How to maintain a low bounce rate

How to maintain a low bounce rate
22 February 2012 | | Search Engine Optimisation

For those of you that follow any search engine optimization blogs, or just SEO in general, then you will know of the bounce rate metric.  It sounds like a very innocent measurement, but in reality it can become the bane of a webmaster or SEO programmers life as they rack their brains thinking of ways to ensure that a visitor doesn’t head straight back to the SERPs as soon as they’ve landed on a page.

It’s a difficult metric to fully comprehend, because a high bounce rate doesn’t instantly indicate a low quality page. For example, if the a visitor referred from the search engines lands on one of your blog posts, this might answer the query that brought them there in the first place, so they would have no need to progress further into the site. The problem is for homepages and product pages that have a high bounce rate, because naturally you’d want users to progress from those pages deeper into the site. With that in mind, here are a few tips you can use to ensure that bounce rate on your key landing pages remains low.

Lower your Bounce Rate

1. Optimise Navigation

One of the most effective ways of lowering bounce rate is to ensure that internal navigation on the website is fluid and intuitive; encouraging visitors to explore further by using intelligent link descriptions written with benefit-focused language. The more encouragement that you give your website visitors that your site is worth exploring, the more likely they are to delve further in and lower the bounce rate of your important landing pages. The language you use for your links, and how they connect the pages on your website is only one aspect of how the navigation can be optimised, perhaps equally important is where the links are placed on the page.

The most important links on your webpage should obviously be placed in a prominent position, with the ideal location being in a toolbar at the top of the page that makes them identifiable from the rest of the page. Experiments have proved the internet users browse the internet in an F-shape, starting at the top left, and then scanning across and down. The links placed at the top of the page almost guarantee that the reader will view and process them, making them much more likely to be followed and thus reducing the bounce rate for that page.

2. Optimise Every Page

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, not every page can be judged purely by its bounce rate, but even so, every webpage needs to be optimised to encourage the visitors to spend as much time as possible at the site. Not only will this improve bounce rate for pages across your site, but it can also cause your visitors to leave with heightened sense of brand awareness, making them much more likely to become repeat customers, or at least return visitors. It is crucial that each page is fully functional, useful, interesting and visually appealing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the ‘Contact Us’ page or the ‘Homepage’; they both contribute to improving user experience, and optimising every page can contribute to a lower bounce rate.

3. Use a simple page design

This is something I briefly mentioned in the first point about optimising navigation, but I think it’s worth covering in a bit more detail. The design of your webpages is conducive to how visitors perceive your website, so an attractive, well-structured page layout will often contribute to a positive user experience. Web design incorporates everything from the images on the page, to the language you use in your headlines and where the on-page text is located. Another important aspect of web design is to practice consistency across your web pages – even something as minor as varying font size in a headline could cause the user discomfort as they browse your site, and it could eventually cause them to leave the site, which obviously impacts bounce rate. The best website layouts emphasise quality, original content and encourages users to explore intuitively, helping important webpages to maintain a low bounce rate.

4. Update content regularly and show snippets

Updating content regularly has two benefits – primarily it shows to your visitors that you take an active interest in your area of expertise and are willing to share engaging content with your users, and it causes the search engines to crawl your site more often. Also, regularly updating your blog will encourage users to return to your site because they can be confident of finding new and exciting content. While this might not directly affect bounce rate, creating a comfortable, user-friendly and engaging website will ensure that visitors to the site will take more time appreciating every page.

5. Create opportunities for users to navigate

It is important that as a web designer or website owner, you create as many opportunities as possible for the users to continue exploring into your website. Again, use a well-structured web design to give your links predominant placement on the page, and also create links in blogs, product descriptions and at the end of posts. This is particularly important if your website doesn’t use sidebars, because it ensures that the visitor to the site has to acknowledge the links are there if they read the text.

That concludes my top 5 tips to maintaining a low bounce rate. Obviously there are many other techniques and tactics that can be used to lower bounce rate, but hopefully I’ve covered some of the most effective suggestions. If you would like any further information regarding search engine optimisation, please visit www.dental-design-products.co.uk or call 01202-677277.

 

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