May 29th, 2010

What is a bounce rate?

The Way The Ball Bounces
Image by B Tal via Flickr

A bounce rate is how long your visitors stick around before leaving your website without visiting any other pages.

In essence, they “bounce” away.

It is a simple formula to calculate your bounce rate. Simply divide the amount of visitors visiting only one page by the total number of visits.

The smaller your bounce rate, the better.

In fact, your bounce rate can affect your search engine ranking. A high number of visitors hitting the back button tells the search engines that your page did not contain the content the visitor was seeking.

Ideally, your bounce rate should be under 20%. One of the few exceptions for this is informational sites because the visitor may just get the information that is needed and leave.

For example, if all I wanted to know is the scores from yesterdays game, I may click on a score site, get the score, then leave. Mission accomplished on both ends.

Bottom bounce

Image via Wikipedia

When you use programs such artificial traffic (such as Entrecard), you will most likely have a high bounce rate because your visitors come for a purpose (dropping your card) and then leaving.

However, organic traffic (search engines, bookmarks, etc.) will generally give you a lower bounce rate because your visitors generally have an interest in what you have to say.

Other than informational sites, there are two basic reasons for having a high bounce rate.

1. Poorly targeted traffic caused by ineffective marketing. Make sure that your keywords are appropriate and that you are the king of excellent content. This sites content is about blogging, for example, and has smaller bounce rate eliminatinge the keyword “work from home”. On the other hand, it definitely uses the phrase “monetizing your blog”. It also does well by having various category pages built up around all of the necessities of blogging such as SEO, Webhosting, etc. Make sure that your headlines and meta data clearly identify the purpose of the content.  These changes have the advantage of having what the visitor is looking for and, thus, reducing your bounce rate significantly.

2. Poorly designed entrance page. Content may be king but design is certainly queen. The colors, font, and general layout of your site should be appealing to the human eye. Ads should either blend in or be in a separate area altogether. The site should be easy to use and quick to maneuver around and havea quick load time. Eliminate or limit pop-ups. No music or video auto-starters. There should be links and tags to relevant content on the site.

Ball mill
Image via Wikipedia

After you have fixed the problems with your landing page, also delve into the design and content of your other pages to improve the overall bounce rate of the entire site. Following these tips should show you an improved bounce rate from your organic traffic almost immediately.

Here’s to us capturing all of those bouncing visitors and converting them into long term fans!

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