How to reduce your bounce rate and fascinate your visitors
I’m a bouncer.
I scan a lot of websites every day. If you’re working with the internet a lot too, you might share this habit with me. Googling. Scanning. Sorting out the irrelevant, while looking for solutions. My Google web history, which I switched off a year ago, showed an average of 47 Google searches per day. That absolutely flabbergasted me. The number of websites I flick through day by day is remarkable – but how many of those sites do I remember?
As I mainly visit them for professional reasons and for finding information quickly: not so much. Therefore I’m definitely a nightmare for some publishers, especially when they look at their analytics.
Have you heard about “Bounce Rate”? It’s the relative number of people who bounce off your website. That means they leave your website before they execute any actions. You might be surprised that it is common for that rate to be between 40 and 60%. So from 100 users, only 40-60 take action, the other half leaves straight away.
Then there is another relevant number in Google Analytics: Average Visit Duration. What it measures is self-explanatory. How low it is on average is surprising, as the value often stays under 2 minutes.
We knew that the web is fast, but those numbers are able to quantify that feeling remarkably!
Half of the visitors bounce, and the average visit duration (on the whole site, not on a single page!) might very well be below 2 minutes!
Keeping this in mind is crucial for the process of creating a website. It means your key message has to be clear and simple. There is no time for confusion! At the same time you have to provide deeper layers of information for satisfying the people who actually continue reading. Those are the ones interested in your products or services, so it is vital to satisfy them.
The main ingredient for making people stay longer
One word: Simplicity.
More words: We all know how a bouncing user feels, because we’ve been there ourselves: finding something we think is relevant on a search engine > opening the link in a new tab > getting confused by bad design/bad copywriting/too many ads > rating the site as irrevelevant and closing the tab again. Continuing from the start and repeating until confusion stops.
If you got your sh*t together while creating your site, you can reduce confusion and frustration and hold the important users (the ones who care about your content) on your website. One simple rule is: every page should only have one goal. This could be something like “explaining product features”, “motivating to sign up for newsletter” or “showing off expertise about subject xyz”.
Just keep it simple, stupid!
We compiled a few essentials for you in case you’re still not 100% satisfied with your stats:
We just had that, ehh? But hey, you might be a scanner (and potential bouncer) and skipped the previous paragraph. So I’ll repeat it here for you: Make it simple and don’t confuse your visitors. Like… never.
Your website should be blazing fast. You will lose visitors if it’s taking too long to load. Make sure the loading time is faster than three seconds (use GTmetrix instead of your stopwatch). Read more about why it should load as fast as possible in one of our previous articles.
Structure your content
Make sure you’re making use of subheadings, blockquotes, bullet-point lists, numbered lists etc. in your main content. It makes it faster for the visitor to scan and allows finding relevant sections quicker.
Keep the “fold” in mind
The fold is the section of the website which your visitors can see without scrolling down. While users are more used to scrolling than they were 5 years ago (thanks to tiny smartphone screens) you still want to leave a good impression at first sight. Don’t cram it full with advertisements or bad design.
Make use of good typography
That’s a huge one for me personally. I simply refuse to read typographical catastrophes when there is a chance to find the information elsewhere. Smooth typography means reading comfort – so please your visitors! The most important factors to consider here are: font family, font size, line height and line length.
Make it larger
That’s very much related to “good typography” but deserves to be given a special mention. The times of 12px Verdana are gone (let alone Times New Roman). No one will read this anymore. Scale your content up.
Just… don’t add anything annoying
The web should be blink-free and popup free. Don’t try to improve your conversion or click rates by annoying your users (= selling your soul). I and quite a few others will boycott you for annoying us. Bounce this!
What if Analytics are still bad?
So what if you got all those points covered, and your results are none the less terrible? Then it would be worth having a look at where your visitors are coming from. Sometimes it happens that search engines don’t give ideal results and your site is simply not relevant enough for a certain search phrase. You might find out that your site is ranking very high for something strange and unrelated, which brings hundreds of visitors per day. But they are actually looking for something else. It happened to one of our clients recently. In that case, nothing is wrong with a high bounce rate. The only thing you can do is present something more relevant to those people, as long as it is somehow covered by your field of expertise or brand. Over time it will even out, as search engines are improving all the time and therefore will eventually send more suitable visitors for your content.
Putting everything in a nutshell
Fascinate your visitors instead of confusing them.
So what relationship do I have with the websites I visit on my daily scanning spree? None at all with the majority of them. But some of the sites fascinate me and make me stay. They might fascinate me by:
- the purity of exactly the information I was looking for (thank you Stack Overflow, you’re achieving that on a daily basis!).
- being so appealing that my focus on my original intention is not strong enough and I start following a whole different trail.
The method for both is simplicity or clarity, and of course delivering just the information that I’m interested in.
We just published our ebook on 7 Zen principles and how they can help you make a better, more efficient website. Sign up here to receive it – it has plenty of very well-executed examples of the checklist above.
Image by Anoldent