Imagine your Tinder date turns up, and they look nothing like their profile picture.
They have nothing interesting to say.
You have nothing in common and this was not what you were looking for.
What do you do?
Similarly, say you visit a website that has nothing to do with the search result you saw.
It’s unappealing. And it’s not what you were looking for.
So, you bounce.
There’s so much on the web, how can they not?
The trouble is, when people bounce, it affects your search ranking.
An SEJ study found that Google pays a lot of attention to user behavior signals:
“High-ranking pages were found to have lower bounce rates.
A page with a high bounce rate could be an indication that the content is less relevant than a page with a low bounce rate.”
More specifically, the top three domains for a search result have a bounce rate of around 49%.
How to Reduce Bounce Rate: 4 Guaranteed Methods
If you have a high bounce rate, here’s what you need to do to reduce it:
1. Put Mobile First
Having a responsive website is a given.
But now, due to mobile-first indexing, you need to focus on the design of your mobile site over your desktop site.
Give visitors a great user experience on mobile to prevent them from bouncing. That means:
- All images and video on your site should also be visible on your mobile site. So, make sure any videos on your site are mobile responsive.
- Ensure text fits the scale of mobile devices.
- Make interactive features—such as buttons and drop-down menus—larger and easy to click with the touch of a finger, like so:
- Optimize your mobile page’s load speed by reducing the size of image files, adopting an AMP and using a caching plugin.
This is vital as the longer it takes for a site to load on mobile, the higher the likelihood of somebody bouncing:
Site speed and page load time have a massive effect on bounce rate across all devices.
You can use Monitor Backlinks to quickly check your site speed (get a 30-day free trial here if you don’t already have an account!).
Just hover over the Speed icon on your dashboard for a detailed breakdown of your speed score and where there’s room for improvement:
- If you have an e-commerce site, make sure users can check out quickly and easily on mobile.
Do this, for example, by reducing the number of fields they have to fill in when making a purchase. Or give them the option to save their details for a quicker checkout next time.
Improve your user experience and you’ll improve your bounce rate and conversions, overall.
2. Focus on Relevance
Do you remember those pop-up ads and emails you used to get with the headlines like “FREE BEER?”
Then when you clicked, the message would say something like, “Now that we have your attention…”
And go on to speak about something totally irrelevant. Grrr!
Similarly, people expect to see relevant content when they click on a search result.
Otherwise, you get a pogo-sticking effect:
In other words, people click a search result, it doesn’t show what they’re looking for, so they bounce and move on to the next one, then the next one, until they find the right result.
As part of Google RankBrain, when lots of people stop pogo-sticking on a particular result, that result moves up the SERPs.
Therefore, all of your content and pages should be relevant to the keywords they’re optimized for…
Or else people will just jump in and out of your site like Tigger.
So, think about the user intent behind your keywords.
Which stage of the funnel is the user at when they search a certain keyword?
For instance, somebody at the top of the funnel might search for “bedroom design” and expect to see informational content such as a how-to guide.
While somebody at the bottom of the funnel might search for “unicorn bedspread” and expect to see a product page where they can make a purchase.
All you need to do now is check that your content matches the intent behind the keywords you rank for, and design any new content with user intent in mind.
3. Remove Distractions
It’s tempting to fill up the blank space on your site or blog.
But the over-use of ads, pop-ups, widgets and so on can be extremely annoying for visitors to your site.
Again, it’s all about UX.
“When a visitor is forced to read a headline about some offer they have no interest in from a person or company they’re not all that familiar with when all they really wanted was the specific information they came for your popups are doing the opposite of what they should be doing.”
Hence, if a user is over-faced with irrelevant information, they’re going to bounce and pogo-stick to the next search result.
The best thing to do is to keep any ads, widgets and pop-ups to an absolute minimum, so that they don’t draw attention away from your product or content.
Similarly, too many calls to action on one page can overwhelm and distract visitors.
There should only be one, clear CTA. On a product page it might look something like this:
There’s one clear message here, which represents the site’s goal—to get you to buy the item.
Within blog content, your CTA might look like this:
There’s just one relevant offer to accompany the content.
And like with this example, you should take user intent into account.
The visitor has come to the page for information, thus the CTA is related to them getting more information (via a webinar).
If the intent is to make a purchase, then the CTA should be about making a purchase, as in the prior example.
This adds to the relevancy of a page, thus making it less likely the visitor will leave.
4. Clean Up Your Internal Links
Internal linking is vital for SEO.
But don’t go crazy with this—make sure you only add internal links to your content when they offer genuine value to users.
For instance, in an article about building directory backlinks, you might link to another piece of content about local search, where it’s highly relevant and useful to the reader:
When your readers click on a link for a product recommendation or helpful resource, they expect to be taken to that page—they don’t want to be slapped with a 404 error page.
That certainly amounts to a negative user experience.
Hence, you also need to go through your links with a fine-toothed comb to make sure they’re all working.
To check for broken internal links, head to the “Index Coverage” section of the new Google Search Console:
Here you’ll be able to see site errors and warnings, including 404 errors.
Once you’ve gone to your site and fixed the error (usually just double-checking the URL and replacing it if necessary), mark it as fixed within Google so that your URL will be crawled again.
Keep your overall internal linking structure logical and useful, and people will be more likely to stick around on your site.
Final Thoughts on Bringing Down Your Bounce Rate
As you’ve probably guessed by now, the key to reducing bounce rate comes down to relevance and a positive user experience.
If your site is well-designed, optimized for mobile and easy to navigate, visitors should have no reason to leave.
As long as the content they see is also relevant to their initial search and reflects their intent.
So, don’t be like a catfish on Tinder.
Get to work on making your site match up to your searchers’ needs.