Nitty Gritty Marketing Help: Understanding Bounce Rates (Part 3)

September 15, 2015

(BLOG POST)


by Terry Doherty —

Nitty Gritty Marketing Help: Understanding Bounce Rates (Part 3)

More often than not, when you read an article about bounce rates, you’ll see things like “how to fix your bounce rate” or “how to reduce your bounce rate.” I’d like to suggest another option: optimize your bounce rate.

There are reasons why a page on your site might have a high bounce rate. Let’s say you have a landing page with all of your school visits and author signings. People looking for your next event would land on that particular page, get what they need, and move on. A high bounce rate would not only be Okay, but expected.

According to a Rocket Fuel (an SEO company) analysis in 2014, most websites will see bounce rates fall somewhere between 26 percent and 70 percent. That’s a nice, broad range, allowing you to analyze the data in relation to your marketing strategy and, as appropriate, adjust your approach and/or set realistic targets.

How do I optimize my bounce rate?

A high bounce rate isn’t the best for every website (or blog), so let’s look at three things to consider that can help you reach your optimal bounce rate goals. Here are two questions to get you started:

What actions do I want a visitor to take? Is it easy for them to see it on their teeny-weeny screen?

It may help to write out the steps you envision a visitor taking. Compare your vision with the reality. Are visitors getting to the pages you *expect” them to use? are those pages achieving their goal (e.g., convert to a purchase)? are they getting a higher-than-you-want bounce rate?

A. Minimize Distractions.

Popups! No matter what their purpose, popups interrupt the user experience. They can be effective, but they could be turning people away.

Turn them off for one month and see if your bounce rate changes. If it doesn’t change appreciably and isn’t worth the loss of site subscribers, turn it back on.

Crowded home pages. Does your homepage scream “information overload”? Sites that are crowded with lots of bells and whistles – music, animated images, self-updating social media feeds and/or Ads (yours or third party) can cause visitors to forget why they came to your site in the first place.

Are there other ways to present that content? Maybe a navigation bar menu for your archives rather than a sidebar. Microsoft’s new Edge Browser actually has a button where you can “turn off” all of those distractions! That means fewer people may be seeing it anyway. If it is important, then you’re going to want to find another way to get people to see it.

B. Make it Simple

This is (partially) an extension of the overloaded home page, but it goes beyond that. Mostly because of mobile technology use.

● According to a 2012 study conducted by Google, 78% of Internet Users access the Web via their “Internet-capable mobile device” [excluding tablets].
● Two years later, a Pew Research Center survey revealed that more than 64% of American adults own a smartphone (October 2014)

Without wading into responsive design, there are still ways to improve a user’s experience with your site.

Navigation. Menu titles should be specific and direct visitors to getting exactly what they’re looking for. For example, “News” may not be as effective as “Author Events.”

If you’re site uses tags or categories, consider using that as one of your navigation items. For example, I have a blog series called Literacy + Life with lots of tips for everyday literacy activities. All of the posts are tagged so they can be found as a collection. And that Link is in my main navigation.

In his article about reducing bounce rate, Nick Eubanks recommends using a tool like Crazy Egg to help prioritize what should be clickable on your homepage. [Article link below.]

Segment your content. Have you noticed in these articles how the paragraphs are short? That is by design. That ensures that no matter what size screen, there will be some “white space” around the information.

That not only makes it easier on the eyes, but it also helps keeps a reader who “scans” moving through the article to find what he/she wants. Bottom line: it can keep them on your site longer.

C. Make it easy to Linger

Internal Search. Help visitors explore your website with a well-placed, highly visible search box. This is an internal search engine that scans your content to give visitors more information.

Search results are a window into the kinds of things visitors are looking for on your site. That can help with keywords (for ads), navigation menus, and prioritizing topics for your editorial calendar, to name a few.

Internal Links. When you link to other pages on your site, be sure that they open in a new tab. When visitors have multiple tabs open (original page + what they clicked) they are more likely to spend more time on your site. One link leads to the next …

Wrapping Up

Bounce rates offer insight into whether or not your site is giving you the return you’re expecting. Whether it is converting visitors to buyers, or raising brand awareness and reinforcing your expertise.

The best way to figure out what works best for your site is to use the existing analytics data to put your existing site through its paces … one change at a time.

These three articles help you focus in on where to start, what to look for, and easy “fixes” for improving your reach. Just as we broke our information into three parts, I’d like to suggest that rather than try to change everything at once [which will leave you overwhelmed] do one thing at a time.

Got a question? Be sure to add it to the comments.

Reading Worth Your Time

Reduce Bounce Rate: 20 Things to Consider by Nick Eubanks
How to Lower Your Bounce Rate by Elisha Hartwig

You can find parts one and two

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