to reach a specific page)
- Cluttered (e.g., full of blocks of text, ads, and popups)
- Not optimized for your visitor’s current device,
Then you have little chance of getting anyone to stay on your page for very long.
Take a look at this screenshot of Blockbuster Video’s old website:
A little overwhelming, no? Sure, if you take a moment to orient yourself, you could figure out what you want to click... but remember: Internet users are impatient. If it takes more than a few seconds to figure it out, they’re gone.
Now check out Apple’s current main page:
Simple, intuitive, and actionable. Anyone who navigates to this site looking for information on any given Apple product will immediately know exactly what to click to get what they want.
The takeaway here:
Structure your page in a way that makes sense for what your users want - and what you want them to do.
While there are a wide variety of reasons any given visitor to your site will bounce away from it without checking out any subsequent pages, the above reasons are by far the most common.
If you find your bounce rate is creeping toward unacceptable heights, work your way down the list to see if any of these issues apply - then immediately get moving on a solution. After you have improved your bounce rate, look to conversion rate optimization strategies.
Have you faced any other problems that caused your bounce rate to skyrocket? What did you do about the issue? Let us know in the comments section below!