This is a guest article by Corinna Rake of Online Empowerment and was reposted with permission by the author. I thought it was excellent and wanted to share.
Bounce rate. It’s one of those website terms that kinda makes sense, but you may be wondering what it *actually* means – and why you should care.
Let’s give it some context first. The bounce rate is one of many analytics, or data, that can be collected to measure your website’s performance. Another, more common analytic is “page views.”
Bounce rate takes page views one step further and incorporates action – action (or inaction) taken by the web page visitor. More than just taking a general headcount (which doesn’t tell you much), bounce rate tracks whether someone navigates within the site – clicks on a link, presses a button, or fills out a form that takes them to another page within your site. The more they browse around, the lower your bounce rate statistic. That’s a good thing!
On average, a bounce rate falls between 40-60%. That means 40-60% of ALL visitors leave your website without visiting another page.
Depending on the style and desired outcome of your website, the bounce rate may be critical, or not at all important. A ‘single-page’ site, for example, will have a 100% bounce rate because there is nowhere else for the visitor to go. Chances are though, your website falls into the standard, multi-page site category, and all the information your ideal visitor/client needs is notlocated on a single page.
Sticky keywords keep visitors interested
Imagine your website is a chalk board and your website visitors are tennis balls.
They search a relevant keyword and land on your chalkboard (your website).
Now, picture that you have a piece of velcro stuck on your chalkboard each time you mention important keyword or any related topics. Since your visitor’s tennis ball is fuzzy, it’ll stick to the velcro every time their search matches what you’re talking about.
In other words, your chances of that visitor sticking around are much better if your website contains words, and imagery, that matches what they are looking for.
Although, having relevant information is just the first step. Once they land and stick, you need to make sure you have a clearly defined action for them to take. That could be a simple email optin box, or perhaps clicking through to read more about your products/services.
If you don’t have what they are looking for, or if you don’t provide an obvious ‘what’s next?’ action, the ball will bounce right off. This translates into pressing ‘back’ in the browser, closing the tab/window, typing in a new URL, or simply doing nothing for up to 30min, when the session times out and it’s recorded as a bounce.
People aren’t poking around your website – what are you doing wrong?
Best case scenario: the tennis ball lands on your site from a referral on social media or other highly-regarded source (think JV partnerships, word-of-mouth referral, etc.) they tend to be super fuzzy and stick to your velcro more easily. They start looking around, reading your About page, more of your blog posts, they sign up for your opt-in, or best, buy something.
Sometimes basketballs arrive – they represent spambots, or other non-human visitors that will never stick, no matter how much velcro you have. Unfortunately, their bounce still counts in your data.
What about “real” visitors who don’t come from trusted sources?
What keeps them from staying and how can you entice them to click around and explore?
- You’ve got a slow-loading website.
Nothing is more frustrating and ensures a click on the ‘back’ button faster than a site that takes more than a few seconds to load.
“According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.” – Sherice Jacob, “Speed is a Killer” on Kissmetrics.com
The good news, improving site speed can be fairly straight-forward. Want to test your site? There are free tools you can use. We use Pingdom to test our sites and our clients’.
Sometimes though, it requires an intensive site audit, and possibly changing website hosting providers. GoDaddy, for example, is notoriously slow for hosting WordPress sites.
The speed of your site can mean the difference between having visitors stay, and buy or contact you, versus bouncing on their merry way and never seeing what you have to offer. It’s worth the investment to resolve this.
- You don’t have enough and/or the ‘right’ keywords.
SEO (search engine optimization) scares a lot of people (but it doesn’t have to). Basically, it’s about making it easy for search engines to send traffic your way based on matching the terms people search with the keywords you include on your site.
You don’t need to hire some firm that promises to help you rank on the first page of Google. These days SEO is about creating relevant content, not gaming the search system. What can you do right now? Play customer and list the top ten words you think they plug into Google when seeking the solution you provide. Be sure those words appear prominently across your site.
- Your site doesn’t have a clearly defined outcome.
A “sticky velcro” website is about so much more than technical stuff.
Your words, design and imagery must work together to create a powerful experience for the visitor. Remember, you’re creating an experience that matches your ideal clients’ needs, interests, and aesthetic. When your perfect person hits your site and says “yes, that’s it!” she’ll click around and lower your bounce rate. Much more importantly, she’ll take action and opt in or buy what you’re selling. Make sure your site is prepared to guide her easily on that journey.
What changes can you make today that will improve your website’s bounce rate and over-all performance?
Photo credit: Deposit Photos/Vitalinka