How to Improve Your Website's Bounce Rate and Its 'Stickiness'

Getting people to visit the first time is less than half the battle. You’ll need them to remain on the site long enough to take an action that benefits your business for the site to be effective.  A site that gets people to stay there once they’ve arrived is called “sticky” and usually has a low bounce rate.

A bounce rate is percentage of single-page visitor sessions, or the percentage of visitors who go to only one page of your site and then "bounce" back to the search engine in order to look for a better site. It is also a figure that is related to session length and landing page optimization. In general, the higher the bounce rate, the worse your site (or page) is deemed useful by both people and search engines.









Now that Google launched Panda, an on-site algorythm analysis, it is assumed that bounce rates are now included as a ranking factor, so read on to improve your bounce rate. Our goal is to ensure visitors who find our site, stay on our site, visit more than one page and take an action (like buy from us or give us their contact information.

Wikipedia's definition of bounce rate is the following:

Bounce Rate is the "Total number of visits viewing one page" divided by "Total number of visits greater than or equal to the average variable page load speed".

  • Rb = Bounce rate
  • Tv = Total number of visits viewing one page only
  • Te = Total entries to page
  • Ps = Average variable page load speed

There are myriad ways a website can fail at stickiness and exhibit terrible bounce rates. If the site fails to establish trust, people will probably leave. If the site seems shoddy, shady, messy or unorganized, people will bounce (leave). If the site asks too much of the user, like asking them to fill out a long form without offering any free teaser content before they can view valuable content, people are going to bounce. If a site is confusing, people will bounce. If a site has many broken links or “Page Not Found” errors, people are going to bounce. If the site takes a long time to download in browsers, people will bounce. This list goes on and on.

On the other hand, if a website offers quality content that is original, you greatly increase your chances that a visitor will stay. If your copy writing is compelling, succinct and easy to consume, people will want to continue reading. You want people to stay so you can capitalize on their presence. For example, if your call to action is to get visitors to sign up for your newsletter, they’ll need to be there long enough to accomplish the following:

  1. Learn that there is a newsletter to sign up for in the first place
  2. Begin to trust you as an authority in your industry
  3. Get their interest piqued enough to want to learn more from you
  4. Be compelled enough to actually sign up for your newsletter
  5. Learn to trust you enough to feel comfortable with giving you their e-mail address

This works for selling online as well. As a matter of fact, it is even more important to establish interest, trust and authority to make a sale online because you are lacking the power of one-on- one in-person communication.

Another factor that improves bounce rates and makes a site sticky is its ease of use. People like to get maximum benefit for minimum effort. Have you ever considered the design of Google’s website? It is one of the simplest and cleanest home pages in existence. We can all learn from this. You and your Web vendor ought to be chanting this mantra through the entire planning and building phase of a new website: Clean Simple Easy, Clean Simple Easy, Clean Simple Easy. Say it over and over again.  

People hate complicated websites that make them think too much. They hate feeling confused. They hate feeling stupid. They hate wasting their time. Many competing websites are a literal click away. And people have itchy back button fingers.

To make your website as sticky as possible, create original and compelling content on a regular basis, establish trust and above all else, be sure to design it in a way that appears clean, and is simple and easy to use and find information.

Below are some specific ways to improve your bounce rate.

The following list is taken from my book The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Business Website, and illustrates the things you can do or include on your website to improve your online business presence. And now, more than ever, if you want to rank well in Google after Panda and Penguin, improving every aspect of your site and visitor experience is essential. Since every website is comprised of three fundamental aspects; design, technical and marketing , the list below is broken up accordingly. (If you want to read the opposite of this list, or some of the bad things you can make your website do, read this.)

Design & Content Qualities:

Technical Qualities:

Marketing Qualities:

Jason OConnor,
President Oak Web Works, LLC
Copyright 2008 & 2014

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