Bounce Rates – How to Reduce Your Bounce Rate

What is a Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors who visit a single page before leaving. This is known as “bouncing”.
A high bounce rate can usually be a good indicator of on-page issues and user experience. Let’s talk about fixing this issue.

Most analytics software, like Google Analytics, track the bounce rate by seeing if the visitor interacts with the site after arriving, usually by visiting a new page.

Google Analytics counts the following as a bounce-

  1. Pressing the back button and leaving the site.
  2. Closing the browser window or tab.
  3. Clicking a link which takes them to another site.
  4. Typing in a new url.
  5. Staying idle on the site for longer than 30 minutes.

Let’s say your bounce rate is 45%. That means 45% of your visitors clicked on your page and then did one of the actions above.

What is a good bounce rate?

A “good” bounce rate is quite dependent on your goals. The average bounce rate is roughly 40.5% with 62.9% new visits. Take a look at this infographic from Kissmetrics.

Infographic showing average bounce rate by industry

Now according to this, retail sites which have a distinct conversion funnel should ideally have a 20% – 40% bounce rate. In some cases a higher bounce rate is fine and should only cause worry if conversions are poor.

So a high bounce rate is bad, right?

Well… it depends.

There are some cases where a high bounce rate would be expected. If the user has a positive experience on the page they clicked on and then left having achieved what they needed to, then a high bounce rate would be acceptable.

Here are some examples of when high bounce rates are acceptable-

  • When the landing page contains an email address or a telephone number, letting the user complete an action without visiting additional pages.
  • “Contact” pages will have high bounce rates for the same reason as above.
  • When the page is a blog post and the user ends up having a great educational experience, then leaves. Though this is fine, it would definitely be a great idea to optimise these pages to encourage visitors to keep browsing through the site.

Now, the reasons above aren’t 100% indicative of potential cause for a high bounce rate.

For example, if your website has a high bounce rate on a page with both your phone number and email address, yet very few calls and emails come through, then we can probably assume they had either a poor experience or their expectations were not met upon arriving at your website.

Right, so how can I fix a high bounce rate?

First, try to find out why people are bouncing from your site. Are they getting value from the content before leaving? Or are they just having a poor experience?

One way to measure this is by event tracking.

Event Tracking with Google Tag Manager

Event tracking lets you measure “events” on your page, which can be a really helpful tool for measuring how people interact and how many people interact with your page. This in turn will help you figure out whether your high bounce rate is bad or not.

You’ll be able to see how many people fill out and submit forms, watch videos, submit comments and much more before leaving the page.

Without Event Tracking, these actions would normally be classed as “bounces” once the user leaves the page, despite engaging with the content.

I won’t go into setting it up because there is some really awesome content out there which will be able to provide more value than I can, including some great tutorials by Google.

I’ll link a couple here –

Segmenting your audience

Segmenting is a great way to see which segments of your audience are bouncing, this will give you some really good insights on who is actually leaving. The standard “audience overview” will not give you an accurate representation of what is actually causing the issues.

You can segment your audience into the following, but you also have the option to make your own segments too.

  • All Users
  • Bounced Sessions
  • Converters
  • Direct Traffic
  • Made a Purchase
  • Mobile and Tablet Traffic
  • Mobile Traffic
  • Multi-session Users
  • New Users
  • Non-bounce Sessions
  • Non-Converters
  • Organic Traffic
  • Paid Traffic
  • Performed Site Search
  • Referral Traffic
  • Returning Users
  • Search Traffic
  • Sessions with Conversions
  • Sessions with Transactions
  • Single Session Users
  • Tablet and Desktop Traffic
  • Tablet Traffic

As you can see the list is quite hefty, but these can provide extremely insightful information to use for optimising your campaigns.

Let’s take this site for example. 

Image of google analytics, showing a site with a high bounce rate

This site has a very high bounce rate of 70.83%. This may lead someone to optimise the whole site without actually knowing the cause of this high bounce rate.

By segmenting mobile bounce rates and comparing it to desktops, you may find a large difference in the percentages of people bouncing, though mobile users do have a higher tendency to bounce, a drastic difference like this is definitely a red flag –

Google analytics line graph showing a higher bounce rate for mobile devices

Here we can see a line graph with huge discrepancies between desktop users and mobile users bouncing. With a slightly above average 48.44% of desktop users bouncing and a super high 77.59% of mobile/tablet users bouncing.

Image compares the bounce rate of mobile and desktop users

The mobile users are the majority of site visitors and also the highest bouncers with 1,914 mobile sessions from 1,438 users.

Desktops on the other hand have 578 sessions from 467 users.

This is probably grounds for testing the mobile usability of the site, because for some reason, the mobile users have a high bounce rate.

This is one way of segmenting audiences to find users who are bouncing. You can use this method to segment Adwords traffic and organic traffic for example amongst many others.

Things to keep in mind with segmenting

Though segmenting is a great way to see who is bouncing so you can in turn make changes, some of the segments will be expected to have a higher bounce rate.

For example, New Users will commonly have a higher tendency to bounce when compared to Returning Users.

Similarly, if you are a restaurant in London you would expect a higher bounce rate from people who don’t live in London.

Fixing a high bounce rate

Sticking with the example above, we can see that there could be some serious usability issues with the mobile site design. Its super important to ensure every page is optimised for viewing on any device no matter the layout, and follows responsive design best practices.

I can say the clients site above was not responsive despite having more mobile users than desktop users. Keep in mind, mobile browsing is quickly becoming the number one way to surf the web and websites need to start catering to them through responsive design.

Users have a set expectation when they click on your page, if that expectation falls short on the content being delivered, they’ll bounce.

Common Reasons Users Bounce

  • Site speed. If the site is being sluggish and taking forever to load users aren’t going to stick around. A great free tool to test site speed is http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
  • Poor design. Now, I’m not just talking about aesthetics here. If people are finding it difficult to navigate through your site and find the information they’re looking for, they’ll bounce.
  • Not linking to other posts. If they user has indeed had a great experience reading through your post, if you don’t guide them to other relevant content they’re likely to go elsewhere. Linking to other posts is a nifty little way to decrease bounce rates.
  • External links don’t open in a new window/tab. This one is surprisingly overlooked at times, just remember, links which go to external sites will count as a bounce if they don’t open in a new tab, this can be remedied by adding a target=“_blank” attribute to the HTML link.

Remember, a high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing, keep testing and refining your content so the user has a great experience.

I hope you found this post useful, if you did or have any other insights I missed please drop a comment below!