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Why People Bounce Off Your Site (and 5 Ways to Stop Them)

What’s your bounce rate?

This is a number you should know off the top of your head; it’s a fundamental statistic in online marketing efforts. Your bounce rate, for the unaware, is the percentage of your audience that leaves your website without viewing anything beyond the initial landing page. They showed up, got a read on the room, didn’t like the atmosphere, and skedaddled.

In simpler terms, nothing there compelled them to keep digging. You had them on the hook, but they got away with the bait.

There are lots of reasons someone might leave that you have no control over – they clicked the wrong link, they got you confused with someone else, their browser crashed – but while your bounce rate will never be zero, bringing it down needs to be a significant priority. And that means keeping an eye on the main reasons people really do bounce:

  • Relevance – Is your website what they’re looking for?
  • Appearance – Is your website visually appealing?
  • Performance – Does your website load quickly or optimally on their viewing device?
  • Experience – Is your website simple and painless to use?

You need to be able to answer all of those questions with a hearty “yes.” If the answer to any single one of those questions is no, visitors will bounce. Every time. I guarantee it.

And it’s easy to see why; an irrelevant website doesn’t meet their need, an unattractive one makes you look incompetent, one that works badly frustrates the user, and a bad user experience makes it unpleasant to get what they’re after.

It’s just easier to go elsewhere.

Bringing Down the Bounce

Bounce rates tend to be somewhat high as a rule; that’s just the nature of the internet. Billions of people are clicking links and doing their research, so there’s gonna be some false positives just as a matter of the law of averages. But you do want to keep that number low, and filter out the noise;a bounce rate between 26% and 40% is excellent, while anything higher than 55% is cause for serious concern. So if your website is hovering in the fifties or higher, it’s time to start thinking about corrective action – especially if you don’t want that number to start creeping up.

Here are some practical steps you can embark on to get started:

1. Improve Your Loading Speed

One of the biggest reasons people ditch a website after one view is because it’s taking too dang long to load. It’s not 1996, where people would wait an hour for an AOL Keyword Site to come up. There’s way too much content out there for anyone to put up with anything less than snappy load times that feel like you’re changing the channel on TV. You’ve got three seconds from the time they hit enter to the time the page loads before it starts to feel like a slog.

And it’s so easy to just X out of the page.

But these are real potential customers you’re losing. Use a tool like Pingdom to see how you’re performing – and take action if you don’t like the answer.

2. Laser-focus Your Content to Avoid Low-Value Traffic

If you build webpages off of specific search queries or search categories, you can really start to attract valuable, highly-motivated traffic. These specific pages answer a specific question, demonstrating your expertise while simultaneously proving highly relevant to your ideal visitors. And most people, when they find a great answer to their question, will start looking around for more; odds are they have more than just the one question they need answered.

Not only that, these laser-focused pages filter out people with only a passing interest in the question, meaning that your real traffic consists primarily of possible leads.

3. Mobile-Optimize Your Site

This is something you really should already have done – but many websites haven’t even bothered yet. It’s been two years since Google announced that non-mobile optimized websites would be deprioritized from their SERPs. But they still filter through – especially when they really are the best answer to a search query. Unfortunately, viewing a non-mobile optimized website on a phone is a deeply unpleasant experience. So not only will mobile optimization net you more views overall (after all, 50% of all search traffic comes from mobile devices), but it will help you keep more of the visitors you catch.

4. Write for the Reader

Websites aren’t books. Nobody wants to visit a website and be met with a wall of text. The fact is that people don’t have long attention spans online; this is where we go for quick answers to quick questions. You need to keep that in mind and make sure you’re crafting websites designed to keep their attention by presenting the information the way they want to read it: briskly, with visual aids and the important stuff bolded.

Because even once they get to your website, you really only have twenty seconds to convince them you’re worth their time. If they can’t digest your home or landing page in that time – or enough of it to convince them they aren’t wasting their time – you’ll lose them forever.

5. Implement Compelling CTA’s

Lastly, compelling calls-to-action – big, clickable buttons that promise more of what they’re looking for – are the best way to get people to keep digging. Even if you’ve already gotten their interest, you want to make it obvious what their next steps are; they’ll be a lot more likely to take them ithemyou put it in a big red circle that says “CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.”

Because your visitors came to your website for a reason, and instead of relying on them to do the digging, you should paint a clear conversion path that leads them right where you want them: to a point where they’re handing over an email address in exchange for something valuable.

And then you’ve got them for life.

There are more steps you can take, but these are the basics – and they’re the basics for a reason. Put these in practice and you can expect your bounce rate to positively plummet.

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