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Bounce Rate, or the number of web visitors you have that visit just one page – the first one they land on, can be a vital metric to consider when current overall success and conversion rates of your organization’s site.

Bounce Rates can be especially important if:

- You have a sales or conversion process which requires the user to follow through multiple pages on your site.

- Exploration of your site is important to your goals.

- You are trying to turn new visitors into loyal readers or customers.

- Yours is a retail site and you want people to shop around and make purchases.

- Your homepage is not inducing further clicks, particularly if it contains blog excerpts or other ‘teaser’ content.

So what are some causes of a high Bounce Rate?

Your keywords and content could be mismatched. In cases where visitors are coming from search engines, a high bounce rate may mean that the keywords they used and the content they found when they arrived on your site aren’t aligned – so the page they landed on doesn’t meet their expectations in some way.

The best way to address this is to take the time to analyze your keyword traffic and make sure your pages are optimized for the keywords you want and that the content is closely aligned with keywords and not misleading in any way.

Another problem could be that the next step in your goal or conversion process is not obvious enough for visitors to follow. Look at your landing pages with a more critical eye and make sure the next step clear and easy to take. If it would typically take more than one more step to complete the conversion process, and visitors can’t find the necessary additional content they need for the decision making process, re-evaluate the navigation and see if there are ways to streamline or simplify. Also double-check for browser compatibility – perhaps the page is not displaying correctly under some conditions.

High Bounce Rates could also indicate your offer or product is not presented in a compelling or easy to understand way. Look at your sales copy or offer details and see if you can refresh it or make it more appealing. You could try split-testing different versions to see which performs better.

Another issue could be technical problems with your site. Particularly if your bounce rate suddenly spikes or displays an unusual trend, it could be an indication of technical issues, such as broken images or links, or something on the page not loading correctly.

In this case, check for compatibility and broken links. Test the load speed of the page and generally make sure your code is as clean and functional as possible. Check for server outages and other issues that could have temporarily affected the functionality of your site.

High Bounce Rates don’t always indicate a problem

If you have a blog homepage containing all your recent posts in their entirety, and many blogger sites are notorious for this. If all of your posts are presented up front, there is little reason for someone to click to any other pages. And if you have a loyal blog following, resulting in a higher proportion of returning visitors compared to new ones, your subscribers may just want to read the newest post and have no need to visit other pages. Blogs also typically have higher bounce rates compared to other types of sites so the same benchmarks do not apply.

If a landing page contains the call to action within it, such as submitting an email address, that single page can do its job effectively without requiring further clicks, and similarly a call to action or conversion that takes your visitor off-site – to an external shopping cart or email sign up, would look like a bounce without actually be so.

You should also realize that Bounce Rate is not the only metric that matters, so this data should not be analyzed in isolation. Look at the overall picture of your website and how it’s performing according to the metrics that matter to YOU. Take the time to distill exactly what you DO want your visitors to do when at site. And then ask if you’re making it easy for them to do that, and are you measuring it?

Look for trends and other data that give you a fuller picture of what the Bounce Rate really means:

– Is the bounce rate much higher or lower for certain keywords? If so, refocus the content on your site to address the better keywords.

– Does it vary according to how people found your site? If those that find your site via search engines are higher or lower vs. social media, for example, you once again know more about where to focus your energies going forward.

– How does it vary with New vs. Returning Visitors? As noted, Returning Visitors are less likely to take further steps with some sites (like blogs), and are expected to do the opposite on others (Bank or Credit Union site). Which of these types of sites is more applicable to you?

– Which particular pages or types of content on your site have higher or lower Bounce Rates? Spend more time on the style on content or pages that are producing for you.

– Especially important for a blog, looking not only at Bounce Rate but also at the length of time spent by individual visitors on the page can help indicate to you whether or not they are reading what they find once they arrive.