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Dec 3, 2012

The Correct Measure of Bounce Rate Plus How To Reduce It

A universally accepted definition of bounce rate is hard to find. In fact there are (at least) two ways of defining bounce rate :

1. Bounce rate is a measure of the number of visits to your website that comprise of a single page view, expressed as a percentage of the total number of (unique) visitors to your website.

2. Bounce rate is a measure of the number of visitors to your website who stay on your website only for a very short span of time (Eg. 10 seconds or less), expressed as a percentage of the total number of unique visitors to your website.

Reduce Website Bounce rate
On the whole bounce rate is a measure of user engagement that tells us whether or not a website is able to deliver VALUE to its readers. Sites with high bounce rate are the ones that provide very little to no value to their visitors.

Though a lot of analytical packages use the first definition as a measure of bounce rate, the same is ideally not a true measure of user engagement or the lack of it. This is because a visitor might find a page useful enough for his information needs and yet refrain from visiting any other page on the same website for the simple reason that he has already found what he was looking for.

In the backdrop of the above discussion, we see that the second definition is actually a better measure of bounce rate, and we take this definition as the basis of the following discussion.

Bounce Rate and SEO

Bounce rate is one metric you cannot ignore as far as your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts are concerned. This is because the abundance of spun content on the Internet has prompted major search engines to make certain algorithm changes that are designed to down rank websites that deliver ZERO VALUE to their visitors.

Thus if your website has a very high bounce rate, you run the risk of being downgraded in search rankings and thus lose out on all the traffic that was coming to you via the search engines.

Your search engine optimisation strategy should therefore incorporate a plan for the strategic reduction of bounce rate in a bid to improve your search engine rankings.

Note: Under the second definition, a bounce rate of even 50% should be considered VERY high.

Causes of a High Bounce Rate

The potential causes of a high bounce rate for a website can be as follows:

1. The website was too slow to load. According to the Kissmetrics Blog, slower page response time results in an increase in page abandonment.

2. The website content hardly delivers any value to the readers. Even pages with poorly written and/or irrelevant content can have high bounce rates.

3. Poor site design and/or navigation interface.

4. Advertisement or third-party content that may be considered to be unsuitable or even offensive.

Steps to be taken to reduce your Bounce rate

The following steps can be taken to reduce the website's bounce rate.

1. Concentrate on delivering value to your readers every time. Your content must be interesting or compelling enough to induce your visitors to spend more time on your website.

Make your content more compelling and induce user engagement by:

a) Incorporating an interesting image.
b) Using the first few lines to build anticipation and interest.
c) Asking questions that induces thought.
d) Providing clear-cut solutions to problems.
e) Ensuring that your content is free from all errors – grammatical or otherwise.

2. Cut down on the time it takes for your website to load. Make sure that third party content or applications are not compromising your page load speed.

3. It's true that most websites would not survive without advertisements. However it is important that you keep the number of ad–units to a reasonable number so that it does not come in the way of your visitors' getting the most out of your website.

4.  Work on your site design and make sure that your website is easy to navigate.

Thanks for your time.

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