When recently investigating why a client's eCommerce website was getting below par sales, we came across their key problem - a high bounce rate. The bounce rate is often an overlooked, and confusing, stat amongst your Google Analytics tools. In basic terms, the bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on a page of your website and leave (or bounce) without visiting another page. A visitor bounce is caused by:
- Clicking a link to an external website
- Closing the window
- Typing a new URL directly in the browser
- Clicking the Back button
- Session timeout (a web session usually lasts 30 minutes, so this is unlikely in most cases)
For this specific client, they were getting great traffic through to their website from organic search results (SEO) and pay per click results (Adwords) but getting a very high bounce rate on their internal product pages. We narrowed the problem down to their content. It was too wordy and not actually describing their products clearly enough. We ended up replacing their long descriptions with short, to-the-point, bullet points. This instantly had an effect on their bounce rate, and in turn, their conversions.
High Bounce Rate = Good or Bad?
Well the technical answer is both. If a customer is just looking for your phone number, hits your contact page directly from a search result, closes the browser and calls you. Then you can consider a high bounce rate to be a good thing here. But, if a customer hits one of your service pages directly from a Google search, and then leaves to visit a competitor, then a high bounce would be a very bad thing here.
So what is an acceptable bounce rate? Well this really depends on your industry and what type of site you are running. If you have a lot of confusing, interlinking pages you might see a lower bounce rate to someone who advertises their prices on their front page. Both have good and bad points associated to them. If you are getting anything about about 20% then you are doing quite well for yourself and holding traction with your online customers. If you are anything over about 40%, then you might want to look at what you're doing and what pages this is happening on.
How do I Improve my Bounce Rate?
Firstly analyse why you think your visitors are leaving your website. Here are a few main causes:
- Page load times - excessive images, Flash based, bad code etc.
- Server location - if your visitors are all Australian based, why are you still using a US server for?
- Messy content - is your information too hard to find? Whilst your website may have an average bounce rate of 40%, you may need to break it down one step further and investigate which individual pages have a high bounce rate. If your contact page has a bounce rate of 80% and the rest of your internal pages have a very low bounce rate, then there may not even be a call for concern.