The 6 Usual Suspects of a High Bounce Rate

A high bounce rate can be disheartening. After all you’ve spent lots of time and energy building a website and acquiring traffic. When users leave without exploring your site it can feel like a rejection of your product or service. However, a bounce rate isn’t a reflection of how much a visitor likes your offering—it’s a reflection of how relevant you are to them.

In this post I review the usual suspects of a high bounce rate, how to identify the culprit, and the action needed to rectify it. If you couldn’t already tell, I like to approach a high bounce rate like a detective. You need to find the clues, review suspects, and with enough investigation you can bring justice to your bounce rate.

How is a bounce rate determined?

A bounce rate is a calculation of the percentage of visitors that leave your website after viewing only a single page. It typically indicates that for some reason or another visitors click away from your page because they didn’t find anything relevant to what they were looking for. In short, a high bounce rate is bad news.

Visitors can bounce from a site by:

  • Clicking on a link to a different website
  • Clicking “back” to return to whence they came
  • Closing the window or tab
  • Typing in a new URL
  • Session timeout

When not to freak out

A high bounce rate is bad for most online experiences—not all. It’s important to remember the goal of a page before judging its bounce rate. Consider blog posts where the entirety of the post is on a single page and many visitors only enter to read the article. It may have a high bounce rate, but that doesn’t signal that anything is necessarily wrong with the experience. Landing pages where the entirety of the desired action occurs within the page is a similar example.

When to freak out

High bounce rates are concerning on pages with a high volume of traffic [homepage] and where the primary action is driving traffic to another page [search results, product categories, and checkout]. A high bounce rate on these pages means you’re missing out on further opportunities to engage users and convert them.

What’s a good bounce rate?

At Kaizen Platform we constantly review our client’s analytics, and bounce rate is often one of the first and most important metrics we look at. When determining if a bounce rate is good or bad it’s important to get as much context as you can—bounce rates should always be considered a subjective metric.

In general, your bounce rate will fall somewhere between 26 percent and 70 percent. Outliers happen, if your website bounce rate is between 0-10 percent or 90-100 percent, you may want to check that your analytics have been properly installed. Also keep in mind that mobile users who enter tend to hold different intent and may bounce at a higher rate.

What’s most important is to set your own baseline. Evaluate the action your visitor is suppose to take and how easy it is for them to take it. Are they only looking for information, or are they suppose to complete a purchase? Compare different segments, like new visitors and old visitors, to see if one of your segments is dragging down your average. Consider all the factors that impact your bounce rate and set benchmarks using those insights—not just an industry average.

1. Traffic quality

If your bounce rate is relatively high, the first thing to do is to examine your traffic sources. A high bounce rate can be indicative of low quality traffic, so it’s important to understand how and why traffic is being driven to your site. Are your visitors arriving from relevant searches and keywords? Are your marketing campaigns bringing in users that would find your product or services useful?


Use Google Analytics and other tools to learn as much as you can about who is visiting your site. By cross-comparing visitor segments and sources you’ll get a better understanding of your traffic quality. If you think your traffic quality needs improvement you’ll need to reevaluate where your marketing campaigns source traffic. Try to maintain top rankings for branded terms and relevant keywords and make sure your media placements are reaching the right audience.

2) Unique value proposition

If your traffic quality isn’t the problem then it’s time to look at your website experience. The first thing you want a visitor to see on your website is your unique value proposition. It’s the most critical element to convince visitors to engage, and stop them from exiting. You have mere seconds to get your unique value proposition across. Do it well and it can provide you with a significant improvement to your bounce rate.

In a nutshell, a value proposition is a concise statement that clearly communicates the value your product or service will deliver. It should explain how your product or services solves a relevant problem that potential customers have, and highlight specific benefits and unique differentiators.


Although a strong value proposition is core tenet of conversion rate optimization, it’s often missing or poorly executed. Unfortunately it’s easy to end up with bland and meaningless statements that fail to capture interest. Avoid getting caught up in industry jargon and highlighting features rather than benefits. Strive for clarity. The best way to see if you’re on the right track is to simply ask people who are unfamiliar with your business if it makes sense to them.

For more on building a better unique value proposition:

3) Page speed

A slow website is frustrating for any user. So much so that approximately 57 percent of users will abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. What usually slows down a website is the size of the code—HTML, stylesheets, scripts, and images—that make up a page.


There are many ways you can speed up your website, but the some of the most effective include:

  • Optimizing images by scaling or compressing them properly
  • Enabling browser caching
  • Removing page redirects
  • Compressing JavaScript and CSS
  • Removing render blocking JavaScript and CSS
  • Optimizing for the mobile environment

A free and easy way to check your page speed is Google’s PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Website Grader.

4) Page design

Web design has come along way in recent years and this has made the netizens of the world less tolerant of bad design. Good web design is more than just making things look pretty, it’s about highlighting important content, improving readability, and increasing engagement. Bad design will hinder ease of use and come across untrustworthy and unprofessional.

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Bounce rates are strongly tied to first impressions, and the design you choose contributes significantly toward building that initial impression. Design a website with your target audience in mind. Consider your user’s attributes and preferences to shape your experience. Don’t be afraid to spend money on a professional designer to get the results you need.

5) Content and information hierarchy

For many websites, a common problem is shoving too much information at the visitor at once. Having five call-to-actions at the top of your page won’t make your visitors five times more likely to convert—in all likelihood it will have the opposite effect.


Your unique value proposition should be at the top of your hierarchy. Remind your user why they should to continue toward the intended action. Continuously pair down your content to only the essential information your audience needs. Remove distractions that interfere with the experience and construct a hierarchy that allows users to easily navigate to the information they want.

6) Call-To-Action

On the flip side of too much information is not giving enough. Specifically, not telling what your visitor what to do. Be sure that your call-to-action is clear, prominently placed, and reinforces the value the user will get in return.

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In addition to a primary CTA, adding elements like site search, live chat, and an organized site menu will allow visitors to find and explore different parts of your experience that are more relevant to them.

Final thoughts

As stated before, your bounce rate must be examined contextually. Create your own benchmark and examine your traffic before making changes to your experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the all the details and best practices telling you what’s best. To avoid rabbit holes remember that your bounce rate is simply a reflection of the perceived relevance of your offer to your traffic. That leaves you with two factors to focus on: perceived relevance and traffic—that’s it. Now put on your detective’s hat, follow the clues and bring your bounce rate down.


Need help reducing your bounce rate and maximizing website performance? Kaizen Platform offers a full-service solution for website optimization and personalization. Access smart strategy, data-driven creative talent, and powerful technology to continuously improve your website experience. Kaizen Platform works within your existing process for faster testing and better results. To learn more, request a demo or, shoot us an email at

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