Bounce Rate Bible: 15 Ways To Reduce High Bounce Rates in Google Analytics

Bounce Rate is a ‘hyped‘ metric but it only scratches the surface of web analytics. It is simply a vanity metric which tells nothing about users.
 
There has been a lots of difference between
  • How Bounce Rate is defined? &
  • How it is Perceived?
 
One of the Most ‘Perceived’ definition of Bounce Rate is “% of single page visits.
 
But In google analytics, the bounce rate calculations are totally different.
 
In this guide, we’ll be covering following topics:
 
  1. What is Bounce Rate? Definition Wars..
  2. Why is Your Bounce Rate High? Does You Website Really Suck??
  3. High Bounce Rate Categorization
  4. 15 Ways To Reduce Bounce Rates in Google Analytics.
    1. UI/UX Optimization
    2. Marketing Channel Optimization
    3. Technical Optimization
 
Let’s look How Bounce Rate is defined across the industry.

So, What is Bounce Rate? Definition Wars..

#1 Wiki Definition: 

Bounce_Rate_Definition
(What do you think of the example?? Not 100% True though)
 
 
#2 Avinash Kaushik : I Came, I Puked, I Left
 
 
#3 Google Analytics Bounce Rate Definition as per google docs:
 
Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.
 
 
#4 In Google Analytics, Bounce Rate Formula is given by:
                         
Bounce Rate = Bounces / Sessions
  
 
 
Now the first 3 definition are quite generic & focus on “Users Viewing Only One Page“.  But in Google Analytics that’s not always true.

Well, Have a look
Bounce Rate - Session Counting
The pageview of my website is tracked inspite it being in the hidden tab & if I just wait for 30 min, I would be a bounced visitor

That’s just one scenario of the flawed metric.
 
Lets now focus on the bounce rate formula ( bounces / sessions ) . Here Bounces are nothing but sessions with single interaction hit.
 
Remember Sessions are only initiated with any Interaction Hits
 
These hits not only contains pageview hit but also event hit, ecommerce hits & social hits.

So, Why is Your Website Bounce Rate High? Is It Bad?

Let’s say,
You are running a display campaign for a new product launch on a single Landing Page.
Your goal: Get users to the landing page & increase subscription through the form.
Bounce Rate: 90%
 
After a week, You have a new Discount Sale,
Your Goals: Maximize The Sale of a Product.
Bounce Rate: 55%
 
 & so on……
 
            
At the end a month you look at the overall Bounce Rate which consists of those 100s of campaign with different goals. (Infact, All the metrics in the image below)
Bounce_Rate_-_Overall_Performance

High Bounce Rate does not always mean you have have a bad site.

Here’s what google says about high bounce rates.

Here’s another example by searchenginewatch,

when the user’s are just trying to get some information & when they are satisfied they leave.

 Other reasons include:
  1. Bookmarked The Site & Left
  2. Site Opened in another hidden tab with no interaction for more than 30min
  3. High Page Load
  4. Targeting Wrong Audience.
  5. Read the whole article & left.
    & the list goes on.

 

So To Summarize,
  • If you are an ecommerce site & goal is to increase transactions then yes, high bounce rates are bad.
  • If you want to collect leads on a single page form, then high bounce rates are normal.
 
 
While starting to optimize for bounce rates, a smart move would be to analyze What is causing the high bounce rate in the first place?.

High Bounce Rate Categorization

We have categorized the bounce rate reduction techniques into 3 parts, namely:
 
Reduce Bounce Rate in Google Analytics.
High Bounce Rate Reduction Categories

15 Ways To Reduce High Bounce Rates in Google Analytics

A.) UI/UX Optimization:

1.) Fix Usability Issues

If you have very high bounce rate, the first thing is to setup visitor recordings via a tool. It will give you complete picture of how visitor uses your website.
 
Here, no expert will tell you why you have high bounce rate except your users.
 
You can even analyze tons of things like 
  1. Visitor Scrolling through the bottom of the page or 
  2. Trying to fill the form
  3. Clicking on any outbound link.
  4. Website Functionality Not Working.
  5. User getting frustated
  6. & more
 
No Need To Setup Tons of Tracking.
 
You can find high bounce rate pages in Landing page report in Google Analytics.
Landing_Pages_More_Than_Average_Bounce_Rate_-_Google_Analytics
Filter those pages in the visitor recording tool.
 
You can utilize fullstory, hotjar or any other visitor recording tools. Here’s fullstory.
Bounce Rate - Fullstory
This was a recent case, which increased my conversions while decreasing bounces.  
 
I had recently launched a beta addon which uploads facebook ads data in google analytics. It was going through the review process by facebook. So I had this message on the page. 
 
Add-on has exceeded maximum user limit
 
After the review process, I had removed the message & after a week or two I find this in visitor recordings.
Bounce_Rate_-_Decrease
There was some cache issue which led the site to show older message to other visitors & increase bounces.
 
You might be having different usability problem but just go through recoding for all High Bounce Rate Pages. (for different devices)

2.) Design Visually Compelling Landing Pages

If you are running campaigns on a landing page for collecting leads & have a high bounce rate, then this is for you.
 
You cannot ignore the ‘designing part‘ of the landing page. If you don’t have a good landing page design, DON’T run any campaigns on that page.
 
By landing page, I don’t mean home page. If you have high bounce rate on home pages then its time to change.
Leadpages has a great article on when to use each one.
 
Focus on the great color, font & above the fold message
 
The color psychology plays an important role in defining your brand. It can even influence User’s emotions & how they perceive your products/services. 
 
90% of their Buffer’s product assessment is made on color alone.  
 
According to kissmetrics, every color evokes some emotions among the users.
kissmetrics-infographic
If you are confused, check  https://coolors.co/ to generate different color schemes.
 
Font-size & Font-family also impacts user engagement.
 
According to MIT,
 
Font size can impact user’s emotion. A bad font can make us unconsciously frown, while a good font can make us feel good.
 
 
Make sure to optimize for font size & font-family too. 
 
Here’s test conducted by ventureharbour, where they found out interesting result on how font-size & family impacted user engagement.
  • Ideal Font-Size: 14px
  • Ideal Font-Family: Georgia
 
Font_-_Family_-_VentureHarbour
Lastly, do check out unbounce landing page course & make sure you are not among those bad design websites.

3.) Use Headings & Sub-Headings

If you have a blog or single landing page, then this is a must.

After the user lands on the page, the first things is they do is look for headings / sub-headings
 
Not All Users Have The Same Intent When They Land On Your Website. 
 
Also, you cannot satisfy every user, someone has to hate you & thats normal. Goal is to satisfy max users in less time when they land on your page
 
Most users will run through the headings to grab a summary. If they find some interesting, only then they’ll read the content beneath it
 
#Tip 1: Make sure to use simple & long-tail headings which will help users to find the relevant content. 
 
If you have organic traffic landing on your high bounced pages, then you can utilize LSI Keywords as your heading/subheading
 
Let’s say,
 
You have an articles around chocolate cake recipe. You can check for ‘google’s auto suggest feature’ & ‘searches related keywords
LSI_Keywords_-_Eggless_Cake - Digishuffle
Chocolate_Cake_Recipe - Digishuffle
 You can see that ‘eggless’ & ‘easy’ words are in 1+ keyword variation.
 
You can then break down the articles using
  • Simple Chocolate Cake Recipe For Beginners
  • Chocolate Cake Recipe with Egg
  • Chocolate Cake Recipe without Egg 
  • & so on……

If you have adwords paid traffic to your high bounce rate pages,

then you can use Search Query & Landing Page relevancy report to find search intent of users & include it as a new heading.

 
Tip #2: If You Have Long Content, Use Hash Links To Jump To The Desired Headings
 
This is my personal experience. If I have long tracking related content, I prefer specifying the ‘Index Part’ at the start of the article. 
 
So, as soon as the user lands on the page they can directly jump to the content which satisfies their query. 
 
Around ~7% of total traffic on the page clicked on the hash links on my article about facebook event tracking.
 
You can use interaction hits in google analytics so these visits are excluded from bounce rate calculations
Hash Links
If you have a landing page for selling any services/products.
 
You can 
  • Use Webinars
  • Display Customer testimonials
  • Display Reviews
  • Highlight User Problems
  • Highlight The Benefits Of Services/Product
 
 
One of the suggestion by copyhackers is to use “Ideal For” statement.   
This makes the user realize that the content belongs to them.
 
ConversionXL uses this on their courses enroll page,  
ConversionXL Course Landing Page

3.) Avoid Long Paragraphs

Unless you are being thretened, avoid long paragraphs.
 
Long paragraphs tend to be boring & users will mostly skip through the content.
 
As previously mentioned, users first find relevant headings/sub headings & only then move beneath it. 
 
If they find the paragraphs
  • Very complex
  • Difficult Jargons
  • Low Quality Content
 
They’ll simply leave.
 
Make sure to use 
  • Short sentences.
  • Gaps between words. 
  • Images / Gifs
  • Bullet Points
  • Bold Important Texts.
  • Links to Credible Resources

4.) Optimize Search Query & Landing Page Relevancy

This is one of the great ways to see if the User Intent matches your Landing Page Content.
 
Go To Google Analytics > Create This Custom Reports
Search_Query_vs_Ad_Copy_vs_LP_Relevancy_
In a single report, you can now look for the Search Query Intent & the landing page relevancy. You can start by sorting the report with high bounce rates & session > X (certain limit).
 
You will find search intent keywords which can later be included in your content.

5.) Provide Relevant Links/Offers on the Page

If you have a blog, make sure to include relevant links between & at the end of articles. This will not break the flow of the reader.
 
These links might be
  • Internal Links 
  • External Links
  • Hash Links withing the content
  • Links to Pdfs,Docs,audio/video, etc

 

You can use analytics events to measure the link clicks
 
You can then analyze which links are clicked the most on which page. 
Landing_Page_-_Hash_Links_-_Digishuffle

6.) Avoid Using Audio On Page Load

Using auto played audios on pages may harm user experience.  The first thing users will do is to find a pause/stop button.
 
As per punkchip,
  1. Use autoplay for clips < 5sec
  2. Provide Stop/Pause Otions ofr clips > 5sec.

7.) Use Surveys To Understand the Issues

 
You can run surveys on your website to understand 
  • Your Content Quality
  • Website User Persona.
  • User Experience Issues
 
Some of the questions you can use are
  • How Likely Are You To Recommend Product XYZ To Your Colleague?
  • How Would You Rate This Content?
  • What Category Content Are You Interested In?  

You can use tools like hotjar, qualaroo, surveymonkey

B.) Marketing Channel Optimization

8.) Stop Targeting Wrong Audience

There might be a case where your website or landing page is completely fine but you are targeting the wrong audience.
 
You might ask:
“But How Can Wrong Audience Come To My Site??”
 
They can, if you are
  • Running Campaigns with wrong targeting options
  • Running Display Campaigns on non-relevant sites
  • Guest Posting on different niche sites.
  • Sharing posts in irrelevant groups.
  • Misleading AdCopy OR blog titles. 
  • Partnering with wrong affiliates
  • & so on..
 
 
“So, How Can I Analyze & Reduce bounce rates?”
 
Follow these steps:
 
Step – 1:
 
  • Find the Channel With High Bounce Rate.
  • Create a User Segment of those channels.
Step – 2:
 
  • Check if bounced users are retained.
    What if the user had bounced for some other reasons. Maybe, planning to come later to buy your product or read your blog.
 
  • You can go to google analytics Cohort Reports 
  • Check the User Retention of Channel with High Bounce Rate.
    (For Ecommerce/Lead websites, You Can View Revenue/User & Goals/User resp)
 
If you notice No Users Returned (WoW or MoM), then your campaigns have failed..!!! The Traffic Source was irrelevant.
 
Pause The Channels Bringing this traffic
Cohort_100_%_Drop_Offs.
Tip #1: You can even Reverse Engineer The Bounces By Comparing Bounced Users With Loyal Users.
 
  •  Go To Analytics > Create A Loyal User Segment ( Transaction/Macro Goal > 0 ) .
    If you have a Blog, then create Loyal Readers Segment ( Users having Sessions Duration > 240 & pages/sessions > 3 ) or (Goal (Subcribers) > 0)
  • Go To Audience Reports & See If the Demographics & Interests match

If the distribution doesn’t match, then you have some targeting problem. Focus on targeting dimension with maximum distribution in loyal users. (Eg: 25-44 Age Groups)

9.) Pause Devices with High Bounce Rates

If you have high bounce rates only for mobile, then you have 2 options
 
  • Fix Mobile Issues
  • Stop Targeting Traffic to your mobile devices. 
 
You can use visitor recording to find any usability issues on mobile.

Sometimes the excess pop-ups or ads might create a clutter but do check the exact issue.
 
You can use the Devices Report in Google Analytics to find the anomaly & then pause the mobile device on live campaigns.

10.) Facebook & Adwords High Bounce Rates Fix

If you are targeting ads on Adwords, do check bounce rates by
  • Search Partners
  • Search Networks
  • Campaigns/AdGroups/Keywords
 
You can use Adwords Intent Analysis report as described above.
 
In adwords display networks too, check bounce rates for different placements such as
  • Mobile App Ads  
  • Youtube Placement 
  • News Site Placement
  • Info sites
  • etc.
If you are targeting facebook, check bounce rates by
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Desktop Feed Ads
  • Side Ads

C.) Technical Optimization

11.) Use Page visibility API instead of Adjusted Bounce Rates

I am not a big fan of the ‘adjusted bounce rates’ method as described by google.

Remember the hidden tab pageview hit? The interaction events would be recorded for hidden tabs

Yehoshua from analytics-ninja describes the same

Adjusted_Bounce_Rate_-_Yehoshua_Coren

& guess what …

Many users will have hidden tabs. You can implement the time on visible & hidden tabs script to find out on your website.

Google_Anaalytics_Hidden_Timings

A Great solution by simo ahava is to block pageview until tab becomes visible. This will ensure the session is not a bounce if the page was never viewed.

12.) Reduce Page Load & Implement AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

There are tons of articles out there on this topic.
 
I would recommend checking out neil’s article, where he suggests using tools like
Amazon_page_speed_load

If you use wordpress, this article by searchenginejournal lists some plugins to speed up your site.

For implementing AMP you can use the wordpress AMP plugin.

 

13.) Track AJAX Forms via Interaction Hits

If you use any forms to capture leads on a single page. You can use callbacks to fire analytics interaction event hits.
 
You can check the form docs for the callbacks option. Here are some methods to track
 

14.) Add Scroll Tracking

You can use scroll tracking & fire the interaction event when use reaches 75%-100% scroll for an article. 
 
You can even create a dashboard with bounced segment for tracking scroll.
 
Benjamin from lovesdata has a great article on scroll tracking.
Scroll-Tracking - Digishuffle
% Scrolls vs Users

Conclusion:

  • There are 1000s of reason of users bouncing from your site. Always start with bounce rate analysis.
  • If you are bringing in traffic to your website via some campaign/affiliate. Check if the visitors return after bouncing. If not, simply pause that campaign!!
  • If you are not aware of coding, take help of some developer to implement Technical Optimization. Else you might mess up the data.
  • Feel Free to comment your thoughts. 

Ritwik is Web Analyst & Growth Hacking Consultant. He loves to write technical & easy to understand blogs for Marketers & Entrepreneurs. Focused on Google Analytics, Tag Management, GScripts & more. Google Certified Professional. A Firm Believer in Teaching -> Learning -> Growing. :)