Reducing Bounce Rate and Increasing Website Usability

By on May 5, 2008
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“Bounce Rate” is when a person visits a page on your website and then immediately clicks through to a different website. As webmasters we would love for people to browse several pages of our website and explore our content in depth. This then gives us more of a chance to impress the visitor so that they may subscribe and visit again, more page impressions and essentially more revenue.

Here are some tips for reducing bounce rate on your websites and improving the experience for your visitors.

Watch a Friend Browse Your Site

Ask a friend or family member to browse your website casually while you look over their shoulder. This can be extremely beneficial as it helps you see things you may have overlooked. Don’t give them any direction other than to explore the site as they want. You may be surprised how they choose to navigate and what areas they completely ignore.

Analyzing Visitor Statistics

I highly recommend using an advanced statistics logging software such as Google Analytics. This can provide you with an easy to read view of your most popular pages, where people are coming from and what they are clicking on. By getting into the mindset of your visitors you can optimize your navigation and content to be user friendly.

Study Common Exit Pages

Google Analytics provides data on “Top Exit Pages.” These are the pages where the majority of your visitors are leaving your website from. Sometimes this is normal, such as when you are referring a popular product or service elsewhere on the web. Other times you may want to question why that page is causing people to leave your website.

Optimize Your Home Link

A link to your home page should be prominently displayed in your navigation bar. Make it very easy to find, highly visible and keep it in the same location on every page. This link is essentially your visitors way of finding more of your content after landing on one of your sub-pages or individual articles.

Optimize Your About Page

This is probably the most important page you can have on your website. A reliable statistic that I have now lost but remember quite well informed me that an “About” link is the most visited page after a first-time visitor lands on your website. Tell a little bit about who you are and what content can be found on your website, highlight some of your best content areas and articles, and provide contact information. Here are some more tips from ProBlogger about creating an about page.

User Friendly Navigation

Provide your visitors with a clean and prominent navigation system. It has been found that a horizontal bar at the top of your page works best. If you have to use a list style format in you sidebar that is alright, but make it simple, short and sweet. If you have alot of content to navigate it is important to use category labels for your navigation, this prevents the user from having to scan an entire list of page names and improves usability.

Heat Mapping Software

Heat Mapping is essentially a way to visually view what links and areas your visitors are clicking on. CrazyEgg software provides a free heat mapping account which allows you to track up to 5000 visits per month. This is a simple way to observe what areas of your site need improvement.

Hope these tips and tricks helped you out with your websites!

Got something to add?
Your comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA.
  • http://TvEbook.com/ Damir

    Great info – many people should read your post

  • http://TvEbook.com Damir

    Great info – many people should read your post

  • http://inside.123-reg.co.uk/ John@123-reg

    All good advice, and I wouldn’t really disagree with any of it. However, it’s perhaps worth pointing out that reducing the bounce rate is not necessarily the same thing as increasing the number of pages each visitor views.

    In fact, depending on the nature of your site, you may want to reduce the average pages viewed per person – for instance, so people arrive and purchase something in the shortest time possible.

    Some pages on some sites might also see a high bounce rate as a indication of success – Google presumably wants people to bounce off the first search results page as quickly as possible…

  • http://inside.123-reg.co.uk John@123-reg

    All good advice, and I wouldn’t really disagree with any of it. However, it’s perhaps worth pointing out that reducing the bounce rate is not necessarily the same thing as increasing the number of pages each visitor views.

    In fact, depending on the nature of your site, you may want to reduce the average pages viewed per person – for instance, so people arrive and purchase something in the shortest time possible.

    Some pages on some sites might also see a high bounce rate as a indication of success – Google presumably wants people to bounce off the first search results page as quickly as possible…

  • http://abibakarblog.com/ Abi Bakar

    thanks man, all these kind of ideas ever crossed on my mind, but never actually been realized. i think i should now

  • Abi Bakar

    thanks man, all these kind of ideas ever crossed on my mind, but never actually been realized. i think i should now

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  • http://www.moneyprofessor.co.uk/ JamesUK

    Thanks Mark i have just spent about an hour reading stuff and palying with some of the tools you mention and just found this article. The heat map one seems great as i could certainly do with reducing bounce rates so will give it a try.

  • http://tech.nabtron.com/ Nabeel Khan

    cool.. but never used crazy egg before :s

  • cliffposey

    After having a site for 3 years became of bounce rate via SEO forums but did not really understand it unit this article. Thanks for defining it right up front. All of you recommendations are great but the one I really never thought of was watching friends look at the site.

  • cliffposey

    After having a site for 3 years became of bounce rate via SEO forums but did not really understand it unit this article. Thanks for defining it right up front. All of you recommendations are great but the one I really never thought of was watching friends look at the site.

  • http://www.zorpia.com/clintonbarett Clinton Barett

    The heat mapping software works quite well and can provide you with enough insight, however proper site optimization starts with studying the analytics reports.

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