One of the most interesting statistics to track on your website is “bounce” rate. A visitor who looks at one page on your site then leaves without viewing a second page has bounced.
All they had to do was click on your about page, or that product sales page, or the hire me button, but they didn’t get that far. They didn’t do whatever it was you made this damn website for in the first place.
They abandoned you.
Don’t be mad, it’s not their fault. Somehow, you repulsed them.
Let’s fix that. Let’s cut your bounce rate. Let’s get them to do whatever it is they’re supposed to do on your website … because it sure isn’t to visit one page and leave forever.
What is Bounce Rate?
If a visitor bounces (just so you know, I get a huge kick out of saying bounce … like “yo, let’s bounce” only in a really nerdy way), it can mean only one of two things:
There was a major electrical outage, someone spilled milk on the laptop and fried it, they got dropped from their crappy Time Warner internet connection…
or, far more likely:
You didn’t provide your visitor with an obvious and desirable next click for achieving his intended action.
There is plenty to say about the “obvious and desirable” part, but that’s for another day. Let’s get laser-focused on the “intended action” part.
Your visitor wanted one thing, and instead you gave him something else.
You can only give your visitor what he wants if you know what he wants. Luckily, he tells you by the way he reaches your site.
Hint: it ain’t through your homepage.
I think this is one of the most important concepts in web strategy.
See what I did just there? The way I wrote the above link made it clear you should click if you want to know what web strategy is.
I could have linked you to the homepage of my site, but it made more sense to link you to my article “What is Web Strategy and Why Should You Care?”
This page will have a lower bounce rate for the people clicking the link … which matters a lot if it costs me money for clicks.
This subtlety is what makes the web so awesome.
The web is flat! Forget homepages, think landing pages.
Excepting complex web applications, every page on the web has an exact address reachable from anywhere else. It takes one click to go from any page to any other page using the address bar or good ‘ol hyperlinking. The web is flat.
Or, to return to our familiar architecture metaphor: while websites might have a front door, visitors tend to pour in through the windows.
These are called landing pages. Here’s your friendly “no-doi” definition: A landing page is any page on your website where a visitor might arrive from outside your site.
Because of how complex the web has become, it’s easy to forget that websites aren’t the building blocks of the web … the basic unit is still a web page.
In some ways, this is a con: you have to be prepared to make a good first impression everywhere on your site.
But mostly this is a pro, because you can funnel visitors to different places based on their intentions, and make those places really, really, really relevant
Match Visitor Intent with Relevant Landing Pages
Whether you’re publishing a link, advertising in the search engines, or just inviting an individual to visit the site, try to tease out the visitor’s purpose and give him the most applicable landing page.
If you run an education consulting website, and a person Googles “how to create a math curriculum,” you want that person to reach the article you wrote on the subject, not the about page where you pitch your consulting service.
Only if you satisfy the visit’s purpose will a visitor do what you want.
So here is your actionable advice:
To lower your bounce rate, match the things leading people to your website to the most relevant page.
And here’s a huge secret that’s not-so-secret:
It works in reverse, too. Write landing pages to match the things people want.
Soon, we’ll talk about some different ways to put this into practice. Make sure you know when those articles come out by subscribing to the blog.