A Brief Look at Ecommerce Bounce Rate—and How to Curb It

Of all the metrics employed to measure the success of an ecommerce business, the bounce rate is typically not found at the top of business owners’ lists. While other metrics like overall revenue, conversions, and abandoned cart rates demand constant attention, the bounce rate should not be overlooked—it can help you understand your audience’s behavior and indicate issues with your site’s content.

An ecommerce store’s bounce rate is the percentage of users who open a page on the site, but then leave the site without viewing any other pages. A “bounce” only occurs if the single-page visitor exits the site directly from the page they entered the site through. Below, we take a deeper look into bounce rates and how ecommerce business owners can improve theirs to achieve success across other metrics.

How do you measure your store’s Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is a metric commonly found in Google Analytics’ User Behavior report, as well as across reports of other popular analytics platforms. The bounce rate is calculated by taking all of the single-page sessions and dividing them by the total number of overall sessions to give you a percentage. The percentage of all sessions on your site in which users only viewed one page before exiting—thus triggering a single request to the analytics server—is what eventually becomes your site’s bounce rate.

What causes a high ecommerce Bounce Rate?

A high bounce rate on an ecommerce site indicates that users are not being compelled to move through the conversion funnel. This can be a result of several factors, some of which you unfortunately cannot control. Common contributors to a high bounce rate include:

  • The page took too long to load, and the user gave up
  • The site has only one page, or no links on the main page for visitors to follow
  • The informational layout and/or navigation of the site is too confusing
  • The page’s keyword targeting is poor or has not been optimized
  • The content on the page didn’t meet the user’s needs or expectations
  • The user found what they were looking for, but were not compelled to take the next step
  • The page was bookmarked previously solely to be used as a reference

How can you reduce your site’s Bounce Rate?

The bounce rate of a site can be improved in numerous ways, depending on the approach and perspective you take along with your site’s overall purpose. While it’s unrealistic for a site to have a 0% bounce rate, best practices can and should be used to keep the percentage reasonable and manageable. Here are some guidelines that can help reduce bounce rates and keep them low:

1. Improve the User Experience

Sites that are difficult to navigate and read are more likely to prompt visitors to leave immediately. Alternatively, a website that is user-friendly will encourage visitors to spend time searching and interacting with it, reducing the bounce rate. You can enhance and improve the user experience by:

  • Optimizing the back-end of your site so that page load times are as fast as possible
  • Avoiding anything that disrupts the organic experience, like pop-ups and interstitial ads
  • Making the site’s navigation simple, intuitive, and easily accessible
  • Ensuring that all content is both easily digestible and valuable to the user

2. Optimize for Mobile Shoppers

Many websites don’t treat the mobile experience with the reverence it deserves, considering the ever-rising number of mobile shoppers. All too often, we see desktop sites that have a clean look and feel but fall apart on a mobile device. Having an optimized mobile experience that is responsive, visually appealing, and easy to use can decrease bounce rates from mobile users.

3. Maintain a Modern, Attractive Design

Sometimes, looks really are everything. If site visitors have a good first impression of your page because you’ve invested in a modern design that is nice to look at, they will be interested in exploring it further. If your site looks like it hasn’t been updated in 5-10 years and is lacking visual appeal based on today’s standards, visitors are more likely to seek what they are looking for elsewhere.

4. Add Images to Each Page

Adding images, videos, or audio files to your site can go a long way toward enhancing your page’s content. A site’s audience is more likely to engage when they’re introduced to high-quality, compelling images that support the site’s content. Videos and images regularly generate longer and more consistent engagement with your content, improving both Time on Site and Bounce Rate.

The more (relevant) links you provide on a single page, the more likely users are to follow them to supplement the information they’ve already gathered. Cross linking pages of your site with relevant content and products in other areas of your site can encourage visitors to browse through multiple pages, reducing bounce rate in turn.

6. Optimize Keywords to Be More Targeted

Re-evaluate your keyword strategy to make sure that you’re targeting the right audience for the right pages. If your site is targeting the wrong keywords, it could end up reaching the wrong audience. Similarly, if your site is targeting too broad of keywords, it could end up reaching the right audience—but at the wrong point in their conversion path. Making adjustments to the keywords being used on pages with high bounce rates may help improve that metric.

7. Examine Site Traffic Quality

A high bounce rate can be an indication that your site is experiencing low-quality traffic—that is, traffic that is not specifically targeted to what your site is offering. Using Google Analytics, you can narrow down which traffic sources are drawing low-quality traffic to your site and retarget your content towards healthier, more relevant traffic sources.

8. Give a Reason to Keep Interacting

If you want users to continue exploring your ecommerce site, tell them why they should. Are you offering a sale or promotion that won’t be available for much longer? Can you tease them with important information or other additional details that can be found on another page (in a non-clickbait-y way, of course)? If visitors know how exploring a site will benefit them, they are less likely to leave it.

How does Bounce Rate tie in with SEO?

Google wants to give their users the best results, so it’s their job to find the best content from the best sites on the web. Too high of a bounce rate may indicate major issues with the site, and can signal to search engines that visitors aren’t finding the site helpful.

The official line from Google is that bounce rate is not a ranking factor; however, evidence shows that Google might be using bounce rate as some form of validation. For example, if you and one of your competitor’s sites had similar content and performed well organically for the same word, Google might go a level deeper and look at your homepage bounce rate to validate which result to choose for their users. In this case, the lower bounce rate would win.

Final Thoughts

Overall, understanding bounce rate can give you a better measurement of how successful your site’s content is with your target audience. Brainstorm how you can encourage visitors to spend more time on your site and interact with your site’s content. The changes you make to achieve this can improve your site’s bounce rate and SEO ranking because your content will better connect to the right target audience and meet their expectations, reducing the number of visitors who leave after viewing one page.