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Bounce rate is a hot topic in search engine optimization, as the new rules of ranking clearly favor sites which provide a positive and valuable user experience in addition to relevant and targeted content.

Bounce rate is the term used to describe website visitors who land on your website and quickly leave- “bouncing back” to the internet without hardly viewing a thing. If you have a bounce rate that is high (greater than 40%), your site is not providing visitors with their desired experience.

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Google Analytics is a free website traffic software that enables you to track your bounce rates (as well as a lot of other things!)

When you check your site statistics, and if you see that your bounce rate is high, there are several steps you can take to improve your bounce rate. The benefit of improving your bounce rate is that you will be providing visitors a better experience, which should result in more engagement and more time spent on your website. This, in turn, should ultimately translate into more actions taken on your site- either signups to your email list, inquiries for services, or invitations for other opportunities.

So here are 5 ways to reduce your website bounce rate:

1) Review your website for clarity and communication. Are you speaking directly to your target audience? Can someone visiting your site know, within 3 seconds, what you can help them with, and why they should stay? If not, this is something you want to improve.

2) Review your website for visual appeal and ease of reading/viewing. If you’re not sure about your color choices, or it looks fine to you, it’s fine to ask someone you trust for their opinion. Select font and color combinations which are easy to read, and make liberal use of white space, and appropriate use of graphics.

3) Check your site speed. You can do this online using free tools- just search for “website speed check”- and see how fast your site is loading. If it takes a long time to load, see what is causing this and address those issues. Often, compressing your images, minifying your html/css, and a few other adjustments like this can notably improve your page loading speed and reduce your bounce rate.

4) Create clear navigation and help visitors get where they want to go. I see a trend towards being cute and custom in website navigation- which, unfortunately, often translates into confusing and vague. Be as clear and succinct as possible in your navigation naming and design. The easier you make it for your visitors to move around your site, the more likely they are to do so. This will reduce your bounce rate.

5) Review how people are finding your site, and using your site. Make adjustments and improvements here. So, for instance, if people are finding your site through a specific key-phrase, and they land on page “A”- make sure page “A” speaks exactly to what they are interested in. The more relevant and targeted your content, the longer your visitors are likely to stay.

There are more ways to improve your site’s bounce rate, but these five are a great place to start.

Bounced traffic represents a waste of effort and resources. It’s a good investment to make your website as visitor-attractive as you can, so you- and they- both benefit.