11 powerful methods to reduce bounce rate in Google Analytics

 

Learn the most effective methods to reduce bounce rate of your website and increase conversions and sales.

Bounce rate is one of the most misunderstood metrics in Google Analytics.

Bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits (or web sessions).

It is the number of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further.

Google analytics calculates and reports the bounce rate of a web page and bounce rate of a website.

 

How Google Analytics Calculate Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate of a web page= total number of bounces on a page (in a given time period) / total number of entrances on the page (in the same time period)

Here, Bounces is the number of single page visits resulting from the page and Entrances is the number of times visitors entered you site on the page

Bounce rate of a website = total number of bounces across all the pages on the website (in a given time period) / total number of entrances across all the pages on the website (in the same time period)

Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

Bounce Rate in Google Analytics (The Classic Old view where you can actually see number of entrances and bounces. This view is no longer available.)

Here,

The bounce rate of the page 1 is calculated as: [total bounces (2070)/total entrances (2424)] *100 = 85.40%

The bounce rate of the home page ( / ) is calculated as: [total bounces (171)/total entrances (416)] *100 = 41.11%

The bounce rate of the website is calculated as: [total bounces (4039)/total entrances (5400)] *100 = 74.80%

As you can see from the calculations above,

bounce rate of a web page/website has nothing to do with ‘Time spent on a web page/website’ (a common misconception about marketers and webmasters).

Bounce rate can be a powerful metric to measure the quality of traffic to your website or landing pages.

You should be bothered about high bounce rate. Here is one strong reason:

A high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.

If site entrance pages are not relevant to your visitors then you can’t expect any conversion, sales or leads. Your whole purpose of setting up a website has no commercial value.

So what should be the ideal bounce rate then.

According to analytics guru ‘Avinash Kaushik’:

” As a benchmark from my own personal experience over the years it is hard to get a bounce rate under 20%.

Anything over 35% is a cause for concern and anything above 50% is worrying  “

Source: https://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2007/08/standard-metrics-revisited-3-bounce-rate.html

 

Now the million dollar Question:

How to reduce bounce rate?

Following methods can help you in reducing your bounce rate.

 

1# Adjust the Bounce Rate of your website

The most powerful way to reduce bounce rate is to adjust it by calculating the time spent on a page.

In this way you can get true bounce rate.  There are many situations in which you can get conversions through bounced visits.

For example it is pretty common in case of blogs, news and publishing sites for the visitors to come and leave from the landing page without browsing any further. These visitors generally come to the website to read latest news/article and then leave the website from the landing page as there is no need to browse any further.

But since the visits are single page visits, Google Analytics will show 100% bounce rate.

When a visitor converts on your website then his visit should not be counted as bounce even if that visit is a single page visit. 

This is because our primary reason of running a website is to get conversions and not to optimize bounce rates.

That is why you need to adjust your bounce rate. Once the adjustment has been made, you will see drastic reduction in your site’s bounce rate esp. if you run a blog, news or publishing website. You can learn more about adjusting your bounce rate from the articles below:

  1. Adjusting Bounce Rate by Calculating Time spent on the Page
  2. Adjusting Bounce Rate via Google Tag Manager

 

2# Reduce the bounce rate of the web pages in the Profit Index

Profit index is a database of all the profitable pages on your website.

Profit Index contains all those web pages which are most frequently viewed prior to conversions or transactions. So if these web pages have got high bounce rate then it is going to significantly impact the conversion volume and conversion rate of your website.

You need to reduce the bounce rate of the pages in the profit index in order to improve conversions. Without profit index, you will remain busy optimizing the bounce rate of large volume of random webpages which may or may not impact the business bottomline.

But when you are using profit index, you are guaranteed that your bounce rate optimization is going to impact the business bottomline. If you are not sure how to create profit index in Google Analytics then check out this article:

  Optimizing Contents for Sales and Conversions through Profit Index

Once you have created profit index and go to profit index report in Google Analytics and sort the table in decreasing order of Page Value:

profit-index

Now click on the ‘compare to site average’ button at the top right of your Profit Index report and then select ‘Bounce Rate’ from the drop down menu.

Your report should now look like the one below:

culprits

You can see from the reports there are two web pages in the top 10 whose bounce rate is higher than the site average. You now need to find the reason for such high bounce rate.

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3# Stop targeting keywords/ marketing channels which are sending low value traffic

If your website is getting the traffic which has nothing to do with the products/services you sell then the website visitors are going to bounce the moment they arrive on your website. Determine the traffic sources which are sending poor quality traffic and then either stop the campaign or target the right keywords/ landing pages.

 

4# Create landing pages which satisfy visitor’s query

If you are getting the right traffic but your landing page doesn’t satisfy the visitor’s query then the website visitors are going to bounce the moment they arrive on your website.

For e.g. a visitor is looking for information on ‘courses on business management in London’ and if your landing page gives general information about business management courses then the visitor is likely to bounce.

 

5# Create landing pages which prominently display your ‘Call to Action’

If your landing pages lacks ‘Call to Action’ (CTA) or does not prominently display CTA, then you will have hard time keeping visitors on your website.

Headings, sub-headings and directional clues (to guide visitors to your CTA) are excellent way of prominently displaying your CTA. For e.g. this blog post is about reducing bounce rate and this is prominently displayed through h2 heading.

 

6# Make your ‘Call to Action’ relevant to your landing page

Your call to action (CTA) can cause your visitors to come to your site and bounce. This call to action can be in the form of a button, banner, video or link on the pages of your site or some external site.

In case of organic search the call to action can be in the form of title tag and meta description tag of the landing page. In case of paid search (like Google Adwords) the call to action can be in the form of title and description of your adwords ad copy.

For example,

If your banner ad on a website reads ‘Download your free seo book now’ but then on a click takes a visitor to the home page of the site instead of the landing page which offers free download then expect high number of bounces.

You need to fulfil the promise you made to your website visitors in your search engine listing/ad copy or expect a high bounce rate.

So make sure that your CTA is relevant to your landing page.

 

7# Develop contents which can be consumed in short span of time

If your landing page perfectly satisfy the visitor’s query but the content on the landing page is hard to consume in a short span of time then expect high bounce rate.

Even if some visitors are still interested in your content, they are still most likely to bounce as they may bookmark your page and choose to return later in a different visit to consume the contents. So aim to develop contents which can be consumed in short span of time.

 

8# Use Virtual Pageviews or Event Tracking for Ajax/Flash based contents

In case of Ajax/Flash based contents/website, lot of users interaction (like clicking on an image/link; loading of a page/flash video/pop up etc) take place on a single page. So in majority of cases visitors don’t need to browse another page(s) on your website.

Consequently the bounce rate is very high. In case of purely flash based website, bounce rate will be 100% all the time if users interactions are not tracked with virtual pageviews or event tracking. So you need to track users interactions through virtual pageviews or event tracking.

 

9# Create landing pages which are visually appealing & load fast

According to a recent research a visitor decides in 8 seconds or less whether to stay or leave your website.

Following are some of the main reason people leave your website from the landing page without browsing any further:

  1. Poor webpage design (use of poor contrast: like black background, yellow text)
  2. Poor Navigation
  3. Not using a responsive layout. So landing pages become hard to read on devices with different screen resolutions.
  4. Cluttering of ads or too many ads above the fold.
  5. Too much text
  6. Poor formatting (not using bold, italics, underline etc)
  7. Little to no spacing between lines and paragraphs.
  8. Lack of headings and sub-headings. Your very first headline must highlight the benefit of reading any further.
  9. Landing pages which take forever to download. If this is the case then expect 100% bounce rate all the time.
  10. Audio/video contents which auto play as soon as the page loads. This is very annoying for visitors. Avoid it at all cost.

Use unbounce or visual website optimizer to test different versions of your headings and landing pages.

 

10# Develop a need to explore your website further

Every visitor who comes to your site has some purpose (like looking for a particular information, making a purchase etc).

When this purpose is solved or unsolved, he leaves the website unless you give him some other purpose to browse your website further.

For e.g a person looking for information on your company may leave your website from the landing page if the landing page fully satisfy his query about your company. If visit to the ‘About us’ page is one of your goal then you can get 100% conversion rate but with 100% bounce rate.

This is one of the reason why even top landing pages have high bounce rate.

Whether or not your landing page satisfies the visitor’s intent, you must always provide few more options to continue browsing.

For e.g. “If you like this article you may like these articles too” or “similar products” or “related posts” etc.

Similarly provide options to continue browsing ‘post conversion’ like by placing links to browse further on the ‘thank you’ page or some other goal page. 

 

11# Run Page Level Surveys 

If everything else failed and you can’t figure out what is wrong with your landing pages then you need to run page level surveys.

Add a thumbs up and thumb down button at the bottom of the landing pages (which don’t require a login to be used) to get instant feedback from visitors regarding their reason for bounces.

If your landing page has got lot of thumbs down, then there is a problem with the content quality. Use Qualaroo to get instant feedback through page level surveys.

 

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Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses in finding and fixing their Google Analytics and conversion issues.
  • More than ten years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Certified web analyst (master level) from MarketMotive.com
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com
I am also the author of the book Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization If you have any questions or comments please contact me