Why Is My Bounce Rate So High?

If there’s one thing that will keep a digital marketer awake at night, it’s a high bounce rate. Opening up your metrics, and seeing that a high percentage of your visitors are bouncing straight back to a page of search results after seeing your landing page, obviously isn’t the most pleasant experience for a business owner to have. While what counts as a high bounce rate is relative to the business you’re running, you obviously want more people to stay on your site, show Google that it has some value, and ultimately convert into a paying customer. If you’re suffering with a high bounce rate, here are some of the most common causes for it…

Self-Sufficient Content
In some cases, a visitor will get all they wanted from your site just by reading the landing page. This is a good thing, in a way. After all, you want to give your customers what they’re looking for. Perhaps you have some truly engrossing content that’s kept the visitor in place for a few minutes, or you’re using a landing page that only requires the visitor to complete a short lead form. To establish whether or not you should really be worrying about your bounce rate, check out the time spent on page and average duration on Google analytics. If the average user is spending a few minutes or more on the page, it tells Google that they found your page very relevant to their query. If that’s what you’re trying to rank for, then the kind of content you’re already using is spun gold! However, if they’re spending less than a minute, which may be the case if you’re using a short sign-up form, consider some added incentive to get them to read some related posts, having submitted the form.

Slow Load Time
Google has been indicating that load times are a part of their algorithm for some time now, so you need to be focused on this anyway. Google exists to promote content that gives its users a positive experience. If your page takes any longer than three seconds to load, your target market is liable to get impatient and leave. Whether it’s rooted the way you’ve embedded images, the VPS you’re using, or the plugins, you need to make your site speed a priority. This can be hard and grueling work, but with each little fix you apply, you’ll get a little boost in speed. Use a tool like Pingdom’s website speed test to review the site, both overall and for individual pages, and you’ll begin to figure out solutions you can apply. Compressing images, using browser caching, cutting down on third-party scripts and other quick fixes can make all the difference.

Misleading Titles and Meta Descriptions
Take a moment to get your site up on a page of search results. Then ask yourself this: “is the content on the landing page summarized accurately by your meta description?” If you can’t come up with an answer straight away, your visitors may click on your link thinking that it’s about one thing, discover that it isn’t, and then promptly bounce back to the SERP. Whether this was an honest mistake or you’ve been trying to game the system with clickbait, this issue is generally pretty easy to fix. You can either review the content on the page and adjust the title and meta description, or rewrite the content to address the queries you’re trying to rank for in a more direct and immediate way.

Technical Errors and Blank Pages
Two of the most common causes for exceptionally high bounce rates are blank pages and 404 errors. If your bounce rate is astronomical, look into it by checking out a page using your target market’s most popular device configurations and web browser, and see their experience from their point of view. You can also check the search console by going to crawl > crawl errors, which will show you the issue from Google’s perspective. You can then either correct the issue on your own steam, or outsource the work to someone with more expertise. However you go about it, act fast! An issue like this can cause Google to drop your site from an SERP from one minute to the next.

Bad Backlinking
There’s a possibility that you’re doing everything perfectly on your end, and the root of your high bounce rate is in your referral traffic. A referral site or sites could be sending you unqualified visitors, or the anchor text and context of a certain link could be misleading in some way. In many cases, this is simply down to poor copywriting. If the writer or the publisher embedded your link in the wrong part of the copy, or didn’t mean to link to your site at all, it can bring a decent level of traffic, but not the kind you want! Start off by getting in contact with the person who wrote the article, or the editor or webmaster failing that. Explain your case, and politely ask them to remove the link or update the context, no matter how annoyed you are by it! In rare instances, this may be an act of sabotage using black hat SEO tactics, whether out of commercial competition or spite for your brand. In this case, you’ll need to update your disavow file in the search console.

Poor or Under-Optimized Content
Don’t take it personally, but sometimes the reason for a high bounce rate is simply that your content isn’t good enough to hold your visitors’ attention! Open your landing page and take a long, hard look at it. Have someone you can trust to be honest review it, ideally someone in your target market, or someone with a strong background in copywriting. Sometimes, the content itself is great, but you simply haven’t optimized it well enough. Sticking to simple sentences, making it easily scan-able, and breaking the text up with images are all important. Writing great web content is far from easy, but, as with anything, practice makes perfect.

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