This post explains bounce rates and description tags. Those of you who dare to keep abreast of your website stats may have puzzled over the “bounce rate” stat.
Sure we understand it’s people who came and left but how quickly must they leave to be counted as a bouncer? And how should we feel about a 39% bounce rate? Hurt? Resigned? Hungry? Actually hunger is not a feeling. Even if you don’t read the rest of this article you have learnt that much.
Bounce rate may be a sign that the visitor did not get what they expected or wanted. If your traffic is weak and your bounce rate is high you may simply need to improve your content – more words, images, information, videos, links and the like. Try this and review your bounce rate in a month or so.
Note: if your visitor comes to your site and leaves from the same page without looking elsewhere it counts as a bounce. But who is to say that the visitor didn’t find what she wanted before departing? One way to investigate this is to look at your the average amount of time spent on the page or post. A high bounce rate with a correspondingly short time spent on the page or post is a bad sign.
But what if your content is pretty good, traffic flow to the page relatively plentiful but your bounce rate is high? This means that plenty of people are being referred to the page by Google for certain search terms but are then disappointed with your content and leaving. Something is array. How to lower your bounce rate? One option – try inserting or editing your description tag.
What is a description tag?
When you create a post or page for your site you have the option of inserting a description tag. It literally should describe the content of the page.
Google uses this content to add some text to its search results (in yellow on the left) explaining to the searcher what she will find by clicking the link. The middle result is the best by far. The top and bottom probably don’t have tags and thus Google has tried to improvise content from the text it finds on the page. Not good.
Your description tag should be accurate and alluring, written as normal English and last 150 to 160 characters. Your new description tag may increase or decrease traffic but should certainly decrease your bounce rate as the traffic you receive will be better qualified. No surprises for the visitor = lower bounce rate. Customers love to get what they came for.
Description tags are optional and often get forgotten by website developers who don’t care or marketers who just don’t know. This is not OK as description tags are very important for Google rankings. Here’s our description tag for this very post.
Your CMS should easily allow you to add description tags when creating content. You can always go back and add suitable tags to all your content. We cover this stuff in Online Savvy. (Originally published in 2011, updated May 2016.)