One of the things you've learned over the years is that it isn't enough to drive traffic to your site. After people reach you for whatever reason, you want them to stay long enough to get a good idea of what you have to offer. When they don't all those marketing strategies have left you with little to nothing to show for it. You, my friend, are dealing with what's known as a lousy bounce rate. Unless you are ready to throw in the towel and give up on your dream, something has to change. Here's how you go about making that change.
Understanding What's Meant by a Bounce Rate
If you haven't heart of the term before, you may think that a bounce rate is not all that important. In fact, it's just as important as your content, your images, and the methods you use to drive traffic to your site.
So what is a bounce rate? Simply put, it's not a measurement of not how many people show up to look at your site. It has to do with how long they chose to stick around and move from page to page checking out what you have to offer.
When a significant majority of the hits to your site show that the visitors are spending several minutes lingering on a page, then moving on to another page on the site for a few minutes, and then maybe even checking out a third one, you have an excellent bounce rate. Most of your visitors are finding value at your site and will likely be back for more. That's a good thing.
A poor bounce rate means that people arrive at your site, make a quick check of the page they happen to land on, and then move on to some other site. They don't linger long enough to get an idea of what you have to say or offer and will likely not be back again. With a poor rate, the opportunity to build a connection has passed and it may never come your way again.
There are plenty of online tools that help you determine what type of bounce rate you are incurring. Along with resources provided by your web host company, different search engines also provide handy tools you can use. Given that Google remains the single most popular search engine in the world, using Google Analytics is a great way to get an overall view of your rate and even break it down so you can distinguish new from recurring visitors.
So are you stuck with what you've got from now on? Far from it. Let's move on to what you need to do to improve your bounce rate and build your brand.
How's Your Content Doing?
Somebody once said that companies needed to update their sales collateral at least once every 18 months. With the content on your website, it pays to freshen it on an ongoing basis. Blogs need new posts and even pages on a web site should sport fresh or reworked content from time to time.
Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. What ranked high in search engine results a few years ago will not place anywhere near the first few pages today. That means your content must be more relevant and more compelling that it ever was.
If you've been trying to get by with content that was written years ago, you're missing the boat. Update the content so it's in line with what attracts search engine love these days, ensure it flows naturally, and that it will hold the interest of the reader. Along with improving your bounce rate, the freshened content will also enhance what visitors think about your site.
Are Your Pages Loading Fast Enough?
There are times when less is more. It was true before the advent of the Internet and it's true today. You may believe that using all sorts of animation and interesting ways to have images and data fade in and out make your pages more exciting, but people who have time to fry some eggs and make a pot of coffee before coming back to see if the page they want to see has loaded will have a different opinion.
Think about your target audience. Are they likely to have access to higher speed connections that can handle all those bells and whistles? If not, you need to think about simplifying those pages and making sure they load quickly. Nothing dampens enthusiasm like watching a page load...and load...and load. Fix that and you will see an uptick in the amount of time people stay on your pages.
Using Backlinks Wisely
Backlinks are a great way to drive traffic to your site, but be careful in how you use them. Those links must take the reader to something that is directly relevant to the anchor text. In times past, most search engines would not penalize a site for using any old phrase as a reason to backlink to another page. That's no longer the case. Play fast and loose with the anchor text and where it takes readers and you could find yourself at the bottom of the search engine results.
If you are not happy with the amount of time people spend on your pages after the click one of those backlinks, it may be because they see something other than what they expected. Take those links down and create new ones that will direct people to information they can put to good use.
Your Marketing Campaign and the Effects on Your Bounce Rate
It isn't just the backlinks, the page load times, and the quality of the content you need to address. The issue could be the marketing campaign you currently have in place.
Campaigns that try to reach the widest audience possible, whether that wide audience really cares about what you have to offer or not, will likely result in a huge amount of hits to your pages. Many of those visitors will take one quick glance and go away. Why? Because they see nothing that motivates them to stick around.
Refining your marketing campaign to target specific sectors of the consumer market will result in fewer hits, but the people who do come to your site are more likely to stay around long enough to find something they can use. Ultimately, that's good for your search engine rankings, the amount of favor you cultivate with search engines, and the positive reputation that you build with consumers.
If you are not happy with your bounce rate, address these four areas and make some changes if necessary. Along the way, you'll think of some other enhancements that will appeal to your site visitors and make the experience better for them and more lucrative for you.