Extended Stay: 4 Tips on Reducing your Website’s Bounce Rate

business tips

The first two words of Radiohead’s 2016 masterpiece, A Moon Shaped Pool, is stay in. The last two, don’t leave. Read together, they form a sentence; stay in, don’t leave. It could be simple coincidence but A Moon Shaped Pool came out less than 12 months after lead singer Thom Yorke’s divorce with his wife of 23 years, Rachel Owen, and there are a lot of things on the album that hints at this, especially the closing track, ‘True Love Waits’.

A Moon Shaped Pool came out on a Sunday and even after more than two years, I remember the moment ‘True Love Waits’ hit me. I put that song on repeat as I lie down on my bed crying with that song playing in the background. I used to joke that I never have problems making people fall in love with me, it’s getting them to stay that way that’s tricky and naturally, what’s true in love is also true in web development. I mean, we even have the term bounce rate that basically covers the same concept.

Stay in, don’t leave

In retail, whether traditional or online, we’re familiar with the concept of window shopping, which is an activity where a person browses through a store’s merchandise without any actual intention to buy anything. Even though you’re seeing only an increase in traffic but not sales, window shoppers are usually a good thing since there’s a good chance they would make a purchase at a later date. The wishlist feature available on most e-commerce platforms was meant to facilitate this.

Bounce rate on the other hand is the kind of traffic you’re not necessarily looking for. The term is defined as the ratio of single-page visits against any other traffic. Bouncing is markedly different compared to window shopping because window shoppers usually click through multiple different pages first. Bouncers usually take one look at your website and then immediately head for the exit. Given that almost no one in the internet is actually pressed for time, it can be surmised then that the problem probably lies with your website.

Bouncing is something you want to minimize as much as possible but the problem with bouncing is that there are various possible causes. It could indicate that your website has a horrible first impression, you might simply be attracting the wrong kind of traffic or that your content has terrible presentation. In the following section, we’re going to dissect each of these points and the possible solution you could try.

Didn’t want to leave you with the wrong impression

First thing first, you want to remove any intrusive ads or interstitial pop-ups from your website immediately if there are any. Google hates them, I hate them and that adorable pomeranian I regularly see on my morning run probably hates them too. Trying to shove supposedly great offers down your visitor’s throat right off the bat isn’t attractive and it actually spotlights your lack of faith in your own website. Let your website and its content speak for itself and stop relying on cheap tactics to try and rope more customers.

If your website is free from such distractions but you’re still seeing a relatively high bounce rate, it is possible the fault lies on your website itself. For me personally, amateurish-looking, excessively loud and poorly organized websites are a turn-off and if I saw any of that in any website I visit, my hands instinctively move to close that particular tab. Try to show your website to the people in your life that’s not attached to your business to get some genuine third-party opinions if you’re unsure about how your website would hold up against the general public.

Attracting the wrong kind of attention

One possibility that might affect your bounce rate is that you’re simply getting traffic from all the wrong places and this might indicative of a fault or a misunderstanding in your SEO strategy. It is possible for example that you’re focusing on the wrong kind of keywords or that your PPC ad is being shown to the wrong people. When it comes to SEO and marketing, there are two things you have to focus on, the type of content you’re doing and the channel you use to market them.

The common misconception when it comes to SEO is that people seem to think that far and wide is the best philosophy when a focused and targeted campaign is actually preferable. A campaign netting 1 million in traffic but only 5% conversion brings far less value than a campaign netting merely 250,000 in traffic but a conversion rate of 50%. Do proper market research first and build your marketing campaign around the data you’ve collected instead of simply going for the lowest common denominator.

When it comes to presentation, the devil’s in the details

I’ve had this done to me repeatedly over the years so I think I’m completely in the right when I say that editing matters and this is all the more important when it comes to video and written content, especially written content. It honestly matters little how good of a writer you are if you can’t present that in an easily digestible way. Content writing, usually written with a marketing or sales intention in mind is a whole different ballgame compared to creative writing, where it is usually okay to be indulgent.

In content writing, you need to figure out a way to get your point across as engagingly as possible without using more words than necessary. In a way, content writing can be difficult than creative writing because it requires a different skill set that the typical writer might not be in possession of. Overly long paragraphs and complex sentences, two things that I’m regularly guilty of, are verboten so edit and reedit your writing to trim those fat as much as possible.