Bounce Rate – What is It?
How your site ranks in the search engine results, or SERPS, is determined by a number of factors. Google uses more than 200 factors to determine how to rank a site, and one of them that many people regard as important is something known as “bounce rate.” That’s kind of an odd term, since few of us see things bouncing when we surf the Web.
The bounce rate represents the number of people who come to your site from a search engine and leave your site without visiting any page other than the one upon which they initially landed. Most of the time, the bounce rate represents the percentage of people who searched for something, came to your site, didn’t see what they were looking for, and turned around and left. Obviously, that’s a bad thing, and in this post, we’ll talk about some things you can do to keep your bounce rate to a minimum.
Is a High Bounce Rate Bad?
The first question, of course, is whether or not it’s actually a bad thing if people visit only one page on your site before leaving. That depends on the site, of course. It’s always possible that someone will search for something in Google or Bing, find your site in the results, come to your site, find exactly what they were looking for, and leave again, completely satisfied.
That sometimes happens with sites; Wikipedia is a good example. If you’re looking for something specific, and Bing says you can find it at Wikipedia, and you go there and find it and you’re happy, then you’ve contributed to increasing Wikipedia’s bounce rate, and yet at the same time you’ve found what you were looking for. That’s great, but that’s not how things usually work.
Most of the time, and Bing and Google’s own statistics have verified this, a high bounce rate on a Website suggests that people are not finding what they want when they visit. That could be due to a number of factors, and the search engines are likely to know what kinds of sites might have both satisfied customers and a high bounce rate. If you just have a blog, however, your site is not likely to qualify, and if your bounce rate is unusually high, then the search engines may penalize you for it.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the number of people who bounce, and it’s not that hard to fix. Fixing your bounce rate is often just a matter of doing a few search engine optimization (SEO) tweaks, and in a few cases, a simple matter of tweaking your site’s appearance or navigation.
Here are a few things that you can do to help reduce your site’s bounce rate:
- Make your site easy to navigate – Since the bounce rate is determined by the percentage of people who leave your site without visiting another page on your site, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to find the other pages on your site. That means that you need to have a site that’s easy to navigate. You want to have menus that are visible and easy to use.
You’ll also want to be sure that your articles or blog posts include links to other pages or posts on your site within them. If people find those links interesting, they’ll likely click on them and visit your other pages. Links to other sites, on the other hand, can help your site in the SERPS, but won’t help increase your page views. You should include links to other sites in your posts, but be sure not to have them too close to the top of the page. You should also be sure that any link to an external site opens in a new tab. You don’t want people to go from your site to another one and simply hope that they return. They usually won’t, but a new tab will keep the existing page on your site open.
One thing I have on all of my sites is a list of popular posts in the right hand sidebar. I use a plugin that lists a few other posts from the site randomly in a list. You never know when someone may see a post title off to the side of the page that grabs their attention and takes them to another page.
- Try to break up monotonous text with graphics, images and videos. Keeping people on your site means keeping them engaged, and a big block of boring text with nothing to break it up will bore people in a hurry. Try to keep your paragraphs short. Try to break up your text with subheadings and bullet points. Include photos and videos, and be sure to move them about the page to add some diversity to what your visitors see when they look at your site.
- Avoid entry popups – Popup windows have their uses, and I’ll freely admit that I use them. One thing I don’t do, however, is set them up to appear the moment someone arrives on my site. People just arriving have no idea what the site is about and they have no idea if they’re interested in the site’s content or not. They certainly don’t know if they want more content from the site’s owner or anything else that might be offered to them via a popup window. Popups that instantly appear as soon as someone arrives on a site can cause a tremendous spike in bounce rates, as many people will leave the moment that they see them.
Bounce Rate Conclusion
As I mentioned earlier, the bounce rate of a Website is one of several hundred factors that go into determining how a site ranks in the search engines. As such, one shouldn’t panic if they find that they have an unusually high rate. On the other hand, there are a few relatively simple things that you can do to keep visitors on your site longer and to keep them engaged, and perhaps even coming back for a repeat visit. If you can do these things and keep the bounce rate down, you’ll likely find that your site ranks more highly in the search engines in the weeks and months to come.