Why bounce rate isn’t as important as you think it is and what to focus your marketing efforts on instead

As an affiliate marketer, you dream of conversions rather than lush green meadows full of yellow sunflowers and colorful butterflies; conversions are your raison d’etre. And most gurus will be quick to tell you that reducing your bounce rate is the magic pill that will increase your conversions. 

But despite the hype, this metric is not as important you might think.

I’ll tell you why in a minute.

But first, what is bounce rate and how is it calculated?

Bounce rate is a metric in Google Analytics that shows you the percentage of website visitors– new or returning, who enter and exit the same page without clicking on another link. The page they exit could be any page. As long as they visit the entrance page, and do not click on another link, or engage with your calls to action, Google Analytics calculates this as a bounce.

The Google Analytics program calculates this metric by dividing the number of sessions of a page multiplied by 100.

Thus if 10,000 people visit your website and 2,000 of them visit only one page, your bounce rate is 20%.

Why bounce rate isn’t as important as you might thinkBounce Rate Doesn't Matter

What the bounce rate metric really tries to do is show the quality of a web page and primarily how it affects the user experience.

But it isn’t always effective in doing this as it isn’t always applicable in some sites.

Here’s an example that illustrates this point.

A good content strategy is the secret to a high-converting affiliate website, and some affiliate marketer’s sites are content heavy.

Sites like Jon Morrow’s Smartblogger and Adrian’s Ablogtowatch, are content-heavy but still make stupid money from affiliate marketing.

On blogs like these, bounce rates aren’t always a very accurate indicator of the extent of user satisfaction.

A visitor may click on an 8,000- word post and post and get value from it; but if the same user exits the page without clicking on another link, Google Analytics still records this as a bounce. No matter how much time spent there.

This may cause some webmasters to fret unnecessarily.

A high bounce rate also doesn’t show returning users who eventually buy.

Only other Google Analytics metrics show this.

What to focus on instead.

Instead of obsessing about the troublesome bounce rate metric, what you should really focus on is making your user experience as immersive and delightful as possible.

This is where you should really direct your marketing efforts. An immersive experience is what will ultimately drive your conversions through the roof. User engagement will make or break your bounce rate, and the average time a visitor spends on your blog.

Moving forward, is website bounce rate totally useless?

The short and honest answer is no.

While the bounce rate metric doesn’t accurately represent the quality of your users’ experience, it is, however useful in showing you how successful your efforts towards conversion rate optimization are.

It can show you which pages aren’t converting well and which ones are. The pages that convert well typically have low bounce rates.

Again, we’re not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to your bounce rates, we’re just of the opinion that you shouldn’t have sleepless nights over it; instead, you should focus on improving your user experience.

I know that I shouldn’t worry too much about trying to reduce bounce rate; but what is a good bounce rate to aim for?

There isn’t any straight forward answer to this.
This is because bounce rates vary wildly from industry to industry (another factor that shows the unreliable nature of this metric).
Jay Peyton at Rocket fuel blog, after analyzing the website data of over 60 websites over one year, found that the bounce rates of websites could fall anywhere between 26% to 70%, with the average being 49%. 

His research also found that the highest bounce rate was as high as 90.2%, and the lowest was around 27.33%.

He goes on to say that an “average bounce rate in the range of 26% to 40% is excellent, 41% to 55% is roughly average and 56% to 70% is higher than average”, and “anything over 70% is disappointing for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc.”

Again, even from this research, you can see how unreliable this metric is.

However, the following steps will show you how to reduce your bounce rate by improving your users’ experience.

  • Faster load times
  • Clear, intuitive design – The following are elements of good design.
    • Inclusion of a search button
    • Smarter blog formatting
    • Responsible linking
    • Setting external links to open in new tabs
    • Optimizing for mobile devices
  • Clear calls to action
  • Optimizing for relevance
  • Testing and tracking

Faster Load Time

Before new website visitors even have a chance to read your clever captions, your compelling copy, and your creative calls to action, a slow website can stop them cold.

Research shows that as many as 47% of users expect a website to load in less than two seconds. Also, slow-loading pages are among the leading cause of shopping cart abandonment for e-commerce websites.

All of these stats emphasize the importance of fast load times. Even Google hates slow sites and will penalize your site for taking too long to load.

Why Bounce Rates Don't Matter

Solution

As many factors contribute to the load speed of a website, there could be any number of steps to solve this problem.

However, you can take the following steps to ensure that your site loads blazingly fast.

  • Optimize images
  • Remove unnecessary scripts and tracking codes
  • Remove plugins you don’t use frequently
  • Remember that fewer than 10% of visitors bounce when a page loads in two seconds while more than 30% bounce if a page doesn’t load in seven seconds.

Clear, intuitive design

If you succeed in increasing your site‘s load speed, the visual elements of your site will now determine whether users will bounce or not.

This brings us to discuss clear design; not just clear design, but creative design.

Your website’s design and overall appearance can give users an impression about your business, and you want your first impression to be a good one.

Poor design is an indication of tardiness and unprofessionalism. Savvy web users will be turned off by shabby design.

On the other hand, good aesthetics aren’t the only thing to consider when designing your website; your website also has to be intuitive.

You should only use conventions that users are familiar with. You shouldn’t confuse users in a bid to be creative.

Users should be able to easily and seamlessly navigate your site. If they attempt to find any page on your website and are met with difficulty, they’ll likely leave your site.
You can do the following to make your site easier to use.

Smarter formatting

When writing for an online audience, it’s important to note that they read differently than they do in print.

When users visit blogs, they’re looking for information, and they need the information fast. So, it helps if your content is formatted in a way that makes your content scannable.

This is the opposite when they’re reading print. In the case of print, reading is much more leisurely.

So to improve scannability, use headers, bullet points, and break up your sentences so that your content doesn’t look too formidable.

Users are inherently lazy, and if you make them do too much work, they’ll bounce.

Include a search bar

Most webmasters underestimate the need for a search bar.

Users may love your content and want to look for other goodies on your site. But an absence of a search bar will disappoint them, and a bounce could be the result.

Link responsibly

This is another thing you need to get right.

How do visitors know which words are links and those that aren’t if you don’t clearly show them?

Linking correctly is one way to lead your audience through the gallery of your website, showing them your masterpieces one at a time.

Warning!

Don’t link as Wikipedia does,

You’ll only end up annoying your readers.

One last thing

You can set external links to open in new tabs. If your external links open in the same tab, users will need to click back to get back to your page. This can be frustrating. And unless they really love your content, they’ll just leave; this will contribute to high exit rates and bounce rates.

Optimize for mobile devices

More and more users spend the majority of their time on their mobile phones and to not optimize for mobile device users is to shoot yourself in the leg. Figuratively, of course.

You need to ensure that your site is suitable for mobile users no matter how much it costs you.

If your site takes time to load on a mobile device, users will bounce.

Clear and compelling Calls To Action (CTA)

You need to be clear when you include CTAs. They need to be specific and direct and limited. There’s no point in including as many as three CTAs. This will only confuse your users and make them indecisive.

When you present just one crystal-clear CTA to your users or audience, they are more likely to engage and this will lower your bounce rate.

Remember to be direct and specific.

Make sure your content is relevant

One thing that leads to a high bounce rate is if your content isn’t interesting to visitors.

You need to decide to be relevant.

If you target a keyword on your page and you attract clicks, you need to ensure that the content you provide on your page is relevant to the keyword you optimized for.

Users usually know what they want, and if your content doesn’t serve their needs, they do the next logical thing which is to leave.

If for instance your audience is more interested in Apple products than Samsung products, and you bombard them with information about Samsung, say bye-bye to them.

Pay attention to your meta-data

If you don’t put some effort into writing succinct meta-tags you’ll find that your click-throughs will decline.

Maybe you don’t think meta-tags are important, but if you rely on Google to automatically pull your site‘s slogan or copy in your meta-tag, you won’t get too many click-throughs as Google doesn’t know what to optimize for.

If you write your meta description with keywords in mind, your site is more likely to attract clicks; and if your content doesn’t disappoint your bounce rate for that particular entrance page is likely to below.

If you don’t put some effort into writing meta-tags, users will bounce faster than you can say Google Analytics.

Be strategic with ads and popupsWidgetly Helps Bounce Rates

There is a lot of debate among marketers regarding the use of popups. Some say they should be entirely done away with, while others insist that they should be used to increase conversions. But as many as 70% of users find popups to be annoying. That’s a hard statistic to ignore. So it’s good to know your audience and cater to your ads to their needs and habits. Do your research.

Use popups and widgets when they contribute something useful and can redirect uninterested traffic to something more appealing.

For example, you can use internal or external links with a popup when your visitor tries to leave your site. You can track the number of visitors that click through to decide which headlines and offers convert better. You can also use notification popups can build trust by showing your credibility through social proof. It helps customers know they aren’t the only ones interested in your offer.

This is where Widgetly comes in.

How can Innovation Exchange and Widgetly help?

User engagement is where we shine. It encourages your traffic to engage with your site to decrease bounce rate and increase conversions.

Widgetly has some special features including split-testing, pop-up triggers, and customizable templates

As we discussed earlier, pop-ups can be annoying, but Widgetly with its pop-up triggers can target users in a way that enhances their experience rather than annoying them.

For instance, Widgetly can display pop-ups to users who are about to leave your site. This way their experience isn’t disrupted in any way and you get a chance to offer them something that may be more interesting.

Widgetly analytics also helps you test different areas of your page and lets you select a CTA that you’re sure will work.

Innovation Exchange

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