Webmaster tips » SEO

Nov 18, 2009
Les Kollegian

High Bounce Rate And Its Impact On SEO

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A high bounce rate is a red flag for any website, because it means that all of your traffic is exiting at the landing page - without even clicking through to any other page on the site. The strategy is to get your customers to stay on your website for as long as possible, the longer they are there, the more likely you are to make a sale. You have to retain your traffic.

If the rate of traffic exiting your site has been rising - it's time to make some changes. To start, you want to identify what is causing them to leave your site. A site's bounce rate is a standard analytics metric, so you will likely uncover lots of useful data when you begin to research.

The following scenarios are common causes of a high bounce rate. If your website is in two or more of these - you have solved the mystery of your departing visitors...

1. Does your site appear in SERPs for irrelevant or outdated keywords?

Appearing for irrelevant or outdated keywords is a common flaw of poorly managed paid search marketing campaigns, but it can also afflict organic listings. If your site is ranking for poorly-chosen keywords, visitors clicking through expecting to find something specific will be disappointed when they look at the page that doesn't reveal what they were looking for. In this scenario, the potential customer is more likely to return to the search results than browse around the site.

Tackling this issue will take some work and may require either an overhaul of the paid search campaign or a new SEO keyword strategy. For irrelevant pages caused by outdated PPC adverts, a commitment to keeping keywords up to date with fluctuating stock levels and services is needed. A complete review of keyword choice across the campaign should also be scheduled, and any general or irrelevant keywords linked to landing pages showing high bounce rates removed.

If the problem is at a search engine optimization level, it's important to revise the previous keyword strategy and create a new list of primary phrases to focus optimization efforts on. Coupled with this, it may be necessary to review landing page keyword usage and density to ensure cohesion between on- and off-page efforts.

2. Is your site design as good as it can be?

Websites are very visual creations, making presentations and first impressions are all important. Poor website design is a massive turn-off for many visitors and rather than waste time trying to understand the site, a large percentage will simply exit and click back to the search engine results page. </strong>Poor design is often coupled with a poor navigation structure, which makes it impossible for the small percentage that may be willing to persevere with the design to find what they are looking for.

To drive down a high bounce rate, make your landing page as attractive and easy to use as possible. Even relatively simple changes such as introducing a striking logo or image, incorporating a clearly visible call to action such as 'Call now' or 'Download brochure' or adding more white space instead of a busy screen can all make a big difference to bounce rate.

The addition of a breadcrumb trail and simple navigation structure should also be factored in when considering design issues - if a new navigation framework makes it easier for a visitor to move through the site, bounce rates will fall simply by providing a pathway toward more useful information elsewhere on the site.

3. Is your content compelling?

Having successfully lured a browser through to the website (either via a PPC ad, organic listing, or third-party referral), the onus is on the landing page to encourage that visitor to stay put. If the landing page fails to hold the user's attention, the website will maintain a high bounce rate. A page without compelling content runs this risk by failing to engage the reader enough to make them want to stay.

Interestingly enough, relevant content makes a website sticky and will win over even the flakiest of browsers. While identifying causes of bounce rates, ask yourself if your content is as fresh, informative, and relevant as it could be. Is too much of the content hidden below the fold? If so, simply rearranging its placement on the screen could be enough to lower exits from that page. If, however, your content leaves a lot to be desired, commit to investing in a decent copywriter to add interesting and easy-to-read information. Something as simple as a case study, video-based product demonstration, or news item is often enough to turn around a high bounce rate and increase site conversions.

4. Is your product information causing problems?

A lack of clear description, missing images, no titles, and high prices can all quickly send visitors back to their search results. A high bounce rate on product pages could be due to any of these issues and will need to be investigated thoroughly, not just to bring the bounce rate down, but to drive sales from the site up.

A good place to start when assessing the reasons behind bounce rate on product pages is to check out competitor pricing and ensure your own costs are in line with the industry standard. If your price is higher out of necessity, consider adding value with free shipping or loyalty cards to bring you closer in line with rival vendors.

Detailed descriptions are also a must, as is the addition of images and product video where available. Don't be afraid to bring in other elements to product information pages such as testimonials or catalog downloads to make the page stickier. As with any major change, implement each element individually and monitor the impact on bounce rate and other site metrics before extending across every product sold.

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About The Author
Jacob Tyler Creative group is an internationally published and award winning design firm, specializing in strategic and creative execution of print and interactive marketing collateral. The company, headed by Les Kollegian, has created campaigns for Lamkin Golf Grips, Xterra Wetsuits, College magazine, Active Network, and Trader Vic's. To read more, please visit www.JacobTyler.com.
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