If you are not generating leads, attracting search traffic and scoring the conversions you had hoped from your online business, a good place to start your investigation to resolve this is in your google analytics ‘bounce rates’. This Google Analytics metric is a good indication that visitors to your website are not hanging around. Whilst some argue that this may be because your visitors found exactly what they were looking for so only needed a single page view, in the majority of cases it’s usually a sign that visitors are not satisfied with what they found when they arrived from the referring search engine.
Some SEOs believe that search engines use bounce rate as a metric to determine how relevant your site is against a search query and to assess the usability of your website. If visitors are leaving within the first few seconds of landing, some believe that search engines know you are not providing quality content. The return to search engine results from a site and then visiting another website for the same query is often referred to as ‘pogo-sticking’ in SEO circles. It is important to note that Google have always denied that they use bounce rate or click through rates in any way when ranking websites.
In any case, if, when analysing your bounce rate combined with other metrics such as dwell time in Google Analytics, combined with a low conversion it is likely that having a high bounce rate is not doing you any favours.
So how can you improve bounce rate, encourage visitors to explore your website and guide them along the purchasing path to increase conversions?
Professional web design
Your website is your online storefront and needs to be inviting. If you have an outdated website that does not look professional, is not user-friendly and does not give your brand credibility, visitors will not have any confidence they can trust you. To improve bounce rate, the first thing you need to address is building a website customers will explore.
Your website also has to work on multiple devices. Now that more searches are conducted on mobile handsets than desktop PC’s, web designs need to be responsive and give end-users a digital experience on all types of devices. Check how mobile friendly your website is using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Speed up load times
Google is encouraging online business owners to improve the load speeds of their website. The launch of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) intends to create a richer experience for mobile users and speed up load times. It does this by stripping out unnecessary 3rd party code with a type of minimalist approach. Web developers are being encouraged to use revised codes designed specifically for the AMP project.
Attract the right visitors
Another reason for high bounce rates is because the traffic you are attracting is not the right audience for you. Understand who your audience are and what they want, then publish custom content and highly targeted keywords that are relevant to search queries your audience is most likely to use. This includes reaching out to your audience using the right channels, so if most of your visitors access your website on mobile phones, publish micro-moment content that is useful, and easily digested on small screens.
Create multiple landing pages
Search engines rank pages rather than websites for keywords. If you sell products that are similar, but not the same, creating a page for each product and using targeted keywords, images and rich content to optimise each page will help search engines categorise the page in search results whereby you will attract the right audience. However, you must ensure that each individual page can stand on it’s own merit in that it provides a rich experience for the user and doesn’t actually end up cannibalising the original page that it is similar to.
Check That The Right Page Is Ranking For Keywords And Search Queries
It is easy to just look at rankings alone (particularly when using ranking tools). However, it doesn’t always follow that the page which is ranking is actually the page that would be the best fit for a conversion on your site. Clearly define a target URL that you want to rank for keywords and then check to see if that is what Google is returning in response to search queries. If it isn’t, this may be because of some issues with internal linking in your site (the links internally may be pointing to the wrong target URL), or it may be that you need to improve the relevance of your target page.
The only way to improve bounce rate, search engine rankings and conversions is to provide customers with a website they do not want to leave. A great looking web design will pique their interest, and if you publish engaging content and design information architecture so visitors can find their way around, you should expect to see better results over time.