Bounce Rates - How High is Too High?
How high is too high? Is there such a thing as "too low?" Those are questions I hear a lot. We see bounce rates, and we think that they mean someone came to our site, then left… and leaving is a bad thing, right? In reality, that’s not all there is to it, and for some types of pages leaving is something we should expect.
Bounce Rates as defined by Google:
On the surface that may sound pretty basic. But does it really mean there’s a problem if someone visits your site and then leaves without going anywhere else? No. In fact, there are some times when it is completely understandable and reflects the behavior you’ve planned for on a specific page. So, on what kinds of pages are high bounce rates acceptable?
Landing Pages for Digital Advertising
A good landing page design is built to keep visitors focused on that page and following a sales funnel. The primary goal is to get them to act on your call-to-action (CTA). That may be applying for a loan, requesting more information, opening an account, signing up for a seminar or purchasing something. When any one of those actions takes the visitor off your site before they’ve visited another page on your site, it will show as a bounce. A well-built landing page will not allow someone to move to other parts of your main website. There should be no navigation tabs, no advertisements, nothing to distract that visitor from your main intention, getting them to take the action you’re encouraging them to take. So a high bounce rate on a landing page makes sense.
Blog posts and blogs in general, can have a higher than average bounce rate. This is due to many people bookmarking your blog. They go back directly to that page when they want to read, and then leave it. Or they go from a hyperlink on a social site, or an email notification to a blog article, then leave when they’re done reading. In both instances, you would see 100% bounce, but in both instances people have done what you wanted – a perfect example of when a high bounce rate is a good bounce rate.
If your bank or credit union website has a rate page, just as with the blog, people may bookmark the page and visit frequently, never visiting another page until they’re ready to either do more research or actually buy. Rate pages with high bounce rates usually indicate that people have visited, checked your rates, and then left your site. It’s not unusual with a rate page.
Pages with Missing Tracking Tokens
If someone visits a tracked page, then leaves that page and goes to another page on your site that doesn’t have tracking tokens, it will show as a bounce on that first page, in spite of the fact that the visitor stayed on your site. The reason for this is, Google, or your tracking system, can’t see the visitor once they’ve left a tracked page and gone to an untracked page. In order to get true data for your site, it’s important to make certain tracking is set up for all pages on your site.
So what else can you track to support your SEO/Website efforts?
This reflects how deeply into your site your visitors go. Bounce rate may be high on individual pages, but setting a baseline on the number of pages people visit, and then setting a goal to increase this number is a good idea. One way to increase the number of pages visited is to use internal links on content-based pages. They assist visitors in discovering related pages they may be interested in. Avoid using internal links for unrelated pages simply to boost results. “Linked-to” pages will also be reviewed by search engine crawlers, and unrelated links can be seen as spam by those “important visitors.”
If you’ve got a high bounce rate and someone is spending less than 10 seconds on the site you probably should reconsider the design of your pages. Setting a baseline on how much time the average visitor spends on your site, and then working to increase that time is a great way to measure SEO and website success. How do you increase session duration? Consider the layout of your pages and how easy they are to read. Are they skimmable, do you use bullets, etc.? Also keep in mind that visitors to a mobile site are, by their very nature as mobile visitors, going to spend less time on your site. Monitor trends on mobile vs. desktop and set goals separately for each.
Bringing new visitors to your website to educate them on your products, services, brand, and why they want to do business with you is an important job for a website. Monitoring the number of new visitors to the site over time and looking at it as a percentage of total visits is another way to show progress in the quality of your SEO and website.
Organic vs. Direct Traffic
Direct traffic is traffic that came to your site by entering a specific URL into their browser. They may have cut and pasted it or bookmarked your page, but bottom line is they knew where they were going to start. Organic traffic comes from someone doing a search with keywords and selecting your page from the search engine results page (SERP). When this happens, you have confirmation that your page showed up on the first few pages of the results. In Google Analytics you can research which keywords were used for searches that resulted in visits to your page. You may find that the majority used keywords that included your brand name, but you may also find that some searches were new keywords you can use for tracking. You can also set a baseline and work to increase organic traffic.
When it comes to bounce rates there are some basic guidelines to shoot for. Gorocketfuel.com explains bounce rates in ranges:
“As a rule of thumb, a bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40 percent is excellent. 41 to 55 percent is roughly average. 56 to 70 percent is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the website. Anything over 70 percent is disappointing for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc.”
In the end there are many factors that impact bounce rates. A higher rate isn’t always a sign that something is wrong. If your bounce rate is below 26% it could be cause for research as well. From my experience, in the financial industry, with so many pages on a site being single visit pages, anything in the 50% – 65% range is decent, but focusing on lowering those rates is a good goal for your overall site experience. Review your site results for 3 – 6 months to determine a baseline, then set reasonable goals for improvement and develop a strategy to achieve those goals. Bounce rates are just one aspect of a website, but they are an aspect that you can improve on.
Madeline Anderson-Balmer is Vice President and Director of Digital Marketing for McDougall + Duval Advertising and writes from her 20+ years of experience working with banks and credit unions. She can analyze a company’s web presence, assist in Adwords strategy and oversight, and help build ROI reports to prove the return on your marketing budget. She’s also a great source for original content.
Are you looking to expand your digital presence with PPC advertising, social media/blog activity, or a search engine optimized website? Call Madeline today at 978-388-3100. Or visit mcdougallduval.com/SEO-Audit to take advantage of a special offer.