A high bounce rate on your website indicates that users leave your site after finding your site in search engines such as Google and Bing. If you own an eCommerce store, it means you lose customers and sales. Bounce rate can be from poor web design or web development, slow web servers, a bad web hosting company, or it can stem from your product inventory. This article gives you 8 tips to reduce your bounce rate.
The Bounce Rate Equation
Bounce rate is the enemy for most website owners. Bounce rate is a calculated value that indicates how many users engage in your site content or media versus the number of people who leave or bounce. It’s difficult for new site owners to understand user behaviors and patterns. You must put yourself in the reader’s shoes and disconnect your feelings from your business to better understand your website’s design and content issues. It’s a tough idea to accept that your content isn’t good enough for readers, but here are some tips to reduce your site’s bounce rate.
Don’t Use Popups
Whether it’s popups or pop-unders, don’t open an unexpected window in your reader’s browser. Popups are proven to turn off users. Some site owners have switched to Ajax popups. These popups don’t open a new tab or browser window, but they do block the user from reading your content when they open your pages. Limit popups to only direct marketing pages. Don’t ever add a popup to a landing page. You can test the popup theory by using A/B testing. Use Google Analytics to send a percentage of your traffic to a page with a popup and test the bounce rate. Analytics will tell you which page performs better.
Check Your Navigation
Navigation lets your users know where they can find more information. Poor navigation confuses users, and the way they handle the confusion is to go back to a search engine and find a more user friendly site. You should always test your navigation for any errors and ask for feedback to ensure that users can find what they are searching for.
Not only should navigation be clear, it should also be intuitive. Users expect navigation either at the top or to the left of the screen. They expect menus and then submenus when they hover the mouse over a menu item. Part of a good web design is an intuitive interface. You don’t have to copy the same design as other websites, but you should use standard navigation items.
Reduce Intrusive Ads
Google announced that ads above the fold distract and annoy readers, so they have a page-layout algorithm that devalues your site if it has too many ads above the fold. Aside from ranking your website in the search engine, the information tells you that ad placement on your site is important when you want to engage users. Don’t place large ads at the top of your content and don’t let ads block content. Your web designer can help you determine the best placement for your ads, but non-intrusive ads can be placed in the right section or column of your site, at the top (called a banner ad) or at the bottom of your page’s content.
You don’t want to use popups, and you especially don’t want to use popups that force ads on users. Some site owners create popups or Ajax ads on every page. If you closely analyze bounce rate on pages that have heavy ads, you’ll probably notice that user engagement is extremely low. Ad networks such as Google Adsense even have rules against placing intrusive ads or ads that trick users into clicking them.
Improve Your Call-to-Action (CTA)
A CTA can be a button, some text or an image that tells users what to do next. For instance, if you have an ecommerce store, your users need to know what to do after viewing your product. A CTA shows the user where to go to buy the product.
Most website owners need to experiment with CTAs. You use variant landing pages with different CTA colors, font, text and placement. Google Analytics has an experiment tool that lets you send a percentage of your traffic to a landing page with a different CTA. You collect data on the alternative page and find out which CTA works better for sales.
Check Your Site Speed
Marketing experts estimate that you have about five seconds before you lose almost half of your traffic due to slow page loading times. Visitors bounce from your site if it takes too long to load in the browser. There are numerous reasons why your site could be slow. Some reasons are within your control, but others are dependent on the user’s Internet connection, the host’s servers, and your host’s Internet connection.
To improve site speed, check your code. Poorly coded websites slow down performance. Most poorly coded sites have slow database queries. A database must have a good table design including optimized queries and indexes on table columns. If you don’t know how to judge a site’s code, hire an expert to review your database queries and tables.
Other speed issues can stem from old servers, which you can’t control unless you have your own physical machines in-house. If you have a shared hosting plan, you share a server with hundreds or thousands of other site owners. Poor code on their sites can affect your site. Move to a virtual private server (VPS), which gives you more control of your websites and sandboxes your site from others.
Make Your Site Responsive
Responsive design uses the latest CSS3 media queries to scale your site’s images and layout to the reader’s screen. Responsive sites are specifically for mobile devices including tablets and smartphones. Most designers can turn your current design into a responsive design, but you can also update an older design and improve sales.
When you don’t have a responsive design, your pages are difficult to navigate and slow to load. The result is that your users bounce and increase your bounce rate. Search engines such as Google have a separate mobile search that rank responsive design better than slower desktop sites. When you cater to both mobile and desktop users, you open the doors for more sales from each type of web user.
Use an Internal Search Function
There is a good chance that users will get lost on your site at some point. They might want a specific product and can’t find it using your navigation. You should have an internal search function to avoid forcing users to leave your site and perform another search in search engines. Google has a custom search tool that makes it easy to implement an internal search on your site. Copy the code, add it to your HTML pages, and Google performs a search for you. The other option is to hire a developer to create a custom search within your pages. The benefit of a custom search through a developer is that you control the search. Google’s custom search only searches and finds pages that are indexed in the organic search engine.
Add Related Products or Content Sections
Related products are a great way to passively upsell your customers. It also helps potential customers find your products. Customers might land on a product page from the search engines, but the product isn’t quite what they are looking for. With related product listings, they might see the exact product they are searching for whether it’s a different style, model or color. The result is that the customer stays on your pages instead of bouncing to find a closer match in the search engines.
You can also add related content pages if you run a content site. When users continue reading more content, you increase your pageview numbers. An increase in pageviews improves your chances of ad clicks. When you run a content site that relies on ad revenue, you must be able to create a delicate balance between enticing users to read more content and adding ads for users to click away from your site. With a related content section, you engage users with more content.
Users who like your content are more likely to bookmark your pages and come back to read more. Regular readers improve your site’s popularity, increase revenue, attract more advertisers and share your site with other readers. The increase in popularity also improves your site’s search engine rank from the natural backlinks.
Most ecommerce website owners always fight bounce rate. It’s a frustrating number that means users aren’t engaging your content and reduces your chance for a sale. Use these tips to lower bounce rate on each page and even your website as a whole.