Website Bounce Rate Explained

You may be familiar with the term, ‘bounce rate’, but if you’re unsure of the website bounce rate meaning, let’s break it down.

Visualise someone visiting your site and end up bouncing away from your webpage (via the X in the corner or the ‘back’ button) because it wasn’t what they wanted. Website bounce rate is described by Yoast as:

“A metric that measures the percentage of people who land on your website and do completely nothing on the page they entered… A user bounces when there has been no engagement with the landing page and the visit ends with a single-page visit.”

If your bounce rate is high, users are landing on a page from your site and deciding to exit or return to the search engine results without exploring your site further. Several factors can turn users off, and high bounce rates can lead to a drop in your web traffic and conversions.

So, how is this metric valuable, and where can you find it? 

The bounce rate of your site reflects the quality and relevance of your website, which is a useful diagnostic tool if you wish to increase website traffic and conversions. Maybe you’ve noticed a drop in site traffic or sales. By analysing your bounce rate, you can gather enough information to know if this is due to a problem on a particular page, causing users to leave your site without exploring it first. By identifying the page users are leaving quickly, you can audit it and make necessary improvements to retain site visitors and increase the chances of conversions. 

Your website bounce rate can be found in your Google Analytics dashboard and can be set to display bounce rates for particular pages in a particular time-frame for ease of use.

website bounce rate

Image sourced from Neil Patel.

This handy info from Search Engine Journal helps you gauge the meaning of your bounce rate:

  • 25% or lower: something may be broken
  • 36-40%: excellent
  • 41-55%: average
  • 56-70%: higher than usual but might make sense for your website
  • 70% or higher: bad and something is probably broken

So, what causes users to leave sites quickly and how can you go about reducing the bounce rate? There are several reasons your site might be putting users off, and they usually fall into two categories – the visual design of the page and the content on it. Here are eight ways your web design and content can affect bounce rate, split into the two respective areas.

Reducing Bounce Rate through Web Design

Four elements of web design that affect website bounce rates:

1. Design and visibility 

Never underestimate the impact of web design when it comes to user retention. The visual elements of your site speak volumes. Of course, there are many facets to web design and users form an opinion of your website in just 0.05 seconds, based on the initial appearance, according to this article. To drive our point home, here are a couple more stats from Kinesis to throw your way:

  • 75% of consumers judge a business’s credibility on its web design
  • 94% of first impressions of websites are based on web design

So, even if your site is full of useful material, if it’s not presented in a visually appealing way, few will stay long enough to read it. Think of web design as the façade to your shopfront and the internal layout of your shop. If it’s neglected, why would anyone come in, least of all stay long enough to take an interest in what you offer?

According to Social Media Today, 94% of people say bad design is the main reason they don’t trust certain websites, so you can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to web design. The best course of action is to speak with a reputable web designer for help, but here are some basics to bear in mind:

  • Good contrast between the background and text colours make your site much easier on the eye.
  • Cluttered sites are difficult to digest – keep it minimal and attractive. Ads are off-putting so keep these at bay or strategically placed, so they’re not overbearing.
  • Be intentional with the placement of design elements to guide your users through the page in the right direction. Try to create a visual journey from left to right as this is the natural direction the eye follows.

Another point to consider is the mobile responsiveness. In 2019, 57% of website traffic came from mobile browsers. This means if your site isn’t mobile responsive, your bounce rate will reflect this. Few users will stick around on your site if they can’t view it properly on their phone screen! 

reducing bounce rate

2. Usability and Errors

If links on your pages don’t work or your site is generally difficult to use, users will give up pretty quickly. There are so many websites to choose from, so why should someone spend unnecessary time trying to use your site when there’s a more accessible option elsewhere?  

Take an objective look at the page with the highest bounce rate. Is it unintuitive to use? Are there broken links? If so, this could be the reason users are leaving pronto. Thankfully, this is fixable through redirects and other ways to improve your site usability. We’ll explore two common usability issues in the next two points.

3. Navigation

Website navigation refers to the menu bar or burger menu that allow users to navigate to a different page on your site. If you have a high bounce rate, meaning users are sticking to one page only, it could well be due to an issue with your navigation, discouraging them from moving around your site. It’s up to you to tell users where to go next and make it easy for them with clear and streamlined navigation. 

Some ways to achieve simple navigation include avoiding too many dropdowns and add internal links on your page to guide your user to the next step. Display five to seven options on your navigation bar for optimal usability as eight or more limits readability and usability.

4. Page Load Time

Page loading time matters. Don’t believe us? Research shows that slow-loading sites cost retailers an eye-watering £1.73bn in lost sales every year, according to eConsultancy. Ouch. Users set the bar high, with 47% expecting a maximum load time of 2 seconds, according to Curatti. So, time is of the essence when it comes to your page loading time. 

If you notice high bounce rates on a specific page, check the page loading speed. It could be that users are put off by waiting around for elements of the page to load and are aborting before the page fully loads. Our blog post on four ways to improve page speed and why it matters covers this topic in greater depth. 

decrease bounce rate

Decrease Bounce Rate through Content

Four elements of web content that affect website bounce rates:

5. Use of Calls-to-Action

A call-to-action (CTA) is as simple and effective as it sounds – it asks your site user to do something and makes it easy for them to do it by providing a clickable button or icon. According to Curatti 70% of small business websites aren’t using a CTA on their homepage, meaning they’re losing out on inviting users to the next stage in the funnel. If your bounce rate is high, it’s time to check your use of CTAs. 

Beautiful design and quality content only go so far if you’re not clearly inviting site visitors to take the next step in their journey with you. CTA examples include buttons or links that allow users to:

  • Subscribe to your email list
  • Sign up for a free trial of your service
  • Contact you to start a conversation about your service (this is a big one, as 44% of site users will leave a website if there’s no contact info, according to this report)
  • View your products
  • Read your reviews or case studies.

6. Readability

Readability isn’t just about the quality of the writing (we’ll come onto that). Legibility is also largely down to the structure of the writing, including the use of headings and placement of content sections. These are some useful questions to ask when looking at your page:

Does the flow of these sections make sense? 

Are relevant images strategically placed to help users digest the content on the page?

Clear headings state what the reader can expect to find on the page when skim reading. Placing an H1 above the fold of the page can help give the user a quick idea of what this page will offer them. 

The size of the font impacts readability with the optimal font size being 14px – although this depends on the font style. To avoid content appearing crammed together, space each line, so the line height is around 24px for easy readability. Breaking text up with engaging images (although too many can look cluttered) and bullet points are further ways to vary the content and keep the reader interested. 

7. Quality of Content

Once you’ve established good readability, it’s also crucial for your content to be of a high standard. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are a sure-fire way to turn off potential customers. It not only looks sloppy but also lowers the visitor’s trust in you as a reputable company. You want to be seen as the experts you are so your page content must reflect your authority in your sector through well-crafted copy.

A study of over 1000 UK consumers showed that 59% wouldn’t use a company with poor grammar on their site. If the bounce rate of a page is high, it’s worth asking a copywriter to read over it and identify and correct any errors. To help you get started, have a look at our blog post on four easy-to-fix copywriting mistakes.

8. Relevance and Targeting of Copy

Another way your content can impact user retention and bounce-rate is through its relevance. If you’re unclear about who you’re writing for, the wrong people will land on your site and quickly leave because it’s not what they were looking for.

By being clear about who your ideal client is, you become more aware of the search terms to target and how to write to appeal to these people. This way, the right people land on your site and don’t leave so quickly because you’re providing an answer or solution to a question or problem they have. We can help you with this in our blog post on creating a buyer persona.

The most impactful way to ensure your pages are landing in front of the right people on the search engine results pages (SERPs) is by crafting and implementing a solid SEO strategy. Good SEO is the key to helping you be seen and get found online by the people who matter to your business. For more help with writing quality content and ensuring your site is SEO friendly, contact us to discuss how we can assist you.

Now you have a deeper understanding of website bounce rate meaning, we hope you have found these methods useful and can find creative ways to apply them to help decrease bounce rate and make your website even more relevant.