7 Reasons Your Bounce Rate Is High (And how to reduce it)

by 58 10/02/2012

Are you seeing high bounce rates on your website?

The Bounce Rate, as defined by Google Analytics, is the number of people entering a page and exiting from that same page.  High bounce rates are not always a bad thing.  After all, if your site visitors are finding exactly what they need on the page and it is meeting your business goals, it’s a good thing that they are not having to search your site further.

However, bounce rate is often an indication of the opposite.  They aren’t finding what they need and have no confidence that they can find it on your site — at least not quickly.

If users are abandoning your site like a sinking ship, you may need to make some changes.

Here are seven reasons your bounce rate may be high:

1 – Pop-ups

A well-timed pop-up can increase conversions, getting more people signed up for your mailing list or your products and services. There’s only one problem: many visitors find them extremely annoying.  Others say pop ups work and don’t hurt conversions.  Either way, I suggest you test it.

The timing of the pop-up is also something that could and should be tested.  If you are finding that instantly displaying a pop-up is increasing your bounce rate, consider delaying the pop-up them so people can see the site first.

2 – Poor Design

Try to look at your site with an unbiased eye. Is it really appealing?

Readers are not designers, but they can sense poor design.  Ideally your design should have a visually harmonious feel which should subtly reinforce your brand.

A poor design doesn’t necessarily mean the colors are a poor choice. As a designer once said to me if your design is really good it will work even if your site is in black and white.  Design also goes hand in hand with the other important aspect of the user experience – usability.

3 – Navigation and Usability

As a web user, when you visit a cluttered site where you can’t find the information you want, then there’s no reason to stay. That’s part of having a site that complies with web usability standards. Even if you aren’t interested in becoming a master of Jakob Nielsen’s 113-point web usability checklist, understand these three basic components of web usability.

Notice how CopyBlogger makes it easy to determine what they do, uses whitespace to let the design breathe, and takes advantage of normal website usability conventions to make it easy to stick around and buy their stuff.

Copyblogger home page

 

4 – Use of multimedia

Video and audio get phenomenal results on landing pages, but there’s definitely some best practices to consider when using these mediums.

  • Be careful with auto play of video or audio content.  It makes users feel out of control and often leads to a bounce.  That being said, auto play of video might increase conversions as well.  Test it.
  • Include calls-to-action that tell your visitor what to do next.
  • Experiment with the length of your video knowing that visitors will have little tolerance for irrelevant communications.

5 – Speed – or Lack of It

The more you add to your site (especially images, scripts and multimedia), the longer it takes to load.  Research shows that website abandonment increases exponentially after the 3 to 4 second mark.

If, in the age of instant gratification, your site doesn’t load immediately, you’re history. If people don’t get the information they need straight away then they’ll go somewhere with a faster more streamlined experience. That’s one of the reasons that page speed is a variable that Google is now using in its ranking algorithm.

Dip into Google Webmaster Tools or the site speed metrics within your analytics program and see how your site speed might be an issue.

Site Speed Page Timings -  Google Analytics

6 – It’s Not Mobile

By 2014, more people will be browsing sites on their smartphones than via desktop computers, according to recent Microsoft research.

Many other studies reinforce this trend. That means your site needs a mobile interface that works – NOW!  If you have a smartphone, visit your site and see what it looks like and how easy it is to use. Any surprises? If the growing numbers of mobile device users have a poor experience of your site, then they won’t come back – and you can’t afford that.

WP mobile detector

If you are planning a redesign of your website, now is the time to implement a responsive web design.

If your site runs on WordPress, consider using a plug-in that will make your website mobile friendly.

7 – What’s In It For Them?

Last, but certainly not least, your site must answer what’s in it for me (WIIFM) for the users.

Remember that your website visitors are searching for outcomes.  If your website doesn’t instantly give them the sense that they are moving toward the outcome, they will bounce.

The navigation, design, content and calls-to-action must all work together to communicate that you offer what they are looking for.

Instantly communicate your value to your site visitors.

CrazyEgg-home

Focus on being useful. Help them to see that you have the information they need.

How have you addresses the issue of high bounce rates in the past?  What can you share that could help out The Daily Egg community?

About 

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 20 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.

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58 COMMENTS

yury rush

Ahhh Sharon great post…. who does not love bounce rate optimization. Here are a few key factors I suggest to decrease the bounce rate:
>> Pagination
>> Series of articles/content pieces
>> Related content in the content area of the site
>> Good content – lets say that again – good content

Yury

October 2, 2012 Reply

Jim Murphy

Interesting recommendations, especially with load speed and mobile support.

Thanks!

October 6, 2012 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    I don’t think you can over-emphasize how important mobile is becoming, Jim.

    October 8, 2012 Reply

MaAnna

The bounce rate on my site is high, but so are the stats for return visitors and time on site. I do a lot of how-to posts. So, a high bounce rate is expected. But, found several tips here that have given me ideas for reducing it, especially on the non-tutorial posts. Thanks for all of the good suggestions.

October 8, 2012 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    If you’re getting repeat visitors, then you must be doing something right, MaAnna. :)

    October 8, 2012 Reply

dino@dinomiteseo.com

What an incredibly valuable post this is! I think points number six and seven really hit home more than anything. Mobile traffic is up tremendously and still not many website owners have done anything to accomodate their mobile visitors. Then point number seven, What’s In it for me? Here’s a question we ask ourselves all the time but forget that others ask themselves the same. Thanks so much for sharing!

October 8, 2012 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    Glad you enjoyed the post, Dino. We’re all looking for something when we visit a website. The thing is to make it easy for visitors to find.

    October 8, 2012 Reply

Rajesh Namase

Really you’ve shared useful tips to decrease bounce rates, I personally hate popups, and good design also helps to reduce the bounce rate.

October 8, 2012 Reply

Aniruddh

I do have very high bounce rate. I think i need to write more effective posts. Any ways thanks for sharing this useful informations.

December 31, 2012 Reply

Plaban

I’m following most of the tips but still bounce rate is high. I’ve used related posts plugins and interlinked old posts but that didn’t help much.

February 4, 2013 Reply

krishna

Interesting recommendations, especially with load speed and mobile support.

Thanks!

February 4, 2013 Reply

Christian

Yeah, that’s some helpful information! Thanks :)
I just set up Google analytics and I’m pretty amazed with all the statistical data.
But at the same time I’m a little bit worried for my bounce rate :( , it’s above 75% and I think that is really bad.
Could you tell me please for example what bounce rate you have, I would really appreciate that :)

March 5, 2013 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    What kind of website are you running Christian? Blog, ecommerce store, corporate brochure site, etc?

    March 5, 2013 Reply

Sherwood

The website for my tree farm, http://sherwoods-forests.com, is primarily a brand awareness/ customer education tool. I don’t sell directly from it at all. I’ve been running a 60% bounce rate, but a 2.5 minute time on site. So I think I’m writing pages that target what people are looking for.

Yeah right. Some of them.

Some of the bounce rate is from people out of my marketing region. I’d rather they never hit even once, and have done what I can to target my adwords that way.

I try to write pages that I would like to read:

* I don’t use pagination. Sure, it will lower your bounce rate, but it’s an artificial lowering. It only does this by splintting a long page into a bunch of shorter ones that you have to wait to load.

* My pages are static — but rebuilt every night. They load FAST. The only javascript on my site is for google analytics.

* I need more images on a lot of my pages. My goal is to have two images on screen at any given time. (E.g. If a page has to scroll through 5 screens, there are *always* at least two images visible.

* I hate video. But there are some things that a video is the best device for. Bite the bullet.

* I like the idea of a delayed popup to get newsletter signups. Is there a clever way to have a popup show up ONLY after 40 seconds after the 3rd page has loaded? And then if the person dismisses it, remembers that dismissal for two weeks?

April 24, 2013 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Hi Sherwood. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of things right. Impressive! To answer your question, it may be a matter of selecting the right plugin. Most of them let you set the number of seconds before the popup appears. I just haven’t heard of one that lets you set the number of pages. If you find one that does that, be sure to check back and let us know what it is.

    April 28, 2013 Reply

Myles

Great post. The very beginning of the post addresses a common question my clients always ask me, “how do I decrease my bounce rate?” However, a high bounce rate can be a good thing especially on a direct response website.

On the other side of the coin, good examples and tips in regards to discussing when a high bounce rate is unfavorable.

May 24, 2013 Reply

Marco

I completely agree to this. Most people focus on getting people to their website and once it is done their job is over. Actually it is not. We should also be focusing on that a person stay on the website for much larger time. I have a few additions to the above list – too much advertisement, not able to get the content (what I was looking for at first place).. too lenghty post.. very less interlerking (or less navigation options)..

June 8, 2013 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    Thanks for those additions, Marco. There are lots of factors that contribute to keeping people on your site – or making them leave.

    June 10, 2013 Reply

Lawrence Abiodun

You seem to have given all that I am lloking for online today
Thanks

June 20, 2013 Reply

Pranjal

After reading your article, I think poor navigation is the realy culprit behind higher bounce rate of my site!

I am now considering to add breadcrumbs, and links to popular categories on each page of my site. Hope that helps!

June 30, 2013 Reply

seattle wordpress

I was always spending lot’s of time and money for the SEO but never been thought of all these things. I have reviewed my website now and found that i can achive more that what i am expecting ! Thanks for sharing such a great article.

July 5, 2013 Reply

David

Very useful tips here. Regarding item 4 and 5 – Use of multimedia: One should also not have large image sizes on a website as they can take a while to load which will increase most likely to a higher bounce rate. I compressed all of my images from 1MB to roughly 50KB and my pages loaded much quicker and bounce rates dropped.

July 23, 2013 Reply

Christian

Interesting post you have there, it might help some people who want to reduce their bounce rate. Those ways are common though, never found a really good way to reduce it.

July 26, 2013 Reply

Yury Rush

Nearly a year later… I revisit this post.

1) Look at all your content article by article – review the bounce rates
2) replicate the content types/copy that gives you the best bang for your buck when it comes to bounce
3) Test by sending newsletter reader to articles to see how bounce rate can be impacted
4) Split test landing pages see which gets lower bounce rates
5) gate content = gain your core users – who will in fact give you a LOW bounce rate, while unwanted users bounce.

HTH
YR

July 26, 2013 Reply

P ONeill

Love this article, an oldie but a goodie :)

July 29, 2013 Reply

Sharon Hurley Hall

@Yuri, thanks for sharing your method.
@P ONeill, glad you found the article useful.

July 30, 2013 Reply

Shahzad

Excellent blog post, keep it up

August 12, 2013 Reply

Ben

Proppably one of the most detailed articles ive seen, birlliant use of facts, this is one to look out for definate.

September 13, 2013 Reply

Chris Goward

These are all good tips, Sharon, but reducing bounce rate is a bad goal to have. For many reasons, reducing your bounce rate can actually hurt your sales. Here’s an article that explains why: Don’t Try To Lower Your Bounce Rate
 
The goal of your website optimization should be to lift conversion rate and revenue per visitor and not to worry about the bounce rate. 

October 26, 2013 Reply

Conetix

High bounce rates have a great deal of negative associations but in some occassions you may only want your visitors to view the one page. For example a landing or offer page. As a rule of thumb for any other page, anything about 50% can be seen as a less engaged audience.

October 28, 2013 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    Yes, as I mentioned at the start of the article, there are times when a high bounce rate isn’t an issue. The tips here are for the other times. :)

    October 28, 2013 Reply

web design company

Sharon, I must say the points in this article are well thought. One more thing that I think is worth considering is the implemetation of social media into your website. It can help visitors stay connected if they are in a hurry while they visited your website or maybe if they like what youhave on your website. Wonderful tips…thanks for sharing!

January 15, 2014 Reply

Cuxinc

Very insightful piece, thanks for these tips! I would also suggest having clear call-to-actions. It would get the visitor to engage with the site a little sooner, making her slightly more invested in the experience.

January 20, 2014 Reply

RC Organo Jr

Thanks Sharon for sharing these valuable information. Actually, one or more from your pointers above will defenitely help me to improve my blog site and decrease the bounce rate. I do wish everything will go just fine. More power!

January 22, 2014 Reply

Rahul Kashyap

nice thanks you have shared a awesome collaction ways for reduse bounce rate :)

March 27, 2014 Reply

arjun

Great post! , What is the Average Bounce Rate for Programming Blogs?

March 31, 2014 Reply

Bharath

Excellent post. You pointed the top 7 reasons for higher bounce rate that might be reduced by avoiding those which you have said. Nice information. Keep updating..

April 15, 2014 Reply

    neil

    Bharath, glad you found the information helpful. Thanks for the feedback :)

    April 15, 2014 Reply

raj savani

Awasome post.It’s very helpful article to reduce bounce rate.

April 16, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Glad you like it, Raj!

    April 16, 2014 Reply

    neil

    Raj, glad you found it helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can help in any other way. We look forward to hearing from you :)

    April 16, 2014 Reply

Emma

Oh God! Except for the pop-up I have all the other reasons. So glad I found your article, my bounce rate is 74 and is driving me nuts!

May 3, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    lol Emma. I’m glad you found it helpful. Here’s hoping that number drops!

    May 3, 2014 Reply

    neil

    Emma, let us know if we can help you out in any way :)

    May 4, 2014 Reply

Jamin Andrews

Great article. We see time and time again, buinsesses focused on traffic instead of conversion. Many sure read these tips in your blog.

May 5, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    So true, Jamin. It’s important to keep the bottom line the bottom line. Thanks for commenting.

    May 6, 2014 Reply

    neil

    Jamin, glad we could help. Thanks for reading :)

    May 6, 2014 Reply

Atul

This was a really helpful article. I found myself reading this, and it already got me thinking to change my navigation and had me check my site speed. I am working on the changes, thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

May 12, 2014 Reply

    neil

    Atul, glad we could help. Glad we could help you discover some angles to work on. Let us know if you need any help along the way :)

    May 12, 2014 Reply

Sam Adeyinka

Hi Sharon, it’s nice to see you here and I think it’s my first tme on this blog.

This actually something have been suffering a lot from and i thought of googling it today and came across this from search engine.

I realized in recent time that my bounce rate went high from say 30% to a staggering 87%. That’s high, right?

And it was thenceforth paramount to know how to solve this, that’s when I thought to myself to check what people are saying bout it.

Now, I can go on and fix my blog. I’ll let you in the hook of how things turn out to be from next week.

Thanks for this great share, Sharon.

Sam

July 8, 2014 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    Glad you found the post useful, Sam. Be sure to come back and let us know how these solutions work for you.

    July 8, 2014 Reply


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