Reduce bounce rate

Bounce rate is a widely misunderstood metric. Is it bad? Is it good? That depends a lot on what you’re trying to achieve with a particular page.

What a bounce rate is

Here’s Google’s definition of Bounce Rate:

Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

What a bounce rate isn’t

Bounce rate isn’t definitive, and it doesn’t give you good information without context. For example:

  • A landing page contains an autoplay video or a live chat window which triggers a pageview. Almost every visitor will register as two page views, decreasing the page’s bounce rate to near zero - regardless of whether the visitor leaves soon after loading the page.
  • A visitor looks for opening times, phone number, or an address. They find the information on the first page they look at, so they take what they need and leave. This page might register a high bounce rate, despite most visitors getting exactly what they wanted from it.
  • Pages like shopping carts will only rarely be entry points for your website. Their bounce rate is irrelevant.

Steps

Record all of the content on your site and its bounce rate, and look at pages with high bounce rates to figure out whether they need to be fixed.

Audit your website pages, analyze pages that you want to fix, and record what needs to be done for each.

For each page on your website, identify and analyze common keywords that lead people to the page.

Work out what information people are actually looking for, categorize keywords, and map each one to a funnel stage. Answer each query explicitly with a piece of content, add SEO, and include related information.

Look for channels or devices that are generating more than their fair share of high bounce rates.

Sometimes a high bounce rate doesn’t have much to do with specific pages, but a mismatch between a channel and the page, or a site-wide problem like loading speed or mobile responsiveness.

Look for pages with bounce rates below 20% and investigate whether you have an analytics reporting issue.

Look for interactive analytics events or duplicate analytics code snippets that might be causing the low bounce rate on those pages.

Develop hypotheses about landing pages with high bounce rates and test them.

Brainstorm experiment ideas, implement and launch them as split tests, document the results and your learnings.

In your advertising platform, look for landing pages with low quality scores and optimize them to improve the transition from ad to website.

Look for keywords with a landing page experience of Below Average, include the keyword in the headline and URL, and check the page’s content against the search intent.

Run session recordings and quality assurance tests on landing pages to check for UX issues.

Start with a session recorder like Hotjar or Microsoft Clarity. The combination of heatmaps and sessions normally helps work out the problem.

If not, run usability testing to look deeper into the issues.

Ask team members to run visual checks, send test data through forms, check the confirmation page, use a testing tool, and review the page’s social graph.

Run a more general audit on your site’s content to look for outdated, incomplete, incorrect, or badly written pages.

Record all pages on your site and metrics like bounce rate. Look for poorly-performing pages, analyze and record the issues with them, and then prioritize your problems list.

To diagnose where things are going wrong on a page with a high bounce rate, you will need a tool to work out what is happening. One approach is to use usability testing, but this can prove time-consuming and, in some cases, unnecessary. An easier starting point is to use a session recorder like Hotjar (or, if you have no budget Microsoft Clarity). The combination of heatmaps and sessions normally helps work out the problem. If not, then you can turn to usability testing.

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Hi @boagworld – thanks for the feedback. I’ve incorporated it into the playbook.

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