12 ways to improve your website's bounce rate in 2022  

Digital commerce expert Stuart Taylor of Rouge Media shares his dozen best methods
Stuart Taylor

John Wannamaker, one of America’s advertising pioneers, is quoted as saying “When a customer enters my store, forget me. He is king.”

Well, this attitude is as true for early 20th-century American department stores as it is for website design today (apart from the out-of-date male pronoun bias). Yet, it is something many B2B organisations seem to get wrong.

When designing a business website, the user is king. And bounce rate is an extremely important metric for measuring whether your website is easy to use and fulfils users’ needs without them searching elsewhere.

Below is a checklist for anyone looking to make improvements to their business website in 2022 and keep that all-important bounce rate as low as possible.

1. First impressions matter

Within a 1/20th of a second, a user makes an impression about your website – and your company.

That’s down to what scientists call the halo effect that causes people to be biased in their judgments about something if it looks “good”.

Due to this, in some instances, users would put up with poor functionality if a website is visually appealing.

Mobile now accounts for roughly half of all web-usage worldwide. Failing to optimise a site for mobile will result in a wider design and ultimately affect the first impressions of the site. Google will also penalise your site’s performance in the SERPs if it isn’t designed well for mobile.

2. Learn from best practice

Google continuously updates and refreshes its algorithm; any changes can be make or break for online performance.

To stay ahead of the curve, look at the content that is highly ranked on Google to identify what its algorithm thinks is good for the user - and emulate it.

High-quality content could be on a service or product page, FAQs that answer high-volume searches, or interesting and relevant blog content that gives value to the target audience.

Bounce rates can vary greatly depending on the industry you’re in, so learn from leaders in your own. If the website uses Google Analytics, you can carry out competitor research to understand what’s the standard benchmark.

3. Up your internal links

A simple way to reduce your bounce rate is to increase the number of internal links to relevant pages. This encourages users to click on another page rather than exiting the site. Internal links also increase the number of pages a user visits in one session – meaning they’re more likely to purchase from you.

Ensure these links are placed less than halfway down the page, as users are less likely to scroll to the bottom of the page. Consider placing links at the beginning or end of sentences too. And always highlight them as hyperlinked text.

4. Improve page load time

Waiting for a page to load is one of the most frustrating experiences for users and they’ll leave before they’ve even seen what you have to offer.

Check your website’s page speed by using Google’s Page Speed tool. If loading time is worse than average, it may be worth investing in a hosting upgrade. This will ensure that the server’s load time is not affecting your website. Consider using smaller images and fewer plugins as these require more time to load.

Google Page Speed insights also allows you to keep tabs on competitors’ page speeds in order to make a comparison with your own.

5. Identify poor performing pages

One poorly performing page could be letting the whole site down. Use Google Analytics data to identify pages with the highest bounce rates and prioritise making changes to these first.

Consider running a Core Web Vitals test on pages to identify where pages are falling short. This test identifies the three main metrics that Google factors in the overall webpage experience. By improving these Core Web Vitals, you can identify where there may be issues and rectify them before they influence your bounce rate.

6. Limit pain points

A website with distracting, difficult to use and annoying features will only leave your users frustrated. Persistent pop-ups, interstitials (ads which appear while a screen is loading) and overlays are usually the worst offenders.

Keep these to a minimum and only highlight the most relevant information to the user. If you’re not sure what these elements may be, consider using a session recording tool. These tools allow you to see the way a user navigates the site, where they hesitate, get stuck or feel confused. There are several sites that offer session recording, such as SiteRecording or Hot Jar.

 7. Readability is key

Sensory overload on a website will do more harm than good. Rather, a website should have a clear flow and a simple structure.

Encourage readability by designing navigation bars with the pages users are likely to need first, avoid large chunks of text, and highlight subheadings and key information clearly.

A well thought out sitemap, where key pages are easy to find with minimal effort, will do wonders for your customers’ experience.

Make use of a heatmap tool which allows you to visualise user behaviour and how they interact with the site. This is useful to help you highlight and prioritise the most popular action points and eliminate distracting or surplus features. Google Analytics has released a heatmaps feature which you can use through a page extension.

8. Have a clear call-to-action

A clear call-to-action increases your chance of turning a user into a customer. 

Encourage a desired action by highlighting the benefits. Make a promise, use adjectives and provide numbers (such as sign up and receive 20 percent off). This language motivates the user and provides a reason for them to engage.

9. Use breadcrumb links

If your website is an e-commerce platform, make it as easy as possible for users to navigate to associated categories and subcategories by using breadcrumb links - including location links or attribute links.

Ensure the titles and placement of these links are consistent to avoid confusing the user. And remember these links shouldn’t be used as your site’s main navigation, but rather an add-on to make the user’s journey easier.

Breadcrumb links are identified by Google as structured data, helping it to understand the page’s content and value. Put this structured data on your page to enable special features in Google Search results.

10. Reduce 404 errors

404 errors are a quick way to drive users away from your site. If there is a page that has been permanently deleted, consider restoring it or redirecting to a page with similar information.

Sometimes these errors are unavoidable, so consider customising your 404 page with a humorous message and encourage users to search for another page.

There are many powerful tools available that can provide heaps of data about your website. Try the Screaming Frog SEO Spider (a website crawler) to identify broken links on your site.

11. Consider using adjusted bounce rate

While these tips can help to reduce your website’s bounce rate, remember that a standard bounce rate does not highlight how much time is spent on the page.

For example, a user may find all the information they require on the first page they land on and then leave. The bounce rate does not factor this in.

A recent Google Analytics update allows for an adjusted bounce rate, giving you more insight into the number of visits a page receives, as well as the amount of time spent on the page.

12. Use A/B testing to get the best results

If you’d like more tangible data about what users prefer, consider A/B testing. This essentially refers to a randomised experiment where different versions of a page are shown to different users to determine which page has the most impact.

This is an easy way to identify what works and what doesn’t and refine your website accordingly. Google offers a free Optimize tool for small businesses which enables you to run these tests and quickly optimise your site.

Stuart Taylor, Director of Digital Development at Rouge Media

Written by
Stuart Taylor
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January 17, 2022