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20 Proven Ways To Reduce Your Bounce Rate

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20 Proven Ways To Reduce Your Bounce Rate

Properly diagnosing high bounce rates to identify areas of improvement is a useful way to increase user engagement, improve site rankings, and put more money in your pocket.

There are many misconceptions about bounce rates, so let’s define what it is and explore why it’s sometimes a good thing but other times needs improvement.

Google defines bounce rate as:

“…is a single-page session on your site.

In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”

Essentially, this means that when a visitor “bounces” from a webpage, they have left not just that webpage; they’ve also exited the entire website after only viewing one page.

While this definition is clear and easy to understand, the underlying cause of a bounce is generally more complex.

What Causes A High Bounce Rate?

Sometimes a high bounce rate can be an indication of a poor user experience.

A site visitor hit the page and either the page didn’t deliver the content they were expecting or they were underwhelmed by something else, like a non-responsive webpage.

On the other hand, a high bounce rate can also be the result of a positive user experience.

For example, let’s imagine a user is searching for a recipe’s ingredient measurements.

They click through the search result and land on a site where they immediately see the ingredients list need. They get it and leave the site.

That high bounce rate is an example of a great user experience. The visitor instantly found the information that they were looking for, then left.

Ideally, some of those high bounce rate site visitors will bookmark the page for future reference, and some other visitors may remember the site another day and return to it, seeking it out by name on Google.

When Google Causes A High Bounce Rate

Google’s algorithm exceeds at identifying what a page of content is about and what a search query is about.

However, there may be some rare edge cases where Google may show a website that does not have the correct answer.

This can happen when a searcher uses a poor choice of keywords (like vague words) or the search phrase is rare.

In that situation, Google sent the visitor to the incorrect webpage.

The visitor did not find the content they needed.

The high bounce rate in that situation is not a poor reflection on the website itself, as there’s nothing wrong with the content.

The source of the problem could be with Google’s algorithm or, more likely, with the search phrase a user typed in.

A high bounce rate is not always a sign of problems with the webpage itself.

Nevertheless, it’s still important to keep an eye on bounce rates to make sure there is not something there that might be driving website visitors away.

Here are 20 proven ways to reduce your bounce rate when needed.

1. Pay Attention To Page Load Time

When a user has to wait an excessive amount of time (and by excessive I mean more than three seconds) for a page load, it creates an incredibly poor user experience.

The content on the page does not matter if a visitor cannot even see it immediately.

Page load time is even more crucial on mobile devices because users are more likely to become frustrated with slow load times and bounce.

2. Make Site Search Easy

Some websites neglect adding a site search functionality or make it difficult to see.

If a user is searching for something specific that they do not instantly see on a page, this is an extremely useful tool that they can use to search with instead of possibly leaving the page or site entirely.

3. Provide Easy Navigation

Navigation should be easy and effortless for visitors.

When a user gets to a site, they need a clear direction of where the content that they are looking for lives.

If this is not simplistic and clearly laid out in an intuitive navigation, they will most likely bounce from the site.

4. Focus On A Great Design

Good website design is intuitive and builds trust with a user. A good website design is also a signal of quality.

Visitors will not spend a large amount of time a site that is unpleasant, unattractive, or have difficulty trusting.

Provide an appealing user experience by starting with a great design is not just about aesthetics. It’s about creating a functional, intuitive, and pleasant overall website experience.

5. Keep Mobile Top-Of-Mind

Mobile users have even less patience than desktop users.

A website should have a responsive design in order to provide users on mobile devices with a solid user experience.

6. Make Webpages Easy To Read

Content on a webpage should be clearly and effectively formatted.

This is crucial from a user experience standpoint, as no visitor to a website wants to see large chunks of disorganized text.

When this happens, users will usually skip over crucial content.

However, if that content was formatted into smaller blocks, including bullet points or also image or video content, a user will have a much easier time understanding the content and sharing it with others.

7. Write Shorter Paragraphs

One of the primary things that help with the overall readability of a site is the length of the content.

Create content within short paragraphs so that your visitors can quickly read the content on the small mobile devices most people use these days when consuming content.

8. Use Various Types Of Content

Another focus area when it comes to website readability is to use multiple forms of content in order to engage site visitors more effectively.

Video content can communicate certain kinds of information (like how-to instructions) more efficiently than text.

High-quality images can also help to break up the text, improve communication of big ideas, and help to reduce bounce rates.

9. Use Relevant Keywords

Use relevant keywords that are appropriate for the content topic.

The accurate use of words, sentences, paragraphs, and headings will help to communicate to Google what the page is about.

Stay on topic, do not stray.

The closer on topic the webpage is, the more likely the visitors Google sends will also be on-topic with what they expect to find on the page, thereby reducing the bounce rate.

10. Target Relevant Audience

Similar to relevant keywords, relevant content, on the whole, should be used across the site, and the right users should be targeted.

Identify the core target audience of the site and create niche content around that audience.

Targeting should not be too broad, as there is a greater chance of getting users who are not looking for what your site features.

Honing in and focusing on a specific group of users helps to ensure that you are finding people who want to find what your site offers.

These users will be more engaged and apt to spend a great amount of time exploring your site.

11. Stay Away From Popups

Users generally do not enjoy intrusive interstitials that prevent them from getting to the content.

There are better ways to show interstitials that will not impact users or your webpage rankings.

The rule of thumb is to not get in the way of a site visitor and the content they expect to see.

Allowing them to scroll and enjoy the content first is a better user experience.

If you can avoid using interstitial popups then give it a try.

12. Limit Distracting Ads

Similar to avoiding interstitials and popups, distracting ads should be avoided as well.

A horizontal rectangular ad unit at the top of the page generally performs well, followed by ads within the content and along the sides.

Large ads that make it difficult to read the content can be a poor user experience.

Be aware of the kinds of ads shown on your site in order to catch and block annoying ads.

Listen to site visitors if they complain about specific ads, and follow up with them to understand why they’re having a problem with those ads.

13. Add A Convincing Call-To-Action

A call-to-action (CTA) should be clearly visible on a website.

The user should be able to locate this within the first few seconds of being on a page.

A CTA should also be compelling so that a user is enticed to click on it.

The colors used, the fonts, the verbiage, etc. are all elements that can make a large impact on whether a person clicks.

14. Limit Broken Links

A large number of broken links will only create a poor user experience, leaving a visitor to a website dissatisfied and frustrated if they cannot locate the content that they want to find.

There are a few different ways to locate all of the broken links on a website, such as through Google Search Console or through a site auditing tool such as Screaming Frog.

15. Focus On An Internal Link Strategy

Focus on increasing the likelihood of a user staying on your site by using internal links to keep a user there.

This helps to let users easily navigate to what section of a website they are looking for, and keep their overall user experience enjoyable.

16. Ensure That Links Open On A New Tab

When creating a sound internal linking strategy and linking to other pages on a site, it is important to remember to ensure that those links open in a tab.

This helps to potentially increase the time a user spends on a site since they will have multiple pages open at once.

17. Create A 404 Page That Is Helpful

A 404 page should communicate that a page was not found and also provide alternative webpages for a user to navigate to.

This will help to lower the bounce rate by helping users find what they are looking for.

18. Publish New Content Frequently

Creating fresh content consistently that can offer users a wide variety of topics to explore can be helpful in order to convince people to visit and stay on a site.

19. Display Credibility

Visitors are always looking for how trustworthy a site seems.

When visitors land on your website, they are going through an examination of the content and assessing how reliable it seems.

As a way to help build credibility and increase trust with visitors, it is a good idea to include positive reviews of whatever products and/or services your site features.

Showcase any special seals, and make the site secure in order to help a user trust a site, and thus, decrease the likelihood of them bouncing.

20. Utilize Google Analytics & Other Tools

Several tools can help you when tracking user engagement.

Google Analytics can track:

  • Time on site.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Pages per session.
  • Most frequently and least frequently visited pages.
  • And much more.

Track User Experience with Microsoft Clarity

Other tools like the free Microsoft Clarity can provide heat mapping and visitor recording so that you can see exactly what a user did during a session.

You can view how users react to pages and then adjust and test changes on those pages accordingly.

Increase User Satisfaction

Increase site visitor engagement by diagnosing the reason for high bounce rates then using those insights to improve the site visitor’s user experience.

Optimize based on findings identified by Google Analytics and Microsoft Clarity so that avoidable high bounce rates can be avoided.

The end result will be a website that users enjoy which is exactly what Google prefers to rank.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Bakhtiar Zein/Shutterstock




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No Algorithmic Actions For Site Reputation Abuse Yet

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Looking up at an angle at the Google sign on the Head Office for Canada

Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, has confirmed that the search engine hasn’t launched algorithmic actions targeting site reputation abuse.

This clarification addresses speculation within the SEO community that recent traffic drops are related to Google’s previously announced policy update.

Sullivan Says No Update Rolled Out

Lily Ray, an SEO professional, shared a screenshot on Twitter showing a significant drop in traffic for the website Groupon starting on May 6.

Ray suggested this was evidence that Google had begun rolling out algorithmic penalties for sites violating the company’s site reputation abuse policy.

However, Sullivan quickly stepped in, stating:

“We have not gone live with algorithmic actions on site reputation abuse. I well imagine when we do, we’ll be very clear about that. Publishers seeing changes and thinking it’s this — it’s not — results change all the time for all types of reasons.”

Sullivan added that when the actions are rolled out, they will only impact specific content, not entire websites.

This is an important distinction, as it suggests that even if a site has some pages manually penalized, the rest of the domain can rank normally.

Background On Google’s Site Reputation Abuse Policy

Earlier this year, Google announced a new policy to combat what it calls “site reputation abuse.”

This refers to situations where third-party content is published on authoritative domains with little oversight or involvement from the host site.

Examples include sponsored posts, advertorials, and partner content that is loosely related to or unrelated to a site’s primary purpose.

Under the new policy, Google is taking manual action against offending pages and plans to incorporate algorithmic detection.

What This Means For Publishers & SEOs

While Google hasn’t launched any algorithmic updates related to site reputation abuse, the manual actions have publishers on high alert.

Those who rely heavily on sponsored content or partner posts to drive traffic should audit their sites and remove any potential policy violations.

Sullivan’s confirmation that algorithmic changes haven’t occurred may provide temporary relief.

Additionally, his statements also serve as a reminder that significant ranking fluctuations can happen at any time due to various factors, not just specific policy rollouts.


FAQ

Will Google’s future algorithmic actions impact entire websites or specific content?

When Google eventually rolls out algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse, these actions will target specific content rather than the entire website.

This means that if certain pages are found to be in violation, only those pages will be affected, allowing other parts of the site to continue ranking normally.

What should publishers and SEOs do in light of Google’s site reputation abuse policy?

Publishers and SEO professionals should audit their sites to identify and remove any content that may violate Google’s site reputation abuse policy.

This includes sponsored posts and partner content that doesn’t align with the site’s primary purpose. Taking these steps can mitigate the risk of manual penalties from Google.

What is the context of the recent traffic drops seen in the SEO community?

Google claims the recent drops for coupon sites aren’t linked to any algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse. Traffic fluctuations can occur for various reasons and aren’t always linked to a specific algorithm update.


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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

WP Rocket, the WordPress page speed performance plugin, just announced the release of a new version that will help publishers optimize for Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), an important Core Web Vitals metric.

Large Contentful Paint (LCP)

LCP is a page speed metric that’s designed to show how fast it takes for a user to perceive that the page is loaded and read to be interacted with. This metric measures the time it takes for the main content elements has fully loaded. This gives an idea of how usable a webpage is. The faster the LCP the better the user experience will be.

WP Rocket 3.16

WP Rocket is a caching plugin that helps a site perform faster. The way page caching generally works is that the website will store frequently accessed webpages and resources so that when someone visits the page the website doesn’t have to fetch the data from the database, which takes time, but instead will serve the webpage from the cache. This is super important when a website has a lot of site visitors because that can use a lot of server resources to fetch and build the same website over and over for every visitor.

The lastest version of WP Rocket (3.16) now contains Automatic LCP optimization, which means that it will optimize the on-page elements from the main content so that they are served first thereby raising the LCP scores and providing a better user experience.

Because it’s automatic there’s really nothing to fiddle around with or fine tune.

According to WP Rocket:

  • Automatic LCP Optimization: Optimizes the Largest Contentful Paint, a critical metric for website speed, automatically enhancing overall PageSpeed scores.
  • Smart Management of Above-the-Fold Images: Automatically detects and prioritizes critical above-the-fold images, loading them immediately to improve user experience and performance metrics.

All new functionalities operate seamlessly in the background, requiring no direct intervention from the user. Upon installing or upgrading to WP Rocket 3.16, these optimizations are automatically enabled, though customization options remain accessible for those who prefer manual control.”

Read the official announcement:

WP Rocket 3.16: Improving LCP and PageSpeed Score Automatically

Featured Image by Shutterstock/ICONMAN66

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Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

This post was sponsored by DebugBear. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Keeping your website fast is important for user experience and SEO.

The Core Web Vitals initiative by Google provides a set of metrics to help you understand the performance of your website.

The three Core Web Vitals metrics are:

This post focuses on the recently introduced INP metric and what you can do to improve it.

How Is Interaction To Next Paint Measured?

INP measures how quickly your website responds to user interactions – for example, a click on a button. More specifically, INP measures the time in milliseconds between the user input and when the browser has finished processing the interaction and is ready to display any visual updates on the page.

Your website needs to complete this process in under 200 milliseconds to get a “Good” score. Values over half a second are considered “Poor”. A poor score in a Core Web Vitals metric can negatively impact your search engine rankings.

Google collects INP data from real visitors on your website as part of the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). This CrUX data is what ultimately impacts rankings.

Image created by DebugBear, May 2024

How To Identify & Fix Slow INP Times

The factors causing poor Interaction to Next Paint can often be complex and hard to figure out. Follow this step-by-step guide to understand slow interactions on your website and find potential optimizations.

1. How To Identify A Page With Slow INP Times

Different pages on your website will have different Core Web Vitals scores. So you need to identify a slow page and then investigate what’s causing it to be slow.

Using Google Search Console

One easy way to check your INP scores is using the Core Web Vitals section in Google Search Console, which reports data based on the Google CrUX data we’ve discussed before.

By default, page URLs are grouped into URL groups that cover many different pages. Be careful here – not all pages might have the problem that Google is reporting. Instead, click on each URL group to see if URL-specific data is available for some pages and then focus on those.

1716368164 358 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of Google Search Console, May 2024

Using A Real-User Monitoring (RUM) Service

Google won’t report Core Web Vitals data for every page on your website, and it only provides the raw measurements without any details to help you understand and fix the issues. To get that you can use a real-user monitoring tool like DebugBear.

Real-user monitoring works by installing an analytics snippet on your website that measures how fast your website is for your visitors. Once that’s set up you’ll have access to an Interaction to Next Paint dashboard like this:

1716368164 404 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Interaction to Next Paint dashboard, May 2024

You can identify pages you want to optimize in the list, hover over the URL, and click the funnel icon to look at data for that specific page only.

1716368164 975 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideImage created by DebugBear, May 2024

2. Figure Out What Element Interactions Are Slow

Different visitors on the same page will have different experiences. A lot of that depends on how they interact with the page: if they click on a background image there’s no risk of the page suddenly freezing, but if they click on a button that starts some heavy processing then that’s more likely. And users in that second scenario will experience much higher INP.

To help with that, RUM data provides a breakdown of what page elements users interacted with and how big the interaction delays were.

1716368164 348 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Elements view, May 2024

The screenshot above shows different INP interactions sorted by how frequent these user interactions are. To make optimizations as easy as possible you’ll want to focus on a slow interaction that affects many users.

In DebugBear, you can click on the page element to add it to your filters and continue your investigation.

3. Identify What INP Component Contributes The Most To Slow Interactions

INP delays can be broken down into three different components:

  • Input Delay: Background code that blocks the interaction from being processed.
  • Processing Time: The time spent directly handling the interaction.
  • Presentation Delay: Displaying the visual updates to the screen.

You should focus on which INP component is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time, and ensure you keep that in mind during your investigation.

1716368164 193 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Components, May 2024

In this scenario, Processing Time is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time for the set of pages you’re looking at, but you need to dig deeper to understand why.

High processing time indicates that there is code intercepting the user interaction and running slow performing code. If instead you saw a high input delay, that suggests that there are background tasks blocking the interaction from being processed, for example due to third-party scripts.

4. Check Which Scripts Are Contributing To Slow INP

Sometimes browsers report specific scripts that are contributing to a slow interaction. Your website likely contains both first-party and third-party scripts, both of which can contribute to slow INP times.

A RUM tool like DebugBear can collect and surface this data. The main thing you want to look at is whether you mostly see your own website code or code from third parties.

1716368164 369 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Domain Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

Tip: When you see a script, or source code function marked as “N/A”, this can indicate that the script comes from a different origin and has additional security restrictions that prevent RUM tools from capturing more detailed information.

This now begins to tell a story: it appears that analytics/third-party scripts are the biggest contributors to the slow INP times.

5. Identify Why Those Scripts Are Running

At this point, you now have a strong suspicion that most of the INP delay, at least on the pages and elements you’re looking at, is due to third-party scripts. But how can you tell whether those are general tracking scripts or if they actually have a role in handling the interaction?

DebugBear offers a breakdown that helps see why the code is running, called the INP Primary Script Invoker breakdown. That’s a bit of a mouthful – multiple different scripts can be involved in slowing down an interaction, and here you just see the biggest contributor. The “Invoker” is just a value that the browser reports about what caused this code to run.

1716368165 263 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Invoker Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

The following invoker names are examples of page-wide event handlers:

  • onclick
  • onmousedown
  • onpointerup

You can see those a lot in the screenshot above, which tells you that the analytics script is tracking clicks anywhere on the page.

In contrast, if you saw invoker names like these that would indicate event handlers for a specific element on the page:

  • .load_more.onclick
  • #logo.onclick

6. Review Specific Page Views

A lot of the data you’ve seen so far is aggregated. It’s now time to look at the individual INP events, to form a definitive conclusion about what’s causing slow INP in this example.

Real user monitoring tools like DebugBear generally offer a way to review specific user experiences. For example, you can see what browser they used, how big their screen is, and what element led to the slowest interaction.

1716368165 545 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a Page View in DebugBear Real User Monitoring, May 2024

As mentioned before, multiple scripts can contribute to overall slow INP. The INP Scripts section shows you the scripts that were run during the INP interaction:

1716368165 981 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP script breakdown, May 2024

You can review each of these scripts in more detail to understand why they run and what’s causing them to take longer to finish.

7. Use The DevTools Profiler For More Information

Real user monitoring tools have access to a lot of data, but for performance and security reasons they can access nowhere near all the available data. That’s why it’s a good idea to also use Chrome DevTools to measure your page performance.

To debug INP in DevTools you can measure how the browser processes one of the slow interactions you’ve identified before. DevTools then shows you exactly how the browser is spending its time handling the interaction.

1716368165 526 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a performance profile in Chrome DevTools, May 2024

How You Might Resolve This Issue

In this example, you or your development team could resolve this issue by:

  • Working with the third-party script provider to optimize their script.
  • Removing the script if it is not essential to the website, or finding an alternative provider.
  • Adjusting how your own code interacts with the script

How To Investigate High Input Delay

In the previous example most of the INP time was spent running code in response to the interaction. But often the browser is already busy running other code when a user interaction happens. When investigating the INP components you’ll then see a high input delay value.

This can happen for various reasons, for example:

  • The user interacted with the website while it was still loading.
  • A scheduled task is running on the page, for example an ongoing animation.
  • The page is loading and rendering new content.

To understand what’s happening, you can review the invoker name and the INP scripts section of individual user experiences.

1716368165 86 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Component breakdown within DebugBear, May 2024

In this screenshot, you can see that a timer is running code that coincides with the start of a user interaction.

The script can be opened to reveal the exact code that is run:

1716368165 114 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of INP script details in DebugBear, May 2024

The source code shown in the previous screenshot comes from a third-party user tracking script that is running on the page.

At this stage, you and your development team can continue with the INP workflow presented earlier in this article. For example, debugging with browser DevTools or contacting the third-party provider for support.

How To Investigate High Presentation Delay

Presentation delay tends to be more difficult to debug than input delay or processing time. Often it’s caused by browser behavior rather than a specific script. But as before, you still start by identifying a specific page and a specific interaction.

You can see an example interaction with high presentation delay here:

1716368165 665 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the an interaction with high presentation delay, May 2024

You see that this happens when the user enters text into a form field. In this example, many visitors pasted large amounts of text that the browser had to process.

Here the fix was to delay the processing, show a “Waiting…” message to the user, and then complete the processing later on. You can see how the INP score improves from May 3:

1716368165 845 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of an Interaction to Next Paint timeline in DebugBear, May 2024

Get The Data You Need To Improve Interaction To Next Paint

Setting up real user monitoring helps you understand how users experience your website and what you can do to improve it. Try DebugBear now by signing up for a free 14-day trial.

1716368165 494 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Core Web Vitals dashboard, May 2024

Google’s CrUX data is aggregated over a 28-day period, which means that it’ll take a while before you notice a regression. With real-user monitoring you can see the impact of website changes right away and get alerted automatically when there’s a big change.

DebugBear monitors lab data, CrUX data, and real user data. That way you have all the data you need to optimize your Core Web Vitals in one place.

This article has been sponsored by DebugBear, and the views presented herein represent the sponsor’s perspective.

Ready to start optimizing your website? Sign up for DebugBear and get the data you need to deliver great user experiences.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Redesign.co. Used with permission.

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