Website A/B testing with Google Optimize

Reduce bounce rate with website A/B testing via Google Optimize

What improvements need to be made to the website to reduce the bounce rate? The more visitors bounce on landing pages, the less content is consumed and the fewer users convert. There are A/B test strategies for this, with which you are sure to get a good result.

If a website gets a lot of traffic from both organic and paid sources, but the bounce rate on landing pages is over 90%, acquisition will fail for most users. Some people will object: Then we don’t want the users who drop out. Another common objection: maybe bounce rate doesn’t correlate with conversion rate at all.

The fact is that we are dealing with this on a purely technical level: The more users consume the content at all, the higher the probability of a conversion, i.e. triggering a target action. Such a target action could be filling out a contact form. A reduced bounce rate is a necessary condition for the increased triggering of the conversion. Ergo: The more users stay on the website instead of jumping off immediately, the higher the probability of a conversion. A conversion cannot be triggered if the user bounces before seeing the contact form.

Conversely, this means that it makes sense, especially for target pages with a lot of traffic, to design them structurally in such a way that users are bound and do not jump off immediately. To measure this, there are two metrics:

What is a bounce rate in Google Analytics 3?

In the old Google Analytics, which is scheduled to be phased out in mid-2023, the metric for this is the bounce rate. It indicates the percentage of users who take no further action on the site. That means the lower the bounce rate, the better. A bounce rate of under 60% is already very good, but one of over 90% still needs improvement.

What is a bounce rate from Google Analytics 4?

In the successor to Google Analytics 3, i.e. Google Analytics 4, the core metric for measuring bounce behavior is the so-called engagement rate. In turn, this indicates the percentage of users who carry out further interactions on the website. That means the higher the engagement rate, the better.

What is engagement rate from Google Analytics 4?

In Google Optimize you can create an account for free, link it to Google Analytics and set up an A/B test. It involves serving website variants to users in equal shares and testing them for a specific goal metric, in this case bounces or engagement. Each user always gets to see the same website version. Website variants can be created externally in a frontend editor once Google Optimize is installed on the website.

Test strategies and factors for bounce rates and session durations

Now it’s a matter of changing elements on the website and testing them for the best version when delivered to the users. To do this, the bounce rate or engagement rate must be selected as the measurement target and a new website variant created. Then it’s time for the actual tests. Here are the most important elements:

We must not forget that online users are not determined researchers who consume content immediately and go through every last detail. In reality, the surfing behavior of most online users is shaped more by everyday situations – they decide within a few seconds whether the website meets their expectations or not. Various aspects play a role that users consciously or subconsciously like or dislike, such as the color scheme, choice of images, headline content and titles, and overall design.

Test 1: Test the size of the head area with Google Optimize

The head area is the first element a user sees and at the same time the most important element that decides whether to leave or stay. Often important content is not placed above the fold, requiring users to scroll down to see what the site is about. Therefore, different sizes for the head area should be tested.

Test 2: Test headline content with Google Optimize

Some will know the effect of good and sales-boosting copywriting. Depending on the product and offer, it makes sense to try different types of headlines, be it a question formulation, a benefit formulation or the communication of a specific function that the user might need. In the end, as always, only one thing helps: testing.

Test 3: Test the layout of headlines with Google Optimize

Heading design testing tests the sizes, colors, and positions of the headings. It is quite possible that more prominent headlines are better received by the target group. However, it can also be the case that smaller and finer headings with a smaller font style look quite classy and thus more closely match the expectations of the incoming visitor target group. The same applies to the coloring: signal colors can either arouse interest or appear too flashy and immediately cause a jump.

Conclusion: Initial website elements are crucial for bounce rates

As you may have already noticed, the three test strategies mentioned are only based on the start of a target page, i.e. on the start screen that website visitors see without scrolling down. It is initial elements that decide whether to stay or jump, which is why these are also the central parameters that we have to test in order to reduce jumps and thus get more users to interact with our content.

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