Bounce Rate in Google Analytics: Reduce It by 25% With These 11 Strategies

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Bounce Rate in Google Analytics: Reduce It by 25% With These 11 Strategies
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Bounce rate. It’s a single metric that Google keeps track of and, yet, it’s an incredibly telling one. When carefully assessed and addressed, you can effectively increase lead generation and sales on your website.

But what is a bounce rate in Google Analytics? And how do you get it as close to “perfect” as possible? Is your head spinning yet?

bounce rate in google analytics

In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about bounce rate in Google Analytics:

It might just be one number in a sea of numbers, but your bounce rate is an incredibly powerful force in Google Analytics. Let’s take a closer look.

Our team at WP Buffs helps website owners, agency partners and freelancer partners fully set up and track Google Analytics for WordPress websites. Whether you need us to manage a 1 website or support 1000 client sites, we’ve got your back.

What Is a Bounce Rate in Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a must-have tool for every website. It will tell you things like who your visitors are, where they’re located, and what spots of the site they frequent the most.

Google Analytics can also give you hints into what the on-site experience is really like for visitors without you having to directly ask about it, too. It’s simply a matter of understanding user behavior and being able to read between the lines as you notice patterns.

Time on site is one such metric that is particularly telling, especially if you know how long it takes to get through the page’s content. (Think of something like Medium where read times are estimated based on word count.) If you see that users ditch high-value pages rather quickly, then that’s an indication that there’s something wrong on the page:

  • The design is faulty
  • The copy is too vague or uninteresting.
  • Or there’s something super distracting drawing attention away.

The average number of pages visited is another metric that might seem easy enough to understand, but can give you a good sense for how appealing your website really is. This is something to pay extra close attention to if you’ve gone to great lengths to produce a robust library of content or you have hundreds of products for sale. If only a small handful of pages are being seen, there’s likely something wrong with the navigation, cross-selling strategy, or your branding overall.

And, of course, the bounce rate is another one of those key behavioral metrics that tell a story about visitor reception of your website. It appears within nearly every filter in Google Analytics and, yet, many don’t completely understand the ramifications of a bad bounce rate.

Explaining Bounce Rate

While many of the data points you’ll encounter in Google Analytics are pretty straightforward, the term bounce rate has a tendency to confuse some people. Part of this is because your goal is to decrease the bounce rate (as opposed to an increase, which many associate with a positive indication of change). Another part of this is due to the phrasing of the term as it’s not one readily used in other spaces.

According to Google Analytics, 🙂 Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits. No more, no less. #WordPress #analytics Click To Tweet In other words:

  • Visitor steps onto a page of your site.
  • Visitor takes no action whatsoever. No hovers or clicks. No form fills or refreshes. Nothing.
  • Visitor exits the website.

And this doesn’t just apply to the home page. Blog posts. Product pages. Promotional landing pages. Any page of your website can serve as the first (and last) page a visitor encounters. Though, when it comes to measuring the efficacy of attracting high-quality visitors to your site, the overall website bounce rate is the data point you’ll start with.

The bounce rate in Google Analytics isn’t a module you’ll find under Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior. It’s a data point you can use to measure against each individual module though.

Audience Bounce Rates

For example, here is a breakdown of Audience by Geo > Location:

Google Analytics - Audience Bounce Rate

A high bounce rate under the Audience tab will tell you a lot about the kinds of people you attract to your site.

For instance, observing bounce rates by location can tell you which parts of the world your site is best received. Now, if your business actively targets the UK, for instance, but your bounce rate is close to 100% for those visitors, what has gone wrong? Are your targeted marketing efforts not working? Is the UK just not the right use case for your application? This data will start you thinking about why individual bounce rates are so high.

Acquisition Bounce Rates

Here is a breakdown of Acquisition by Search Console > Devices:

Google Analytics - Acquisition Bounce Rate

A high bounce rate under the Acquisition tab will tell you more about things that have gone awry outside of your website.

Let’s say you promote blog posts on major social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. Bounce rates for visitors that come from Twitter and Facebook look good. They hover around 40% every month, which is pretty much on par with the rest of the site.

But LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram are usually quite high. It could be that those platforms just aren’t a good fit for your business. It could also be that you’re not writing posts in a way that attract the right kinds of readers. For some reason, there is a disconnect between how your posts reach these prospective readers and what they’re encountering on that first page of your site.

Behavior Bounce Rates

Here is a breakdown of Behavior by Site Content > Landing Pages:

Google Analytics - Behavior Bounce Rate

A high bounce rate under the Behavior tab is going to help you drill down into the pages of your website because it’s not always about the people being a bad fit. Sometimes your content just isn’t up to snuff and slow loading times, security warnings, broken links, or poor writing are driving visitors away.

The thing is, though, if it’s not a systemic problem with bounce rate, then the Behavior tab can help you narrow down which pages are causing the most problems. It could be that your product pages just aren’t designed in a way that’s appealing to shoppers. Or there’s a service you strongly promote to new visitors or prospects, but the explanation of it is too technical and intimidating. By reviewing these metrics, you can figure out where they specific problem areas are.

Conversion Bounce Rates

This won’t apply to all websites, but you can also study bounce rates under the Conversions tab in Google Analytics. You just have to remember to activate it under the Admin panel if you want your conversions to be measured. You can also set Goals to be tracked and measure bounce rate against them.

In sum, bounce rate is a metric that can be applied across the board, no matter how you filter your visitors.

What Is a Good Bounce Rate in Google Analytics?

Unlike something like performance enhancements that directly influence visitors’ responses to the website, a bounce rate is something you and you alone will use to determine how to fix whatever is wrong with the on-site experience. And it’s not always a simple solution.

It would be wonderful if every website had a bounce rate of 0%. But, even in the real world, no business is capable of making a sale 100% of the time.

That said, what exactly is a good bounce rate? And, more importantly, which pages does this matter for most?

Assessing Your Overall Bounce Rate

At some point, you’ve wondered, “What is a good bounce rate in Google Analytics?”

The problem with asking a question like that is that there is no perfect number. Every page on your site will have its own ideal range that its bounce rate should fall within, and this will differ from website to website, and industry to industry. So, let’s focus on the overall picture for just a second.

In general, logic would dictate that a good overall bounce rate falls between 20% and 70%.

Here is the reasoning behind this:

  • Below 20% – The chances that your website converts or compels 80% or more of all visitors to take action is very slim. If your average site bounce rate is lower than 20%, then it’s highly likely your analytics or event tracking are configured incorrectly.
  • Over 70% – On the opposite end of the spectrum, a super high bounce rate is bad news, too. This, however, has nothing to do with analytical configuration. Instead, it’s an indication that there’s a problem with your website. It loads too slowly. There’s something broken on it. The design isn’t appealing. The content is confusing or doesn’t align with user expectations. Something has disrupted the experience right from the get-go.

When assessing your average bounce rate, you want to hit that sweet spot where you’re not losing the majority of visitors, but you’re also not seemingly captivating all of them right from the start. Be realistic.

Pages to Be Mindful Of

Conversions are what matter most to you, right?

Ideally, this means that each page of the user journey from entry to conversion keeps a reasonably low bounce rate.

This indicates that the path is free of obstacles and that you’ve nailed the customer journey. If the bounce rate is high on these pages, however, you have a problem.

It’s okay for other conversion pages to have high bounce rates, too. Certain pages like Contact, checkout, form submissions, and support portals are meant to be the final stop before visitors leave the site. The key, however, is ensuring that visitors take action on them.

The same goes for any content that’s been expressly created for the purposes of being read. If the majority of your blog posts are being abandoned and, worse, the time on page is super low, it could be an indication of a problem.

Reading one blog post should compel visitors to read another and another and another. If that doesn’t happen, then you want the final action before departure to be filling out the subscription form. Then again, it might be okay for visitors to only read the one post, so long as they were satisfied with the information gleaned from it and somehow engaged before leaving (e.g. share on social, watch a video, click an ad). Here’s what we put at the bottom of our blog posts:

what is a good bounce rate

That’s not to say that high bounce rates are acceptable on the About page, service explainer pages, or the FAQs either.

You wouldn’t have included those pages in the website or the navigation if they weren’t essential to delivering your message.

That said, don’t be too harsh on yourself if you encounter higher-than-average bounce rates on these kinds of pages. For some businesses, it takes prospects a few different encounters or touchpoints before they’re ready to pull the trigger and take action.

So long as you can tell that they’re getting the information they need–a DIY approach to something, a contact phone number for your New York office, a review of your team bios–then there’s no need to stress. The matter of bounce rate on individual pages needs to be about the quality of those visits before bounce rather than the quantity.

This is why it’s so important to understand the context of your bounce rate within Google Analytics and not just take the overall bounce rate at face value. You have to dig in and try to figure out what’s going on with certain segments of your audience and the different parts of your site they don’t respond well to.

How to Calculate Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

Google Analytics automatically calculates bounce rate for you, so you won’t ever actually see the number of bounced users. However, if you’re curious as to how to figure this out, here is a simple calculation you can use:

# of bounced visits ÷ # of total visits = bounce rate

So, let’s say this is the data Google Analytics gives you regarding your site’s traffic overall:

Calculate Bounce Rate

Now, you’re not really concerned with the number of visitors in this collection of data. What you want to pay attention to instead is the number of sessions. Sessions are the amount of logged visits to the site.

The question to ask then is, “How many sessions ended on the entry page?”

Using the numbers above along with the formula for calculating bounce rate in Google Analytics, here is what we can piece together:

# of bounced visits (?) ÷ # of total visits (359) = bounce rate (.5877)

The only number we don’t have is the # of bounced visits, so let’s reverse engineer this. Take the bounce rate (.5877 or 58.77%) and multiple it by the total number of sessions/visits (359). This gives you 211 bounced visits.

The same calculation can be done with more granular metrics in Google Analytics: sources, pages, demographics, and so on.

What’s so helpful about this is that bounce rate, in conjunction with other revealing metrics, can give you an idea about how well you’ve designed and targeted your content to users.

For example, a high number of visits that terminate on one of your blog posts that also happens to have an average time on page of seven minutes (the estimated reading time) might not be a bad thing. Visitors got through the entire post… but perhaps there weren’t clear enough signals to point them to related content, to share on social media, or take some other desired action.

All in all, though, if you’re unsatisfied with those bounced visits and you know they’re costing you money on web design, maintenance, SEO, marketing, and so on… then you now have data to help you do something about it.

Exceptions to the Bounce Rate Calculation

Traditionally, a bounced visit is one in which the entrance and exit page are the same, and no other pages are seen within that session.

However…

The description above makes it seem like single-page visits are always bounced sessions. But that’s not actually the case. There are a number of exceptions that can disqualify a single-page visit from being labeled a bounce.

This is due to information provided to Google by a single-pixel GIF image request.

You’ve implemented Google’s tracking code into your site, right? Well, that tracker needs a way to capture visitor activity and report it back to Google Analytics. It does this through a single-pixel GIF image.

Here is an example of what this looks like on Google’s end:

http://www.google-analytics.com/__utm.gif?utmwv=4&utmn=769876874&utmhn=example.com&utmcs=ISO-8859-1&utmsr=1280x1024&utmsc=32-bit&utmul=en-us&utmje=1&utmfl=9.0%20%20r115&utmcn=1&utmdt=GATC012%20setting%20variables&utmhid=2059107202&utmr=0&utmp=/auto/GATC012.html?utm_source=www.gatc012.org&utm_campaign=campaign+gatc012&utm_term=keywords+gatc012&utm_content=content+gatc012&utm_medium=medium+gatc012&utmac=UA-30138-1&utmcc=__utma%3D97315849.1774621898.1207701397.1207701397.1207701397.1%3B…

This is how Google learns everything it needs to in order to calculate things like devices used, websites visited from, length of visit, and more.

Through this feedback, Google is also able to detect interactions from your site. It classifies them as follows:

Google Analytics GIF Requests

If a session should be initiated on your site, the visit does not result in any other pages visit, but one of the above engagements is made, Google Analytics will generate two GIF requests. This will then nullify the page of its otherwise single-page visit status.

Basically, Google Analytics wants to recognize certain website interactions as giving value to the visit, and that’s a fair call to make. You wouldn’t consider a consultative visit to a lawyer’s office a bad thing if the person didn’t immediately sign on to be a client, right? They made the visit, listened to what the law firm had to propose, took their business card, and left. That’s still a possible source of income in the future.

If your site has lain some sort of groundwork–even through a minor interaction–it shouldn’t be considered a bounce.

Here are some interactions that would trigger a second GIF image request to be sent to Google:

Web page interaction: Certain elements have been added to your website to compel visitors to engage with them. Things like video players, informational lightboxes, contacting support through a live chat. If these happen to exist on the first page of someone’s visit, they interact with the element, and then leave, you won’t see a bounce as a result.

  • Social interaction: Do you have social share icons on the page? Do your pop-ups ask for social follows? Do you have a live-updated Instagram or Twitter feed on the page? Any engagement with these elements will negate the bounce.
  • E-commerce interaction: E-commerce websites–especially product pages–give visitors a number of opportunities for engagement. Let’s say someone lands on a product page, configures the product for size and color, and even connects their zip code to see how much shipping costs will be. Nothing is sent to the shipping cart and they abandon the website from that same page. This won’t count as a bounce either.
  • Event tracking: Google Analytics allows for Goals to be configured within each users’ account. This requires extra tracking on Google’s part.

❗Every time an event is detected--and it occurs on a single-page visit--it will prevent Google Analytics from registering that page as a bounced visit. #WordPress #analytics Click To Tweet.

Now, remember how I mentioned earlier that incorrectly configured analytics could lead to a bounce rate below 20%? This is how that can happen. If an event is set up incorrectly or is set up in a way in which it creates an additional GIF image on the first page of a visit, you could be seeing a much lower bounce rate than it should be.

This error can also happen if you have more than one Google Analytics tracking code set up on your website. This might happen if you’ve embedded the code manually and also used a plugin to do so.

How to Reduce the Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

Let’s say you’re unhappy with how high the overall bounce rate is in Google Analytics. You might suspect something is wrong. Or you might just want to see how low you can get it to go.

Either way, there are many different factors that contribute to whether someone goes or stays on that first landing page.

For example, SEO might not be configured correctly and, as a result, is driving the wrong traffic to your site. Visitors arrived under the assumption that you sell WordPress themes, but, in reality, your blog provides roundups on the best themes to use for different purposes. When the expectations don’t align with reality in this manner, you may encounter high bounce rates.

Sometimes it has to do with performance. Your site’s loading time is too slow for most visitors, and it’s causing your bounce rate to go through the roof–no matter which page they first step foot on.

It could be your WordPress security, too. Now that Google emphasizes when a visitor has landed on an unsecured site, that could be enough motivation for them to jump ship if the main goal was to buy something.

Or maybe the design itself is causing problems. It’s not modern enough. It doesn’t align with your brand image. It’s chock full of broken images. Or maybe it’s too difficult to navigate. Ultimately, it’s these sort of problems you’ll have to consider when trying to sniff out the problem.

Which brings us to this step-by-step guide. The following will help you troubleshoot potential problems and effectively help you reduce the bounce rate in Google Analytics by 25%.

1. Check Google Analytics Configuration

Before you do anything else, verify that Google Analytics is configured correctly to capture bounced visits on your site.

Here are the three items to check:

Google Analytics tracking code. Verify that there’s only one on your site.

The first place to look is in your list of plugins. Is there a Google Analytics plugin installed?

Google Analytics Plugin

If so, then go to Appearance > Editor. Locate the header.php file and look for the Google tracking code. It will look like this:

Google Analytics Tracking Code

If the tracking code exists in both places, then you need to remove one of these immediately. The duplicated code could be the reason your bounce rates are so low (as explained above).

It also might be a good idea to re-retrieve the tracking code from Google Analytics and replace whatever it is you have on your site. In so doing, you can ensure that a corrupted tracking code isn’t at fault.

Goals setup. There may be an event you’ve asked Google to track for, but it was incorrectly logged… so now Google receives a second GIF image request on most pages. Confirm that your goals are not throwing off your numbers.

You can verify this under the Admin tab. Go to All Web Site Data > Goals. Every goal or event that’s been enabled in Google Analytics will be listed here. Review each one to confirm that it was configured correctly.

how to reduce bounce rate

This particular example is a good one to look at. Let’s say you want to encourage more readers of your blog as a way to build engagement, sign new subscribers, and stay top of mind with customers and prospects. So, you’ve configured a time-on-site goal to see what percentage are reading your posts in full (if you know approximately how long they take).

Goal Setting

However, instead of entering a goal for 15 minutes, someone accidentally configured this for 15 seconds. Because of that, the majority of visits–even if they were valid bounces–aren’t being registered by Google Analytics properly.

See that link for “Verify this goal”? This will help you test your event tracking configuration. If it’s set up in a way where it’ll register the majority of visits as non-bounces, this will tell you.

WordPress plugins. There are certain plugins that trigger their own activity on your site. For example, a live chat box that opens on its own accord. Even if visitors don’t prompt it to open, the plugin could be working against you.

Return to your list of WordPress plugins. Review the settings for each to confirm that you haven’t accidentally enabled a live tracking or automated feature that could potentially be throwing off your statistics.

If your bounce rate is under 20%, you absolutely must start here.

2. Review the Bounce Rate from Different Perspectives

According to Google, you shouldn’t look at the overall bounce rate or a single page’s bounce rate and automatically determine there’s a problem. You need to survey the issue from different angles.

Google suggests spending time in these key areas of Google Analytics to get a sense for where your bounce rate is too high:

  • Audience Overview (for overall)
  • Channels (for channels)
  • All Traffic (for source/medium pairings)
  • All Pages (for individual pages)

And don’t be afraid to break it down even further.

Here are some troubleshooting questions to get you started:

Is your website’s bounce rate consistently high?

Google Analytics allows you to compare two timeframes against one another.

Bounce Rate Comparison

If you suspect that bounce rate has changed, start here. For example, let’s say you made a much-needed design update last month. However, the bounce rate looks too high this month. Comparing June against July could confirm how much of a difference was made. You can then dig further into other metrics to see if only certain users were affected.

Do bounce rates drastically differ based on technology?

This is another key metric to review as you want to ensure a consistent experience across all devices (with special attention paid to mobile). Higher bounce rates on certain devices or browsers can clue you into issues with varying experiences.

Device Bounce Rates

Let’s use the same example before, the recent redesign. Let’s say that what you implemented was a brand new section in the middle of each page to promote an ebook lead magnet you’re giving away. It includes a high-resolution image of the cover of the ebook, some catchy descriptive text, and a CTA button that links to the landing page for download.

There could be a problem with an unoptimized image. There might also be the way it shows up on mobile. Dig into the new element on your mobile device and see if you can figure out the issue.

Are there any target audiences not receptive to your site?

Let’s say your website targets businesses around the world. You recently opened a new location in Rio de Janeiro and expected to see a greater amount of traffic from there.

Geo Bounce Rate

While your site got some hits from Brazil, you’re surprised that the bounce rate is so close to 100%. Through some digging, you discover that your CDN doesn’t have servers in South America. Now that you’re aware of this, you suspect that the problem has to do with your very large SaaS site not loading quickly with your target users.

Have any of your marketing strategies led to higher than usual bounce rates?

As you market your WordPress site across the web, you expect to see a return on your efforts. In Google Analytics, you can track this information through Channels.

Channels Bounce Rate

  • Organic Search encompasses those who’ve naturally encountered your website in a SERP.
  • Paid Search includes those who’ve encountered your site through pay-per-click ads in search.
  • Direct refers to those who enter your specific web address in their browser tab.
  • Referral refers to those who come from links to your site that appear on other websites (i.e. backlinks).
  • Social are links to your site that appear on social media platforms (in posts and profiles).

If you’re spending a significant amount of time trying to drum up traffic and business by any of these means, and you see that your bounce rate for that channel is approaching 100%, dig deeper. You can click on each of these channels to see what the breakdown is.

For instance, even though my Referral bounce rate isn’t terrible, I can see that there is one site in particular that links to me often that results in a 100% bounce rate. This might mean that I’m writing for the wrong publication if its readers find no value in the content on my site.

In other words, use the context provided by Google to try and decipher why it is your bounce rate is so high under those circumstances.

You should also contrast these seemingly negative experiences against situations that lead to positive experiences and low bounce rates. This could clue you into what the main issue is. So, as you consider questions like the ones posed above, and you dig into the metrics with higher bounce rates, go back and review the ones with lower bounce rates at the same time.

With the Geo example, for instance, I would look at my United States visitors. I’d then break it down further. Although the lack of CDN could be an issue when trying to reach visitors in Brazil, I don’t see that happening in other countries I target. So I’d want to know if there’s something about the browsers used or the user’s flow that changes the experience for visitors in different countries.

3. Examine Your Most Profitable Pages

There are certain pages on your site that are built with the express purpose of generating profit, whether it be through direct sales, registering demo users, or signing up blog subscribers. Those pages are supposed to convert.

Because of this, you want to examine them first. If there is a problem sealing the deal right before conversion, you should fix it before you do anything else.

If you’re unsure of what these pages are (especially if you have a blog or store with hundreds of pages), use Google Analytics module for Audience > Users Flow or Behavior > Behavior Flow to sniff out which pages most commonly lead to conversion.

Google Analytics Users Flow

Single out these “profit” pages. Then, use Google Analytics to study activity strictly on them. Under what conditions do users most commonly bounce? Is this something you can mitigate for or do you expect to see this sort of departure rate for that particular segment of traffic?

I would also recommend looking at data under Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages.

Site Content Exits

This tab will tell you which pages are the most commonly exited on your site. While an exit isn’t the same as a bounce, this data is still useful when assessing your profit pages. A high bounce rate is one thing, but to discover that your profit page is one of the most commonly exited is a whole other problem.

4. Look at Other Key Landing Pages

The pages that are one step before conversion are obviously important, but there are other pages on your site that require close examination, too.

Return to that user flow once more. Focus on the other pages in the lead-up to conversion.

You should have a good idea of what this conversion funnel is supposed to look like. With a visual tool like this, you can quickly identify that pathway and locate the pages where visitors unexpectedly drop off before getting to those final conversion pages.

Then, return to the main Google Analytics modules to assess the bounce rates for those pages. Are they too high? Can you tell if it’s only under certain circumstances in which they’re high? Come up with a hypothesis as to why so many visits end there.

Here is an example:

Compare User Journey

I’ve set my user journey to look at visits from Twitter during this specified timeframe (when I was running sponsored ads). I’ve also narrowed this down so that I only see what happened with mobile visitors.

Since I was driving traffic to my home page, that’s the block I want to pay attention to. According to this data, 5 of those visitors kept going while 7 bounced. What should have happened was for those users to click over to my WordPress Training page and then go to Contact to sign up for a free consultation.

As you can see here, I didn’t get any conversions from this Twitter campaign. While I’m happy that some of these visitors continued to move around the site to learn more about my services and read my blog, I’m not happy that my home page failed in its mission to convert and even led to so many bounces. As a result, I’ll have to reexamine the promotional banners and images I placed there since it’s clear visitors didn’t understand what to do or just weren’t interested.

5. Compare User Journeys Side-by-Side

Having generated a list of pages crucial to the success of your site, it’s time to look at the actual user journey and figure out if it’s a matter of audience that’s the problem.

To do this, use your User Flows tool again. This time, compare journeys that begin on the same page. One pathway should lead to conversion, the other should stop with bounced traffic.

Now, what you need to do is apply a filter to each. You can select from any of the metrics in Google Analytics (e.g. user demographic, location, device used, referral source, etc.) Compare the results and ask yourself, “Is there something that makes this specific audience type less likely to convert?”

Your website may be attracting the wrong crowd if that’s the case. Consider what the source of the problem is and what you can do to remedy the confusion.

6. Review Your Marketing Efforts

If you’ve determined that the bounce rate problem is due to a discrepancy between perception and reality, you can’t blame it on the visitors for not knowing any better. What your site puts out into the (digital) world informs that perception. If it’s not done correctly, then something needs to be done to clarify the misunderstanding.

Keywords are a good place to start.

Google Analytics Channels Keyword

You can access this data under Acquisition > Channels. Keyword searches that led to your site can be found when you click on Organic Search.

If your site produces a lot of content that is later promoted on social media, you can use the Social channel to identify which social media platforms just aren’t working for you.

Google Analytics Social Channel

If you find that it’s not a problem with one specific channel, the issue could be with the kinds of posts you share on social or how they’re described to your followers.

You should also take a look at your paid search efforts. There’s nothing worse than putting a lot of money behind your PPC marketing efforts, only to discover that you got thousands of clicks to your site… and most of them resulted in an immediate bounce.

You can find this information under Acquisition > Campaigns. You can actually compare organic against paid search campaigns, which could give you a better idea, too, of how well your paid efforts are even working. If organic visits lead to lower bounce rates and actual customers, as opposed to paid visits which drop almost immediately, stick with what works. Or determine a way to get your paid search efforts to work for you. Just don’t keep throwing money away.

Marketing isn’t something you do to be able to say, “Hey, we got 10,000 visitors last month!” If 9,500 of those visitors bounced, were the time and energy you spent creating those marketing campaigns even worth it? And this isn’t just about paid search campaigns, this is about anything you do to get your site noticed online.

7. Review the Bounced Page Yourself

All of this time spent with data is going to clue you into issues with your website, but they probably won’t provide you with a definitive answer of what the issue is and how to fix it. To understand where the friction in the user experience lies, you need to visit that bounced page yourself.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Does the design look good?
  • Could you find the navigation right away?
  • Are there any broken images?
  • Do you see any corrupted text?
  • Does the content make sense?
  •  Mtadata match the content of the page?
  • Does it make a convincing argument to take action or move to another page? (i.e. Is the CTA present and is it clear?)
  • Did it load fast enough for you?
  • Can you spot any warning signs regarding security or performance at first glance?
  • Is there a distinct difference between the experience on desktop and mobile that could be disrupting the user’s experience when they switch devices?

Now, do some more digging and assess the site’s functionality:

  • Is the navigation faulty? Are there key pages missing or buried? Is it hard to find or follow it? Are the labels unclear?
  • Did you encounter any broken links?
  • Do animated elements do what they’re supposed to?
  • When pop-ups are present, do they work as intended? Do they enter the page too soon? Are they unrelated to the content? Do they block access to important information below? Can you easily exit out of them?
  • Upon completing any contact forms on the page, does it complete the process? Do you receive error warnings? Is it clear what the contact form is for?
  • Is this page a complete dead end?

As I mentioned earlier, don’t be too hard on yourself if a somewhat inessential page in the user experience has a high bounce rate. Spend your time looking at pages that play critical roles in the on-site journey. Even though you devised this journey and have seen it a million times, you might be able to detect issues with it now that you have proof in hand that visitors aren’t responding well to it.

8. Invite an Outsider to Review the Site

As a developer, you view a website as something that takes users from point A to point B. That’s why I suggest you look at more technical aspects of the experience first.

Now, you need to let someone outside the project step in and lend you their insights.

Once you’ve completed your own review of the bounced page, hand it over to an outsider to look at. You might want to just give them free reign to peruse the site so they can help you identify overarching issues with the experience.

Here are some problems they might have with content:

  • Consistency of message
  • Clarity of purpose
  • Relevance of content (especially if the source’s promise isn’t fulfilled)
  • Readability and scannability of the page
  • Length of content (too vague or an overwhelming amount)

Here are some problems they might have with design:

  • Modernity of design
  • Responsiveness
  • Spacing issues (too much or too little)
  • Difficulty in focusing
  • Images (appropriateness, relevance, quality)
  • Harmony of design and content
  • Consistency of design through the site
  • Overabundance of ads, pop-ups, or other distractions
  • Disruptive auto-play or animated content

If your bounce rate isn’t too high, but it’s still at a level you’re uncomfortable with, the issue likely stems from one of these quality issues. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. When you look at a site day in and day out, it can be hard to spot stuff like this.

9. Check Your Security Indicators

For websites that collect sensitive information from users, security is something visitors are going to keep a close eye on. If your bounce rate in Google Analytics is way too high and your site falls into one of these categories (e.g. e-commerce, healthcare, recruitment/hiring site, etc.), do a thorough review of your security–especially the parts of it that visitors can see with their own two eyes.

For instance:

Is an SSL certificate in place?

If so, does your browser window say there’s something wrong with it? Is it expired? Is there a mixed content warning?

Problematic SSL Certificate

What about spam? Were you hoping that a particularly popular blog post would be the jumping-off point for additional traffic, but the majority of readers bounce after they finished reading? Check the comment feed to make sure there are useful comments there and it’s not just littered with spam.

Security is something that can literally make or break your website. If you haven’t taken time yet to make sure all communications and transactions are safe, this needs to be a top priority. By removing security as a potential cause for a high bounce rate, you can focus on more tangible fixes, like streamlining the navigation or repairing broken images.

10. Test Your Performance

When you did the run-through of the bounced page, you probably got a good sense for any delays in loading. However, it’s still good to use a tool to officially test and confirm that speeds are as fast as they should be on all devices.

Google PageSpeed Insights is always a reliable (and free) tool you can use to test your speed and issue quick fixes to get it back in working order.

Google PageSpeed Insights

If you suspect that speed is only an issue on certain pages (like product pages with large photo and video galleries), run your test against those, too.

Since speed is such an easy thing to fix, and oftentimes one of the reasons why people are so quick to leave a site, there’s no reason not to optimize for speed, even if your bounce rate is low. 🏃‍♀️Optimize your site for speed, even if your bounce rate is super low. Doing so can only help, and NEVER hurt! #WordPress Click To Tweet Similar to security, it’s an essential part of ensuring a good experience on your site. Once you remove this variable, you can worry about actual on-site elements that motivate users to leave soon after arriving.

11. Fix Your Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

By this point, you know what’s causing the high bounce rates on your site or key landing pages. As such, it’s now time to put a fix in place.

Use the following checklist to ensure you’ve done everything you can to improve the user experience:

  • Fix immediate issues with speed.
  • Fix immediate issues with security.
  • Verify that all pages are responsive.
  • Create a plan for developing high-quality content on a regular basis (and give visitors something to visit).
  • Make the checkout more appealing.
  • Refine your site’s story and give visitors something to really connect to.
  • Add related content and recommendations to relevant pages.
  • Create an internal link building strategy.
  • Add a search bar to the top of the site.
  • Add trustmarks to key entry pages.
  • Improve the usability of the navigation.
  • Minimize pop-ups, sidebars, auto-playing content, and other distractions.
  • Give them a valid reason to engage (e.g. watch a video, share this content, contact us now).
  • Review and adjust your organic and paid marketing campaigns.
  • Update your keyword strategy.
  • Read through content and fix mistakes, broken links, and poor writing.
  • Fix the structure of your content to make it more readable.
  • Adjust your CTAs so they’re easier to find and clearer to understand.
  • Fix broken images, slow videos, outdated design choices, confusing layouts, etc.
  • A/B test alternate options for design and content.

Give the implementation of this bounce rate fix about a month to settle in. Then, revisit Google Analytics and see how your site is doing.

Once you’re happy (or happier) with the results, set this as your baseline bounce rate. It should be a realistic number that you believe your site is capable of achieving month after month and one which will result in the right amount of conversions for your business.

It should then become easier to keep tabs on how well your site is performing. Since high bounce rates often correlate to drops in conversions, this data will keep you on top of any issues before they become full-blown and costly problems for your business.

Wrapping Up

Of course, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep security and performance on the up and up. They both play such a critical role in the user experience, you don’t want something so easily managed to be the reason visitors are stopping dead in their tracks.

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