What Makes People Bounce from Your Site?

If you’ve spent any time exploring Google Analytics or talking with a search engine marketer, you’ve probably heard the phrase “bounce rate.” This term refers to the percentage of people who viewed one page on your site and left without clicking anything or navigating to another page.

A high bounce rate on your website isn’t always a bad thing, especially if you have a single-page site or content that can be consumed on a single page. However, if your success depends on visitors landing on your site and then taking another step (such as placing an order or filling out a contact form), you don’t want your bounce rate to be high.

normal bounce rate pie chart

Source: Kissmetrics

If you’ve spotted some high bounce rates on your website, the first thing you should do is try to figure out why visitors are leaving. The reasons for high bounce rates aren’t always obvious (Google Analytics doesn’t provide a neat explanation, unfortunately), but chances are it’s a result of one or more of the factors below.

What Causes a High Bounce Rate?

Page Loads Slowly

Time isn’t on your side when it comes to engaging web visitors. According to Kissmetrics, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of people say they’ll abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. If you’ve been noticing unusually high bounce rates, one of the first things you should do is test your website speed. You can do this by plugging a URL into Google’s PageSpeed tool. (Try it out—we’ll wait.)

If a page is loading slowly on desktop or mobile, PageSpeed Insights will recommend some potential fixes. One thing that may help on an image-heavy page is to compress your images so that the file is smaller and takes less time to load.

Disruptive Advertising Scares Off Visitors

computer monitor with disruptive advertisingThink about the last time you landed on a web page that immediately launched pop-up ads, flashing banners, or an auto-play video with the sound at full volume. You probably didn’t stay on that page too long. And guess what? Your site visitors are equally turned off by these disruptive elements. Avoid these ad formats and focus on delivering content that’s useful to your audience. If you do want to try out a pop-up ad (to get users to subscribe to a newsletter or download an eBook, for example), consider setting it to only appear when a user has scrolled down a certain percentage of the page or completed a pre-defined action on your site.

Design Looks Bad

Visitors will judge your web page by its cover. If your design elements, color choices, or fonts look outdated or garish, you’ll make visitors think your business is unprofessional.

Even worse than an outdated-looking website is one that’s hard to navigate. If it’s difficult for visitors to find their way around, either on desktop or mobile, they’re unlikely to stick around. Work with your web designer to set up navigation and search functions that are intuitive and mobile-friendly.

Content Is Hard to Read

There are lots of things that make online content hard to read, including:

  • Small fontsorb with hard to read text causing high bounce rate
  • Weird font choices (hello, Comic Sans)
  • Font colors that blend into the background
  • Big blocks of text with no images or paragraph breaks

These issues can be jarring on a small mobile screen. And if visitors have to struggle just to read what’s on your page, they’re not going to bother with it. Keep your content easy to read—and skim—if you want to keep visitors on your site.

Content Is Poorly Written

Poorly written can refer to content that’s riddled with typos and grammatical errors or content that’s bland and fails to deliver what the reader is looking for. In either situation, you’ll hurt your business’s credibility and risk driving visitors away from your site. Invest the time in developing high-quality content that delivers something your visitors can’t find anywhere else. Use a tool like Grammarly to thoroughly proofread each piece before publication.

Page Fails to Meet Visitor Expectations

burlap sack promising useful contentIf a visitor arrives at your site only to find that the landing page doesn’t align with their expectations, they’ll bounce. Consider the example of someone who is searching for tips to keep their lawn green during the winter and clicks a search result with the headline “How to Keep Your Lawn Green Year-Round.” The page, however, turns out to be a blatant promotion for Ron’s Lawn Fertilizer. The page doesn’t provide the tips the visitor was looking for, so they leave.

Avoid misleading your visitors by making sure your meta titles and descriptions line up with what’s actually on your page. This will help you reduce your bounce rate and attract more qualified visitors.

Visitor Doesn’t Know What’s Next

If you want visitors to go from one page to another on your site, you need to make that clear with a call-to-action (CTA). In many cases, this is a button that directs users to complete an action, such as Download the Guide or Start a Free Trial.

call to action example

Here’s an example of a CTA from the Leverage site.

If your CTA is hard to see or buried at the bottom of the page, your visitors won’t know what they’re supposed to do next. You also risk confusing your visitors if you place multiple CTAs on the same page. Make your CTA obvious so that it’s as easy as possible for visitors to take the next step.

Value Proposition Isn’t Clear

You may want to dedicate your website to reviewing all the cool features of your product or service, but features alone don’t motivate your site visitors—they want to know about the benefits to them. It’s especially important to make your value proposition clear if you have a product that’s very similar to a competitor’s and charge a higher price. It needs to be obvious to visitors why they should choose your product or service. If you can’t articulate that, they’ll head to a competitor’s site.

You’re Asking Too Much, Too Soon

large invoice on mobile phoneThis problem may come up if you’re in an industry with a typically long buyer’s journey, such as B2B software or luxury goods. If you have expensive offerings, asking visitors to make a purchase or fill out a quote form as soon as they get to your site could be too much. To keep visitors engaged with your site and business, you may want to start with a less intimidating introductory offer like an eBook or free trial.

Visitor Got What They Wanted

Certain types of web pages, such as blog posts, are likely to have a high bounce rate simply because visitors found all the information they were looking for on that one page. For this type of content, it’s more important to pay attention to metrics like Time on Page and Average Session Duration. By checking these engagement metrics, you can get a sense of whether visitors are leaving quickly or sticking around to consume your content.


Still baffled as to why visitors are bouncing from your site? Leverage Marketing can perform a website audit to reveal potential issues and solutions. Contact us and let us know what challenges you want to address.

Madeline Jacobson

Madeline Jacobson

Digital Content Team Leader at Leverage Marketing
Madeline is a writer and Digital Content Team Leader for Leverage Marketing. After receiving her B.A. in English, she moved from Washington state to Austin, Texas, where she worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer and college prep coach before pursuing a career in content marketing. When she's not writing, she enjoys running, attempting to cook, going to trivia nights, and exploring Austin.
Madeline Jacobson
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