Do you use Google Analytics or some other analytics service to monitor your website’s traffic?
This post was originally published in 2013, but with all of the questions we receive about analytics, we wanted to update it and help out a few more analytics-beginners! Many people install analytics, but due to the overload of information, it’s hard to choose which data is worth your attention. There are a few, simple essentials that we can keep our eyes on, and we’ll start with the first one: Your Bounce Rate.
Understanding Bounce Rate
Basically, the bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a website who leave the site after viewing only one page. So, the obvious question is “What is an acceptable percentage?”
While the answer is a good guideline, it’s not a hard rule:
- 50% is about the average,
- 60%-70% should cause concern and,
- over 80% means the website has a problem
Bounce rate is important because the more people staying on the site, the more page views and longer visit durations you will ultimately have. The unfortunate truth is that, when people bounce, they will most likely never visit your site again.
So, let’s find and fix the problems with the site and lower your bounce rates.
1. Slow Load Times
Slow load times are one of the primary reasons bounce rates go up, especially on mobile devices. Open up your Google Analytics and take a look at your site speed overview for the past 30 days. Identifying an issue here can help determine how much further we should look.
What is your site speed average? 2 seconds? 5 seconds? 12 seconds? Google recommends an average load time of 3 seconds. If your site is loading slower than that, we can look at individual pages to see if there is a particular culprit.
Back in your Analytics, check out the Page Timings section under the Content tab. The default views sorts by the top 10 pages based on Page Views, but you can also sort by ‘Avg. Page Load Time (sec)’. This will show you your slowest pages, on down to the fastest.
In order to fix slow load times, call a meeting with the company that built your website and ask them to explain how your site is built. Ask questions like:
- Does it use a lot of large images and tables instead of styling code (CSS)?
- Does it have a lot of scripts running in the background?
- Are there a lot of interactive elements that could be removed?
These types of questions will help you and your web development company narrow down the reasons why your site is loading slowly.
2. Browser Compatibility
If you open and check your website in various browsers and on smartphones, do you notice anything ‘broken’ or not working on your site? Maybe something just looks strange? If so, that could be another reason for bounce rates. If users cannot use your site, they will most likely leave in frustration.
There are countless issues that can occur because of browser compatibility. Here are just a few:
- Flash features or flash video will not work on many mobile devices, including iPhones.
- Broken links and images will cause the site to look and function poorly.
If you find that your site looks or functions poorly in a specific browser, give your web development company a call and see if it can be fixed. Many times it can be a simple fix.
3. Interrupting the User’s Experience
Splash pages, flash intros, welcome “gates”, and pop ups are a few things that can interrupt the user’s experience and therefore cause some bounces . While splash pages, welcome gates, and flash intros are being used less and less, I still run into one every now and again. If you have one, you might consider removing it and reevaluating your bounce rates. I would bet that you see drastic improvements over the next 30-60 days.
Pop ups can be pretty atrocious (see below) but they do serve a purpose in many cases. When you landed on our blog, you may have been asked to join our email list. To us, growing our reader base is important, so this pop up serves a purpose, even though it might cause a few readers to bounce.
When adding an interruption to the user’s experience, such as a pop up, make sure to carefully consider the impact it may have on your bounce rates. However, if the pros outweigh the cons, test the waters by recording your bounce rates before adding the new pop up. If the bounce rate jumps up significantly over the next 30 days, you can always remove it.
Remember, user’s are looking for the information that they need, so be sure to help them find it quickly without slowing down the process. Take a few minutes to evaluate your website’s content and features to see if anything could be turning your potential users away.
Before you make any changes to your site, make sure you write down your average bounce rate. Once you make changes to improve your user experience, check in monthly to see if that rate is going up, going down, or staying the same. Remember, 50% is average and is a good starting point to shoot for.
What is your bounce rate? Is it really low? What techniques do you use to manage your bounce rate? Join the conversation by commenting below.