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January 2, 2014

Bounce Rate: The Arch-Nemesis of Any Website Owner

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

If a lot of people come to your website and then leave immediately, you have a bounce rate problem on your hands. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your site and then depart without viewing any other pages.

A high rate usually means that your site isn’t satisfying users’ needs for one reason or another.

It is the arch-nemesis of any website owner.

A high bounce rate could hurt your business, especially if you’re investing your marketing dollars in SEO or PPC advertising. Reducing your website’s rate is the first step to improving your website’s overall performance and conversion rates. To reduce your site’s bounce rate, you need to make a powerful first impression and engage visitors from the moment they enter your site. As a rule of thumb, a normal bounce rate for a website is about 50%. If your website’s rate surpasses 60%, you should be worried.

Here are some things you can do to lower your website’s bounce rate and boost visitor retention.

Decrease Load Times

If your website has lots of widgets, plug-ins, high resolution images, and other extras, you might want to remove them in order to decrease load times. Users with slow Internet connections will leave your site if it takes too long to load.

Improve Readability

Contrast is essentially the difference between two colors. If your website’s design doesn’t have good color contrast, it’ll strain a visitor’s eyes and make your site difficult to read, which could lead to an increase in bounce rates. A common culprit is white text on a black background.

Keep Content Clear & Concise

One of the most common causes of high bounce rates is confusion. If people can’t figure out what your website is about upon first glance, they won’t stick around. To prevent this from happening, write clear, concise content that fulfills a visitor’s needs and avoid writing vague, general content. Additionally, be sure to include clear calls-to-action in highly visible locations, so visitors know exactly what to do next.

Check Browser Performance

Make sure that your website is compatible with all major browsers, including Safari, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Firefox. Use an analytics program to determine if parts of your site have trouble loading on certain browsers.

Make Sure Navigation Is Clear

Your site’s navigation should be clear and easily accessible. People won’t stay on your site for very long if they have trouble finding the pages they’re looking for. Consider repeating the navigation menu in your site’s footer. Add a search box and site map to your website if your site has a large amount of content.

Use the Right Keywords

Look at the keyword report in your analytics program to determine which keywords have the highest bounce rates. Targeting popular keywords is useless if the traffic they bring isn’t relevant to your website. Too often, websites target certain keywords but fail to deliver the content those visitors seek.

Avoid Distracting Visitors

Don’t interrupt visitors who are engaged with your content with audio-ads, pop-up ads, and the like. Your goal should be to present the information that visitors seek and stay out of their way. If you try to get visitors to sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your blog or chat live with a representative while they’re immersed in your content, you could frustrate them and cause them to click away.


Ed Kundahl is president and owner of Allentown-based IdeaOverTen, an Internet marketing agency and Web development company that offers clients total search marketing and interactive media solutions. His roots are in small-business search engine optimization and marketing and making sites user friendly and accessible to search engines. He can be reached at