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Bounce Rates and Web Landings: Think Like a Guppy

It's the 1st of the month, and time for monthly reports on SEO, AdWords, and Social Media for me and my clients. What is always incredibly striking is the bounce rate. Even a bounce rate of 50% is considered spectacular: which means half the people land and leave in one instant. Many sites run bounce rates in the 70%, 80% or even 90%.


Landings and Bounce Rate
Is a high bounce rate necessarily bad? Not necessarily. Many sites are first optimized only on their branded searches - searches that include the company, product or service name. So they have a low bounce rate because they are speaking to friends, family, customers. Then, once they begin to SEO optimize, they get many "new" prospects and these "new" prospects often bounce. They say it takes ten touches to convert a customers; so you may have many customers that bounce ten times before they convert.


Thinking Beyond the Bounce Rate


Beyond the bounce rate, you want to think about the landing experience. I follow a CEA model: Confirmation / Engagement / Action.


  1. Confirmation - they need to see the same words that they just typed into Google, plus pictures that instantly convey that they are "in the right place."
  2. Engage - they need to be persuaded that you are important, cool, an expert, worth looking in to.
  3. Act - you need a defined action such as buy your product or register for something free.
Reducing the bounce rate isn't easy, but it is incredibly important. All of us get a lot of traffic that just bounces. It's frustrating to see, but over time you can reduce the bounce rate and increase the conversion rate. 


To Do: Reevaluate Your Landing Pages


Your "homework" is to look at your landing pages, and be critical! Imagine you are that proverbial harried customer, just doing a Google search. What do you see? Would you stay? Would you investigate further? Customers on the Internet, Howie Jacobson once said, are like guppies: easy to scare, and nervous nervous nervous. Evaluate your landing page "as if" you were a guppy: it has one second to get them to stay, two seconds to engage, and one second to convert.

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