Aside from looking at increasing the number of sessions (and hopefully conversions), another popular goal for many site owners is to look at how to reduce bounce rate.
For some, it’s potentially the most important metric to monitor on Google Analytics.
Whilst I disagree on the huge focus on bounce rate, I do agree that we should look at how to reduce it to encourage more activities and engagement on your site.
15 Powerful Ways to Reduce Your Site’s Bounce Rate
1. Improve Your Site’s Speed
It’s no surprise that site speed is important.
Not only does it have SEO benefits, but it can also play a big part in keeping your visitors on your site, improve user experience and ultimately create conversions.
There are various ways to improve your site’s speed. Some of the easiest ways are:
- to make sure that you have a good host (another reason why managed WordPress hosting is crucial for most WordPress sites),
- to follow best practices when it comes to image optimisation,
- to use tools such as GTMetrics, Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Insights for guidance on what to optimise.
2. Be Cautious (or Preferably Stop) Using Popups
This is a controversial topic because research shows that some people swear by it, others find them really annoying.
My advice is to either be very cautious when using them by making them less disruptive (you could do this by setting a timer for when to make them pop-up).
Or perhaps focus on those who are about to exit when they hover over the close tab.
But ultimately, you should also look at your numbers. If your popups are not attracting any interest, it’s a strong clue to stop using them.
Or you can just stop using them altogether and realise that you are frustrating a lot of people.
3. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly (or Responsive)
With such a huge emphasis on being mobile-friendly and Google focusing on a mobile-first index, you will have multiple reasons for making sure that your site is usable on a mobile device.
Not only does Google recommend having a responsive design, but you will have fewer people getting frustrated when they are accessing your site via their mobiles.
Because if they have to pinch to zoom, or they are struggling to click on a button, you can be assured that they will leave your site quickly after landing on it.
4. Fix Any Broken Links
You can imagine how frustrating it is when you want to click on a link, only to land on a broken page.
Your visitors will most likely not have the patience to search your site to find the correct URL for the page.
This also applies to any external links. Even though you are dependant on 3rd-party sites to keep hosting the page, there are no guarantees that the page will remain live forever.
You can use tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider or Google Search Console to find any broken links which are then creating 404 pages.
5. Create a Bespoke 404 Page
If your visitors do end up on a broken page, which are ‘Not Found’ or 404, you can make sure that they stay on your site by ensuring that your 404 page is useful to them.
For example, you can be creative with your “I’m sorry, this page is not available” message.
You can include links to important pages to ensure they stay on the site.
You can include a search box to encourage them to search for whatever they are looking for.
Or you can be simple, but funny at the same time. Like this example from Pixar:
You could also be direct, but helpful, like this example from Starbucks:
Or you can let your creativity run wild by looking at other examples.
6. Add Relevant Internal Links
You may have seen it on this site, but there are huge benefits to linking to your other pages - not just for SEO.
If you are writing a blog post about ‘how to grow tomatoes’ and you have a separate post about ‘how to make your own compost’, it might make sense to link to the latter from your new tomato post.
Your audience might also want to learn how to make their own compost while growing tomatoes too, so make it easier for them by linking other relevant posts within your post, instead of forcing them to leave your site and Google it.
Look at how Wikipedia does it (albeit, in a slightly excessive manner):
So now you have another reason to create awesome content; to encourage your visitors to stay on your site instead of sharing other people’s resources - all this by simply adding internal links.
But above all, it must make sense. Don’t link to other pages if it’s not relevant.
7. Improve Your Credibility/Trust
It is well-known that having social proof can have a huge impact in adding credibility to your site, which will then make you more trustworthy to your audience.
In his hugely-popular book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, Dr Robert B. Cialdini has cited various pieces of evidence on how powerful social proof can be in everyday life.
The same can be applied to your own website:
- Celebrity endorsements - this can be via paid ads or (accidental) unpaid endorsements
- Product reviews - when visiting websites like Amazon and TripAdvisor, notice how your behaviour is influenced by reviews
- Testimonials - if you have positive feedback from your customers, show them to your audience on your site
- “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought…” - understanding what other customers bought can be really useful
- Rank your best-selling items - this can be via a filter, or you can create a post about your best items/recommendations/advice
Of course, you need to be honest when it comes to using social proof. It’s not about fooling your visitors, but more about giving them assurance.
A real-life example would be my very own testimonials page, which not only has its own page, but it is also featured on the homepage too:
8. Make Your Website Compatible Across All Browsers
Similar to how you want your site to be responsive across all devices, the same should be said about ensuring that your site is compatible across all popular browsers.
You want to make sure that your website does not contain any errors that will have a negative effect on how your visitors are experiencing your site.
Another way is to visit Google Analytics and go to Audience > Technology > Browser & OS.
From there, you can get an idea on metrics such as bounce rate and conversions across all browsers and see whether anything stands out.
For example, if conversion is high in Chrome but very low in Firefox, this is an opportunity to investigate further on why that is the case.
9. Create Amazingly Awesome (and Consistent) Content
In case it’s not obvious, I will tell you now: you need to have something of value if you want to encourage your visitors to stay on your site.
If they are under the impression that they will find a solution to what they’re looking for, only to land on your site and end up being disappointed, one reason could be because of your content.
As well as the opportunity to attract traffic to your site, high-quality content can also play a huge part in improving your authority in the industry, gives you the opportunity to create internal links, helps you understand what they like and don’t like... there are so many benefits.
Not to mention that it's a chance for your visitors to stay on your site and engage with your content.
So if your content is low quality and provides little to no value, then consider doing something about it.
Give your audience value.
10. Match Your Content With Your Audience’s Search Intent
Similarly, understanding how and what your audience is searching for is a crucial part of your content creation.
Part of the process is to ensure that you know what the most popular keywords are. You can use tools like Google’s own Keyword Planner for free, or use a keyword research tool I love called KWFinder.
The other side to it is to make sure that your content matches your audience’s search intent. You want to make sure that your audience will find what they’re looking for when they land on your site via search engines.
Otherwise, they will leave your site, go back to the search engine and search again.
11. Create “Scannable” and Readable Content Which Is Easy to Consume
Even if you have created amazing content that is genuinely useful, you can still put off your visitors if it's not easy to consume.
According to Jakob Nielson, who holds a PhD in human-computer interaction and understands a lot about web usability, 79% of people scan web pages.
There are a number of easy ways to do this (although, you should not overdo it):
- Use sub-headings and bullet points
- Use different media, like images and videos
- Use whitespace to avoid blocks of texts
- Highlight with different formats: bold, italic, coloured highlights
- Get your message across as quickly as possible
And as we are living in a mobile-focused world, it’s an even bigger reason to make your content scannable as it will make it a smoother and more pleasant experience on mobile too.
12. Use High-Quality Images and Videos To Engage Your Audience
As part of the process to create scannable content, use high-quality images and videos to break up the text and to make it easier on the eye.
And of course, you can either create your own videos to embed, or you can embed one of the millions of YouTube videos to your article.
But using these media can also have other purposes, as they can help illustrate the points that you are trying to make.
If your visitors are clicking on those videos and they are adding value to your content, it will help to keep your audience on your site.
13. Add/Optimise Your Call-To-Action
You can put a lot of effort into your site, creating amazing content and providing value... until you make it difficult for those who are interested to follow up with what you have to offer.
But it’s amazing how a single button, which is your call-to-action (CTA), can make or break your online business.
So the first step is to add a CTA to help guide your visitors to the right place. Because whether you like it or not, you need to guide them yourself and make that process as easy as possible for them.
The next step is to optimise your CTA, i.e. making it visible, using the right copy instead of using the standard ‘click here’, testing it to find out what works and what doesn’t work.
Giving you advice on how to optimise is a whole other blog post, but there are plenty of guides out there that provide advice on optimising your CTA button.
14. Improve Your Top Navigation
Poor navigation can play a big part in frustrating your visitors.
Your visitors do not want to spend time and effort finding what they’re looking for. And if you are not taking your navigation seriously, you will most likely lose your visitors very quickly.
So it is essential that your navigation is clear, easy to understand and effortless to use. Make sure that they do not have to guess where they are, or are going, on your site.
Do not overload your navigations with multiple links and pages. Categorise them and make it easier to read.
Don’t force them to go down a fake pathway in order to deceive them into going where you want them to go.
They are and should be in control, not you.
15. Implement HTTPS Sitewide
The last thing you want to do is to scare your potential customers away. And if they get a hint that your site is not secure, then they will not hesitate to leave your site.
Back on 24th July 2018, which is unofficially known as “Insecure HTTP D-Day”, Google made the decision to display sites which are not HTTPS as insecure from version 68 of Chrome.
This is their attempt to advocate a more secure web for the user by encouraging websites to adopt HTTPS encryption across the entire site.
And there is a good chance that the other browsers will follow suit if they have not done so already.
If you are using a good hosting company, most of them should be able to provide you with free HTTPS encryption via the use of Let’s Encrypt.
And for most small business, bloggers, hobby sites, etc. that is all you require for your website.
But at the end of the day, you do not want to receive any backlash for not adopting HTTPS and for making up ridiculous reasons why you do not have HTTPS and the site is not secure
While you are working on this task, you might also want to be aware of the difference between bounce rate and exit rate because it is easily misunderstood.
Many people unintentionally confuse bounce rates with exit rates, when they are actually two very different metrics.
But the good news is that the methods mentioned above can also have a positive impact on your exit rate too.
Also be aware that there is no such thing as “the right/perfect/good/ bounce rate”. Because the answer is the dreaded “it depends”.
There are too many factors such as the content on the page, website type, your industry, your visitors’ intent upon landing on your site, the device used, etc.
But the least you can do is to reduce it as much as you can.
Have you ever considered implementing any of the tactics above? Have I missed anything out?
Let me know in the comments below.