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Improve your site and make your bounce rate worse

Do you know how many people visit your website to find out your telephone number, or your address? On second thoughts, don’t worry about the numbers. Just agree that it’s more than the odd rare visitor. A lot more. Now, wouldn’t you agree that you should make it as easy as possible for them to get that information? And one way to do that would be to include the information on every page, and possibly even at the top of the page?

OK, let’s assume you’ve been able to do that. It’s a positive, helpful initiative for many of your visitors. But do you know what’s going to happen? It’s going to give your “bounce rate” a kick in the teeth. Here’s why.

“Bounce rate” is a statistic in website analytics which shows the proportion of visitors who came to the website, took a brief look, and then immediately left. With Google Analytics pushing it straight at you by default, you’d be forgiven for paying a fair bit of attention to it. But I believe that it’s a potentially misleading figure which should only ever be considered under strictly controlled circumstances. The more information you make available at a glance, such as your location, the more visitors who aren’t any use to you will be able to realise that, instantly. Instead of them spending 60 seconds on your site and visiting 3 pages before they notice you’re the wrong side of the world to be able to help them, by putting your telephone number or your address at the top of every page you allow them to see that instantly, and leave. Now they’re “bounced” traffic. But guess what? You didn’t want them on your site anyway. So everybody wins, apart from the person whose job it is to “reduce the bounce rate” on your site. Instead of measuring the “bad” traffic using this questionable metric, you should define what “good” traffic is, and look at that instead.

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