10 Reasons Why Your Site Might Have a High Bounce Rate

Anyone who runs a website can empathise with the struggle to gain a steady flow of new visitors. Through practices like SEO, content marketing, social media, pay per click, and offline marketing avenues, we all want people to pay attention to our brand.

However, once new website visitors come through, it becomes obvious that getting them there is only half the battle. The baton then passes to your site’s content to keep them engaged. It’s therefore important to keep tabs on how well you’re keeping people on your site – this is where metrics like bounce rate come in.

What is Bounce Rate?

Your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who view a single page and leave without engaging further, and can easily be found in your website’s Google Analytics account. Very few organisations want people to leave their site so quickly; it’s far more preferable that people show an interest and stick around, so a “high bounce rate” is usually thought of as something negative.

However, there are a number of reasons why people may be leaving your site after visiting a single page – let’s take a look at ten of them.

1. Technical Issues

Any manner of technical problems could be turning visitors away. People have high expectations from their online experience nowadays, and something as simple as a broken image or a poorly coded slider can sow seeds of mistrust in your audience. Technical hiccups can detract greatly from your website, so thorough testing and maintenance is required to keep everything in top shape.

2. “Noisy” Design

Remember that your website is there to serve your visitors as much as it’s there to serve your company. If your site is packed with intrusive pop-over windows, flashy ads, lacklustre design, and has crucial information tucked away in hard to find places, you’re likely to turn people away pretty sharpish.

Remember that visitors to your site don’t necessarily know your organisation, and are visiting your site to find out more about what you can offer. A clear and professional website communicates how clear and professional you are to work with.

3. Pages That Aren’t Easy to Skim-Read

Much like with good food – the first bite is with the eye when it comes to online content. If we’re presented with a seemingly impenetrable wall of text or poorly explained data, we aren’t going to feel particularly inspired to read on.

Break up longer content with design elements, bullet points, numbered lists and images; and favour short and punchy paragraphs rather than long swathes of text. These easy fixes can make longer content seem like less of a chore to digest.

4. Poor Quality Content

Content marketing is huge. By publishing blogs, videos, podcasts, and other free resources, companies of all sizes can share valuable knowledge and get their name out there. However, larger organisations have resources that allow them to publish something new every day, which leaves smaller businesses feeling the pressure to keep up. This can result in smaller companies creating quick content just for the sake of it, in turn potentially resulting in flimsy content that’s not particularly useful, and generally fails to connect with people.

Good content should answer genuine queries and concerns that your customers face, and usually includes some kind of actionable advice or sentiment. Don’t feel pressured into competing on publishing frequency – it’s the quality of your message that really matters.

5. Offputting Use of Language

“Was it something I said?” Maybe. Using an appropriate tone of voice is an important part of business communications both online and offline, and when companies get it wrong it can spell disaster. You wouldn’t expect a solicitor or accountant to use the latest slang, just as you wouldn’t expect a friendly retail brand to use stuffy and obtuse language. How you say things matters greatly in business, and a little self-awareness goes a long way.

Spelling and grammatical mistakes can also have readers turning away in droves – a real shame when you think how easy they are to avoid. Though machines are far from perfect, spell checking tools like Grammarly can help you out if you’re in a linguistic pickle.

6. Slow Load Times

Thanks to the speed and ubiquity of the internet these days, we’re used to instant gratification from our web browsing habits. Therefore a slow, sluggish and unresponsive website could easily turn away those who want an answer NOW.

Slow loading times can be caused by a number of things, and aren’t always down to issues your side. However to tip the scales in your favour, avoid oversized images (WordPress users can use plugins like WP Smush) and don’t fill your pages with demanding design elements like sliders and non-standard fonts. The quality of your hosting can also play a part in your website’s speed too.

7. All Loose Ends Tied Up

Not all reasons for a high bounce rate are inherently bad. If people are coming to your site to answer a particular question, and your site answers that question efficiently and effectively, there’s no point in sticking around.

Depending on what you’re trying to do with your website, this can be a blessing or a curse. If you’re simply looking to educate, inform, or signpost people to other services, a high bounce rate would imply that your site is doing its job. However if you do want people to take further action on your website, you might need to include a strong call to action stating what you’d like people to do next (see point number 9!).

8. Poor Mobile Optimisation

It should go without saying that mobile internet consumption is bigger than ever, and is only set to rise. Having a mobile-responsive site (i.e., one that is coded to display and function well on both mobiles and desktops) is an essential part of providing a good user experience to your visitors, and should not be overlooked. Mobile optimisation also plays a part in search visibility too, and Google provide a handy tool to help check your site’s mobile responsiveness.

9. No Clear Instructions for Further Action

Visitors may be leaving simply because they aren’t being made aware of further actions that are available to them. If you’re not providing clear and persuasive calls to action to engage further, visitors may simply wander away.

For each page on your site, think what you would ideally like the reader to do after reading. It doesn’t have to be “pick up the phone and place an enquiry” (thought that might be nice) – it can be an encouragement to check out further information on your site, or a pointer to browse your services.

10. Analytics Spam

There’s also the possibility that Google Analytics is reporting that your bounce rate is high when it really isn’t. In this case, your site could be a victim of “analytics spam”. Put simply, analytics spammers tell Google they’ve visited your site (when they really haven’t) in order to get their website or message to show up in your Analytics reports – a strange way to market yourself if you ask me!

This isn’t anything to worry about from a usability or search visibility perspective, but it does muddy up your site’s usage data. Thankfully there are ways to exclude spam data from your Analytics account – this Kissmetrics article is a good place to start.


A website that provides polished visual appeal, intuitive functionality, and a great user experience on both desktop and mobile is crucial for any organisation. If your site is in need of a tune up – drop us a line. We work closely with small to medium businesses, and are proud of our commitment to ethics and dependability. Call 01902 213950 or email tim@oxendale.net today to discuss making your site the best it can be.

Published: 04/01/2018

Last modified: 12/06/2019

Timothy Oxendale
I'm an award-winning plant-powered (Vegan) freelance WordPress Developer/Web Designer. I work with great individuals, small-to-medium sized businesses and start-ups. I aim to have a great relationship with all my clients where I can add value to their business by being dependable, honest and by doing the type of work that makes a difference.

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