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How to dramatically reduce your website's bounce rate with one quick change.

Updated on June 14, 2014

What is a "bounce"?

If you use Google Analytics then you'll be aware of the term "Bounce Rate", but what exactly is a bounce?

Many people believe a "bounce" is when somebody visits your website via a search result and then hits the back button without continuing to read any of the other pages on your website - in other words they've landed on a page and "bounced" back off it.

However, this isn't actually correct. A bounce is actually when somebody visits your website but then leaves before spending an amount of time on the website that is deemed significant by the search engine. So this means that a visitor may only read one page, but providing they stay on that page for long enough then the search engine will class them as a "non-bounce".

Why is the bounce rate so important?

A lower bounce rate typically means that users are more engaged in your content and want to stay & continue to read more. Your bounce rate is a good indication of how relevant the content is that you're providing for the search terms it's appearing for - therefore it's always a good idea to strive for the lowest bounce rate you possibly can.

Many people claim that bounce rate isn't a ranking factor, but we all know it is. It's such an important measure of the quality of a website and there's no way Google would choose to ignore it in it's algorithms.

How can you improve your website's bounce rate?

Improving your bounce rate is fairly straight forward, and a lower bounce rate will certainly be highly beneficial to the ranking of your website. I'm going to share with you a simple tweak that takes less than 5 minutes and will immediately dramatically decrease your website's bounce rate.

Firstly you should use Google Analytics to monitor the bounce rate of the pages on your website. If you notice any that are particularly high then it's time to take action. The steps to follow are simple, and can be found below:

Step 1.

Use Google Analytics to find out which keywords people are arriving on your page via. Looking at these keywords it's time to then look at your content and ask yourself if it's relevant. If you arrived on that page searching for what they are searching for would you be satisfied? More importantly is the information provided as in-depth as it possibly can be? This is vital since we want the user to stay on that page for as long as possible, and then potentially move onto other pages on the site too.

Step 2.

Give the user somewhere to go. If you've completed step 1 that's great, the user visiting your website is now satisfied with your content - but have they got anywhere to go after reading it? If not then they are bound to hit the back button and go elsewhere, but if you provide them with some navigation to other interesting parts of your website then they are more likely to stay and continue reading your content. It's good to place links within your content to other parts of your website (providing they are relevant of course), and it's absolutely vital that you provide the user with links at the bottom of the content since this is the stage when they will most definitely be looking for somewhere else to go.

Step 3.

This is the magical step that will provide immediate results which will be visible in your analytics. As we previously mentioned a bounce is when somebody leaves your website before spending an amount of time on there that is deemed relevant by the search engine. Therefore we need to tell the search engine that the user is still active on our page, and we can do this with a bit of clever tweaking.

There is a problem at the moment with the way Google Analytics works. It determines the Time On Site based on the length of time between a user entering your site and their last page view. This means that if a user lands on your site and is busy reading your content but doesn't navigate to another page in the allotted timescale given by the search engine then they will be recorded as a bounce, even though that after that time period they may still be there reading away - if they leave without clicking another link then Analytics will never know.

Thankfully there is something we can do to counteract this with the clever use of Google's Event Tracking API. What we are going to do is add some code to our website that checks if the user is still there every 10 seconds and reports back to Analytics with the answer. This provides us with a more accurate picture of user engagement by giving a true figure of Time On Site and reporting back that the user didn't bounce.

The following code is taken from the Google API itself and it should be pasted right before the </body> tag on your webpage:

<script type="text/javascript">
(function (tos) {
window.setInterval(function () {
tos = (function (t) {
return t[0] == 50 ? (parseInt(t[1]) + 1) + ':00' : (t[1] || '0') + ':' + (parseInt(t[0]) + 10);
window.pageTracker ? pageTracker._trackEvent('Time', 'Log', tos) : _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Time', 'Log', tos]);
}, 10000);

As soon as this little bit of code is added to your website the results will be immediately evident in your analytics. You'll see how long your visitors are really spending on your website, and your bounce rate will drop significantly.

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