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Quit that bouncing!

Remember that scolding you got as a kid when your mom was trying to get you to go to sleep but you knew you could keep awake by bouncing on the bed? It wasn’t good then, and it isn’t good now if you’ve got a website advertising your business.

Today’s bouncer is a visitor who lands on a website and leaves without clicking through to other pages. For every 100 visitors, the number that bounces is the bounce rate. For example, if 1,000 visitors land on a website on any given day and 583 of them exit without clicking through to any other page, the bounce rate would be 58.3%, — (583/1000) reduced to 58.3/100.

Don’t just judge by the bounce rate, though: there is no blanket “good” or “bad” bounce rate. Some websites may have bounce rates in the region of 25%, while others may go all the way up to 66%,  where two out of every three visitors who land on the website leave without meaningfully engaging. But if a website’s bounce rate is higher than 66%, we consider it worth trying to find out why. For example, does the marketing outreach promise something other than what the visitor sees or gets when he or she clicks through? (Think about those internet ads that promise to tell you “why Kathy Gifford’s saying her final goodbyes,” and then go on to tell you she’s starting her own cosmetics company.) That’s a guaranteed turn-off.

Sometimes, the bounce rate can come to the rescue, as when sudden changes help us to detect broken parts on your site and repair the damage.

But at other times, as when a longstanding post starts leading more visits than usual out of nowhere but at the same time the bounce rate increases, it means that the initial purpose of the post just doesn’t meet the need of the new readers.

We don’t look at that as a problem: we see it as an opportunity to update old content or create a new post where we can redirect your audience. It can be as simple as adapting the introduction to get those people who are looking for fresh information about the topic to stay and read.

It’s a case of interpreting the data, rather than just seeing the numbers, to help us find opportunities that otherwise would have been hard to see. We’ll talk about some causes and cures in future blogs.