10 Reasons Why Your Website Has High Bounce Rate

Written By Andi Wilkinson. Updated 14th July 2020
Creative Director of Made By Factory. UX Designer & SEO Nerd, Andi is also a board member of Manchester Digital, and speaks and writes on a variety of web-related topics.
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It's the stat that makes all marketers feel so rejected. But what exactly is it, does it need fixing, and if so, how do we do it? We have all the answers for you in this article. 

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What is bounce rate? 

If you're reading this, then chances are, you already know what bounce rate is. But just for clarity, let's refresh. 

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave your website after viewing just one page. 

In itself, the stat can be problematic. A visitor might visit one page and take action, which results in a conversion. So even if a 'bounce' is recorded, the visitor found value in your content. 

The general idea, though, is that if someone visits, and leaves, you should try harder to make them stay. 

What is a high bounce rate? 

According to this article on Rocket Fuel, a high bounce rate is anywhere between 26 - 70%. That's pretty broad, isn't it? The report does kindly break it down a bit more by telling us: 

As a rule of thumb, a bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40 percent is excellent. 41 to 55 percent is roughly average. 56 to 70 percent is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the website. Anything over 70 percent is disappointing for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc.

If it's below 25% its probably broken, or you don't have analytics installed correctly. 

How do I find out what my bounce rate is? 

The rate for your website can be found in Google Analytics audience overview tab. It's also available when you drill down into many of the other metrics. 

So now we know what bounce rate is, and how to find it, let us go about finding out how we can improve it. We have listed our top ten probable causes of high bounce rate and how to make it better. 

Bounce Rate Offender 1: Misconfigured Google Analytics

It could be that Google Analytics is set up incorrectly. 

Bear in mind that this can often reflect in very low bounce. 

If your website is showing 10% bounce, don't rejoice, something is wrong, Analytics may be in twice. I don't care how good the stats look, incorrect data isn't helpful to anyone! 

Read this Google Analytics Guide to correct the problem.

Bounce Rate Offender 2: Landing Pages Or Single Page Site

Some pages are affiliate landing pages, whose sole job is to send users to another page. So they will trigger a bounce. In fact, a higher bounce rate may be an indication that the page is doing its job. Confusing huh!

The same is true of 'One-Pagers' - or single page websites, which could be a very simple brochure or portfolio sites. I tend to avoid building one-pagers for this reason, but a lot of them exist. If your website only has one page, then it will always bounce. There's nowhere else for a user to go. 

Don't worry too much if this is the case. Google's algorithm is smart enough to take other metrics like time spent on your page, into account. 

There's a great article here on determining real bounce rate that can help you get a clearer picture of what your overall bounce rate is. 

Bounce Rate Offender 3: Website Speed

We can't stress site speed enough. Google makes no secret that speed is a ranking factor. It's one of the first things we address when taking on a new SEO Client. We also advise that no matter how much other great stuff you may be doing, if your page is slow, then a lot of it isn't going to help that much. 

Google's latest announcement regarding its algorithm is page experience. A slow page is a miserable experience to the user, and if they are sitting around waiting for your page to load, they will leave. Bye, Bye Website - Hello Bounce! 

Site speed may be an obsession and a life-consuming pastime for people like me, the author. Still, the difference you see from speed improvements is palpable. 

In one of the most recent projects, we worked on, we took the website out of the clunky page builder it was created in, and changed it to a lightweight, hand-coded theme. Within a month, traffic had risen 200%. Work can sometimes be time-consuming, but the results really do speak for themselves. 

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To check your site speed go to: 

  • Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Pingdom.
  • Page Speed Test 

GT Metrix is another tool you can use, but it's not been up to scratch recently, so I would recommend looking at the others first. 

The great thing about these tools is they will tell you precisely what is slowing your site down and offer suggestions on how to fix it. The number one offender with site speed is image file size, closely followed by too many scripts. 

Bounce Rate Offender 4: We have everything we need right here. 

As I pointed out earlier in the article, a user may not always need to navigate away from the page. This is particularly true of blog posts. Or it may be a landing page, encouraging a user to take action, which they do, and then they leave. Perhaps they need to complete a form.

Having proper conversion tracking on your website will allow you to ascertain whether a bounce resulted in an action. If you aren't tracking a specific goal, like a form fill, you can look at time spent on-page. If someone spent a couple of minutes or more on your page, then this tells Google that the page was engaging and relevant to the specific search query. Well done!

If your user isn't spending much time at all on the page, then this is a signal that maybe you need to do a little more to entice the user to stay on your site. 

Bounce Rate Offender 5: Titles & Meta Descriptions That Don't Match The Content

Your page content is summarised by the title tag and meta description. 

If a user makes a google search, the first thing they are presented with is the snippet from the google search results. Scanning these snippets is how a user decides which web page to click on. 

If your title and meta description is misleading or if it doesn't reflect the content, then the user will leave immediately, triggering a bounce. 

Don't use clickbait titles and meta, if the content isn't reflective of what's inside. It's spammy, and it will harm your Google ranking. 

Check out the content of your page and adjust the title tags and meta descriptions, using relevant keywords to tell the user what is on the page. 

Check that the pages on your website are working and loading properly. You can use a tool like SEMRush to scan your website for errors and tell you if there any broken pages. The Google Search Console Tool is also a good way to find errors or broken pages. It's a little harder to navigate, but it's free. 

If a user lands on a 404, then they are usually going to bounce.

You can create an engaging 404 page that redirects users back to other content, which is useful as a catch-all or type in something wrong. Still, you absolutely shouldn't have any broken pages on your website. 

Maybe you don't have any broken pages on your website, but someone is linking to your site with an out of date link. This link may be sending the wrong sort of users, or it may merely be connecting to a page that doesn't exist any more. 

The easiest way to fix this is to contact the author of the article and ask them to update or remove the link. 

If you get no luck, you can disavow the link. This won't actually do anything to your bounce rate. Still, it will let Google know that you aren't endorsing the link. Google will take the disavow into account when they determine the relevance and overall quality of your website. 

Bounce Rate Offender 7: Low-Quality Content 

If your content is just a load of rubbish, then people aren't going to stay and engage with it. 

It's a common scenario with website owners who understand a bit about SEO but aren't well versed in the reasons why they are supposed to perform specific actions on a website. 

Let me give you an example. The site owner may have learned that content is really important, so they diligently add content every week. However, the content is low-word or entirely off-topic for the website. 

Unless you know that this is more harmful than helpful to your website, you might think you are doing the right thing. Adding more content just for content's sake is not a smart move for a website. It needs to add some value to the reader. Otherwise, they will leave immediately—cue bounce. 

It could be that your content is great, but it's not been put together in a way that suits online readers. 

Neil Patel's Ultimate guide to writing blog posts gives lots of handy suggestions on how to format a post for online reading, but in short, you should: 

  • write simple sentences. 
  • keep your paragraphs short (5-6 lines) 
  • include lots of relevant headings include images to break up the copy. 

Finally, if your article is just poorly written in general, users will lose interest and leave. Consider working with a copywriter. Writing for your blog is a service we offer. 

Bounce Rate Offender 8: The Page Isn't Mobile Friendly 

Mobile traffic surpassed desktop in 2014. So if you don't have a mobile-friendly website now, then chances are you might face a Google Penalty. 

There are still a bucket load of websites even now in 2020 that aren't mobile-friendly. Is yours one of them? 

If your website isn't mobile-friendly, it may not look good on a mobile device, or it may not load properly. Some of the common offenders are 

  • Text is too small to read on mobile 
  • content is wider than the screen 
  • links are too close together to tap. 

The good news is you can easily find all this information out from Google Search Console (formerly webmaster tools) 

You may also need to adjust the order of the content to see what appears above the fold on a mobile phone. A lot of websites have 'sidebars', and if they are on the left, then that content may be the first content you see on a mobile phone. Remember, its' not always about errors, it could just be that the layout is confusing to the user. 

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Bounce Rate Offender 9: Terrible UX

If your page is full of Ads, heavy on CTAs, or full of spammy pop-ups or surveys? 

We know these features work but not all together! A couple of strategically placed ads, a call to action form is fine. 

If you are going to use pop-ups, Its polite to wait a few seconds. Wait until the user is planning to exit, has spent a specific amount of time on the page or has scrolled down away. 

If your site is also hard to navigate, users will leave. Flashy menus may be fun to look at, but the average person on your website isn't trying to win a design award. Besides design and UX go hand in hand, so your website should be simple to get around. 

Bounce Rate Offender 10: Disproportional Content. 

What do we mean by this? If your quick CTA pages have a high bounce rate, because your user has taken the desired action, but your other pages have a lower bounce rate, then it all evens out. Google can tell the difference. 

If you want really specific info on this, then you can find it in Google Analytics under Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. You can sort the landing pages by bounce rate, so if you see any that seem disproportionately high, then you can address them one by one. 

Quick Tips For Reducing Overall Bounce. 

So, That's our top ten tips to identify the main offenders in high bounce rate. But going forward, how do we avoid it creeping up again? Here are a few things you can do. 

Your website speed is everything, no matter how great your content is, if it doesn't load, then the user will never know because they will give up before they even see it. 

Website Speed

  • Compress images to the smallest file size you can.
  • Avoid using images with larger dimensions than needed.
  • Implement AMP if you can 
  • Remove heavy scripts and code bloat. 

Website Content 

If speed is fine, the next thing that will cause your user to leave is content. You should always be writing content intending to provide value to the user. Short blog posts not related to what you do, give no benefit. 

  • Provide Titles & Meta Descriptions that match your content
  • Make your H1 (Main Heading) match your SEO Title
  • don't fill your page with spammy ads and pop-ups
  • Don't use clickbait. If you are a 2* hotel, then 'Worlds Best Luxury Hotel" isn't going to cut it. 

Make your content easy to read.

  • Use short paragraphs
  • Use short sentences too. 
  • Use plenty of headings. 
  • Use relevant images to break up the text. (Keep an eye on file size!) 
  • Proof your content for errors and readability. You could use a tool like Grammarly. 

User Interface (UX)

Less is more. Keep non-essential content to a minimum. Don't bombard your content with spammy ads or CTAs and content the users didn't come for. 

Make the site simple to navigate with a logical structure and hierarchy. Make it simple for users to find related content if they need to. 

Include a table of contents to help users navigate your article. 

In conclusion: 

We hope this has been a useful article. If you want a handy cheat sheet to remind you of what to do, then you can download it here. 

Made by Factory: PPC Agency Manchester. We specialise in getting your website to perform at its best. Contact us for a free site audit and suggestions on how you can improve your speed, content and UX to maximise conversion and reduce bounce rate on your website.