When's the last time you checked your website's bounce rate? If the answer is over a week, you've got a problem. Bounce rate is a hugely important factor to consider when you're evaluating your effectiveness to retain visitors. A bounce is defined by a single page visit followed by an exit. In other words, people are landing on your website and leaving before exploring any other page on your domain. The best way to check bounce rate is by using Google Analytics.
Ways to Improve Bounce Rate
First, ask yourself what are people searching for when they land on your website? Are they looking to buy a new pair of shoes, find an answer to a question, or did they simply land on your site from a shared link?
Once you know the answer to that question, ask yourself "What else would this person find relevant?"
Let's consider the following example:
You know that someone reached your webpage in search of the answer to 'How tall is the empire state building?' It's likely, they might also find an article on 'Tallest Buildings in the World' pretty interesting. You've already got a page with that info on your site but it's not linked anywhere within the page that answers their first question.
Had it been there, they may have clicked on it and began exploring other info on your domain: thereby, eliminating this visitors contribution to your bounce rate.
You Never Want to Create Dead-End Pages
Your website might be cram-packed with valuable info but if it's all presented to new visitors in a way that doesn't show them what else your site has to offer, they'll have no reason to stick around. Get by this issue by creating internal links to other relevant sections of your site. Not only does this help reduce bounce rate, it's also important from an SEO standpoint.
Anticipate Your Visitors Next Move
As in the example above, you always want to be thinking about what your visitors next thought is going to be after you've solved their first reason to visit your website.
Link to other similar and valuable content within your website. Start looking for pages with the lowest bounce rate and connect those pages within the content of your high bounce rate page.
While footers, sidebars, and top navigation menus are great for someone who's already familiar with your site, they're not going to be as effective as a link contained within the text that's answering your visitors first question. You know they're already reading the message your webpage is delivering so put that bounce-deterring-link right in front of their eyes.
With ecommerce stores, include links and images to closely related product pages for every item. Your visitor is looking at some new sneakers? Guide them to more sneakers.
The next move of your sites visitor is going to be hugely dependent on the purpose of your website. I can't tell you what every person in the world is going to do next, that's your job. You know your audience better than anyone else out there (at least you should).
There's No Such Thing As Too Much Hand-Holding Online
The one thing a ton of people get wrong when it comes to building websites is the assumption that a majority of your visitors are web-savvy geniuses. What you might take for granted as being obvious, probably isn't for a majority of users out there.
One of the biggest problems I've run into when designing webpages is getting visitors to scroll down the page.
9 times out of 10, people want to see exactly what they're looking for at the very top of the page. Not there? They'll leave. If all of your relevant info is below the fold, consider it invisible (unless you're writing a long article that requires scrolling to continue reading).
Draw people down to relevant internal links with arrows, text that overlaps multiple rows or view sections, and half revealed images. Remember, a new visitor knows absolutely nothing about your website layout when they arrive for the first time. Take their hand and lead the way.
Examples of Good Websites
- Forbes User Experience Article: Tons of linking to similar content, Automatically reveals another similar article once you reach the bottom of the post, presents related content.
- Amazon: Always shows related products based on past purchases, similar user searches, etc. You'll never reach a product page here that isn't anticipating your next search.
- Mashable on Bounce Rate: They've been making a lot changes recently with the way they present related articles. Interesting site to keep on eye on.
PS: That terrible infographic for site performance represents the beginnings of my blog. Thanks for helping me improve those stats!
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