As your friendly SEO guys and girls it’s not uncommon to be asked about the ins and outs of SEO. Over recent weeks we’ve noticed a real curiosity in the dreaded bounce rate. It would be easy to chalk up this recent burst of interest to the newest of Google updates and the lack of mobile friendly websites or just an uncontrollable excitement for all things search engine optimisation (that’s what we like to believe anyways) but we sat down with Managing Director Joe to get his take on the perceived engagement killer.

Getting right down to it, it’s important to understand what a bounce rate really represents. Imagine you’re a shop owner and you typically see about 100 patrons through your doors a day. Your floor staff might talk to 50 people and offer them suggestions to meet their needs and direct them to another related corner of the store, this interaction is equivalent to a user entering your website, engaging with your content and continuing this engagement to another page either suggested through copy or found on their own. Now let’s say another 25 of your patrons know exactly what they’re looking for so they pick up what they need and leave. This would be the equivalent to a user finding exactly what they needed on the page accessed or completing an enquiry form and leaving the website without visiting another page, still a bounce but for the right reasons. So what of the 25 patrons unaccounted for? That’s where your less friendly bounce rate is introduced. In the midst of the other foot traffic to your store, your staff missed talking to some people. The store might have been a mess and thus unappealing or maybe they took a look around, couldn’t find what they were looking for and made their way to the exit. What this means is your content didn’t add value to their experience for whatever reason or your website was a mess simply put.

So we understand what a bounce rate is but a follow up question usually lies somewhere around, what exactly leads to a high bounce rate? Let’s go back to our store scenario and think about the last time you walked into a store that was upside down. Maybe the product was scattered around with what seemed like little logic or organisation. Chances are you didn’t hang around long. This is the equivalent to the bad design of a website. If your website is a mess your visitors probably won’t stay long leaving as quickly as they entered. Another area of concern should lie in your content and call to action. If the purpose of the page isn’t clear or it doesn’t add value to your user, they’ll probably ‘bounce’ and they’ll look elsewhere for what they need. Neglecting elements of design through to content will likely result in a high bounce rate.

Next you’ll ask ‘how do you know if you’re losing your visitors too quickly’? That’s a little harder to answer since a high bounce rate isn’t always the result of something bad. If your visitor enters your website and finds exactly what they’re looking for they won’t stay longer than they have to, we’re all busy people. It really depends on what page your visitor has landed on, e-commerce and sales focused pages will usually have higher bounce rates as well because they offer the option to complete the desired action from the same page. A services page however may be a little different, upon looking at the services offered you would assume a visitor might continue to the testimonials, contact or pricing page, something else to consider. So an ideal place to for your bounce rate to be is around 33%.

‘Great, I know what it means to have a high bounce rate, so how do I fix it’? As a high bounce rate can be the result of many things, some not bad at all, solutions will vary. Some things to consider however include the use of a ‘Thank you’ page when your visitor has completed a page specific conversion. If your CTA and page encourage your visitor to fill in a form or purchase something, when the action has taken place direct them to a thank you page which means a second page visited reducing the bounce rate for that page specifically. Another fix could be reducing the amount of text on a page. Huge amounts of text can be daunting so keeping information to the point and necessary is key. In addition to that, it’s also important to keep the most prominent elements of a page above the fold for convenience and usability. Another tip, including hyperlinks to other areas of your site can provide a streamline navigation for your visitors guiding them to other related pages which can also help beat a high bounce rate.

Just remember a high bounce rate isn’t the end of the world or always bad. Great content and design are great ways to keep your visitors interested and engaged but if you’ve given them exactly what they needed, a high bounce rate can also be a testament to your work.