6 Tips to Reduce Bounce Rates in Google AdWords Display Campaign

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Mark Runyon
Mark Runyon
6 Tips to Reduce Bounce Rates in Google AdWords Display Campaign

Bounce rate refers to the number of people who land on your website, take a quick look around, and subsequently leave. They never move to a second page.

Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One page website design is all the rage right now, so there isn’t always a second page to move to. Perhaps you just did such a bang up job of answering the user’s question, there was no need for them to continue searching on your website.

Bounce rates vary widely based on the industry and the purpose of the page. According to Kissmetrics, a retail website driving highly targeted web traffic may see a 20-40% bounce rate while a landing page with a single call to action could see that number climb to 70-90%.

More often than not, a high bounce rate isn’t a positive thing. It is a quality metric that many think has a place in Google’s ranking algorithm. If your website is consistently running in the 70 to 90% range, it’s probably time to take a long, hard look at your website. An abnormally large bounce rate is concerning when it comes to your natural search traffic, but it is down right criminal when it comes to your paid advertising. If you are forking over $5 to $10 per click on a competitive ad term, don’t you want to make sure that customer hears your message?

Here are a few tips on how to slice your bounce rate in your Google AdWords campaigns.

Quality of Your Landing Page

Probably the most important place to start is your landing page. You have about 10 seconds to convey your value before the user moves on. Is your landing page making the sale or giving your customers the brush off? Ask yourself these important questions when evaluating the user experience.

How Long Does it Take the Page to Load?

Take a look at some of these eye-popping numbers when it comes to pagespeed. 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. An e-commerce site making $1000 per day could potentially lose $25000 in sales per year on a one second page delay. I don’t need to tell you that pagespeed is crucial element to the success of your AdWords campaign.

Is Your Page Optimized for Mobile Devices?

Internet browsing is increasingly moving to mobile devices. Unless your website was developed in the past couple years, you probably aren’t taking advantage of responsive design. Responsive design automatically adapts your websites’s content for whatever screen size it is being viewed on. Only 11% of websites are utilizing responsive design.

Users increasingly expect to find what they are looking for when they hit your website. They aren’t going to expand the page, center your content in their viewing screen, and struggle to scroll for each page. They are simply going to move on to your competitor.

Call to Action

What is your end goal for this visitor? Do you want them to buy a product? Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? What will make this a successful transaction?

Whatever that end goal is, you should design your page to funnel users into that course of action. If there is a form, make it a bold element of the overall page design. If you want them to explore a product further, make it painfully clear what step you want them to take next. You should never leave the visitor guessing or having to track down a contact form to do business with you.

Negative Keywords

If you are anything like me, you spend a lot of time combing through Google’s Keyword Planner trying to zero in on the most effective terms to target for your PPC campaign. How much time are you spending on your negative keywords?


Long ago when the only AdWords client campaign I managed was my own, I spent untold amounts on bum keywords. When you define your keywords as a broad or phrase match, you have the ability to open your ad up to a whole spectrum of search results that align with your target keywords. Unfortunately, it also introduces a lot of noise.

For example, I was helping an ad agency fine tune their AdWords last week, and discovered their ads were being served up on a lot of terms that had nothing to do with their business:

  • Travel agency in new jersey
  • Headhunters nyc marketing
  • Real estate agency in new jersey

The keywords ‘agency’ and ‘marketing’ were pulling in completely unrelated terms like ‘travel agency,’ ‘headhunters’ and ‘real estate.’ If the agency had defined these as negative keywords, they wouldn’t have lost ad dollars on people in search for something completely outside of their business.

You add negative keywords just like you do regular keywords. The easiest way to find these is by running a search terms report over the last 30 days to see what keywords your ads have been served up under. For an in-depth look at adding negative keywords to your campaign, check out this document Google prepared on the topic.

Set Expectations with Your Ad Text and Promotional Graphics

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has clicked on an ad only to be left with a sour taste in my mouth. Your AdWords text and promotional banners should grab the user’s attention, but they should also set their expectations. Internet searchers are going to Google looking for an answer to a specific question, such as, where should I have pizza tonight, or who is a reputable plumber in my area?

There is a distinct need they are looking to fill, and by clicking on your ad they are saying, “I think you can meet my need.” If you pull the old bait and switch routine, you have not only annoyed your visitor but you have also wasted your ad dollars on unqualified traffic. Craft these two pieces of content in tandem so you never have this separation between ad and marketing copy.

Explore Targeted Placements and Remarketing

There is a lot to be said for taking the traditional approach to AdWords. If you heavily split test your ad text and banner graphics, you can really bring down your cost per click over time and craft highly effective ads that convert. Targeted placements and remarketing aren’t as front and center in the minds of many AdWords users, but they can be just as effective.

Targeted placements are just what they sound like. You are telling Google you want to advertise on a specific website. There are no guarantees that the website will be a part of the Google ad network, but Google will suggest a host of related websites that you might be interested in. Through careful curation, you can identify highly targeted channels to serve up your message.

Remarketing is a great avenue to thwart bounce rates. By placing a cookie on the user’s browser when they visit your website, Google AdWords can serve up ads to your website wherever that customer goes throughout the web. With remarketing, you can even cookie a specific page on your website and serve up custom ads just to those visitors.

Common marketing lore says it takes seven touches before a prospect becomes a client. Remarketing rescues your orphan clients, getting them back to your website, allowing you to further solidify your message, and hopefully make the sale.

Dig into Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a really invaluable piece of software allowing anyone to determine the health of their website and define where their traffic is coming from. This is no different with traffic from AdWords. By linking your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts, you open up an ocean of data that can help you trim your bounce rate and make better decisions.

For our targeted placement ads, we can run reports to show us conversion rates of those websites. When you spot placements that are consistently serving up bounce rates of 100%, then its time to consider cutting the cord on these websites. Always go back and check your ad copy and landing page to make sure that it aligns with the website in question.

You can take this a step further by setting up interaction goals (Analytics Settings > Profile Settings > Goal Settings). Maybe visitors are consistently abandoning the page, but for some reason they are staying on the page for ten plus minutes. Are these users picking up the phone? In setting up these goals, you can get a deeper understanding of what is going on with your visitor, allowing you to form better conclusions.

Bounce rates don’t have to wreck your Google AdWords campaign. With these simple tips, you can streamline your ads and strengthen your landing pages to become conversion machines. Knowledge is the key to squeezing the marketing power out of every ad dollar.

Do you have other suggestions on combating bounce rates in AdWords? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Image credits
Screenshots taken March 2015 from the current Google Analytics and Adwords personal account. Featured image created by author

Mark Runyon

Mark Runyon

President at Vandelay Web

Mark Runyon is the founder and lead consultant at Atlanta-based Vandelay Web and SoundOut Social Media. He can most often ... [Read full bio]