You own a website and you've taken a look at it's latest statistics. One glaring problem is that your bounce rate is very high. Here's some tips on how to improve it.
What is a bounce rate?
Before I continue, lets make sure we are on the same page. A bounce rate is a web traffic metric that measures the percent of users that exit your web page before a specified time.
Putting this in mathematical terms is a lot easier, so lets take an example. Suppose 100 people come to visit a landing page selling dog tags. To measure the bounce rate on this page, you first set a timeout value for say, 5 minutes. Then, measure the number of people that exited the page before five minutes.
The page bounce rate would then be:
page bounce rate = 100% * (#users that left page before time elapsed)/(total #users to page)
A site wide bounce rate would be:
site bounce rate = 100% * (# users that left site before time elapsed)/(total #users to site)
Bounce Time Varies Across Website Types
So now we know what a bounce rate is.
As I mentioned above, there is the element of time involved in the calculation. The time span is dependent upon the type of website you are working with. Now if you are an advertiser, when you approach a website for advertising some will talk about the site's bounce rate. Ask them "in what time frame?" If they set the time frame intentionally low, the bounce rate will be low skewing their results to make it look good.
Lets take an example. Suppose you are an online retail store. You and your marketing staff settle on a time frame that you feel is a reasonable value of time spent shopping. You collected visitor traffic over the years and decided that the typical user spends 12 minutes on your website. So you set the page time frame to be 3 minutes and the website time frame to be 12 minutes. This is the baseline.
Another example. A dictionary website may set their page time frame to 1 minutes and their website time frame to 5 minutes because users will go in, get their information, and then take off quicker. This too is their baseline.
So as you can see, it really depends on the website in general. Bounce rate doesn't mean much when you are comparing it across every website on the Internet.
Tool that measures bounce rate
If you use Google Analytics, it will measure and show you the bounce rate. However, you are not able to specify the length of time which makes it pretty useless if you are creating your own baseline. Also, how they determine the bounce rate on user exit is unknown.
I'm sure all of us can come up with ways that people leave a page:
Going to address bar and specifying a new URL
The session times out
User clicks the back button or some other button on their browser
User clicks on a link to an external site
I would imagine what Google Analytics uses as the time parameter, is the average historical time a user spends on your website. However the value fluctuates over time and your bounce rate is changing too. This is why I would rather have a means to fix the time value for my baseline.
With that said, lets move on to how we can improve our bounce rates.
Ideas On How To Improve Your Bounce Rates
Your bounce rate should fit within your business goals. Lets say you are Walmart and find that people aren't spending much time on the website. You have made an important correlation that the longer a visitor spends on the website, the more they tend to spend. So your goal is to get people to spend more time shopping around.
Create a Related Items section
One way to do this is to create a related items section somewhere on the page. For example, lets say you have a page selling Pamper diapers. You describe the product and list the price.
Instead of hiring testers to sit in front of a computer and watch their behavior, slap on a heatmap. This way, you can actually see what your visitors are doing. There are a number of companies that offer heatmap services:
If you are a website developer and know your way around your website installation, you may want to try Labs Media ClickHeat application. This is an open source software released under GPL license and totally free.
Here's a little piece of code I cooked up that lets you monitor each page on your site. Simply replace 'mysite.com" with your own website and replace it just above the ending body tag.
For Drupal 6 website owners, there is a ClickHeat module that you can use. Download and read the instructions - they are pretty straightforward. You can setup Clickheat to monitor all non-admin pages and then go to the report section to see them. You will be able to use this with multiple Drupal sites too.
It should be noted that if you are going to use ClickHeat that it generates a lot of folders per URL page along with caching data. The configuration is set to clear out every 40 days. That may be too much data so I suggest setting it to 14 days if you have high traffic.
Other ways to improve bounce rate
Get rid of pop ups that annoy your user
Don't blast your users with music or video that plays automatically when they visit the page
Generate quality content that matches the title and keywords
Minimize external links to other websites
Create fast loading pages
Generate content that is more than 4-6 paragraphs.
So there you go. In this article you have learned the following: