Nobody likes to talk about visitors abandoning their websites, and we understand why.
However, that problem doesn’t disappear with wishful thinking. It takes understanding and tracking to realize the valid reasons for bounces and exits.
Since it’s easy to mix up the two, we’re going to break down the critical difference between bounce rates and exit rates and share tips on remedying them.
Let’s get started.
What Is a Bounce Rate?
If you have ever clicked on a page, stayed there for a few seconds, and ditched it, you bounced.
This happens all the time.
Bouncing is when users leave a website or blog shortly after arriving at it.
When a website page, such as a content page or a blog post, hasn’t met the visitor’s expectations for any reason, they bounce from it and take their business elsewhere.
They leave before they’ve had the chance to explore your website and engage with its content entirely.
You probably bounced from some websites before arriving here.
According to one study, the average bounce rate sits around 40-55%. On average, one in two website visitors bounces the website quickly.
Now let’s look at the exit rates.
What Is an Exit Rate?
Exit rates are the percentage of users that exit your page (and their session) after arriving from another page on your website.
Exit rates show how often visitors leave from a particular page.
Do you get it?
There are pages on your website that have higher exit rates than others, indicating their poor performance. When you want to identify the best and worst-performing pages on your website, you’ll be looking at exit rates.
The aim is to know what pages on your site make users more likely to leave than others.
That way, you can understand what’s happening and how a page is functioning in a broader context of your website so you can improve it.
Now that you understand what bounce rates and exit rates are, let’s see how they differ from each other.
Bounce Rate vs. Exit Rate: What’s the Difference?
It’s all right if you’re scratching your head right now, thinking: aren’t these two basically the same thing?
Although similar, they’re not the same.
Here’s why: there are different reasons behind page exits and page bounces.
If we treat them the same, we won’t find out why visitors leave a particular page or a site.
Imagine a typical website bounce. A user comes, leaves shortly, without having seen much. When a user exits, they’ve stuck around first to engage with a different page on the website, without looking only at that particular page.
See where we’re going with this?
- Bounce rates are focused on how page sessions start. They look at the total number of users arriving at a page.
- Exit rates tell us how users end their sessions by inspecting the number of pages they’ve interacted with. Remember that any user-centered process on a website has several pages involved.
Here’s an example to make things crystal clear: on-site conversion funnels.
Converting users to buyers is a multi-page process that stretches through the entire funnel. To buy a product, users first see it in the webshop, then click on it, press Add to basket, etc.
Understanding how many users arrive on the first page of the funnel from a different website and leave instantly differs from understanding which specific page of the funnel users bail.
That is the practical difference between the two.
Let’s get into why this distinction is so important and what you are getting out of it.
Why Are the Bounce Rate and the Exit Rate Important?
As we said, both metrics are user-centered and reveal how users are interacting (and satisfied) with your website.
Tracking both metrics is critical for improving your website.
By ignoring these metrics, you’re actively sabotaging your business and making life easy for your competition.
Still, it’s important to note that bounce rates and exit rates have different impact.
Let’s break this down again.
When you track bounce rates, you’re trying to understand why users are immediately leaving your page. They can do so for any reason.
For instance, when they search for something and discover your blog post. If the post is misleading or doesn’t have a great UX, they can bail.
With exit rates, users can enter your website, stumble on a particular page that doesn’t suit them, and leave from there.
So, tracking exit rates tell us what is wrong with a specific page so we can improve it.
If we’re talking about conversion pages, knowing which one makes your potential customers leave is critically essential for boosting sales.
Again, tracking both of them is a must if you want to reach top performance.
There’s one more reason why bounce rates are important for your website, and that’s your SEO.
High bounce rates tell Google that users are dissatisfied with the website they’re bouncing from, making it drop your page’s ranking in the search results.
Understanding this makes it easier to prioritize which rates to focus on: bounce rates for the general performance of your page and its SEO outlook, and exit pages when you want to fix specific parts of your website.
Next comes rates calculation.
How to Calculate Bounce and Exit Rates
Both metrics are easy to access and calculate.
Let’s start with the exit rates!
You can find your site’s exit rates on Google’s analytics page.
Just scroll down to Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages. You can see they’re easy to spot on the right side.
They’re easy to calculate, too.
You just divide the number of page exits by the number of total visits. You’ll get a percentage that represents the ratio.
If ten people visited a specific blog page and 6 of them left your website immediately (and the four remaining went to explore different pages) means that a specific page has a 60% exit rate.
ER = (6 / 10) * 100 = 0.60 * 100 = 60 %
And now for the bounce rates.
In case you want to know the maths behind it, the formula is:
BR = (Total number of one-page visits / total number of website entries) * 100
For example, if a website’s homepage gets 1000 unique visitors, and 400 of them leave without engaging with other pages, the bounce rate is 40%:
BR = (400/1000) * 100 = 0.4 * 100 = 40%
See? It’s easy.
You can also access bounce rates on particular pages of your website, as seen below:
These rates are key analytics all bloggers should know.
Now that that’s out of the way, we can get to the crux of the matter and cover ways to reduce them.
How to Reduce Bounce and Exit Rates
It’s about time to address the elephant in the room, reducing your bounce and exit rates.
Even if those metrics are high for you at the moment, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
You’re here because you’re determined to make the necessary improvements, and you’ve got us in your corner.
Let’s start things off with tip #1.
1. Make Sure Your Website Is Well-Designed
If there’s anything that drives users away, it’s poor web design that feels dated.
It’s easy to understand that users will either be impressed or disappointed the moment your website loads.
If it looks poor, they’ll definitely bail.
We’ve all been there, right?
You googled a term and ended up on a page that looked like it was designed in 2004. So you bounced and moved on to the second search result, because it didn’t seem trustworthy.
Websites have to look appealing to users, or they’ll leave. Every industry professional that knows his worth knows that by now, and so do internet users.
When there’s no synergy in the design, users have little-to-no reason to further explore the page.
We’re not saying you have to do anything revolutionary, but if your website does not look presentable, you’re giving visitors little reason to stick around.
It’s like asking a potential customer to come to the office and discuss business but welcoming them into a dirty, untidy space.
You wouldn’t be surprised if they left.
To reduce your bounce and exit rates, first, make sure your website is well-designed.
Since design trends change often, the best advice we can give you is to get a design assessment from a web designer whose opinion you trust.
Also, it indicates checking the bounce and exit rates from your homepage.
Often, when users are let down by the design of your homepage, they give up on exploring your website and engaging with its content—meaning they leave before you’ve shown your value.
Design issues are closely related to user experience, which brings us to the following point.
2. Improve User Experience With Intuitive Navigation
When user experience is unsatisfactory, the bounce and exit rates are high. The two are directly correlated.
A navigation structure that’s complicated and difficult to use harms website UX. We see this happen every day when we visit a website and eventually give up because getting around it is a hassle.
If the navigation is logical and intuitive, users pick up on it with ease. If not, it feels like a chore.
This is what we’re talking about.
A website that would look like this is near impossible to navigate. It overwhelms the user with dozens of visual and text aids; you can’t tell the head from the tail.
We have top practical advice for you if you want to make your navigation straightforward and easier for your users.
Are you ready?
First off, avoid drop-down menus. They disrupt navigation because they discourage users from exploring the more important things on the top-level page.
They’re also difficult for search engines to crawl, so you’re not getting an SEO advantage.
Make your navigation simpler by limiting the number of navigation items to a handful.
If you’re wondering which ones to remove, elements that aren’t critically important and that rarely get clicks are a great place to start.
Consider the order of elements in your website’s navigation: the most important things go first.
Remember that your navigation will either encourage your users to engage or discourage them.
One more thing that makes a difference is your page loading speed.
3. Be Mindful Of Your Page Loading Time
Your pages have to load lightning fast, or else your users will leave them in a moment.
This is how it will go down.
They’re going to see your page in the search results, click on it, wait a bit and then bounce. Or they’ll actually get interested for a bit, try to load a different page from your site, and then exit.
Either way, you lose an opportunity to get a customer or prospect.
If that sounds daunting, remember that 55% of internet users use mobile devices. If your mobile website takes ages to load, it will bounce and exit your pages as well.
Since Google treats your mobile website as the primary version, cutting your page loading time has never been more important.
After all, a mobile website that takes ages to load will stack its bounce rate rapidly.
Getting there will be a challenge, but it’s something your site must overcome. To cut down your page load time, we recommend you do a thorough checkup first.
Use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool to see how fast your website is.
Let’s give it a whirl!
We used the tool on the book eCommerce website Book Depository. As you can see, their speed performance has been graded as poor, which means they should do some optimization, ASAP.
As the icing on the cake, Google’s tool also suggests alterations to your website to speed it up.
Here’s what the admins of Book Depository should do, according to this tool:
Thanks to the opportunity report, web admins have a tunnel vision focus on what features they should improve.
We can’t recommend this tool enough.
You should do the same for your website and see where you’re at.
Now that you understand the technical aspects, it’s time we have a word about the content you’re putting out and how it triggers your bounce and exit rates.
4. Have Optimized, Quality Content
Your content will either make your visitors stick or bounce. It can’t do both at the same time.
To make your content bounce-proof, you do the following 3 things and we guarantee they’ll make a difference.
The first one is quite basic: start by ditching all practices that are in any way deceitful towards your visitors.
By deceitful, we mean publishing and advertising content that claims to be about one thing while offering little or no quality info about the topic.
When users search for something and pick a link out of the search results, they assume it’s going to give them something valuable or insightful.
When that turns out to be a disappointment, they bounce.
Related: SEO for Bloggers
So unless you can actually make their time on your post worthwhile, refrain from baiting users to read your content.
Next, optimize your content for SEO by creating a structure that’s easy for search engines to crawl.
A great content structure makes it simple for users to scan your content and extract info out of it, and search engines can inspect your content and rank it properly.
Optimizing the meta descriptions and title tags is a must if you want to make your content SEO-friendly. If you need help, we’ll take it from here and supercharge your content’s SEO.
Last but not least, boost the quality of your content. To do it, put in the time and effort to make your content insightful and data-heavy.
This means you have to do research, add data quotes and credibility to what your content is claiming.
After you’ve crossed all those things from the list, your content will scream high quality.
The next step is interlinking your content.
5. Interlink Your Content
A well-done content interlinking does wonders to keep your visitors on your website and increase engagement with your content.
If you’re looking for an anti-bounce strategy, look no more.
When you internally link pages from different blog posts, you encourage users to check them out and continue engaging with your content.
Remember, when users arrive on your page and find nothing of use, they bounce.
Conversely, when they find an article that’s useful to them and helps them further by directing them to another related link, they have an actionable incentive to stick to your website.
Read more: SEO Best Practices for Beginners
Using this practice will increase your visitor’s session time and their total time on your website, reduce the bounce rate and improve your SERP rankings.
By implementing internal linking correctly, you’re helping your website or blog succeed on multiple fronts, and that’s amazing work right there.
With that in mind, here’s how you should interlink your content and combat high bounce rates:
Interlink only relevant content. Users loathe being baited into the content they don’t need, so when you’re linking, lead them only to content that complements what they’re currently reading, something that will help them instead of wasting their time.
PMHarrison made a good visual representation of this:
High relevancy is by far the most important factor for interlink CTR.
This one might come as a shock, but internal links are most successful when placed at the beginning, or the end, as supported by evidence.
Internal link CTR reaches 6-7% when placed at the beginning of the paragraph.
Also, you’d be wise to position your internal links near headings in your posts. Since headings are natural attention grabbers, positioning an internal link near them is sound advice.
One more thing; your content depends on readability, which we’ll now get into.
6. Improve Your Content’s Readability
Readability refers to how easy or difficult the content is to go through.
This one’s pretty simple; you either write posts that are easy to look through understand, or you publish overly technical content that will make users Google the terms you’re using every 5 minutes.
Which of the two do you think encourages users to bounce?
Let’s face it; the content must be user-centered instead of topic-centered. This means that it’s all about making it easy for users to engage with the content. Otherwise, they leave.
To improve your readability and cut down your bounce rates, we suggest you try these tips for size:
- Mix up the sentence length; don’t stockpile mile-long sentences. Switch between long, short, and medium length. Establish a dynamic writing rhythm.
- Avoid using the passive voice.
- Address the reader directly—like we’ve been talking to you this whole time.
- Keep clear of technical jargon and keep things simple.
- Avoid long paragraphs of text.
One more thing, use visuals to get the point across. What do you think is easier; to read through a bunch of numbers or to glance at a graph that represents them and puts them in context?
When you make your content readable, visitors will keep reading and engage themselves with your texts.
We should mention one mistake you should avoid at all costs.
7. Don’t Overwhelm Users With Ads
It’s puzzling why so many page admins overwhelm their visitors with ads; they’re shooting themselves in the foot.
It’s understandable that your website relies on ads for revenue, but keep in mind that they can be a double-edged sword.
Namely, you don’t want to have too many of them.
They’re distracting visitors from your content and influence the visitor’s first impression. Instead of looking at your content or focusing on your site’s unique design, incoming visitors are distracted by the ads.
This means your ads can actively take away from your content, and that’s so counterproductive.
If they see an ad that’s irrelevant or spammy, they’re going to leave your site. Users are sick and tired of being shelled with ads all the time.
When they clicked on your link in the search results, they didn’t sign up for ads.
If you want to do better and cut down the ads-caused bounce rates, you should rethink your entire ad placement and strategy.
Place them in places where they don’t disrupt the website experience, like the bottom of the page. Leave out large ads and keep ads to the bare minimum.
Finally, let’s see where the user experience should lead to.
8. Round off the Experience With an Effective CTA
We talked about the antidote for bounce rates; now it’s time we mention the antidote for high exit rates.
The point of having Call-to-Action buttons is to guide users to do a specific action.
By adding them to a page, you’re encouraging users to start a transaction, leave the page they’re at, and complete the process on a different page.
When you add a CTA, you’re combating high exit rates because you’re setting up your users to complete a key part of their user journey without leaving your website to go elsewhere.
Let’s follow up this example:
A user who signs up for a newsletter enters their email address.
A Thank you page loads, and their experience (for the time being) is completed.
They exit, and you both get something out of it.
Without an optimized CTA, users would be on a page, read it, and then leave your website. See the difference?
Make sure your CTA button is clear, recognizable, and positioned in a logical place. It should come up as the solution a reader is carefully guided to.
We’re happy we had a chance to clear the air on this one.
Now that you know the ins and outs of bounce rates and exit rates, you can try these tips in practice and see them drop.
Remember, it’s all about offering your users a seamless experience that will make them stay on your site.