Visitor stats and bounce rates
So you built a website, and you set up some SEO. You connected Google Analytics and Google Search Console … or some other traffic tracking and SEO evaluation tool. You can see some visitors getting to your website. But here’s the problem: They’re all bouncing like crazy! Simply put, your website visitor retention sucks.
High bounce rates can be bad for rankings. If you’ve noticed your website visitors are peacing out a little too quickly, keep reading. I’ve got a list of some common causes and ways to fix them.
What causes visitors to drop?
If most of your visitors are falling off after a few seconds on the first page they see, you may have some problems. The first thing you should do, is check these things:
- Page Loading: Does your page load quickly? Visitors will drop when they get tired of waiting … which can be about 3-5 seconds these days.
- SEO Mismatch: Your visitor didn’t find what they were looking for on your site. The search result indicated you might be it. But when they got to your website, they found out you didn’t have what needed.
- Confusion: If you don’t have clear navigation or a clear goal on your website, they may have been confused. They didn’t know where to find anything or what to do once they got there.
- Boredom: You have a purely informational site, with now bells and whistles … “Yawn” They’re so over that, and on to the next.
How To Fix Your Bounce Rates
Once you’ve evaluated the possible reasons for your high bounce rate, it’s time to develop an action plan to correct it. You can improve your website visitor retention, by using these guidelines:
1. Improve Page Speed
If you’ve checked your loading time and found out your website is slow, we wrote another article focusing on website speed optimization. You can check that out for some tips on how to make your website load faster. A huge part of it is going to be compressing images and video. And if you’re using WordPress, it may mean cutting back on some heavy plugins.
2. Eye Candy
Make sure your website is something people want to look at. Make it so amazing that they just can’t take their eye off it! Or at least just make sure it looks good on mobile. Responsive design is the key to keeping people on your page. They won’t stay if they have to squint, and they’ll definitely drop if it’s an eye sore. Don’t forget that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so have a few other people check your website before you finalize the design.
3. Clear Message
Not only does your content need to be nice to look at and easy to read, but it needs to convey a specific message with clear calls to action. Ask yourself, “What do I want my visitors to do on my website?” Your answer could be anything from “call me” to “purchase my product.” The best way to make actions clear is to improve their visitbility. Here are some tips to help them stand out:
- Use a bold accent color
- Enlarge the text or use a simpler, bolder font
- Add extra space around them to separate from other content
- Make them full-page
- Use animations … movement catches the eye
- Reduce frequency – there should only be a few things for your visitors to do on one page, or multiple instances of the same action
4. Keep Them Entertained
You’ll want to include a few interactions for each page to keep your visitors entertained. Mouse over effects and animations are great, but give them something to click on as well. Make sure these interactions have a point, that they relate to a goal action for you. For example, you can have a quote form that collects emails or a video that persuades your visitor to sign up for a mailing list or purchase a product. Pro tip: make sure the steps the visitor has to take on these interactions are few and easy to accomplish. They can get bored long interactions just as easily as they can with a lack of interactions.
5. Target Audience
This is probably the most important factor in visitor retention. If you have exactly what they need, the other factors may not matter quite as much. Think about your current (or desired) customers. Where they live, how old they are, their gender, and what they do. That’s who you’re trying to get to visit your website. If visitors are bouncing, it could be that you’re attracting the wrong crowd.
For example, if an esthetician located in Cedar Rapids, IA uses the phrase “best hair stylist” in their SEO, they’re going to get people looking for comparisons or reviews of hair stylists. That’s not what they’ll find when they get to the website, and they’ll skip out. They’d be better off with something both intent and location specific, like “Find a hair stylist in Cedar Rapids”. “Find a (insert service provider here)” is a phrase commonly used in both typed and voice searches. Using “Cedar Rapids” in the location further narrows it down for customers near the esthetician, so she’s not getting someone from New York who is definitely not traveling to Iowa to get their hair done.
You can apply these same concepts to your own SEO settings, to make sure that your website is displayed in search results to the right people for the right searches. If you aren’t sure what phrases are suitable for voice search and an intent to buy, it may be time to do some market research.
Get The Right Tools
It’s a lot easier to fix issues with your website visitor retention if you can see exactly what they’re doing on your website. While Google Analytics and Search Console are industry standards, you should employ some other tools as well. One of the best things to get your hands on is a heat map of your website. Even better if you can record visitor activity. Our favorite tool for that is Hot Jar. We’ve gained a lot of useful insights from that and continue to use it.
If you’re more concerned about the overall look of your website, try Usability Hub. For free, they’ll let you submit a full screenshot of a web page and ask a few questions. Their testers get 5 seconds to look at the screenshot, then they answer your questions. It’s an excellent litmus test for visitor’s instant reactions to your website. After all, most people decide whether or not to stay on a page within the first few seconds of viewing anyway.
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