5 ways to use your bounce rate to improve your website

Are visitors fleeing from your website almost as soon as they get there? There's a lot you can do to change that. Here's how to start.

Many website owners focus on the quantity rather than the quality of clicks when they open up their Google Analytics dashboard. But the quality of your clicks is far more important. Luckily, you can determine that easily by your bounce rate--the percentage of visitors who come to your site but leave shortly after arriving.

Visitor numbers and campaign performance are key areas of interest when examining site traffic using Google Analytics, but you should give the bounce rate equal attention. In the video below, Avinash Kaushik, Google's digital marketing evangelist, calls the bounce rate "the sexiest metric ever. It helps you ask the right questions. It will help you quickly distill down where things are not going right."

1. Set a baseline for a good bounce rate Bounce rates will be different for every website, but there are situations where you will have an unnaturally high bounce rate. If you have a blog or site that lists all of your posts or content on your first page, your bounce rate will be unnaturally high as users enter, read new posts, and leave. Kaushik states that a good bounce rate for a standard website is between 40 and 60%.

2. Lower your bounce rate by improving usability

If you have a high bounce rate and want to bring it down, examine your site's usability issues first. If customers can't find what they need on your website, they will abandon it and go somewhere else. Pay a web designer to take a forensic look at your site and to clean up any usability and navigation problems that are asking people to leave.

3. Switch up site content

If your usability issues are taken care of, then you should tweak marketing copy and graphics to help customers find what they need quickly. Content should be clear, concise, and paired with exciting graphics that point visitors to what they want. Long, ranting copy and a lack of attractive graphicswill keep your bounce rates high.

4. Take note of variations between bounce rates

The variation between bounce rates is the valuable metric since it will help you gauge the effectiveness of pay-per-click advertising campaigns and social media use. If your Facebook traffic sports a 76% bounce rate while your Google organic searches top out at 90%, your Facebook campaign is working well, but your website's structure and copy may benefit from a little TLC. If one of your PPC ad campaigns has a higher bounce rates than the others, kill it and riff on the ones that are working.

5. Make your keyword profile more than a chalk outline

Do a keyword profile for your business once every six months. The web is an ever-changing beast and so are customers' surfing habits. A keyword profile from two years ago is useless. You can refresh this by using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to plug in current key terms and follow its suggestions to switch up your site copy. Where you notice big changes, you may want to change your site navigation and create new pages to speak to your new key terms. This will reduce your bounce rate by putting your site on the map for terms that your customers are actually looking for.

This story, "5 ways to use your bounce rate to improve your website" was originally published by PCWorld.

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