Panalysis undertook a study of over 30 websites to identify what an “average” bounce rate would look like. The results showed that most websites can expect that 1 in 2 visitors will leave their site immediately after they arrive.

So what can you do to fix this?

To start you need to know where the visitors who are bouncing are coming from. It may be that your advertising isn’t working as well as it could or that you are potentially wasting opportunities from keywords in search engines or referring websites.

If you are using Google Analytics then it is a relatively straightforward exercise to identify where the bounces are coming from. To do this start by examining your Traffic Sources -> All Traffic Sources report. Sort the report by the “Bounce Rate” column to see the worst performing sources of the bounce rate. It is likely that the top items will have a relatively low number of visitors, so you may need to move forward a few pages in the report to see the campaigns that attract more visitors but have a high bounce rate.

It is also likely that your site will have a higher bounce rate for certain search keywords over others. Another very useful report in Google Analytics is the Traffic Sources -> Keywords report. Again, sort this by the bounce rate to see the worst performing keywords. As there can be a great many keywords that have a 100% bounce rate and only one visitor, exporting this report to Excel and using this to view the data may be more effective.

The purpose of this exercise is to identify where the worst performing visitors are coming from. Once you know this you can then start to analyse which sources of these visitors are important to your business. It is important to understand that some visitors will turn up on your website and have absolutely no interest in what you have to offer. It is best to leave these visitors alone and do your best to try not to pay for them to arrive at your site.

The second stage is to identify what elements you can control. If you find that your visitors from paid search campaigns have a higher than average bounce rate then you can tweak the campaign to test what elements can reduce the bounce rate. The things that you can change are:

  1. The copy shown in the advertisement that is displayed against a search query
  2. Ensure that the copy and images on the landing page match the advertisement that the visitor saw
  3. Ensure that you tell the visitor in no uncertain terms what it is that you want them to do next.

A similar approach applies for your “organic” keywords. Whilst you can’t control the copy and advertisement that the visitor sees, you can control what happens after they get to the website. The magical thing is that the visitor’s web browser will tell your web server what the address of page where the visitor clicked on the link and hence the keywords that the visitor used. You web developer may be able to assist you to extract this information in real time and then allow you to customise the message shown to the visitor. If your developer is unable to assist, then please contact us because we can.

For instance a visitor may have arrived at the web page of “Big E-Tailer Inc” after searching for “great green widgets”. They were shown a link to the home page because it was optimised for this keyword. When they view that site there is a higher chance that they will leave the site immediately unless there is a big, bold and absolutely clear message that you have all the deals on “great green widgets”. Showing the visitor a generic home page with other products isn’t going to be anywhere near as effective as showing them a page specifically with offers on “great green widgets”.

Using a tool like Google Analytics, WebTrends, Omniture or Coremetrics will tell you what your visitors are asking for, it is up to you how you respond. In general if you are asked a specific question, then respond with a specific answer. Don’t do what most politicians do and avoid answering the question.

The key to reducing the bounce rate is to respond in the most appropriate way to the visitor’s needs. By ensuring that more visitors move to the next stage in the sales process, then it is more likely than not that the overall conversion rate of the website will improve as well.