Should You Worry About Your Website’s Bounce Rate?

First, let’s define what a bounce rate is exactly.  A bounce is essentially when a user come to your site and leaves within 8 seconds.  Therefore, if 100 people come to your site and 50 people leave in under 8 seconds, your site has an 80% bounce rate. 

draft_lens6283072module56492722photo_1252537478funnelWhen designing a conversion optimization strategy for any website, it is important to first define the goals of the website.  And to define the goals of the website, you must determine the true business goals.  The business goals (i.e. revenue and profit for example) will define the website goals, and the website goals will determine the conversion goals that must be set. 

Any business would naturally want to reduce their bounce rate as much as possible right?  The longer a user is on the website the more likely they are to convert right?  This is somewhat true in many case but again it goes back to website goals.  So is a high bounce rate really a problem?  In some cases, not so much.  Here is why:

Scenario 1:  A home page for example might receive a high volume of search traffic due to great organic rankings from broad search terms.  Often broad search traffic from short tail keywords drives “unqualified” traffic or people simply browsing the web.  If they do not see what they are looking for they might leave quickly, but this does not necessarily mean the page is not well optimized for your target audience.  Your conversion rate for the actual users you care about might be higher then you can tell from the overall bounce rate. 

Scenario 2:  In another case, a page might do a fantastic job of communicating your brand messsage or product offering, but might simply be receiving less targeted traffic.  In that case people will quickly understand what you do without having to stay on the page longer or dive deeper into the website.

A high bounce rate can of course be a huge problem.  If your website is essentially getting the right kind of traffic and the page is not meeting your defined conversion goals, this will negatively affect your business goals.  But don’t just use “reducing the bounce rate” as your conversion goals for A/B testing or multivariate testing.  You should still use your revenue goals as the benchmark.

Here are some examples of how using bounce rate reduction as your only goal can hurt revenue:

  • Removing pricing from the page can reduce bounce rate but negatively affect conversions (having unqualified users digging deeper until they find out they can’t afford your product)
  • Having too many special offers, discounts, or FREE services can improve bounce rate but potentially hurt revenue because the people that are converting are buying at a discount or getting free services
  • Adding too much content or too many additonal tabs to the page that will keep the user longer but distract them from the end goal – in this case it can often be a good idea to put the bulk of the additonal content and resource below the fold and focus on the calls to action above the fold

When considering conversion optimization as it relates to PPC landing pages you must consider Google Quality Score guidelines.  To achieve a high Quality Score, many things are factored but landing page quality is high on the priority list.  The days of simple pages from brand new URLs with limited content and only a large call to action are over.  Google wants to see that the page is relevant, that there is good supporting content, keyword association, good domain history, etc. 

Here are some very basic tips to acheive a higher quality score as it relates to your PPC landing pages:

  • Use a URL with good domain history – for example instead of creating a new landing page for a product launch by using the product name, create a new sub page under the main company URL.  If your company website is AwesomeMedicalSupplies.com and you want to launch a PPC campaign for a new product launch (your product is “Spiderman Band Aids”), you should host the page on AwesomeMedicalSupplies.com/Spiderman-band-aids/ instead of a brand new URL unrelated to the main website.
  • Have compelling content – these days PPC landing pages should have a decent amount of content especially if the URL or website is newer.  If your business is a large recognized brand, you probably won’t have to worry about quality score if your pages are set up correctly.  But for newer sites and pages, content is important.  Video content in fact is a great way to engage the users and becoming a very popular form of landing page content.

Here are some general conversion goals that are tied to revenue that can be used in a conversion optimization strategy:

  • Revenue per user
  • Reducing CPA (cost per acquisition)
  • Return on Ad spend
  • Registration conversion rate
  • Click to call conversion rate
  • Software download
  • Whitepaper download
  • and the list goes on and on…

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