As I was drawing up the results of a performance audit that I had completed for one of our clients, I highlighted the fact that there was a high bounce rate on one of the site’s pages. The client responded: “Yes, but that’s normal.” Their reasoning was that the aim of the page was to provide visitors with a piece of information, and that the visitors who had visited the page had gotten what they were looking for. Of course, it would then seem natural for users to immediately leave the site from the landing page, and as long as these users are satisfied, it doesn’t appear to be a problem.
Many of us have used this reasoning to justify bounce rates of more than 80% on our pages. But I feel that the time has come to stop using this type of explanation.
What type of entry pages does this include?
Pages which provide Internet users with information, and which users visit just to obtain the information they need. Some examples include a store description page providing information on hours, a hotel’s page providing a map and information on location, a page providing information on a city’s weather, a page informing users of an event date, a blog article, or a page dedicated to the download of a PDF document.
The content of these pages is specific, and on its own can provide the visitor with the information they need. As a result, the bounce rate for these types of pages is very high.
Why you should never be satisfied with a high bounce rate
Today we live in an attention economy. There are not enough hours in the day for Internet users to view everything available on the web as they are busy with different digital activities such as reading email, interacting on social networks, consuming media, etc. And on top of this, corporate sites want to attract the attention of Internet users, just to get their message through to them.
It has become difficult, and will become increasingly difficult, to attract visitors to your site.
Any interaction with your site will take on a new dimension. Any visit to your site is an opportunity to get other messages across and encourage visitors to consume other content. You may not get any other opportunity to win these visitors over. It would be a real shame not to make the most of their presence on your site and give them the opportunity to continue their visit on another part of your site, for example by helping them discover a new product line, or encouraging them to benefit from a limited-time offer.
This is most relevant whenever users have just obtained the information they were looking for on your site, as they are open to other types of information. Visitors will stop browsing on your site once they have found the information they were looking for. The question that visitors ask themselves is: What do I do now? If there is nothing available to entice them to stay on the site, they will leave your site to complete other tasks. In these circumstances, it is a wise move to make the most of the moment when these visitors are open to other content.
How do you know if your site is affected?
The entry page analysis which is available in the Analytics Suite web analytics tool will help you identify the pages affected.
Make sure to filter on the pages which generate a level of traffic which is greater than a specific level so that the analysis is not polluted with entry pages that do not have a lot of visits.
Sort the pages by decreasing bounce rate. The list that is then displayed will show the pages of your site which have the highest bounce rate.
Amongst these pages, identify those whose goal it is to provide information, and those which have satisfied Internet user needs by looking at page views.
Once you have identified one of these pages, apply segmentation to understand why Internet users land on the page and why they leave the page straight away.
Cross these entry pages with the visit sources that generated traffic to them.
Look for the different keywords and sites to extract information on what Internet users’ intentions are. This will help you determine the content that might interest them.
Try and see things from an Internet user’s point of view. They have landed on these pages and obtained the information that they were looking for: What do they need now? What is their next step? If visitors have found the information they were looking for, what other information might they need without even being aware of it? Rather than just obtaining information on your site, try and find out what a user’s overall objective is.
2 things to consider before offering any additional content
- the content should not hinder the user from obtaining the information they originally came to get on your site.
Be sure that any additional content you offer does not affect the information that the user has come to find on your site. Information sought by your visitors must be visible straight away, and separate from any other invitation.
- the content should be associated with the information that the visitor has come to look for on your site.
The content can be similar or complementary to what is already available, but in any case, it should be associated with what your users are seeking on your site. The less difference there is between the two different pieces of content available, the greater the chance that users will respond positively to the extra content you provide.
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