The dreaded bounce rate – what is it and how to reduce it

 People arrive at websites in many ways – from search engines, from ads, from links on Social Media sites, from keying in your URL as it’s shown on your business card. The latter will likely take them straight to your Home page. But the other methods mean many people arrive on pages other than your home page. Any page of your site could be their “landing page”.


Every page on your website needs to strive to keep visitors happy so that, once they land, they’ll stick around and take action or explore your site further. Otherwise… well… they BOUNCE.


But don’t stress over bounce rates. Read on to understand more about what causes bounce rate and why it’s not all bad…


Who is this post for? It’s written for anyone who is tracking their own Google Analytics, or has received an automated Google Analytics report, or a report from whoever manages their website. It’s for small business owners who are worried about their Bounce Rate, what causes it, what’s acceptable, and what to do about it.


bouncing ball and wise owl
Are you confused about your website’s “bounce rate”?


So, what IS Bounce Rate and why does it occur?

‘Bounce rate’ is a term used by Google to describe the percentage of visitors who arrive at a website and exit again from the same page, without going to another page within your site. This could occur for many reasons:


  • They used poor search criteria – “Oops, when I said ‘salts’ I didn’t mean cooking salts, I wanted bath salts…”, or
  • It’s not what they were after – “Hey, when I searched on ‘how to make bath salts’ I thought you’d show me how to make drugs, man…”, or
  • Their question was answered from one page visit – “Awesome! I’ve spent 2 minutes here and now I know the ingredients to make relaxing, scented bath salts. Thank you…”, or
  • They like what they see and then call you directly to ask a question on the phone.


Yes, a bounce can occur even when your webpage gave the visitor what they needed.


One of the main aims of website design these days is to make things simpler and faster. The fewer clicks the better. Instead of leading people through to another page for each action, we aim to keep them on a single page. The paradox is, this contributes to higher bounce rates. For example, rather than making everyone click through to a Contact page (which used to be the norm), we now display contact details in the header and footer of every page.


Here’s why you shouldn’t stress too much about Bounce rates

As I always say: “it depends”. Some degree of ‘bounce rate’ is perfectly normal. In fact, 50% bounce rate should not be considered bad. 20% is excellent.


If your site is an ecommerce one and its aim is to sell something, then sure you probably expect people to move through the site and on to the shopping cart. If it’s more of an online magazine or blogging site, sure you’d like people to stay and read more than one article. But if your site’s aim is to get people to sign up to your email list, or call you, perhaps they only need to visit one page.


See this infographic from Quicksprout about realistic bounce rates for your type of webpage.


Don’t forget that the bounce rate metric is a very simple one. It’s also one of the first that Google Analytics serves up in its reporting, and so your eye falls on it and you start fretting about it. But there is a lot of behaviour that isn’t shown by that metric, and you need to drill down further to really understand what’s going on.


  • Which pages are people landing on and bouncing from? It might be a specific “landing page” where you get them to signup on a form, and that’s it.
    Then they bounce.
  • Where are they visiting from? They might be in Sydney and you’re in Perth and they’d rather order fresh flowers from a local supplier. So they bounce.
  • How long are they spending on that page before exiting? Perhaps it’s minutes. They’ve watched your video. Read your stuff. They might even have bookmarked it.
    Then they bounce.
  • If you’ve got a site that sits mostly within one page (eg. a parallax scrolling design) then they can scroll through the whole thing and ring your phone number when they reach the bottom.
    Then they bounce.




What are positive ways to reduce bounce rate?

If you want to reduce your bounce rate, you need to ensure more visitors take an action from the first page they see. That could be:


  • Click to watch a video that opens in another page
  • Click a link to view another page on your site (read more about Links in last month’s blog)
  • Submit a form – to contact you, or to signup to your email list – and then direct them to a thank you page (and beyond)


For the latter, you could offer an I.F.G. – an Irresistible Free Gift. For a list of things that might constitute an IFG, read this article from Flying Solo.


Get them to stick around or sign up and you can spend less time “driving traffic” and more time achieving success with those who’ve already found you. Then you don’t have to worry about bounce rates.


Website negatives that contribute to a high bounce rate

Sometimes, people bounce from your site for reasons that are under your control. Get these fixed and then measure your bounce rate again.


  • Slow speed. If a page takes too long to load, they might bounce rather than wait.
  • Unclear navigation. Confused visitors who don’t know where to go next are more likely to bounce.
  • Misleading titles and descriptions. If your page doesn’t really provide what was promised in the title, they’ll bounce.
  • No clear Call To Action (CTA). People expect to be guided. Tell them what to do next and make it clear with a big button.
  • Doesn’t work on mobile. Bounce rate applies no matter what device your visitors are using. If a site isn’t mobile friendly, they’ll bounce.


So, get to know your site’s bounce rate, but look further to really understand your visitor’s behaviour and what, if anything, needs to be done about it.


Right Hand Design is only a phone call away to help you. But please visit my Contact page first πŸ˜‰



Author: RobynRHD

I'm a small business web design specialist with interests in social media and other online marketing methods. As my blog intro states: "Steering small businesses in the right direction with what I hope is practical, realistic advice and useful tips, amidst the constantly changing noise and hype. I'd like to help you sort out what you really need and how to go about it." I'm a proud Aussie, living in Sydney, and an avid fan of Column 8 in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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