How to Improve Your Bounce Rate

Yesterday’s post about the most important Google Analytics metrics for your business highlighted Bounce Rate as one of five metrics every website owner and marketer should understand. Not only should you understand it, you should track it regularly and make efforts to improve it.

Bounce rate is a vital measurement for any site and one that often gets overlooked. Improving your bounce rate means getting more visitors to stick around once they get to your site. It means giving them what they’re looking for and getting them to click through or take some action before leaving the site altogether. Sounds like a good thing, right?

Here’s three things you can do to improve your bounce rate:

  1. Create Better Content – Most times someone leaves your site right away if they don’t see what they expect. The content on the page that they land on is key. Is it helpful? Does it give them what they were looking for when they went to your site? Does it tell them who you are and why they should care? The goal of your content should be to orient the visitor. Make it clear who you are, why they got to the page they did, and what they should do next.
  2. Create Clearer Calls to Action – Ever land on a site and think, now what? Maybe the person meant to come to your site, and takes the time to read or view what you provided on the page. But what should they do next? It’s up to you to tell them. If they’re reading an article, suggest another one. If they’re viewing a product, offer a link to more details or a form to request more information. Provide easy and obvious ways for them to take the next step or contact you. Don’t make them guess, because they will just end up leaving.
  3. Improve Your Site Navigation – Most visitors to your site are looking for something specific. So your job, if you want to keep them from leaving, is to make it as easy as possible to find what they’re looking for. And you do that with your site navigation. First make the navigation stand out so it’s easy to find. Then make sure you have the appropriate categories or pages named in a way that makes it obvious to first time visitors where to go. And you can always add a big site search bar for those users who know exactly what they’re looking for and would rather just type it into a search tool.

If you do those three things, you should see a decrease in your site’s bounce rate. That means a greater percentage of the traffic to your site is spending more time on more pages. It means they are more likely to find what they’re looking for and take action.

5 Most Important Analytics Metrics Explained

For those of you not using Google Analytics to track your website activity, I suggest you start. Whether you’re already using it, or you’re about to get started now that I told you to, it’s important to know how to use the information Google Analytics provides.

When you’re first getting started, it can seem somewhat overwhelming. So I boiled down 5 of the most important things you should become familiar with. Here they are:

Unique Visitors

This is an easy one. Found under Audience > Overview, you will see two metrics called Sessions and Users. Sessions are the total number of visits to your site. Users are the unique visitors to your site. So the difference between the two is if someone visits your site twice in one time period, that second visit would be counted is Sessions but not Users.

When you know your unique visitors, you know your site’s traffic. You can begin to track whether that number goes up or down. For most companies, growing traffic is a high level goal. Now that you know what your traffic is, you can measure the impact your growth strategy is having.

Traffic Sources

Under Acquisition, the top three pages allow you to dig into where your traffic is coming from. The Overview page shows you at a high level where your visitors are coming from and what their behavior is once they get to your site. Here you can see the relative performance of Organic Search, Direct Traffic, and traffic from any ads you’re running.

The Channels page and the All Traffic page then provide a little more detail on that same information, breaking it into more specific categories. The key to these reports is how you use them. Not all traffic is created equal, and the information gleaned from these pages should tell you where you are getting the most valuable visitors. Focus on where you’re getting conversions and try to increase your traffic from those channels.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate is a metric that shows up throughout many different screens in Google Analytics. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing one page, whatever page it is that they land on. A bounce is a negative thing, as it means the person did not find what they were looking for and left without taking any action on your site.

You can find overall bounce rate under Audience > Overview. But the more valuable bounce rate metrics are under Behavior > Site Content. That will show you the individual bounce rates for each page on your site. I recommend using that to identify “problem” pages and seeing what actions you can take to improve the quality of those pages and get more people to stick around.

Time on Site

Time on Site is an important metric for sites that make money by selling advertising. The longer you can keep people on the site, the more ads you can sell, and the more you can charge for those ads, because you have a captivated audience. When people talk about sites as “sticky”, they’re talking about time on site.

Time on site measures the average time a visitor spends on your site. You can find it under Audience > Overview for the site overall, under Acquisition > Overview by traffic source, and under Behavior > Site Content by page. Your goal should be to grow the average time on site for every visitor by improving the quality of content on your website and making it easier for people to navigate and find what they want.

Conversion Rate

The ultimate metric is conversion rate. To measure it effectively you need to set up Goals. Goals in Google Analytics are actions that a user can take on your site that you want to measure. For example, an ecommerce site should measure sales. A blog should measure subscriptions.

Whatever your goals, you can use the conversion rate metric provided on almost all screens to track the relative success of each page on your site or each traffic source. The conversion rate will tell you of all the visitors to your site, an individual page, or from each channel, what percentage of them completed the goals you have set up.

What to Test – Part 8

Welcome to the latest edition of our new weekly blog series, What to Test. Each week, we will introduce a new test idea. We’ll explain why it’s important to test it, what you might learn, how to carry out the test, and what to measure in order to determine a winner. Last week we tested Trust Seals.

The Test = Homepage Images


Your homepage is one of the most important pages on your website. It’s the page most of your visitors will hit first. I’ve always said that the primary goal of the homepage is to get people off the homepage and deeper into your site. And depending on your audience, that goal can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

Many homepages like to grab a visitor’s attention with a big striking graphic. Or they will use an image to showcase a special offer or sale. Others will spare the image and get right to the detail or product information. Depending on what your homepage looks like today, this kind of test might work in several different ways. But the goal is the same, get more of your visitors to stay on the site and click through to another page.


To start, think about the audience for your homepage. If you have Google Analytics set up, this can help. Who is landing here most? Where are they coming from? What are they looking for? And how do they behave once they get there?

You will likely see a lot of direct and organic traffic on your homepage. It’s likely one of the most trafficked page on your site. Is the bounce rate high? That’s a sign that people are not seeing what they were looking for. Are they generally clicking through to one page over all the others? That’s a sign that the next step is either very clear, or the audience is all looking for the same thing.

If you have a big image at the top of your homepage, I suggest you first test a version of the homepage without an image. That usually allows you to move relevant text about your products, services, or company to the top of the page and above the fold.

If you don’t have an image, try adding one. Make it something striking, the hero of your page, that grabs the user and holds their attention. Overlay the image with text that tells them more about who you are or what you offer. And make it click through to another page on your site.

Next, you can test one image against another. Try different colors or different types of images. Try one with people and one without. Try different people, different ages or races or genders.

Whatever you’re testing, the key stats to track will be bounce rate and time on site. A winning image should have a very low bounce rate, meaning people continued on to another page of your site. And it should keep people there longer.

Anything to add? As always, use the comments below or Twitter #whattotest to keep the conversation going!

What to Test – Part 6

Welcome to the latest edition of our new weekly blog series, What to Test. Each week, we will introduce a new test idea. We’ll explain why it’s important to test it, what you might learn, how to carry out the test, and what to measure in order to determine a winner. Last week we tested Headline Copy.

The Test = Navigation Titles


First, let me explain what I mean. Your website likely has either a top or left side navigation list. This is how people can quickly get from one page to another on your site. So when I say navigation titles, I mean the actual wording or phrasing of the navigation items.

Often, we start with the names of the pages or categories that they link to. But the goal of the navigation should be to get people to the page that they want to go. So a simple change in wording might encourage more people to click. And if you know which pages are more likely to get people to purchase from you, you might want to highlight those pages over the others.

In a recent test, I wanted to find out if a change in phrasing might get more people to a lead submission form. So instead of “Learn More”, I tried “Get Started”, “Apply Now”, and “Free Info”. I thought that more direct, actionable language would lead more people to click on that navigation item. And I was right. “Get Started” worked to generate more clicks from the homepage of the site, and a higher overall conversion rate from all website visitors.


Start with your website analytics. Research what click paths on the site lead to more conversions. What pages to people go to that help them convert into paying customers vs pages that lead to higher exits or bounces.

Next, ask yourself if your navigation is helping or hurting that conversion pathway. Should you be sending people to pages that lead to fewer conversions? Can you highlight more of the pages that lead to more conversions?

Then you can decide how to test. You can either test one navigation item against another by replacing one page or category with another. You can test rearranging the navigation items to see if more people get to the pages you want them to. Or you can do what I did, and test different wording for the same navigation items.

In all cases, you want to measure clicks to each navigation item and the ultimate conversion rate of the site. You can do all of this with Google Analytics and a simple optimization test tool like the one I always recommend, Optimizely.

The goal is to get more of your visitors to convert. Highest conversion rate wins.

Anything to add? As always, use the comments below or Twitter #whattotest to keep the conversation going!

How to Write Less Copy

In the world of advertising and marketing today, less is more. Shorter headlines pack more punch. Less copy has a higher chance of getting read. We scan and skim and skip as much as possible. Because we are so busy.

As a marketer, your first job is making sure you know and understand that. Second, you must take action.

Here is a quick 3-step guide to writing less copy:

  1. Step One – Learn how to edit yourself. A good process for writing is starting where you are most comfortable. Write it all out, in long form. Then put it aside for a bit and focus on something else. Then come back and take a hatchet to it. Don’t be gentle. Really learn how to edit yourself and cut out the unnecessary wording.
  2. Step Two – When you can, use numbered or bulleted lists. People are more likely to read a list than a paragraph. So put your information in bullet form and keep those bullets short and impactful.
  3. Step Three – Learn how to use charts and illustrations. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a simple chart can tell your story quicker. People like graphs and charts that explain complex concepts in a visual way.
  4. Bonus Step – When you can, use video. Sometimes you don’t need text at all. Online, people are much more likely to watch a short information video than read a page of text. If you have the capabilities, choose video.