Unfortunately, over 50 percent of those visitors left. Have you ever done a Google search for something like vegetarian shoes and landed on a page for swimsuits? Since this was not what you were looking for, you immediately leave without visiting other pages on the site. In marketing terms, this is called a “bounce.” Bounce rates are used to measure the effectiveness of a landing page. If you have a high bounce rate on your website, what is causing this? Perhaps the search engines are bringing you bad traffic. Perhaps you website needs work. If you have a database drive website, bounce rates may not be able to be measured correctly because you are simply referring to a new set of data but displaying it on the same “page”. As a business owner, you must figure out if people truly are bouncing off your site and why.

If you are getting your traffic from paid ads and have high bounce rates, the fault is your own. For example, I recently did a search for camping books. One of the “sponsored links” was from REI. When I clicked on the link, it took me to a page with tents and backpacks – not a page with camping books. Now I happen to know that REI does in fact sell camping books. If someone is doing a search for something specific, why would I waste my money taking them to a page other than what they were looking for? Not only does this cause a bounce, but it makes the company look foolish.

On the other hand, you have less control over free search results. Google or Bing is simply trying to determine what each of your pages is about in order to return accurate search results to the user. If you happen to have a page on your site about tents, and your content includes the fact that “many camping books recommend this product”, then the search engine might be confused. Carefully crafting your descriptions can improve natural search results, but unlike paid ads, you do not have as much control of what is being returned.

In my book and other articles, I’ve shown that much of your traffic will come from inbound links rather than search results. Links that clearly describe what your landing page is about should never have high bounce rates – the customer should know in advance what to expect when they follow a link to a page on your site.

Figuring out what the customer’s intent is for visiting your website and comparing that to what the purpose of the landing page is should be your first step in improving bounce rates. Your goal should be to bring these two as close together as possible. When you have a large overlap between customer intent and webpage purpose, you’ll not only have lower bounce rates, but happier customers and more sales.