The Bounce Rate – 12 considerations

The Bounce Rate – 12 considerations
23 January 2013 | | Search Engine Optimisation

Bounce rate is one of those quality metrics that gets tossed around a lot in the search engine space. People are almost always talking about absolutes in terms of “this is how XYZ will reduce your bounce rate,” and so on.

The SEO team at Dental Design don’t subscribe to this school of thought; bounce rates need to be looked at subjectively.

While there are some general best practices, for the most part certain activities prescribed as absolute can both hurt and help websites.

Let’s take a closer look at the bounce rate, what it actually is, what information we can gleam from its behaviour and what measures we can take in an effort to reduce it.

The meaning of bounce rate.

 Bounce rate is often confused with exit rate, and the difference is important; bounce rate is a measure of people who bounced off a single page (i.e., they did not visit any other pages within your website), whereas exit rate is simply a measure of the percentage of visitors who left your site from that page.

The meaning of a high Bounce rate

Websites across the World Wide Web a high bounce rate can be indicative of a number of things but usually falls into one of two categories:

  1. You're acquiring the wrong kind of traffic to your page(s), or
  2. You're acquiring exactly the right kind of traffic to your page(s).

Did number 2 throw you for a loop? Most people forget about the second scenario, since most websites tend to fall victim to the first.

But think about this for a second: if a user comes into your site and finds exactly what they were looking for; an answer to their question or solution to their problem, why should they stay a moment longer or look around on other pages?

Websites that are excellent at solving information problems quickly often have high bounce rates. Users come in, get the answers they need, and leave; but come back often.

What a high bounce rate means for a Dental Practice Website

Websites where it is critical to get your visitors to stick, (dental practice websites) you want them to spend time clicking around the site, perusing content, and build toward a conversion.

In these instances high bounce rates are a conversion killer, and anything you can do to increase the time on site and number of pageviews will most likely directly correlate to your site’s success and your bottom line.

Why It’s Important to Reduce Your Bounce Rate

 Reducing the bounce rate on pages that have the highest volume of traffic from your highest converting sources means more engaged visitors and a greater chance of conversion.

What follows is a list of 12 considerations for reducing your bounce rate. These are by no means absolutes and are relative to my experience with dental practice websites, but generally speaking, these are worth thinking about.

1.     You Should Probably Avoid Pop-ups

Pop-up ads annoy people. In some rare cases they offer something worth the intrusion, but usually they disrupt the user experience.

2.     Use Intuitive Navigation for Important Items

Don’t make your visitors feel dumb (or think you’re dumb) for not providing them with clear and obvious paths to get the content they may be looking for.

The most common reaction to not being able to find something that should be obvious is frustration – and if you've ever been on a web page where you can’t figure out how or where to navigate, this is exactly how you feel.

3.     Poor Design is Increasingly Less Tolerable

I’m not just talking about gradients and drop shadows; design now transcends the whole user experience. Your content needs to be attractive; both in terms of graphical treatments and readability.

Design for your target audience, which may not necessarily be the audience you already have, or at least not the majority of it. Design has become a legitimacy signal and the lack thereof can directly impact visitors (and prospects) perceptions of the quality of practice.

4.     Speed

This pretty much goes without saying these days but nothing really affects bounce rate like having a web page that takes 10 seconds to load.

Not only is this a confirmed ranking factor and lends directly to user experience, but it can cause your follower reach to stall, negatively impact your search rankings, and destroy your conversion rates. 

5. Is your website mobile

Being mobile friendly addresses how easy it is to use your site via a device (mobile/tablet). Being mobile friendly is ideal, i.e. having a responsive site which adapts to the size of the screen on which it is being viewed.

At the very least consider your older, cluttered site, which will definitely be unreadable, and offer poor navigation routes on a small mobile/tablet screen, so hardly functional, never mind friendly.

Furthermore, mobile usability does not necessarily mean from a design compatibility and accessibility standpoint, in many cases it means is the language on your site simple and clear enough that people on the go (on mobile devices) can still make sense of what they need to do to find information and at the very least contact you if necessary.

6.     Segment Information

This is another perspective on creating content that is designed to be digested and consumed. Readability is important here but so is the idea of grouping content into segments or categories – such as treatments available.

7.     Colour Contrast

Readers need contrast. Contrast between colours can make a dull story into an exciting one and conversely can turn the most exciting content in the world into a palette of indiscernible whites and greys if not given proper consideration.

Contrast is important to Choose free online slots without signing up based on your skills, your gaming habits and personal requirements. consider as the web moves faster towards different mediums of content, with more and more happening on the pages, it is important to use colours and patterns to draw your reader's eyes toward the important parts of the page.

8.     Messaging is Blatantly Obvious

This is another consideration when it comes to focus and attention. Remember you only have a few seconds to translate value to a new visitor, so don’t make them guess.

Taglines are a great way to quickly translate purpose, but if you don’t have one another simple way is to place your site’s purpose in plain text in an obvious place (like the header or the top of the sidebar).

9.     Cut Out Distractions

I wish I could say this goes without saying, but I still run into websites on a weekly basis that autoplay audio and video. These are distractions and intrusions that aren't expected and break the experience.

Cutting out distractions not only leads to better bounce rates, but usually dramatically increases your conversion rates.

9.     Offer related content

If you don’t offer related content on your pages, or intuitive navigation (hopefully with some sort of hook or teaser) then you're missing out on a substantial number of pageviews and the opportunity to be more of a sticky resource.

For example a special offer works well here, but enticing the user to view the offer within an inner page.

11.  Open External Links in New Windows

This is an incredibly simple concept that is still often overlooked, but if you're going to link out to a resource on your website, make sure you have it open a new window instead of redirecting the user off your site.

The best (and easiest way) to do this is to simply add target=”_blank” into the link’s tag. So for example; anchor text.

12.  Split Up Long Posts

People have shorter attention spans than ever before. So when they see long posts they are immediately reminded of times in high school trudging through massive texts of traditional English literature.

Consider instead splitting these up either into separate posts in a series or adding pagination to break up the content into smaller and more digestible chunks.

Conclusion

Arguably, the most important aspect of your site with regards to the rest of the practice is its return on investment and its ability to fulfill any practice objectives such as new patient generation and increasing brand presence. Reducing the bounce rate more often than not is an indication of increased engagement of the site, with potential increase in conversion rates.

As described at the beginning of this post, the bounce rate is just one of many analytic tools used to manage the performance of a site. Fixation on any one of these tools can end up having a negative impact on a sites long-term future. A holistic approach to address all SEO tools, factors and challenges is prescribed here – a stance our SEO team utilise in our everyday management of our dental websites.

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