Your website is generating traffic, it’s technically sound, with everything being logged in Google Analytics, but one thing strikes you, your “bounce rate” seems abnormally high - something’s not right.
In short, your bounce rate is dependant on your industry; there is no real ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, but what you can be sure of, is that if you feel it’s too high - then it probably is. It’s all based on personal opinion but a good way to gauge if it needs to be improved is comparing it to industry benchmarks, so here’s a quick summary of average bounce rates across the 5 most common industries in 2016:
|Industry||January - March||April - June||July - September||October - December||2016 Average|
|Food & Drink||56.10%||58.48%||55.19%||47.87%||54.41%|
|Jobs & Education||57.35%||59.91%||56.16%||47.18%||55.15%|
Have the above figures got you questioning? Carrying on reading to discover the variables that cause these figures. But first, the basics.
In order to properly gauge how well or poorly your bounce rate is, you need to be completely sure about what is meant by the term 'bounce rate'.
Your Bounce Rate is a universal metric shared across most software that can be used to monitor your website’s performance. Your bounce rate, very basically concerns the percentage of people visiting your site then leaving within the first few seconds (without taking any action).
A website bounce is what makes up your website’s bounce rate percentage. A bounce is a single term for each visitor that leaves your site without clicking, scrolling, or interacting with your website in any way.
Bounce Rate is a key indicator of where a particular page (or your site altogether) requires attention when it comes down to content and core site messaging. It’s a key determiner, of what works on your page and if you’re attracting the right traffic.
If you have a high bounce rate, it may mean you need to review your core persona and the content they are supposed to resonate with.
The best websites put the user’s experience first, and that’s why bounce rate is a crucial metric to any UX Developer’s toolkit.
There is no set figure to aim for when it comes to Bounce Rate and it widely varies on your website’s industry and content you’re producing.
The following data is sourced from Google Analytics for the entirety of 2016; this data can be found within Audience > Benchmarking > Channels where you can find industry averages and see how you stack up against your competitors.
Shopping Sites experience quite a variable bounce rate due to the vast amount of factors that affect it.
This variable can be as small as an E-commerce having a vast amount of pages that rank/are advertised yet doesn’t have the particular product that visitor is looking for at first glance.
Tying in with that, with the vast amount of pages contained on an e-commerce site can simply just be overwhelming for the visitor, and with 55% of typical visitors spending less than 15 seconds on your site, if a product is hard to find - they will just look elsewhere.
Throughout 2016, this graphic below was the average trendline made up of websites that use Google Analytics (that’s 30-50 million websites by the way) and operate within a “Shopping” industry that they specified when creating their analytics account.
Shopping Websites saw an industry-high bounce rate benchmark of 59.51% in 2016
An issue with Shopping and E-commerce websites is that they are subject to seasonality due to sharp traffic increases/decreases during months such as September and December. This seasonality means as your traffic decreases, the ratio of people bouncing could remain the same - leading to an inflated bounce rate figure. On the flip side, during months such as December where traffic is at it’s peak, if the percentage of people bouncing doesn’t rise in ratio with visitors - it could lead to a considerably lower bounce rate.
Food & Drink websites are prone to high bounce rates and poor click-through-rates (CTRs) due to the intent of searches made and the potential of having their content appear in featured snippet boxes.
Food & Drink websites saw an industry-high benchmark bounce rate of 59.36% in 2016
Food & Drink is often a tough industry to retain site traffic due to the strong intent behind how they arrive. It's not uncommon where a majority of your site traffic will come for one reason (and one reason only), such as to look up a planned menu or dish before leaving.
Whilst offering related recipes is always a key aspect in improving this, it may not be enough; it’s actually high quality and bright images that attract attention and encourage click-throughs. HubSpot found that when the images are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images than they do reading text on the page.
News websites are ones prone to high bounce rates as a result of visitors often being referred to this websites via Social Media. These sites often have a large proportion of entry points to the website rather than the homepage accounting for the majority of entry traffic which is often the case.
Sites such as BBC News, Sky News, among others, are often not as susceptible to such high bounce rates due to the reputation built, but entry-level news sites often struggle and find site-wide and page-wide bounce rates to be particularly high. This high rate is because traffic lands, reads the content they’ve come to see (as it’s all on one page) before leaving.
News websites saw their Benchmark Bounce Rate reach a high of 69.21% in 2016
If you own a News related website, consider keeping bounce rates down by offering a “similar stories”, “read more like this”, “trending” or “popular posts”, related to each article these links are placed on. The reinforcement that these articles are popular both make the visitor feel valued whilst developing a fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) stigma which will allow them to delve further around your website.
Websites that concern Jobs and Education usually have a lower bounce rate than those within other industries as a result of the intent behind why people are on these websites. Websites such as Indeed and Monster Jobs have remarkably low bounce rates due to site users setting time aside to browse various job openings, each of which are contained on separate pages.
Jobs & Education websites saw an Industry-High benchmark of 61.26% Bounce Rate in 2016
The importance of maintaining a low bounce rate within this industry is the inclusion of an internal search bar that allows visitors to get more personalised results whilst also encouraging them to delve further into the site. Avoiding both bounces whilst prioritising experience, something which Indeed and Monster do effectively.
Similar to News sites, content is often kept entirely on one page, just on a larger scale with Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. This all-contained-page comes in the form of a feed and is utilised to offer convenience over site-depth, meaning bounce rates are particularly high.
Social Networking sites saw an industry-high benchmark of 70.22% in 2016
When it comes to Social Networks, bounce rates can be kept lower by offering a personal page or ‘profile’ where content can be reposted to. These separate pages keep session duration high and encourages visitors to interact with the site more - avoiding bounces.
So now we know the importance of having a low bounce rate and industry benchmarks, but what exactly affects it so we can improve it?
You’ll find depending on the the nature of your site’s traffic, you’ll have varying bounce rates with patterns developing. More outbound forms of traffic, such as pay per click (PPC) or e-mail tend to have a considerably higher bounce rate than their organic (SEO) and direct counterparts.
If your e-mails or paid ads are not effective, misleading, or are simply targeting the wrong audience, you’ll see your bounce rate rise considerably. Whereas with Organic and Direct sources, you’ll find the visitors have come with intent to land on your site, either through ranking for the right keywords or having previously visited your site and bookmarked it. These visitors know what to expect and what they want.
I mean here’s an example of our own bounce rates back in September 2016:
|SEO - google / organic||514||25.10%|
|PPC - google / cpc||21||80.95%|
|Email - hs_email||73||34.25%|
|Direct - (direct) / (none)||494||78.54%|
Whilst the patterns will always persist among the channels you can always take precautionary steps to keep it as low as possible regardless of the industry you are in.
Like we’ve discussed in each industry’s relevant section of this blog, different industries come with different types of searches. However, it is partnered with what you set out to achieve with your website.
This potential outcome can differ across industries, i.e. if you’re an online community such as a Social Networking site, you may set out to keep users on one typical type of page with everything all in one place. This one-page scrolling is great from a user experience perspective, although it would technically be classed as a bounce if they don’t necessarily navigate from that page and just leave your site after the end of that session. This scroll and go navigation will lead to an high industry bounce rate which doesn’t mean your site is any worse than a Travel website which naturally has more pages and research needed to be done by the visitor.
That doesn’t mean to say that having a bounce rate that fits in line with your industry average is what you should aim for, your website can really become an anomaly in regards to what your industry has as a benchmark. You should always aim to make your content easily accessible, useful to the reader, or in other words, provide good user experience.
It's not uncommon to defy benchmark statistics. In 2016, we had a 62.75% lower bounce rate from Social Traffic than others in our industry
As shallow as this may seem, whether you’re a shopping site or a food & drink website, your site’s appearance can be make or break when it comes to visitors bouncing. With Adobe finding that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if it’s content or layout is unattractive, it’s important that you highlight your site’s message clearly and attractively in a form that your persona resonates with.
Whilst appearance is key, if visitors can’t see how amazing your website or content looks then visitors will look elsewhere. With the growing number of people accessing the internet whilst on the go, website load times have to be quicker and websites need to be smaller. This faster load rate is ever important not only due to its growing influence on SEO rankings, but the fact 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
Lastly, a combination of the above two when it comes to User Experience is the ease of navigation a website offers. Every person that lands on your site will have come with some form of intent and purpose, it’s your job to make that easy for them. If a visitor becomes confused or are struggling to find/do what they want, then they’ll simply spend the time looking for a site that makes it easier for them. The easiest way to sum this up is there’s no point creating the world’s best content if no-one is going to find it.
I know, you’re probably now wondering “how do I improve my bounce rate?” as you’re now aware of what you need to be aiming for, what you can affect you achieving it but you’re still unsure as to what you can do. Well, let's take the above examples.
If your site is unfortunate enough to operate in a high bounce-rate industry, consider including relevant call-to-actions that are both clear and context-bound. This personalisation works especially well for Food & Drink sites where a visitor can arrive with one idea, but leave with several - if done correctly.
For example, if they’ve came looking for a Victoria Sponge recipe, why not offer a call-to-action with the copy “Tried our Victoria Sponge recipe? You’ll love our lighter version. Less sugar, all the flavour. Learn how now!” These kind of CTAs will allow you to gently guide and retain your site visitors for as long as possible by offering value to them.
If you find your website to be suffering to having low pages per session, or in other words poor navigation and appearance, then your priority should be to think about your visitor’s own priorities. What do they want to see? Where do they want to see it?
By doing this, you’ll enable your website to resonate with your core persona whilst allowing your content to be interacted with more frequently - meaning a low bounce rate as your visitors begin to start clicking around.
On the flip side, if you find that your average session duration in Analytics is remarkably low, the problem is most likely a site speed issue. With the rising prominence of AMP, you can consider moving pages over to this or alternatively consider changing images to JPEG format whilst keeping logos/graphics in .gif or .png format. Image file size is just the tip of the iceberg but is a big contributor to slow-loading sites.
Whilst knowing your competitors and industry inside out is a powerful tool in your conversion rate optimisation efforts, dwelling on it too much can also be just as harmful. As you aim to achieve a benchmark figure, you can unknowingly lose your site’s (or content’s) uniqueness, which in turn, can make your site less appealing to remain on as your visitors have seen it all before.
Simply focus on your own Bounce Rate as your website’s performance is all that matters, don’t aim to achieve a benchmark as any traffic that is lost from competitor’s sites due to bounce rate, is more for your own website to gain.
So, by offering value to your visitors, rather than focusing on what you want to achieve, it will ironically allow you to achieve the results that you want. You’ll begin to notice visitors funnelling down the buyer’s journey, rather than leaving before they’ve even started it.
Reducing your bounce rate is only the beginning when it comes to driving conversions and ultimately sales. There's 39 other proven quick tactics that you can implement to start getting more from your website. Grab the rest below!