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Landing page fail: why I came to your site and bounced

by on November 6, 2012
Last updated on
There is an art to crafting a good homepage (or landing page) for a website. A good homepage is a fine balance of visual interest, capture strategy, just enough information (and the right information!), and just the right amount of sass. Find that balance and you've got a killer mouse trap; miss that balance and you'll lose your audience.

And the first way to tell is by looking in your Analytics at a number called your "bounce rate".

What is the bounce rate?

As defined by Google on their Google Analytics support page:

The Bounce Rate is the percentage of bounced visits to your site.

A bounce is calculated as a single-page view or single-event trigger in a session or visit.

The following situations qualify as bounces:
  • A user clicks on a link deep into your site sent by a friend, reads the information on the page, and closes the browser.
  • A user comes to your home page, looks around for a minute or two, and immediately leaves.
  • A user comes directly to a reference page on your site from a web search, leaves the page available in the browser while completing other tasks in other browser windows and the session times out.

While there are exceptions, for the most part a bounce means your site failed to convert.


Why are people bouncing?

While not a definitive list, people are bouncing because:
  • You scared them off, perhaps by having tons of advertising and things flying around the web page
  • You overwhelmed them with so much content their brain exploded and they left
  • They had no idea how to navigate your site or find what they were looking for
  • They came to your site in error (thought it was one thing, turned out it wasn't)
Three of these four reasons are not neutral occurrences; not to be rude, but they are your problems of your making.

(Yes, if someone opens a web page in your site and sites there reading it for a long time causing the session to timeout, that counts as a bounce, but it is a metric that you can adjust)


How can I fix my bounce rate?

Fixing your bounce rate generally requires that you take a hard look at your site's content, design, and layout. It requires a hefty amount of introspection and truly having a critical eye for analyzing and identifying your site's failures. Hiring an information architect and usability strategist to help you analyze your digital strategy can be a wise, and inexpensive consultation.

The purpose of the architect/strategist will be to dissect the various ways that people are coming to your site, why they're coming to your site, and draw big circles around the site's problem areas and ways that it is failing to convert.

So take a look at your site's Analytics and your bounce rate. Just how high is that number site-wide? How high is that number when broken down along your different traffic sources?

Then ask yourself why and can it be better.

Join the conversation

8 comments:

  1. The bounce rate of my blog is on about 30% -45% ... don't know, is this good or terrible?

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    1. I'd rate that as good/acceptable. When it gets above 40-50% is when you really should be worried, but at the same time, always think about how you can lower it.

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    2. Good to know ... my goal is to hold readers as long as possible on the blog. The bounce rate was until now not my focus, I need to take a closer look. Thanks for the post, very interesting!

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  3. Good and accurate write up. Bounce rate is something I'm always trying to improve and keep an eye on, but it's not an easy stat to lower as you mention. Requires lots of tweaking and tracking.

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  4. I used to obsess about my bounce rate until someone told me to stop and a group of experienced bloggers shared their bounce rate. The reason it was so high is because people were following links, reading the article, commenting, then leaving.

    But I want people to stick around and see more things. So I asked a web designer I know for tips and she gave me some great suggestions and I made some changes to my site a couple months ago and I've seen a decrease in my bounce rate :)

    I'd still like it to be lower, so I'm working on that, but at least I'm heading in the right direction.

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    1. Hi Kimberly, you should always obsess about your bounce rate, and just because others rate is high, doesn't mean that yours should be. Getting people to your site is good, but once they're there, you want them to finish the article they just read AND THEN READ ANOTHER! You want them to comment, and most comment submissions force a refresh of the web page (making it a non-bounce). And if they're coming to your homepage and bouncing, you definitely need to work on your landing page.

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  5. Excellent article David. My bounce rate use to be around 30. I know we made some changes recently, but it's up around 50's. I know it's only been a month since the changes and the up-tick. Should I check back next month? Or start scrutinizing things? I know I'll need an un-biased eye though.

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