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Your Website’s Navigation May Be Causing High Bounce Rates

July 26th, 2016 by Mardy Sitzer

And let’s face it – high bounce rates are not a good thing.

Poor Web Navigation Have you looked at your website’s analytics lately?

Within the Google analytics you’ll see ‘bounce rate’ and your bounce rate is a pretty important indicator of how your website is set up and a pretty good indicator as to the efficacy of your marketing. Not to mention that search engines take bounce rates into consideration to help determine relevancy among other ranking factors.

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who landed on your site and left without going to any another page.

Also time on site is a big clue here as to how well you are doing but we’ll leave that for another post.

I actually wrote about Bounce Rates back in 2013 – funny how some things don’t change all that much.


High bounce rates can be the result of several things:

  • The keywords you are ranking for are wrong for your site – leading someone who is not your target or what they would be looking for to your site and in their ADD haze click away.
  • Your website is sending ‘don’t trust these guys’ signals so visitors get spooked and leave.
  • Your website loads too slowly and your visitor isn’t in the mood to take a nap.
  • A customer or prospect came to the site to just get your information or possibly to login to a portal and left.
  • A prospect came to a landing page from an advertisement, got what they wanted – or didn’t get what they wanted and left.
  • Page design and links that drive the visitor off the site – let’s face it, if your links don’t open in a new tab, you’ve essentially given your visitors the boot.
  • No conversion link or a not very compelling conversion link.
  • And my all-time favorite, and the purpose of this post – Poor Navigation – they can’t find what they are looking for, feel tricked or get overwhelmed and leave.

Navigation done well contributes to a seamless journey that your visitors and clients can experience. Poor navigation leads to high bounce rates and lost opportunities. So how do you determine what works and what doesn’t on the navigation?

Start with your website’s structure and organization. Things to consider are:

  • The different market segments you are targeting
  • The different product and/or service categories
  • The different resources, information and engagement opportunities

Navigation Best Practice: The Rules We Live By

  1. Don’t get cute and put your navigation bar in a non-standard location – this is not the time to play hide and seek.
  2. You should be able to get where you want within 3 clicks – 2 clicks are preferred. Too much information upfront could cause visitors to run for the hills – or click to a competitor’s site.
  3. Navigation options shouldn’t disappear as you scroll away or at the very least, a big button or large bold lettering that is a “back to the top” link would help.
  4. Visual indicators to help visitors know what they selected or where they are – breadcrumbs help too…
  5. Breadcrumbs are good for SEO and wonderful for visitors – use them.
  6. Get the order right – The most important items are at the beginning and the end and the least important in the middle. Trust me, this is a proven tactic based on a lot of psychology studies.
  7. Contact should be far right and the last item – the single most important spot.
  8. Keep the navigation list short – too many links equals diluted link authority, which of course is bad for SEO and blinding for visitors.
  9. Avoid generic labels when you can. First they are boring and secondly they won’t help you in SEO – try using keywords or keyword phrases here.
  10. Font size and colors – while you need your navigation to be easy to find, be carefully to not make it a screaming, loud, out of character set or just as bad would be too meek and mild to be seen – like the shy kid in the corner of the room. Stick to your brand’s fonts and colors but make the navigation easily recognizable.

Correct some of these issues and watch your bounce rate improve – (hint: you want low numbers here).

Bonus: What are average bounce rates and what do the percentages mean?

Whatever your bounce rate – your goal is to improve that metric. But I am often asked ‘so what’s the average bounce rate’ or ‘what is a good bounce rate’ – these ranges are not absolute but could help you get a sense of how your website or blog is doing.

100-80% – consider throwing it out and starting over. Also known as awful.

80-50% – this is bad, but if you knuckle down you might have a shot.

50-40% – here it is folks – average, but who wants to be average?

40-25% – not bad, okay, you can improve still but you can puff that chest out just a bit.

25-0% – nirvana – rarely seen, sort of like seeing Albino Deer, but go for the golden ring, or the white deer!

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