The Google search algorithm tracks a wide variety of metrics to create an overall score for your web pages. Naturally, Google doesn’t release the inner workings of its search algorithm to the public because the algorithm is the company’s bread and butter.
But we do know some what some of the metrics are, if not how heavily they are weighted. For instance, we know that the longer a user stays on your web pages and engages with your content, the better the chance of earning top rankings.
On the other hand, there are negative facts (called ranking signals) that adversely affect your pages’ overall SEO score. One such negative ranking signal is bounce rate, and today I’m going to show you how to mitigate its impact on your web pages.
What Is a Bounce Rate?
A page’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who access your page, and then immediately leave by clicking the ‘back’ button in their browser or closing the tab completely. This troublesome metric speaks volumes about the quality of your page, as well as provides insight into the emotions of your visitors. Essentially, a high bounce rate means there’s something wrong with your page that’s pissing people off, and it’s your job to find and remedy the problem.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the leading causes of high bounce rates and what you can do about it.
Too Many Pop-Ups
I think I speak for everyone when I say that pop-ups are a royal pain in the neck. In my entire life, I have never met someone who thought pop-ups were a fun experience. If you’re inundating your visitors with multiple pop-up ads when they visit your web pages, most are going to develop the impression your website lacks legitimacy and scram as fast as they can.
The simple fix, naturally, is to refrain from presenting your visitors with pop-up ads. I did want to make one exception, however: squeeze pages. It is okay to gently present visitors with a pop-up window requesting their email address in exchange for a lead magnet. Just be respectful and only present the squeeze page no more than twice (preferably only once), or risk offending them.
Pages Load Too Slowly
A high bounce rate is also typically symptomatic of slowly loading pages. Try to think, how many times have you given up on a website because it was crawling along at a snail’s pace? According to Google, you should aim to optimize web pages that load in under three seconds, or suffer a higher bounce rate. Also, note that slow web pages are exacerbated by mobile devices with weak signals.
There are several techniques you can do to optimize the speed at which your pages load, including Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP’s), loading text ahead of images, image compression, and more. However, note that a loading speed of three seconds should be the bare minimum. Some impatient visitors will bounce before three seconds, so you should strive to get below the two-second mark.
Atrocious Formatting and Hard to Read Text
People tend to find video content easier (and more fun) to digest than written content. And for that matter, some people are just lazy readers who want to skim through content to find what they’re looking for. If your web pages’ formatting is sub-par, it’s likely going to affect your bounce rate. In school, teachers probably taught you how to format long paragraphs.
When writing for the web, you can throw everything they taught you out the window. You want to have plenty of whitespace between lines to make your content easier to read. Furthermore, appropriate use of headings and subheadings to break up text is a must. Don’t use any squirrelly fonts, vocabulary outside of your audience’s understanding, or use a distracting or tacky background.
Target Market Segments with PPC Ads
Part of the reason your web pages or landing pages have a high bounce rate may not have anything to do with the back end (optimization, speed, etc.). If you notice a high bounce rate with your PPC campaign and everything seems to be in order with the technical aspects of your page, the root cause may be that people don’t want what you’re selling.
Put another way, you may not be reaching the right audience or market segment with your PPC ads. To gain more insight into market segments who have a need or desire for your product or service, I would recommend by starting by developing marketing personas. Then, drill down with highly targeted PPC ads to find the most qualified leads.
Incorporate Video Content
Images tend to trump text with regards to drawing the eye, but videos trump both images and text. Plus, embedded videos can be optimized so they don’t increase you websites page load times. Embedded videos are stored and streamed from a device (typically) that isn’t the system hosting your website. For instance, you could embed a YouTube video that doesn’t use your hosting provider’s hardware resources.
There are ancillary factors to consider, however. If your visitor has a connection with significantly low bandwidth, a streaming video could crowd out the data sent between their device and your web host, which could impact speed. If you’re worried about the impact a video has on the speed of your pages, I would encourage you to use Google’s speed tool. In addition, I would also recommend that you take the time to test your pages on multiple devices with varying signal strengths.
Note that a bounce rate of 40-50 percent is fairly typical, and a bounce of rate of 50-70 percent is rather poor. Anything higher than 70 percent is alarming, and needs to be dealt with immediately.
If, however, you don’t know how to make technical changes to your website, it’s time to reach out for professional help as soon as possible. Otherwise, your high bounce rate could be cannibalizing online revenues and SEO rankings.