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Dealing With High Bounce Rates

Posted on 9.11.2008

Bounce rate is a key component to website success - especially for affiliate and performance marketers. If your landing pages have a bounce rate of 20-30% or thereabout, you are doing great - some small tweaks might be in order - but for the most part this is where you want to be. If your bounce rate is 50% or higher, you might need a complete restructuring of your landing pages.

Defining Bounce Rate
Bounce rate means that someone entered the page and left - usually within a few seconds. It is determined by calculating how many people went to a particular page and how many exited the site once they viewed that page. If 100 people entered the page in question and 30 people left the site from the page they entered on, your bounce rate would be 30%. In theory, bounce rate is 100% minus your landing page CTR. So if 30% of the people who get to your page click through to your offer, you have a theoretical bounce rate of 70%. Taking steps to lower your bounce rate goes a long way to shortening the road to profitability.

Lowering Bounce Rate

So how do affiliates lower the bounce rate on their pages? If you do not have control over your landing page (e.g. it’s the merchant’s responsibility to maintain that page) then the task will be much more complicated (you’ll need to look primarily at traffic sources), but if you have control, then you’re in business.

Affiliate marketers can lower bounce rate in three ways: by improving the quality of the landing page (reworking content – including images), making adjustments to website architecture and analyzing the sources of their traffic. As always, understanding where you are by testing the landing page before you start, as well as any changes you make during the bounce rate improvement process (to determine if you are improving the bounce rate or making it worse) is absolutely necessary.

Rework The Content
Carefully go through your content and rewrite it – testing multiple variations of content is an important step and something that should all but consume every waking moment of your allotted affiliate marketing time. First, consider the headline. The whole point is to make the user read your sub-headline, while the purpose for the sub-headline is to make your viewer read the first sentence of the content, and so on down the page. If every word isn't chosen carefully to captivate and intrigue your reader, its not going to work and your bounce rate will remain high.

Content needs to be powerful and draw your reader in – what are the words and phrases which compel you to buy products or services? Chances are good that it’s the same for your website visitors. Look at the services or products you have purchased recently and analyze those websites and pages. Is the content designed to initiate and focus user interest, encouraging them to buy into the unique selling proposition? Probably so - a get-rich quick comment isn’t going to make them do the same on your page so head over to the drawing board.

Move Backwards Towards Traffic Sources
If you feel confident that your content is working (evidenced by a lower bounce rate), but the bounce rate is still too high, it's time to look at the root or primary cause of high bounce rates - poor traffic quality.

Pay-Per-Click search engines are usually the first fall guy for affiliate marketers as they are the source of a majority of expenditures which can be cut quickest by aggravated performance marketers. PPC search engines, however, enable affiliate marketers and Internet promoters the ability to customize how traffic arrives at their site. Bidding on irrelevant keywords (even slightly irrelevant) can be severely damaging to bounce rate. While cheap traffic is attractive to boost impressions, spending more on fewer keywords will yield a better response, a lower bounce rate and more earnings over time than the shotgun approach of “more keywords are better.”

It takes quite a bit of time to achieve success in Organic/Natural Search Engines. This is precisely why spending time during the initial optimization process discovering keywords to use in anchor text is of the greatest importance. Choose poorly and you may just find that, while traffic is greater in volume for some terms, those words and phrases may yield a far lower conversion rate. Hedging your bets and opting for lower volume, yet more relevant keywords and phrases, over the long term will produce a lower bounce rate and higher conversions and should be something to seriously consider. If it’s too late and all the keyword discovery and implementation has been done, don’t just give up. Find a way to leverage the traffic you are receiving while taking the steps to drive traffic for the keywords that you are confident will work in the future.

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