Using Bounce Rate To Improve Your Website’s Performance

We’ve all heard the term ‘Bounce Rate’, but figuring out what this means and using it to analyse your site’s performance are two different things. Here, we’ll be taking a look at what your bounce rate is, and how to use this to your advantage.

What is Bounce Rate?

A bounce is a single page session on your website. As Google Analytics explains, it is a session in which the user doesn’t send any requests to the server. The user then navigates away from the site.

Another way to look at it, is that it is the percentage of visitors to a site who leave after only viewing one page. These visitors do not engage with the site, for example, by clicking on a link or watching a video.

A high bounce rate indicates that a lot of people leave your site after only visiting one page. This is often a bad thing. A low rate shows that people are engaging with your content, which is good.

The Right Number

But it’s difficult to put an exact figure on what is a good bounce rate and what is bad. This is because there are a number of variables that impact on your bounce rate, including your industry, where your traffic comes from, or the purpose of your page.

For example, mobile users tend to ‘bounce’ more frequently so if your traffic comes predominantly from mobile devices, your percentage is probably higher. If you have a single page site, or if people visit your site to get a single piece of information (like the weather), you’ll also have a much higher bounce rate.

Because of these variables, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact range for good or bad bounce rates. RocketFuel however, does give these percentages as a broad indication of what you should be looking for:

  • 26% – 40% is excellent
  • 41% – 55% is a rough average
  • 56% – 70% is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm
  • 70% and up is disappointing 

Of course, you need to look at your bounce rate in conjunction with your particular circumstances. A single page blog with an above 70% rate isn’t a concern. An Ecommerce site, on the other hand, should aim for a much lower bounce rate.

Using Your Bounce Rate To Analyse Performance

Using bounces as an indicator of performance can be an effective metric. But you need to know what you’re looking for.

Neil Patel explains that the overview bounce rate you see in Google Analytics is site wide. Because of this it’s more of a vanity metric. Instead it’s better to look at the bounce rate of individual pages,  or segment into categories, to better understand if your marketing is working effectively.

Looking at the percentage of bounces on individual pages can provide you with some valuable insights. For instance, a page with a high bounce rate could suggest that people are not finding what they’re looking for on that page. Or, if they’ve arrived at this page from an advert or another source, they may have been expecting something different. It could also indicate that you’re not reaching the right audience.

Fixing Your Bounce Rate

Yoast explains that a high rate suggests that there could be a problem. You may have a low-quality page (or site). You may not be providing visitors with the opportunity to engage, as in links to click or videos to watch. Your visitor may have found everything they needed to on their single page visit, or your audience may not be the right fit.

But if there is a problem, don’t despair. You can fix it.

Solutions For A High Bounce Rate

  • Match your adverts to your content: the content of your adverts needs to align with the content of the page you’re advertising. If you’re selling makeup but advertising a makeover, people who click on that link may be disappointed by what they find. 
  • Check your page or site design: an aesthetically pleasing page is less likely to scare visitors away. But even if your website is beautiful, it still needs to be easy to use, with good navigation. 
  • Ensure you have a mobile-friendly site: a site that doesn’t accommodate mobile users will leave a large portion of your audience feeling frustrated. Don’t give them a reason to click away.
  • Work on your page load times: slow page loads (anything over 4 seconds) could be increasing your bounce rate. Optimise your images, use lazy loading, review your hosting provider, and do what it takes to keep page load speeds to a minimum.
  • Use images and infographics: appealing graphics can go a long way to enticing your readers to stay, and to click on links. Just make sure your images and videos are optimised for the web.
  • Avoid distracting your visitors with pop-ups and adverts: too many images can be distracting, as can pop-up forms and special offers. If your users feel overwhelmed by flashing adverts and too much visual information, they could navigate away.
  • Add links, a Call To Action or find other ways to engage your users: use links, buttons, or CTA’s to entice visitors to sign up for more info or to click through to another page. 
  • Make your content easy to read: online users won’t take the time to read long drawn-out text, with no breaks or graphics. Use headings and short paragraphs to make your content easy to read. Add relevant images or infographics to break up the text and add visual appeal. 
  • Make your site secure: an insecure site, especially one where you are asking for personal details, is bound to make people nervous. Add an SSL certificate to your site, and any other necessary security, to alleviate users’ concerns. 
Tips to reduce your bounce rate

Final Thoughts

Using a bounce rate as an indicator of your site’s performance can be effective. It can tell you if your marketing is working, if you content or site design is effective, or if you’re reaching the right audience. 

But you need to look at your particular rate from the right perspective. If you’re attempting to understand your audience behaviour better, then this is what you need to focus on. If your exit rate is too high on a certain page, then you need to look at this page to see where you may be going wrong.

Simply looking at your overall bounce rate won’t really help. But if you target certain areas, you can use this tool to help you improve your site. 

Featured Image by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Why You Need A Website Analysis

So you’ve set up Google Analytics and you’ve connected it to your analytics plugin. You can see just how many people have visited your site and what pages they visited. But why do you need a website analysis? The short answer: to help your business grow.

It’s not quite as simple as installing a plugin or setting up Google Analytics though. You also need to analyse these analytics. In other words, you can’t simply use these tools to gather data; once you have the data you need to perform a website analysis. This will help you establish what’s working (Keep on doing this!) and what needs fixing.

Google analytics tools for website analysis

Data-Driven Decisions

The point of performing a website analysis is to gather data that can inform your business decisions. This is good practice and you should be comparing your analytics on an ongoing basis. But this is even more important if you’ve made big changes to your site or you’ve launched a new site or product.

This is because the data that you gather tells you about your audience, their behaviour on your website and when they leave your site. Analysing this data can give you actionable results. For example, once you’ve figured out why or on which page people are leaving, you can take action to change this.

In fact, you should be using your website analysis to create a ToDo list of actions you can take to improve your site’s performance. Regardless of the size of your business, your site can benefit from this analysis.

Website Analysis Tools

With Google Analytics you can track and monitor various performance metrics. You can also make use of the Insight tools provided on platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, for example. If you’re running an external campaign, or something like Google Adwords, you’ll need to add your analyses of these to your other metrics as well.

Google Analytics offers a number of key indicators, which you can use for your website analysis. Here’s a quick look at what some of these are. For a more detailed description, have a look at this glossary from Loves Data.

  • Session: A visit to your site.
  • User: A person who is visiting your site. Unique users give you an indication of how many different people visited your site. You can also gain insight into the value of the information you provide by looking at the number of return users.
  • Pageviews: The number of pages viewed. This is different to Pages, which refers to which pages were viewed. In Google Analytics, pages are organised according to their popularity – that is, pages that are viewed the most will appear first.
  • Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of users who leave your site after only visiting a single page. The higher the percentage, the higher the number of users leaving. This is a handy tool as you can look at which pages have a higher bounce rate, and try to motivate users to click through to other pages.
  • Location: Where your users hail from. You can find out if you’re reaching the right audience, or if you need to adjust your content for a different audience.
  • Traffic: This tells you how your users are finding your site. It includes details about the channels (social, organic or direct), return or unique traffic, the search engines they’re using and other information. This provides insight into which channels are working and which either need more work or should be abandoned.
  • Referrers: The sites (such as Facebook or other websites) that refer users to your site. Again, this gives you insight into how people are finding your site and where to focus your resources.
  • Device: The technology your users are using. This data includes whether users are on mobile or desktop, their screen resolution (useful if you have a very visual site), whether they’re using iOS or Android and other such information.

Using Relevant Data

The above tools are just some of the many you have at your disposal, all of which can help you make data-driven decisions to boost your business. But your analysis needs to make use of relevant data. Without this, you’re wasting your time and your resources. For small businesses, with limited resources, this could end up costing you if you make the wrong decision based on the wrong data.

Say you decide not to make your website mobile-friendly as the overhaul would cost too much. But have you looked at how many of your users are on mobile devices? Or you decide to focus on an American audience, but the majority of your users are from European countries. Your efforts will cost you, in users, cash or other resources, if you don’t look at the correct data.

To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to start by establishing what data you need. Do you want to track the busiest hours on your social media? Should you be keeping an eye on the type of people visiting your site? What about bounce rates? And page views?

Essentially, you need to determine which performance indicators can help you grow your business. And by extension, which metrics to keep an eye on.

Getting Analytical

Once you have an idea of what data to track, you need to start analysing the data. It’s a good idea to do this in a spreadsheet, so you can keep track of your progress. This can help you avoid what’s known as vanity metrics – metrics without any comparative data, and which therefore cannot be examined in context.

To track your analytics effectively, you need to have a purpose. If you know your end goal, you’ll be able to more effectively find the information you need to make your decisions. For example, if you want to get a better understanding of your audience, you’ll need to examine your users and their behaviour. this includes the pages they visit on your site, the duration of their visits as well as their location and demographics.

As you’re analysing your data, you should be noting down anything interesting or actionable. Perhaps the majority of your users are on mobile devices; make a note to ensure your site is mobile-friendly. If your bounce rate is too high it could indicate that people are not finding the right type of info on your site, or a particular page. Try adjusting your content to fix this.

If you frequently record the relevant data, you’ll be able to see if your efforts are working. Maybe you decided your content needed a boost and you’ve started publishing a weekly business blog. Check the data. Is this driving traffic? Boosting sales? If you’re sending a weekly newsletter now, instead of a monthly one, can you see the results?

Wrapping Up…

Making change can be effective, but only if it is worth the effort and resources you put into that change. To do this, you need to institute a frequent website analysis. This should focus on your key performance indicators. Plus you should have a clear purpose, which aligns with your business goals.

Once you understand these factors, you can start to record and analyse your data. This information needs to be given to the key players in your business so that they too can make the correct data-driven decisions. This in turn, will help you grow your business.

Featured image by William Iven on Unsplash