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A lot of people have made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight in 2010. For website owners, you might have made a similar commitment to lose some undesired thing: your high bounce rate. To make this type of resolution come true, first you need to understand what causes a visitor to bounce from your website. Then you’ll be able to understand how some simple changes can keep people on your site and result in more online sales.

Why do Visitors Bounce?

Recently, while visiting my family in Canada I was looking for a specific Toronto Blue Jays baseball hat. I visited three sports apparel stores. The first two were similar. I spent only a few minutes in each store after finding out they didn’t have the hat I wanted. Then I found a sports store that sold only hats. I spent more time in this store browsing over the large selection of hats. But they didn’t have the style of hat I was looking for, and a similar style wasn’t available in my size. So I left.

We can compare this experience to searching online. If I was searching online for the baseball hat and I visited three sites similar to those stores, the first two sites would get a high bounce rate from my visit, and the third site would have a lower bounce rate but still not convert into a sale. I would “bounce” from each of the websites because I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the same way I left each of the stores when I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

How can you Reduce Your Bounce Rate?

If you consider my example of shopping for the baseball hat, each store could have reduced the chance of me “bouncing” from the store by expanding the inventory that they carried, or by not being listed on the mall directory as a store that would possibly have the hat I wanted. If we take these concepts and apply them to a website, you will get a similar affect with the bounce rate of the site. You can lower the bounce rate of your website if you:

  1. Provide more products or services relating to what was being searched for: Expand your product line to include all products available to sell that are relevant to the keywords your website is ranked for and make sure your products are easily found on your site. If you sell services you can break down your services into some that are more specialized. If I offer Internet marketing services, I could offer different focused services like organic SEO services or PPC management services that both relate to Internet marketing.
  2. Target the most relevant search terms: I have mentioned the importance of targeting relevant search terms in a couple other posts and I will mention it again. You might have a business selling tropical fish online but that doesn’t mean that “tropical fish” is going to be a good term to get your website ranked for. I could be searching for “tropical fish” because I want to take my kids to see tropical fish at an aquarium. If I found your site that sold tropical fish, I wouldn’t stay at your site for more than a second because it isn’t relevant to what I was searching for. Think of the most targeted terms that relate to your products or services and optimize for those terms.
  3. Incorporate a clean and user friendly site design: The bounce rate can be reduced by using easy navigation and a clean, appealing design. Make the products easy to find. Links to service or product pages should be clearly labeled. Include prominent links on your homepage to top selling products or most popular services. Check your products or services pages to see how easy it was to find them and make sure it doesn’t take more than two clicks to find them.

If you have a New Year’s resolution to lower the bounce rate of your website in 2010, then these tips will help you to accomplish that goal. May 2010 bring you success in your online business ventures.