The most dreaded reality that can face the owner, administrator, or manager of a website or blog is to see their work ignored by those who are supposed to visit and boost up their traffic rates. Whether we like it or not, the internet doesn’t offer the possibility of controlling the number and quality of visitors, neither their willingness to become faithfully attached to a particular site. Through analytic tools of the type made available by Google, Adobe, and (to a lesser extent) IBM, Webtrends, and Yahoo!, it is now possible to calculate the actual proportion of the visitors who pass by a site without leaving any significant signs of their passage. This proportion, known by its specialist term of bounce rate, indicates how inviting a website actually is (or isn’t).

Mashable.com: Bounce Rate Trending Higher

Here is an actual example of the bounce rate on Mashable.com as measured by Alexa (not very accurate)

Bounce Rates For Mashable

As you can see, their bounce rate is trending upwards. This could either mean the articles are less interesting, the last design update on Mashable was not so good for their CTR or it could simply mean people get bored of social media news sites. You have to analyze very carefully to figure out why your bounce rates drops or goes up. In any case, you should set up Google Analytics Tracking (tutorial follows) and then keep track of your daily CTR of all read more links and other site elements that could lower your bounce rate. Pro Tip: Certain images can dramatically increase your CTR, but use sparingly and with caution, experiment a little

Kissmetrics: Calculating bounce rates

Especially, post-panda, bounce rates matter a lot. If your bounce rate is low, it means you have a site people interact with and that is something Google rewards. By all means, you should try to lower your bounce rate by adding “Read more” links and analyzing your CTR (click-through-rate) of all “Read More Links” via Google Analytics As Kissmetrics shows, bounce rates can be calculated by dividing the number of visitors who see one page only (i.e. those who stop at the entrance to the page, without clicking anything on it, and without spending any significant amount of time at least reading the available content) by the total of entries per page. The same source shows that the sites likeliest to register high bounce rates are those where the number of options left open to the visitors is reduced, and where the content is not organized in such a way as to encourage fidelity. Conversely, the lowest bouncing rates are to be found on service sites and portals (such as MSN or Yahoo groups), where the very organizing principle is fidelity. Here, only 10-30% of the visitors disappear after first contact.

What causes high bounce rates?

Search Engine Journal lists among the reasons for high bounce rates content and navigational issues of the website. Here’s where one needs a good writer, able to produce catchy, attractive, trendy texts, as well as a good web designer able to create pages that run smoothly, are visually attractive, and are organized in a logical manner. Technical issues (such as code crashes, components that require downloads of supplementary software) are also major grounds for visitors’ impatience or refusal to stick around. The two reasons mentioned above are what the journal call “internal factors.” There are also “marketing factors” and “external factors,” which may equally contribute to the nightmare caused by alarming bounce rates. The former include wrong keyword selection (keywords or tags that don’t quite help users arrive at the desired website), and ad copy (clickable advertisments which turn against the website when they are not clearly connected to the overall content). Among the “external factors” that contribute to significant bounce rates are external links that appear out of place, or occasional jams in search engines (unfortunately impossible to foresee), which may cause wrong links to appear between the original website and the website where the search engine has directed the visitor.

Strategies for the overcoming of high bounce rates

In order to overcome the effect of high bounce rates, specialists advise that website administrators find the best writers their money can afford, that they reduce the amount of possible distractions (such as audio or video autoplays), avoid pop-ups, use creative/attractive design and intuitive navigation, and even opt for the function that allows the opening of external links in new windows. These are simple, almost commonsensical solutions, but they promise to give result.