By Stuart Taylor, Director of Digital Development at Rouge Media
John Wannamaker, one of America’s advertising pioneers, is quoted as saying “When a customer enters my store, forget me. He is king.”
Well, this attitude is as true for early 20th-century American department stores as it is for website design today (apart from the out-of-date male pronoun bias). Yet, it is something many B2B organisations seem to get wrong.
When designing a business website, the user is king. And bounce rate is an extremely important metric for measuring whether your website is easy to use and fulfils users’ needs without them searching elsewhere.
Below are 11 useful tips to improve a website’s bounce rate…
- First impressions matter
Within a 1/20th of a second a user makes an impression about your website – and your company.
That’s down to what scientists call the halo effect that causes people to be biased in their judgments about something if it looks “good”.
Due to this, in some instances, users would put up with poor functionality if a website is visually appealing.
- Assess what’s top of the ranks
Google continuously updates and refreshes its algorithm. Look at the content that is highly ranked on Google to identify what its algorithm thinks is good, engaging content and emulate it.
High-quality content could be on a service or product page, FAQs that answer high-volume searches, or interesting and relevant blog content.
- Up your internal links
A simple way to reduce your bounce rate is to increase the number of internal links to relevant pages. This encourages users to click on another page rather than exiting the site. Internal links also increase the number of pages a user visits in one session.
Ensure these links are placed less than halfway down the page, as users are less likely to scroll to the bottom of the page. Consider placing links at the beginning or end of sentences too. And always highlight them as hyperlinked text.
- Improve page load time
Waiting for a page to load is one of the most frustrating experiences for users.
Check your website’s page speed by using Google’s Page Speed tool. If loading time is worse than average, it may be worth investing in a hosting upgrade. This will ensure that the server’s load time is not affecting your website. Consider using smaller images and fewer plugins as these require more time to load.
- Identify poor performing pages
One poorly performing page could be letting the whole site down. Use Google Analytics data to identify pages with the highest bounce rates and prioritise making changes to these first.
- Limit pain points
A website with distracting, difficult to use and annoying features will only leave your users frustrated. Persistent pop-ups, interstitials (ads which appear while a screen is loading) and overlays are usually the worst offenders.
Keep these to a minimum and only highlight the most relevant information to the user.
- Readability is key
Sensory overload on a website will do more harm than good. Rather, a website should have a clear flow and a simple structure.
Encourage readability by designing navigation bars with the pages users are likely to need first, avoid large chunks of text, and highlight subheadings and key information clearly.
A well thought out sitemap, where key pages are easy to find with minimal effort, will do wonders for your customers’ experience.
- Have a clear call-to-action
A clear call-to-action increases your chance of turning a user into a customer.
Encourage a desired action by highlighting the benefits. Make a promise, use adjectives and provide numbers (such as sign up and receive 20 percent off). This language motivates the user and provides a reason for them to engage.
- Use breadcrumb links
If your website is an e-commerce platform, make it as easy as possible for users to navigate to associated categories and subcategories by using breadcrumb links – including location links or attribute links.
Ensure the titles and placement of these links are consistent to avoid confusing the user. And remember these links shouldn’t be used as your site’s main navigation, but rather an add-on to make the user’s journey easier.
- Reduce 404 errors
404 errors are a quick way to drive users away from your site. If there is a page that has been permanently deleted, consider restoring it or redirecting to a page with similar information.
Sometimes these errors are unavoidable, so consider customising your 404 page with a humorous message and encourage users to search for another page.
There are many powerful tools available that can provide heaps of data about your website. Try the Screaming Frog SEO Spider (a website crawler) to identify broken links on your site.
- Consider using adjusted bounce rate
While these tips can help to reduce your website’s bounce rate, remember that a standard bounce rate does not highlight how much time is spent on the page.
For example, a user may find all the information they require on the first page they land on and then leave. The bounce rate does not factor this in.
A recent Google Analytics update allows for an adjusted bounce rate, giving you more insight into the number of visits a page receives, as well as the amount of time spent on the page.