Your bounce rate tells you what proportion of your traffic lands on your site and then immediately leaves. This is a bounce and it basically means that although you have a visit, you aren’t engaging with that visitor and they aren’t stopping to read what you’ve created. This is a good example of why visits don’t tell the whole story. If you have 1,000 daily visits with a 99% bounce rate, then that means that only 10 people are actually sticking around to read your site!
But bear in mind that a bounce rate still doesn’t tell the whole story. That’s because a bounce rate isn’t based on the amount of time they spend on your site but rather their interaction. So someone might bounce from your site after spending a while there – and this simply means that they didn’t click to read any of your other pages.
So even if you have a bounce rate at about 60%, that doesn’t necessarily mean that visitors aren’t reading your site – they may be reading the page but simply not feeling the need to read further. If your ‘site’ is a one page sales script, then this won’t necessarily be a bad thing!
A good bounce rate is generally thought to be anything from 26%-60% and you can consider anything under 30% to be very much in the ‘outstanding’ category. Being around 40% is very average and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. If you’re about 55%, then you’re getting into the higher portion but again, this is only a cause for concern depending on the type of site that you are running.
Finally, if you have a bounce rate over 70%, then that is considered poor/disappointing regardless of the nature of your website or blog. As a general rule, your bounce rate is arguably more important than your visits because it tells you about engagement and what percentage of your traffic is likely to come back, is likely to buy from you and is likely to become a ‘fan’.
A similar metric to this is your ‘average time on site’. This is similar to a bounce rate but can potentially be even more brutal, as it tells you how many of your visitors visited your site, spent a few seconds on your page and then left immediately! The average time on site metric is a very useful one for illustrating engagement too but as with bounce rates, it’s important not to get too worried if your metric doesn’t look good.
The thing to remember is that 55% of visitors will spend fewer than 15 seconds on your website regardless of the content.You could write an entire article about why this is. Suffice to say that as a species, we humans are becoming more impulsive and more impatient. We always feel busy, we always feel rushed for time and we rarely feel that we have the time to stop and smell the roses – let alone stop and read a website that we find generally interesting!
How to Shrink Your Bounce Rates
The question you really need to be asking yourself, is how you can get your bounce rates lower and your time on site higher. There are many different factors that play a role here. One such factor is the design of your website and as in real life, first-impressions are incredibly important here! If someone visits your website and they feel that it isn’t particularly attractive or well designed, then this might be enough to cause them to immediately turn and leave!
The colors you use can have a big influence here and it’s worth looking into things like color psychology. For instance, did you know that the color red tends to make people leave faster? Blue and other ‘cool colors’ meanwhile have a calming effect and lead to visitors spending longer on a page as a result. Another very important thing to look at with regards to your bounce rates is your page load times.
Countless studies and reports confirm that this is a huge influencing factor that can be devastating for your site’s performance. If your visitors have to wait even a few seconds for your page to load, they will very often get bored and turn away. Make sure that you use as many speed optimization tricks as you possibly can to help your site appear as soon as the visitor has typed the address into their URL bar and hit ‘enter’.
Reduce the number of large images, use AJAX scripts to change the order of loading elements and make sure that you’re on a good hosting package. Always avoid large blocks of text too. Remember what we just said: people are always in a hurry. They don’t have time to wait for your site to load but they also don’t have time to read through massive swathes of information.
You can combat this issue by breaking up your text into smaller, more spread-out paragraphs and by using lots of headings. Ideally, your headings should contain a lot of the information in your site so that someone would be able to skim through your site only reading the headings and still get a complete picture of what it is you want to say.
From there, the key is then to keep checking back to see how your changes are actually affecting your website. This is the entire point of using metrics in the first place – as now by checking back you’ll able to see which of your changes has helped and which has made no difference. Do more of the former and less of the latter!
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