“Help: 60% of my website visitors are bouncing off my main page”

Posted by Dave CollinsWebsite Usability

Yes, this was the subject of an email I received last week. Yes, the person who wrote it gave me permission to quote him. No, I’m not going to name him.

Before going further, let’s remember the difference between a bounce rate and an exit rate.

An exit rate is the percentage of visits to a page that go no further in your website. For example you’d expect the exit rate of your form’s confirmation page to be high.

A bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits. For example the number of visits arriving at your home page who go no further in interacting with your website.

Let’s be realistic here. Your main pages are probably going to have a reasonably high bounce rate. People come to your website for all sorts of reasons, and one of the quirks of the search engines is that a number of them will probably looking for something that you don’t provide.

In the case of the person who sent me the panic-struck email, there was nothing wrong with his website.

A quick play with his Google Analytics filters reassured him that a significant percentage of the visits to his main page were looking for something that had no connection with what he was selling.

When we excluded the junk-traffic, we saw that his bounce-rates were actually in the region of 35% – considerably lower than many other websites that we’ve seen.

Of course it didn’t take long for him to realise that there was room for improvement even here. He’s just engaged our conversion optimisation service to see how we can reduce his bounce rates further, and I’m confident that he’ll be happy with the results.

The bottom line is that balance is a good idea. There’s no need to panic when you see your bounce rates, but there’s no need to accept them either.

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