The time somebody spends on your website influences your search engine page ranking. The bounce rate on your website measures the percentage of visitors who clicked away after they first landed on a page, and, in theory, if customers ‘click and go’, your content’s quality is questionable. As such, it’s always crucial to look for ways to cut your website’s bounce rate.
Manage to the 8-second rule
While it is disheartening to know, the average human’s attention span now sits at 8 seconds.
Before you make any changes, investigate how your website looks and feels to a customer. By all means ask ‘real’ customers, but take time to click through the pages with a critical eye yourself. Constantly keep that eight-second attention span in mind and ask yourself two questions:
- How long does it take me to find something?
- How long does it take me to get what I want, once I know where it is?
In both cases, if the answer is more than eight seconds, your website is in trouble.
Use infinite scrolling in your design
Older website designs generally expect visitors to click around to view new pages and content. This concept once worked well for many online businesses, but modern consumers are increasingly impatient and easy to distract. Infinite scrolling works around this problem by removing the need to click away. As you scroll down the screen, the website intuitively presents the next page you want to see.
With infinite scrolling, it’s important to decide how to present pages. For example, Time magazine’s website presents a series of ‘top’ news stories, while NBC News instead opts to present more related articles. What you present to your customers is just as important as how you present it, but infinite scrolling can seriously slash your bounce rate. Since the site added this design feature, Time.com’s number fell by 15 percent.
Make the most of engagement objects
Marketers love to refer to website features as ‘engagement objects’, but these tools and tricks are really just different ways to display content.
To counter that eight-second attention span, one simple trick is to display information in different ways. Common (and popular) engagement objects include:
- Embedded videos. Everyone likes to watch the cat landing on Grandma while she’s asleep, right?
- Pictures and images. Dull information can easily spring to life, if you present statistics and trends as pretty pictures.
- Polls. Most Internet users want to express an opinion, and polls can also help you gather real-time feedback on your web content.
Engagement objects work well on almost any website. Every type of business can present content in different ways, and it’s always useful to remember the lure that a video or poll can bring.
Get faster and faster
Few performance issues have a bigger impact on bounce rate than page loading times. Your visitors are incredibly impatient, and if your content isn’t almost immediately accessible, they are likely to click away. Reasonably fast isn’t good enough anymore. As a business website owner, you simply cannot tolerate pages that aren’t fully performance-optimized.
First, you need to find out how your pages perform now. You can use a variety of online tools, but Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool is pretty good. A score of 85 or more tells you your page is performing well, and the tool also highlights areas where you should focus your improvement efforts.
Focus on quality
While some web trends come and go, quality stays at the top of the developer’s agenda. If anything is going to alienate visitors to your pages, quality problems are almost certainly the number one gripe.
Visitors to your website want to see evidence of time, care and attention on your pages, and, what’s more, modern consumers are bitingly critical. A single mistake can immediately turn away sophisticated twenty-first century web users, with increasingly high expectations. To make life even harder, search engines now actively seek and penalize low-quality websites. They won’t necessarily publish the full list of criteria they use, but a Google penalty could seriously cut traffic to your site.
Common mistakes that customers (and search engines) hate include:
- Internal 404 errors
- Broken external links
- 302 errors (that relate to content you have temporarily moved)
These (and other) technical issues aside, quality isn’t just about making sure pages work. It’s also important to review the content on your pages, and remove anything that doesn’t tick the quality box. You can’t easily set rules about this issue, but it often helps to check pages from a customer’s perspective.
Ask yourself simple questions. Is the information accurate and relevant? Is the content helpful? Are you publishing original material and new ideas? Would a visitor think you are an expert in your field? If you can’t positively answer those questions, remove, revise and republish the content.
Bounce rate is only one measure that allows search engines to rank your pages, but it’s a simple, useful indicator to help you assess your website’s performance. Work tirelessly to understand your bounce rate, and, most importantly, constantly take action to help drive the number down.