How to Lower Your Bounce Rate and Keep Users on Your Site

Andrea Ferguson

President at AndiSites Inc.
Andi is founder and President of AndiSites Inc. She writes about website design and development, best practices, and random stuff her busy brain thinks would be useful.
Andrea Ferguson

According to Google, “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page). There are a number of factors that contribute to a high bounce rate. For example, users might leave your site from the entrance page if there are site design or usability issues. Alternatively, users might also leave the site after viewing a single page if they’ve found the information they need on that one page, and had no need or interest in going to other pages.”

If you have a one-page website or limited information, a high bounce rate is to be expected. But if you don’t, a high bounce rate could be a sign that there are things you could do better.  Here are a few trouble areas that contribute to high bounce rates, and what to do about them:

  • Slow site speed:  Nearly half of website users leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Make sure that your code is clean, images are optimized, and bells-and-whistles that take a long time to load are kept to a minimum.
  • Confusing navigation:  If users don’t know where they are or how to navigate your site easily, they’ll get frustrated and leave. Know your audience, and make sure that navigation speaks to their needs, is simple and intuitive, and works the way they expect it to. Remember, you want to guide them through your site, so it’s not necessary to put every single page in your navigation…too many items is overwhelming.
  • Broken elements:  Everyone knows broken links are annoying and hurt users’ trust in you, but stalled social media or RSS feeds, crashed videos, and little red x’s (what iPhones and iPads display instead of Flash assets) are terrible, too.  Check your site regularly to make sure that elements pulled in from other sources are still working as they should.
  • Mobile-unfriendliness:  If your site isn’t ready for mobile, many users (more all the time) won’t see it properly. Invest in a new or redone site using responsive design, the standard for mobile-friendliness.
  • Bad design:  First impressions count, and website users form them in milliseconds. Make sure that your website design is professional, contemporary, and clean. Gradients, rounded corners, and drop shadows everywhere are things of the past. Generous white space, flat color, and modern typography will show that you’re living in the present.  Design doesn’t have to be show-stopping (easy-to-use and goal-oriented are more important), but an outdated website hurts your image. A good rule of thumb is to redesign your website every 5 years–having a Content Management System like WordPress in place makes this easier and more cost-efficient.
  • Web-unfriendly writing:  Grammar and spelling errors send the wrong message no matter how interesting and relevant your content is. Proofread carefully, and make sure your writing is economical and well-organized.
  • Clutter:  A cluttered website is hard on the eyes and the brain. Remove any elements that don’t serve a specific purpose or help achieve your goals. Put plenty of white space around elements so that proper focus is put on your most important content (especially on small screens).
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