Don’t Let Them Bounce! 5 Things You Can Do to Keep People Engaged on Your Site

Fish Bowl: decrease your bounce rate

Image courtesy of Shuttersock.

I recently took my daughter on a trip to Seaside beach here in Oregon. As 5 year olds do, she randomly became ravaged with hunger as we were walking down to the beach. We walked back up to the street and went in the first sandwich shop we could find. As I walked in, I noticed some broken video games stacked in one corner and a man standing next to a greasy grill with a loaf of store bought white bread next to it. I smiled, nodded and promptly left with my daughter.

In web terms, this is what we call a “bounced visitor.” One of the great pioneers of web analytics, Avinash Kaushik describes website bounce as a visitor who comes to your site, pukes, and then leaves. For a website owner, this is about as bad as it gets. A potential fan or customer lands on your site and then immediately runs the opposite direction. And it’s likely they won’t come back and certainly will not recommend it to others.


Here are 5 Tips to Avoid the Bounce:

1)   Don’t try and cram everything onto the homepage or major landing pages. Ask yourself this question – “If I could only have one button on my homepage what would it do?” That is the most important thing so start there. Maybe it is an email list signup, an upcoming show or a new album you want people to check out. It can’t be all three at once though. Build content around that one item. Once you are done have some friends check it out and see if maybe you can get a second item on the page to focus on. You have less than 10 seconds to catch the visitor’s attention, don’t waste it by overwhelming them with too much stuff. Something has to be number 1.

2)   When a visitor comes to your site does music or video start playing automatically? If so, stop it! Have you ever walked into to a club to see a band you liked, but the mix was way too loud? You don’t know how people have their audio setup so give them a chance to get ready to play the audio or video. Often visitors are also already listening to music or have other media going. Give them a chance to stop the other music and hit play on your audio or video. They will appreciate it and bounce less.

3)   Site load speed is still important! More and more people are visiting from mobile devices which means we went backwards in connectivity a bit. Your site homepage should not be more than 500kb or another way to look at it is how fast it loads. More than 3-5 seconds means you might lose them before you get them in there. If you have too many images or videos on the page that will slow down the load time. Focus on what you want to get in front of your audience and move other stuff to photo galleries and archive pages.

4)   Use images and update them frequently. I know I just said to be careful with load times but you should use great images still. Pinterest and Instagram should be enough evidence that people love images. Keep up to date photos and images on your site rotating old stuff to galleries and audio/video pages. Unless your site is based on the latest neuro-psychology research it should not be a wall of text. Images quickly grab the visitor’s attention and keep them engaged. Don’t use text if you can do it with images.

5)   Time to say goodbye to flash! Sorry but Apple is successfully killing flash. Tens of thousands to hundreds-of-thousands of apple devices are being activated every day in the U.S. and none of them allow flash. Hostbaby just came out with a new audio player to tackle this issue. Use it! Broken items on your site will cause people to leave. Warnings about software that does not work with their browser will make them also not come back. Flash had a good run, but we’re moving on.

Try some of these out and watch your bounce rate. See what works, experiment, and have fun with your site.

What else do you to make your website a pleasant experience for your visitors?

Got questions or want feedback on your site, hit me up and I’ll take a look?

About the author – Chad Dahlstrom is a web analytics geek, marketer, serial entrepreneur, and musician who spent years working with CD Baby and Hostbaby on new web products. Currently he has a new project to help bands promote their shows flyers and band posters online at You can find him on twitter @flyerlizard or email him directly with questions or comments