Bounce Rate is generally defined as the percentage of visits that results in just one page view. This is considered to be one of the many indicators that allows you to understand the quality of your website and also your website traffic. Having a higher bounce rate is often considered a negative in most cases.
Also, note that a high bounce rate is not always bad and does not always mean that you have a problem.
If you believe that the bounce rate is high after comparing it with comparable websites and the industry average of the niche, then you need to work towards reducing it. In order to reduce the bounce rate, you need to understand why the bounce rate is high in the first place for your website. There are several common reasons why you have a high bounce rate.
Incorrect tracking code implementation
This is often more prevalent than you might think. Double check and make sure that you have inserted the tracking code correctly. The usual mistakes are:
- Inserting the tracking code twice (or more!). The tracking code maybe in multiple include files, like the header and the footer and other common include files.
- The tracking code is not present in all the webpages. If the tracking code is not in a webpage, then it is not tracked which means your bounce rate could be artificially inflated.
- Wrong account or publisher id when you typed out the code. This will also mean that some or all of your webpages are not getting tracked correctly.
- Just plain spelling mistakes. Make sure to copy and paste the tracking code rather than trying to (re) type the code. This will reduce the typing errors.
Site design and technology used can also play a role in the bounce rate. Some of the major reasons that the bounce rate is high is
- Hard to navigate : The site does not have a traditional website layout with the menu bar on top or the sides and is hard to find the link to other webpages. The links itself might not be obvious or be images which are hard to find unless you happen to hover over them.
- Bad Formatting of content : If your content is not laid out and formatted correctly, it makes it harder to read. There are many webpages where the entire page content is in a big single paragraph.
- Bad Page Layout : A bad web template that make it look like a content farm with no content but just a lot of ads.
- Use of Ajax : While proper use of Ajax technology makes your website prettier and snappier, it also makes the website pages harder to track.
Bad Landing Page
Bad is a relative term, so it is hard to quantify what bad actually looks like. You can consider the page to be “bad” if you have a high bounce rate from that page.
This is especially true if you find that the high bounce rate occurs with paid traffic from search engines. It means that your landing page is not optimized and is not relevant to whatever keywords you are using to market the page. It is attracting the wrong kind of traffic to the page.
Good Landing Page
This is actually the inverse of the previous problem. The webpage is so well optimized that the visitor finds all the relevant information on the landing page that they do not have the need to click on an another link. This could be the case when you have a blog post.
Depending on your website and nature of content, this may or may not be a real problem. You need to understand that a high bounce rate is not always a bad thing.
Does your webpage take a long time to load? If it has a lot of images or if the website is not hosted on a fast enough web server, then that could be the case. Visitors get tired of waiting for the page to load and leave which results in a high bounce rate.
If you do have a blog then the bounce rate is usually much higher than a website. This is true of all blogs (more or less) and not anything specific to yours. A much better comparison would be to compare it with other blogs in the similar niche.
Understanding why, where and who is bouncing the highest is essential before trying to reduce the bounce rate. Segment your traffic into multiple categories like paid traffic, search engine traffic, referral traffic etc to find out who or what traffic has a high bounce rate. Also, identify the webpages in your site which has a high bounce rate and then try to optimize those pages rather than the entire website.