SEO

9 Reasons Your Website Can Have a High Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate is one of the SEO key success factors that are always under the close radar for web analytics professionals and there are enough reasons for webmasters and Internet marketing professionals to be concerned about high bounce rates. With the increasing awareness about web analytics and businesses taking their web presence more seriously people are now interested to look into more than just the unique visitors and page views and I can vouch for the fact that this would contribute highly towards the overall improvement in the quality of WWW.

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce Rate can be simply defined as the percentage of website visitors that leave the website directly from the page they enter without clicking through to any other page of the website.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that can be identified as possible causes of high bounce rate:

Internal Factors Affecting Bounce Rate

  1. Web Design and Usability:  Presentation is important. If your web design is cluttered, have some colors that really hurt the eyes, full of jumping flash animations or has some other design flaw that makes your visitors feel uncomfortable you can be sure that the page would experience a high bounce rate. On similar note if your users need to spend time trying to understand your website or comprehend the features you provide, even if your content is the best in the world your bounce rate would tend to be on the higher side. Here are some site usability checking tools.Provide easy to use interface with a nice design and good content your visitors will stick.
  2. Website Content: Make sure your content adds some value to your visitors and also the content and information flow is good enough to carry your visitors from one page to the other. You might have good content but if there is no spontaneity in writing and if the information flow is not proper, after reading the first page your user would think “what next?” This is the point they bounce off your site. Ensure that your content is written well and give prominent clues to your visitors as to what is the next step .Your website is like your home, if you want your guest to see the entire house you need to take them around, when your visitors come to the door and you don’t invite them in they are likely to leave from the door itself. So use your content wisely to invite them in and keep them entertained.
  3. Website Navigation: Somewhat similar to the point we discussed above. Navigational issues are one of the key factors that contribute to the bounce rate. If you want your visitors to move around your website provide them with a clear intuitive navigation structure. Don’t leave anything to their guess work.
  4. Technical Issues: There can be a wide range of factors under this. Think if you land up on a page part of which shows some PHP code instead of the data that it was supposed to pull from the database. Aren’t you likely to feel bad about it? If you have got a fancy ActiveX component on your webpage that requires your viewers to download some other file to get it to render properly, how many of them do you think would do that? Most of these visitors would add to your Bounce rate figure.

Marketing Factors Affecting Bounce Rate

  1. Wrong Keyword Selection: Search marketing is one of the key avenues through which any website gets a large chunk of their traffic and the entire search marketing game is based on keywords. What happens if you chose the wrong keywords?Well if you choose the wrong keywords and start optimizing your website for the non relevant keywords (which is tad difficult with modern day search engines) or show up on search ads for non relevant keywords ( which is very much possible) all you get are some non targeted visitors who are looking for something different from what your website has to offer. Result: High Bounce Rate.
  2. Ad Copy:  Ad copies represent your website in the paid search results. If this representation is not aligned to what your website has to offer it is definitely going to boost up your bounce rate. At times novice search marketers would create alluring ad copies to boost CTR and increase the number of visitors but if the communication in your ad copies is not in line with the content on your page you can’t retain them.
  3. Page Title and Meta Description: You can say this is the organic counterpart of Ad Copies. Search Engines typically display the Page Title and Meta description in the organic search result snippets. If the message in page Title and Meta description is not in line with the content of the page, high bounce rate is a big possibility.

External Factors contributing to High Bounce Rate

  1. Occasional Irrelevant Results from Search Engines -  Well, irrespective of all the advancement that the search engines have done at times they still throw in a few irrelevant results and if your site is one of those  results you will definitely get a  few extra visitors but they will definitely be bouncing off.There is not much that you can do about this. You can still find out those unrelated keywords that are driving traffic and investigate the reason on how search engines are relating to your site for those terms and then try to eradicate the cause.
  2. Improper External Link: A very rare situation, but might happen. If an external site links to your site using an anchor text that’s not related to your website, this link would drive traffic that come to your website with some expectations but would find different content – Result: bounce off. Here are some tools to explore and validate outbound links

Author Bio: Saptarshi Roy Chaudhury is a SEO Consultant from India. He has 7 years of experience in the Internet marketing industry and works as a SEO consultant for various US and UK based clients. Check his Internet Marketing blog for other interesting posts.

 9 Reasons Your Website Can Have a High Bounce Rate
Saptarshi Roy Chaudhury works as the VP Marketing for PurpleTalk Inc. the mobile product development company. He also works as a SEO consultant for various clients in UK and the USA. Check his Internet Marketing blog for other interesting posts.

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45 thoughts on “9 Reasons Your Website Can Have a High Bounce Rate

  1. Nice Article.

    I hope, Bounce rate takes major role in getting good search engine rankings. It’s always good to have less bounce rate.

    Thanks
    Sankar

  2. Related to a few of these (irrelevent results and choice of keywords, for example) is when someone lands on your website and realizes that, although your product or service is similar to what they want, you cover a narrow niche that doesn’t quite fit.

  3. So, what if I am looking to raise awareness for mt product/service, have my entire experience on one page (videos etc) and don’t want people to navigate away? I’ll have a high bounce rate which is exactly what I want. Bounce rate metrics should not be analyzed without the context of the strategy / goals / objectives I’m trying to achieve.

  4. Great article, full of common sense.

    However, there is an area that you have not touched upon which is in fact, quite important and a key bit of missing information. Get this;

    High Bounce Rate does not always = Bad.

    Why? There are keywords, call to actions, industries and markets where the first page you come to from a search engine is good enough without going any further. Thus, that can put the bounce rate up.

    SEOBlackhat.com ( this article; http://seoblackhat.com/2008/11/27/not-a-bounce-but-a-scasi/ ) explains something Quadszilla calls ‘SCASI’ – Search Click After Site Inspection. In other words, taking bounce rates one step further as it isn’t just analysing the bounce, but the search engines then taking in to account what is happen next on the users journey.

    So, SCASI comes in to play (SEO negative factor) if for example a bounce occurs and THEN the same search or back button is used to repeat search but go to a different website. This is a good clue for the search engines to understand that not only was it a bounce, but it was a negative bounce which required the user to carry on searching.

    So please, let’s not all think doom and gloom and the end of the world is neigh due to high bounce rates. There is also this factor to also consider. How to measure? You can’t, but you should ask yourself, “Was this page good enough to answer the question, thus not go any further, or am I missing something else?”

    KAPOW

  5. David, I would think you are partially correct. If you have just a ONE page website with then you are bound to have a 100% bounce rate and there is no way you can avoid it – so in that case there is no reason why you should look at the bounce rate figures.

    However, if you are creating a website for increasing awareness about your product ( but not a 1 page site) then there must be some objective that you would like to attain by increasing the awareness – get him to contact you or order your product or subscribe for updates – in that case those actions would need to be tracked and in most cases it would take the visitor to another page. This is where you need to check if the visitor’s are bouncing off your landing page or are they completing the desired action.

  6. Definitely a good addition John.
    I think that was more about the effects of bounce rate and what a high bounce rate could mean. It has long been discussed that search engines ( especially Google ) consider the bounce rate as a negative factor in their algo, however, I don’t think there is much that they could do to differentiate between a bounce due to lack of information against a bounce caused because of complete satisfaction of users information need. So in all likeliness they would probably consider all bounces as negative.

  7. Lets just ignore things like traffic source, type of website, first time visitors.

    Also not sure how actions taken with a toolbar are counted, and actions on an iframe.

  8. Lets not forget social friends, you know the ones from twitter, facebook, etc. They see a link and a goodie headline, so they quickly click the link to see what’s up.

    After reading the article, they usually get back to twitter as they assume they might be missing other important stuff from their friends.

    If you depend on social sites to get traffic, you are likely to get a high bounce rate.

  9. Strong keywords usage and placement are important SEO & SEM marketing factors.

    Lets assume that a particular website has a great design and the usability attributes are seamless. The website content is fresh and nicely presented which flows with logically placed navigation functions. If, like previously mentioned, the wrong target keywords are chosen and not tactically placed in the right position for the website title and description, then competitors will have the upper hand. Keywords should be prominently placed in titles and descriptions in a logical order reflecting the expected favored keyword inquires. Also the other factor to consider is the meta tag information. Meta keyword usage should reflect the niche market which the website webmaster is trying to attract and not general terms. Lastly, the actual domain name itself plays a major role in how a domain will position on search engines in regards to it’s relationship to the target searched keywords.

    This article is a required read !

  10. As stated earlier, Bounce Rate isn’t always bad. Some sites simply list links to other sites.

    For instance, there are a ton of design-related sites that are filled with posts that simply link to another site page containing freely available design resources.

    I agree that you want to keep your bounce-rate down as low as possible, but in many cases, it’s unavoidable and actually intended to be high.

  11. Great article! There have been so many times that I’ve seen a site owner in need of SEO help, when all along the site owner was choosing these near unattainable one-word keywords to optimize for (unless you have a domain from 1996 and tens of thousands of awesome links). It’s good to finally see the marriage of SEO and usability – your site is only as good as your SEO strategy, and your SEO is only as good as your site’s usability.

  12. Website bounce rate is a good way to know if important landing page needs improvement. But at the end of the day, its the web traffic issue that is more important.

    Link building should still be the focus.

  13. Reading the title only I thought this post answered why it is not always bad to have a high bounce rate.

    As John Scott Cothill commented above, the bounce rate itself does not tell you that much.

    It is more important to look at the intent of the user getting to a page and how that page answers to that intent.

    Of course that is hard to measure, but please don’t make the mistake always judging high bounce rate as bad.

    And as CJ notes, I doubt too that bounce rate is a search engine ranking factor.

  14. Good post! I think Bounce Rate will become (if isn’t already) one of the most important SEO ranking factors (at least for Google).

  15. Thanks for the link to the 3 usability tools – 5 second click is great!

    Regarding this post, you can also influence bounce rate by ensuring that any images/creative in banners match the message of a landing page.

  16. Thanks for the tips and references. I’ve got a site where some of the visitors are asked to and do take action (pick up the phone and call) from the page they land on; others will linger and search more of the site. Your info will help with both types of visitors.

  17. I have used some of the ideas in your blogpost to minimize the bounce rate, and it is working. I have forund similar information on other sites, but I don’t think I have seen a comprehensive list like this one before.

    What it all comes down to however, is what does the searcher look for – and can it be found on your site. So the best way to ensure a low bounce rate is to provide what you promise with keywords, descriptions and content.

  18. I have to agree on the “not always bad” side.

    Two examples:

    RSS readers visiting a page to read and perhaps reply to comments. First, they are RSS readers: they may not physically visit AN Y other page. Second, if they are regular readers, they have already read other pages some other day.

    Search visitors who found exactly what they wanted. For example, I have a high volume page on “Lost Linux Root Password”. If you have lost your root (admin) password and you find that page, what do you do next: read more articles or go fix your password problem? Obviously the latter.

    When I see high bounce rates, the page is often one that answers a very specific question or problem. I don’t fret about those at all.

    To answer the person who asked about average rates, I have no idea. Analytics shows me ~6,000 pages with a 60% or less bounce rate and ~12,000 above that. Average is 89% and that doesn’t upset me.

  19. RSS readers visiting a page to read and perhaps reply to comments. First, they are RSS readers: they may not physically visit AN Y other page. Second, if they are regular readers, they have already read other pages some other day.

    Search visitors who found exactly what they wanted. For example, I have a high volume page on “Lost Linux Root Password”. If you have lost your root (admin) password and you find that page, what do you do next: read more articles or go fix your password problem? Obviously the latter.

  20. Some abusive comments. I think most of them forgot that they were just 9 tips. Anyhow, advice about the title was great. A good title can be the deciding factor in getting a comment aka second page view.

  21. Yes this is a serious problem. I am also facing this. I have to make more studies in this matter. Anyway thank you for the guidance and can you make advice about how to improve this factor

  22. thanx for the post…i have a question and i hope that i can find the answer here….

    is the Click on an Affiliate Link or Adsense Link considered as a Bounce? if yes, then it’s cool because many bloggers their goal is to make money and usually the money comes through Clicks (Cost Per Click and Cost Per Sale)!! may you guys explain plz?

  23. Hi Saptarshi,

    While I do not disagree with the reasons mentioned in your post, I think you have made it look like all bounce is bad. Let’s take an example of a site like ‘whatismyipaddress.com’. A lot of people land up on this site from Google and what do they do? They check their IP and close. There’s nothing wrong with the website or the keywords, or presenation. The visitor quit simply because he/she got what they were looking for. That actually says about how good the content presentation on the site is.

    In a lot of cases as this, a bounce happened simply because the content was laid out so well that a user who came looking for something specific got it immediately and then had no job staying back. That does not automatically mean the site content is bad. It’s the way the market we operate in works. What we can then do is ensure we get to know these visitors better before they leave.

    Our company runs a small service that specifically targets users clicking away from the site. It lets users either show an ad to these quitting visitors ( if you are losing them anyway, at least you can make some money before they leave), or display a newsletter signup form so that you can capture their lead before quitting. This way, websites whose nature of content is such that bounces are inevitable, can make use of tools to help know their visitors better.

  24. A Bounce-Rate of 35% would be a dream. I’m currently at about 55% so there’s still a lot of work to be done for me. Sight.

  25. I am at a 65% bounce rate. I look at my site as easy to understand, informative and to the point. I’m definitely not an SEO expert, so it’s a bit difficult for me to navigate through all of this. When I look at my analytics I see that a lot of people are coming to my site from keywords that have nothing to do with what I am trying to accomplish. I am in the concrete resurfacing business and I sell my services. The highest search term that has been bringing people to my site is “grey background.” Is there something I can do about this? I have an seo company working for me but they seem to be doing a poor job.

  26. Interesting read. Another key reason is single page websites – visitors don’t have the option of going anywhere but to leave the site.