Identifying and eliminating the cause(s) of high bounce rate

Google Panda algorithm has received a warm welcome by net junkies. , Google Panda is sure to rule the search results throughout 2012 as well. Remember that bounce rate of your web pages “is” and “would be” the most important ranking factor considered by all major algorithm updates put up by Google.

Straight to the point: Why does a visitor of your website skip the page? The answer is simple; your web page is not as expected by the visitor. Now, when you think about the visitor’s expectations, there are several factors to consider.

bounce.jpgBounce Rate Defined: Visitors landing on a page of your website exit from the same page without navigating to a second page are called bounces. The percentage of such bounces is called bounce rate.”

It is impossible to have a clean 0% bounce rate; however, I consider anything below 25% bounce rate is fine for a website. Bounce rate absolutely determines the relevancy and user experience of a web page. Due to this reason, almost all the algorithms put up by Google consider bounce rate as a deciding factor for ranking. The most recent Google Panda update values bounce rate a lot because, in the eyes of Google, a high bounce rate indicates that the page does not carry relevant informative content in the page for the search term. 

As we used to say, Google Panda is a bot, not a human, so it sees bounce rate as an indicator of irrelevant information. However, the cause of the high bounce rate may be something else. This is where many of us wonder why certain pages are not ranked well even though the page carries relevant, newsworthy and unique information.

Time to look at the other factors contributing to a high bounce rate:

* Content is not relevant for the targeted keyword
This is the main cause of high bounce rates. If you are not choosing the target keywords wisely, you would welcome irrelevant traffic. However, under several circumstances you cannot prevent this. For instance, let’s take the keyword “press release distribution” for example. This keyword represents both the press release distribution (offered by us) and also the press release directories. This is a valuable keyword for both a SEO company and a press release directory. Now consider someone looking for a PR directory landing on a page which is actually a press release distribution service. Without a doubt the visitor would immediately surf away from the page.

The Solution: Dealing with such bounces is very simple. All you have to do is to direct them to the right sources with a redirect within your page. In the case of “press release distribution” we could send the customer to a list of press release directories presented within the parent website itself. Simply said, your page should carry something for everyone landing on the page for target keywords

* Page speed driving away all the visitors
Page speed is one of the most important search engine ranking factors by itself.  In addition to that page speed means a lot to user experience. We are living in a very busy world, where we do not have time to just stand and stare. Obviously none wants to see the page or shopping cart to load for ages. They would skip immediately from slow loading pages.

Solution: If you have not checked the page speed of any pages of your website, do it NOW! Use Google’s free page speed tool to check the current page speed. I would consider anything above 80 a descent score. But the target should be 90+, which is achievable though our page speed service. Remember that page speed is important both for search engine bots as well as human user experience.
* Too Clean or too congested page design
Design of the page has an impact both on how bots and users view your page. This is a tricky part where you would have to satisfy both the bots and the human using the same presentation. It is a well-known fact that that users respond to images and other visuals than plain text which is the favorite of the bots. If the site is made for search engine bots, the design would be very pain and clean. However, if the page is made for the humans, it would be flashy and catchy but not easily indexable by the bots.  So how about a clean + catchy design

Solution: Do not overload your website with too many moving objects and images. It would irritate and confuse the visitors along with making the bots unreachable. Instead, add straight to the point content along with appropriate images and info graphics. Make wise use of banners in such a way that, they do the talking about the entire page to the humans. Remember to add alt tags for all the images you add so that the bots would understand what message the image is trying to convey. Navigation is main design aspect to take care of the bounce rate. Do not highlight something that the visitor doesn’t want in the navigation just because you want to sell more of the product mentioned in that page.  Let the navigation be what the client expects and the other pages displayed as banners or snippets in relevant pages

* Cross browser non-compatibility
Your website looking and working good in Firefox doesn’t mean that it is well functional across all the common browsers. Here  is some info on browser user statistics as on November 2011
Firefox- 38.1 %
Chrome - 33.4 %
Internet Explorer - 21.2 %
Safari - 4.2 %
Opera - 2.4 %

Test your website’s appearance and functionality across all the browsers. Remember to check the java scripts and special objects in the website and make sure to use functions valid across all browsers. Any non-functional or awkward looking page because of browser compatibility issues  would lead the visitor to skip the page. The common thought that putting up a message stating “Best viewed on Firefox (or any browser)” is not a good idea because, no matter what you say, none would change their preferred browser just to view your website. According to my opinion, such message would become a cause for the bounce rate as the visitor would think that the website is useless on his current browser. So if you have the message displayed on your website take it off NOW and work on fixing compatibility issues

* Mind the grammar and spelling

There isn’t much to explain here. Grammar and spelling determines the professionalism of your website. Surveys have clearly indicated that, even a simple careless spelling mistake would destroy the professionalism of the website completely.

* No support option
How many times have you looked for a support option when browsing thorough web pages? It would be a frustration when you cannot find an easy to fill contact form when you need extra support. Have links to a contact page everywhere on all pages. Gone are the days when the contact us page link used to be in the footer. As per the current trend, the contact number is to occupy the top right of all pages (header) using a web 2.0 sized (bigger and bolder) font. A “mini” contact form would be available to the right/ left side of all page. This would make visitors navigate to a contact page before they quit your website not finding what they were looking for.

Bottom Line
The latest Google panda algorithm and most of other updates by the search engine giants focus on quality and relevancy of the web pages for the search terms. Bad scenarios are where your pages would be of top quality and relevant for the keywords, but still there would be bounce rates because of any of the above mentioned factors. From a search engine’s eye, bounce rates (for any reason) indicates poor quality or irrelevancy. It is certain that we have to face it, taking care of all the factors mentioned above.

Let’s get your website 2012 ready!!

Category :

SEO News

Tags :

SEO News, Google News

About Geno Thampi

Geno Thampi Not a born Shakespeare! But I still write articles and blogs to share my ideas and thoughts on SEO and SMO. Being a part of SEO research team of SubmitINme, I keep my ears and eyes open, and the pen ready to grab, write and share trending topics in search engine .... more info