By Kayla Matthews

Thanks to techniques like social media sharing and search engine optimization, a growing number of people are circumventing company homepages and going straight to specific internal content. Thus, it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to figure out how to optimize impressions on all pages, rather than just the homepage or a few landing pages. Rather, we have to start considering how to track and reduce bounce rates on all potentially “landable” pages.

Here are a few tips to help you both understand and minimize your website’s bounce rates.

Bounce Rates vs. Exit Rates

Some people think these two metrics are the same, but they’re actually slightly different.

A bounce rate is the percentage of people that go to one page on your website, stay very briefly and then leave. Conversely, the exit rate represents the amount of visitors who leave a website from a particular page.

Exiting a website isn’t always a bad thing, though. The visitor could be clicking away to your Twitter page, your personal blog or any other number of relevant, but external, sites. Bouncing from a page, though, is almost always a negative signal. This indicates that a percentage of your visitors are not interested in your content, find your content to be of poor quality or possibly found your page by accident.

You want to minimize your bounce rate to ensure your web traffic is high-quality and therefore more likely to convert. You should also create a metric to track your exit rates so you know what people are clicking away from your website.

While I’ll spend the remainder of this post discussing only bounce rates, I strongly suggest that if you want to learn more about exit rates and how to track them, you visit the blog of Google Analytics expert, Avinash Kaushik.

Here are five ways you can lower the bounce rate on your business website.

1. Edit Old Content That Is Still Receiving Hits

If you notice content posted several years ago is still getting clicks from visitors, that’s a sign you’re doing something right! However, once those viewers notice the content was published quite a while ago, many of them may decide to leave your site and look elsewhere for what they need. Due to the fast-paced nature of the Internet, timeliness is often a key factor in how relevant your content is to your readers.

To avoid timeliness negatively affecting your bounce rate, consider freshening up old content so it’s more relevant to today’s consumers. You could add a case study of something that happened within the last few months, pepper the content with a few recent and powerful statistics, or talk about a few different angles that relate more closely to the kind of content people are looking for currently.

Because the content was updated more frequently, this may help keep visitors on your page longer, not to mention potentially improve your SERP rankings.

2. Entice Viewers Who Just Read the Latest Content

Bounce rates are often unusually high on pages that feature feeds of the latest content. That’s because people are stopping by to read your newest blog post and then not bothering to stick around and read archived content. These visitors are only interested in the here and now, the latest, most timely content your site can offer.

Try linking some older, associated content to anything new that you put up. Strategic internal linking can encourage viewers to linger on your site. Linking to older posts will also will give the impression that you’re an authoritative source, since you’re able to direct people back to content that’s still relevant, even if it was published a while ago.

3. Get Insight from a Professional Team

Making independent efforts to lower your bounce rate can become frustrating if you’re dedicating yourself to the cause, but not seeing the desired results. In that case, consider partnering with a company or individual expert specializing in integrated marketing. Depending on the design, architecture and conversion funnel of your website, you may be facing more obstacles than you realize. In such cases, an outside perspective can be very helpful.

Experts can use their knowledge to figure out what you could be doing better. Some may even rely upon robust technological solutions that cater to every aspect of the buying funnel.

4. Craft Compelling Headlines

When using planned techniques to reduce bounce rates, it can be fairly common to get so caught up in playing the numbers game that you forget you’re dealing with humans who want to stay interested in what they’re reading. Whether you’re writing a blog post or product copy, make sure your headlines are designed to hold attention.

After you’ve created an engaging headline, write the rest of the copy in a way that’s relevant and helpful. You should be able to set a tone that indicates you want people to have great experiences while on your website. Just make sure you can back up your headlines and enthusiastic copy with quality data and industry knowledge.

5. Don’t Sacrifice Good Graphics

When possible, highlight your potential landing pages with engaging pictures that tell the story of what defines your website. Steer clear of generic stock images that may seem impersonal and boring, and be wary of overused Creative Commons images. Such image options are often okay for a blog post, but original photography and graphics are usually better for your main site.

In addition to these precise tips, don’t overlook making your website extremely user-friendly. Usually, that’ll require extensive testing but doing so thoroughly can help you enjoy consistently higher traffic levels, made up of people who stick around to browse your website at length.