Of all the metrics that I struggle and fight with, probably the easiest one I’ve found to correct is a high bounce rate. The reality of website design lies in the fact that many choices are made in page layout, color and image choice based on what the graphic designer or website owner like—not what the customer wants.
Testing on the web has come such a long way in recent years. Once upon a time you had to make a change, and then watch metrics to see if things were better or worse. Now you can make educated choices to determine why people aren’t clicking on a button, or why they’re distracted from beginning your sales funnel with a variety of inexpensive tools and metrics that any webmaster, beginner or expert, can use. Aside from systemic issues such as bad coding that makes pages load extremely slowly, its quite easy to fix your high bounce rate pages.
Fixing high bounce rate pages in two simple steps
The first thing I do when I work on a web page with a high bounce rate is figure out what is distracting the user and making them leave. I always start with the organic phrases used to find that page. For example, one of my clients offers vacation rental units in a variety of complexes around Mexico coastal resorts. His number two keyword is “Riviera Maya weather.” The landing page for that keyword has a 70%+ bounce rate, and my client wanted to know why. All it took was a quick look at the page to see that it isn’t about weather at all—it’s about renting vacation units in a complex, with weather info pasted in below the fold.
The problem? the searcher is mislead to believe the page is about weather. When they land on the page and don’t see the weather information they’re expecting, they leave right away, their queries unanswered. In this scenario we’ve learned the first rule of fixing high bounce rate pages: Make sure traffic to the page is targeted and you’re giving users what you promise in the search query on the landing page they arrive on.
After determining the traffic to the page is targeted and should be engaging with the content, I look at the layout itself. I use a few tools for this depending upon the timeframe I have for research. If I need immediate results I capture a .jpeg of the above the fold portion of web page, and run it through the Attention Wizard tool from Site Tuners. This tool simulates the eye tracking on a page via an algorithm and generates a heat map of the hot spots and path the typical eye will take around the page. This provides really quite remarkable insight that can help you find fast ideas for improving engagement on a page. Attention Wizard is also great for testing page layouts you want to try, because the page doesn’t have to be live anywhere. If you can create a .jpg of a page you can test its potential results.
If I have more time to test, and want results based on the eyetracking from actual visitors rather than that simulated by an algorithm, I use ClickTale, which I’ve talked about previously.
Either tool will help you determine where they eye and the mouse is going instead of into your sales funnel. Use this data to improve page layout and get users to your message faster. The second rule of fixing high bounce rate pages: Make your conversion path so easy to follow that a monkey could figure it out.
Bounce rates can kill your conversion path, but in reality they’re pretty simple to fix. Can every high bounce rate page be fixed with these steps? Probably not, but I bet you can address 75% of the issues caused by high bounce rate pages by following these steps.
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