So you’ve got yourself a handful of website visitors amidst the online jungle, give yourself a pat on the back – the first hard step is complete. But if you think your work is done, think again. The fact is most website visitors will spend well under 20 seconds looking at your website – NNG, deciding if they should stay. This is the harsh reality that you have to deal with in today’s online ecosystem.
In the digital age people have become less patient and far less forgiving, particularly when it comes to the loading time of a website – but more on that later. If people can’t get what they want easily and quickly, they assume they can somewhere else, thus resulting in another statistic on your bounce chart.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate shows the number of visitors who have landed at a page on your website and then left without clicking through to any other page. It’s worth remember that bounce rate only looks at this. Users could be spending half an hour on the page in question and then leave, this could be a good thing dependant on the page they are looking at – but this visit will still count as a “bounce”.
Chances are, if you’ve got a high bounce rate, you’re not converting visitors into sales or leads. What might be considered an acceptable bounce rate can vary from industry to industry, but as a general rule most sites will average a bounce rate of around 40-60% – Anders Analytics. If you are hitting a bounce rate of under 50% you should be happy with your site, and anything under 40% is spectacularly good – you may stop reading and go do something fun!
At the other end of the scale anything up towards 70% and above should start to trigger alarm bells – luckily the Upperdog pack are here to help. Here is a quick list of things you should turn your attention to in order to keep website visitors longer and lower your bounce rate.
Page load speed
We might as well start from the beginning. If your website takes an age to load, you can say goodbye to a bunch of visitors before they’ve even had a chance to judge the aesthetics. 6 seconds is top, longer than that and you need to start taking action. Images and external scripts are usually the main culprits. Our favourite tool for testing page speed is Pingdom.
I have a particular bee in my bonnet about this one. If I want audio or video to play when I land on a webpage, I will click play myself thank you very much. Both speech and music can have a huge negative effect on people landing on your page. Give the user control of what they want to see…or hear.
Dated unflattering design
Web design became a huge industry for a reason – it’s important! The very minimum you need to do within the first few seconds of a user seeing your website is to avoid offending their eyes, better yet, delight them. Look for modern trends, these change all the time and so should your website. Remember, trends happen because people like them.
Time and dates
If you’re not going to keep the website up to date and it’s not something like a blog article, avoid the use of dates. Seeing something like “best selling product from 2001” immediately tells the user this is old news and probably no longer relevant – this is particularly an issue for how to guides related to anything technical. If an old guide still serves you well for traffic, consider writing a newer up-to-date one and clearly link to it from the old article.
Your message should be strong and clear. If someone has come to your page to access information or a service, they should see it easily and straight away. Keep an eye on search terms for pages, and tailor headings to these search results – that way people know your page has the information they want.
If this phrase is still a mystery to you it’s time to get up to speed – luckily we have already posted a blog about responsive website design. It’s no secret that a huge amount of people now browse the web on mobile devices, and they expect the content you deliver to be in a readable format. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, it is likely this is contributing to a big chunk of your bounces.
There are of course many things that can contribute to your bounce rate, and some will be specific to your site. The suggestions listed here are some of the most common culprits. Your site may be guilty of all of them or a few of them, and ultimately each will need tweaking to accommodate your key demographic.
The only true way you can figure out what works for your site is to make changes and keep an eye on the numbers. A/B testing is one option, but subtle changes, patience and quality content is going to be your fundamental ally to make sure your bounce rate plummets.
Once you’ve got the visitors engaged, the next step is to keep them coming back…