5 Reasons For High Bounce Rates (and 5 Ways to Reduce Them)

reasons and solutions for high bounce rates

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Some websites are the virtual equivalent of a con artist. They make promises of quality but they never deliver the goods. Visitors to the site take one look, then turn and run the other way.

The number of people who leave your site after viewing only one page is called your “bounce rate.” High bounce rates are the weeds of the web design world; business owners and web gurus alike will try anything to reduce them.

After all, you’ve spent a lot of time trying to get people to your site, so the last thing you want is for them to turn around and leave right away.
So why do people leave your site (and how can you make them stay)?


Things that Increase Your Bounce Rate

bouncing balls
Back in 2014, Content Marketing Institute created the B2B Web Usability Report to uncover what made websites lose credibility. The results might be three years old, but they’re still relevant.

chart listing the things that reduce website credibility
Courtesy of Content Marketing Institute

There’s a lot of information here, but we’ve distilled it down to five main reasons for high bounce rates on your site.

1. Bad User Experience

broken computer smashed on floor

“Bad User Experience” is a catchall term for anything that your website’s visitors find unpleasant. There are a lot of features that can cause people to bounce right off your site, but some of the most (that is, least) popular are:

  • Navigation Issues – Web pages that are poorly organized mean that valuable information is difficult to find.
  • Tiny Type – So-called “mouse print” sends a lot of readers running for the hills.
  • Too Many Ads – You want people to pay attention to your words, not someone else’s.
  • Annoying Music/Videos – Those videos or music that start automatically and won’t. Stop. Playing.
  • Unresponsive Sites – It’s 2017. The majority of internet searches are done on mobile devices (like phones and tablets). If your website doesn’t fit on an iPhone screen, ain’t no one gonna look at it.

2. No/Irrelevant Information

blank book
When you don’t include any information on your site, your readers will fill in the blanks for themselves. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

What shocked me most about this chart wasn’t that “Lack of Contact Information” was top of the list as much as the fact that it was on the list at all. Can you believe there are still websites that forget to include something as basic as their contact info?

“Lack of message” is just as surprising. After all, why have a website if you’re not going to include your message on it? That’s like sending a blank email.

Your website is like a billboard: you have the chance to say whatever you want and have it seen by millions. Take this opportunity seriously.

“Irrelevant information” is just as cringeworthy. A website is so much easier to update than a book or magazine, so there’s no excuse for having outdated, purposely vague, or incorrect info on your site.

3. Slow Load Times

two snails
“Dude. I could go faster than this website!” “I know, right?”

Having a website take foorrrreeeevvverrrr to load is a surefire way to make sure no one ever sees your page. Maybe you could get away with that kinda nonsense back in 1995, when there were only about 150 websites to choose from, but nowadays? People want their info, and they want it NOW.

Both having too “cheap” and too “fancy” of a website can make your load times slow.

Having a hosting service that’s not enough for your needs (because you were trying to save a few bucks) can bring your site to a grinding halt. It’s the equivalent of trying to host a wedding for 200 people in a one bedroom apartment.

One the other hand, trying to put too many flashy features on your website can put too big a burden on your site. Picture it as running a marathon with someone on your back.

You want your website to be like an airplane: sleek, aerodynamic, but not lacking in anything important. The second you decide you need to add on more features, you also need to bulk up your horsepower.

Want to know if you need a little more oomph on your site? You can test it for free here.

4. Looks Unprofessional

toddler behind a desk
Yes, Jackson, you’re very cute, but I still don’t trust you to manage my stock portfolio.

People know the difference between a good site and a bad site.

Does it look like you built it yourself? According to Content Marketing Institute’s chart, more than a third of responders said a do-it-yourself site builders (like Wix) make a site look unprofessional. (There’s a reason you delegate certain tasks to the experts.)

Just as bad? Bad spelling and grammar on your site. Even if English isn’t your first language, there’s no excuse for not taking the time to proofread your content. Hire an English major or professional copywriter. Or have a friend look it over. Seriously. Grammar mistakes make you look dumb.

Do you know what your site ranks for?

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Another thing on that list? Stock photos. Most website owners go to the same site, search the same terms, and select the same photo (the one that shows up on the very first page). As a result, most of your site visitors have seen that exact same photo on every other website they’ve been to (spoiler alert: it’s the perky customer service rep with a headset).

If you must use stock photos (we use them for our blog, but seriously, that’s it), please—for the love of all that is holy—choose one you’ve never seen before.

5. Too Much Work

frustrated woman using computer
When you need to fill out your email before you can read the article.

“Register to see content.” “Sign up for access to site.” “Enter your email address!”

I am so sick of websites that have these huge pop-ups asking for my email address before I’ve even read the page. Of course I’m not going to enter my email address. I haven’t even had a chance to click around and see if I like the site!

Filling out a form is no one’s idea of a fun Friday night. If you want to collect customer info, stick to the very basics (do you really need their mailing address?) and give them something in return. Something valuable. Fifty percent off an ice cream (not 50 cents) or a free e-book (with really good information in it).


Build Credibility and Decrease Bounce Rates

So what can you do to make sure customers stay on your site (and actually buy something)? The Content Marketing Institute looked at that, too. And it all boils down to five simple things.

chart showing things that increase website credibility

1. Good Information

faces profile with books

The famous theologian (and Narnia creator) C.S. Lewis has a personal theory when it comes to charity: if it doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable, you’re not giving enough. Well, the same goes for content.

Having thorough, well-documented, high-quality information on your site is by far the best way to come across as an expert in your field. And you know who people buy from? Experts.

Write articles and blog posts. Give away the secrets of how you do what you do. It won’t take sales away from you. Just the opposite, in fact. (If it really takes all that work to do it right, they’re not going to do it themselves. People are lazy.)

And include all your contact info, too. But you knew that already, right?

2. Videos

man using professional video camera
You don’t need professional equipment to make a video.

It sounds almost too good to be true: Having a product video on your site increases the likelihood that a customer will buy your product by 144%. That certainly makes the cost of a professionally produced video worth it, no?

Product videos—in addition to being fodder for viral Facebook posts—can explain things in a way that no amount of words can.

Does one of your products seem like it might be difficult to install or assemble? Make a video to show how simple it is. Are people not sure what to do with it? Video time! Is there a lot of skepticism over whether something actually works? Fire up the video camera and show it in action!

3. References

blank name tags
People trust other people.

I should rephrase that. People trust the masses.

Having the general public do your advertising for you is a great way to get the word out about how great you are. The public isn’t paid for their opinion, so you know it’s honest. Having an unbiased third party saying good things about you says more than anything you say about yourself.

Include plenty of testimonials and reviews on your site. Scour your social media feeds and email inbox for letters from happy customers. Ask your favorite clients if they’d be willing to write an honest review of your services on your Facebook or Yelp page.

Take those “thumbs up” that you’re already getting and put them where all your potential customers can see them.

4. Honesty

masks in field of flowers
Leave the mask in the field of poppies. Be YOU.

I don’t have many friends, and there are two reasons for that.

One is that I’m an introvert and simply don’t need that many. The other reason is that I’m pretty good at telling whether I like someone right off the bat. Your site visitors are just as intuitive.

All the stock photos, unprofessional grammar, slow load times, and pop-up ads leave one big impression in peoples’ minds: there’s something fishy going on.

They teach kids in Kindergarten that honesty is the best policy, and it’s true. Marketing expert Scott Stratten calls it “authenticity” and it’s a huge part of his platform. Ultimately, the best way to be seen as legit is to just…be legit.

5. Ask Them to Stay

This last tip is so simple that it actually sounds ridiculous. To get people to stay on your site, ask them to stay on your site.

Not in a desperate “please marry me!” way. More of a “look how cozy it is here” kind of way.

Link to other (related) blog posts and articles on your site. Include a call to action to give them a nudge toward what they’re supposed to do next.

As it turns out, one of the easiest ways to sell more stuff is to ask people if they want to buy it. Sometimes, people stumble onto your site because they’re “just curious” and want a little more information. Sometimes, they’re warming up to the idea of buying, but haven’t quite made their decision yet. Sometimes, they’re ready to buy, cash in hand, but couldn’t find anybody to help them.

So be that salesperson. Remind the “just curious” people and the “deciding” people and the “cash in hand” people that your product or service, right here, right now, is the one they need.

Getting someone to spend more time on your site increases the likelihood that they will convert from “casual visitor” to “customer.” And that’s the whole point of starting a business, isn’t it?


Clarity Creative Group is a digital marketing company located in beautiful Winter Springs, Florida. Man, if I could find a magic wardrobe that led into Narnia, you’d never see me again.


A Word Wizard with a background in English and Creative Writing, Julie loves playing with words and learning about various industries. Fueled by tea and organization, she enjoys working on casual-toned websites and values client collaboration.

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A Word Wizard with a background in English and Creative Writing, Julie loves playing with words and learning about various industries. Fueled by tea and organization, she enjoys working on casual-toned websites and values client collaboration.

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