The 3 Main Reasons Why People Leave Your Website in 2018

7 min read(Last Updated On: February 11, 2018)

This Ask Hoz is about reducing bounce rate and improving conversion on your website by looking at the 3 main reasons why people leave your website.

The reasons why people leave a website without engaging can be many of course, but as somebody who has worked with clients for over a decade on improving conversion, I can tell you that there are some Usual Suspects that keep popping up regularly.

The higher the bounce rate the worst the issue is. A very high bounce rate can mean your web visitors are literally landing on your site and then exiting almost immediately or at least within two or three seconds.

Those visitors are in most cases lost forever, and that affects your conversion rate.

So let’s set out to fix this.

How to Reduce Bounce Rate and Improve Average Session Duration or Average Time Spent on a Website

Before we can fix something we need to first understand what it is that is broken.

Having a bounce rate is the result of an issue, but it’s not the cause of the issue.

A high bounce rate doesn't tell you exactly why people leave your website, but it does tell you that there's an issue that you need to resolve.Click To Tweet

The first thing to do is to look through your Google Analytics reports in detail to see if you can identify any particular pages that have high bounce rates and then inspect those pages to see if anything obvious leaps out at you.

Once you’ve gone through your data and your pages and addressed any issues you spot, we’re left with the Usual Suspects I mentioned earlier.

When there isn't an obvious issue, fixing your bounce rate is mostly down to a process of elimination. Click To Tweet

The best way to start our process of elimination is by addressing the most common causes of why people exit websites and seeing how we measure up against those.

Let’s do this.

Start With The Most Common Reasons Why People Leave Your Website

During the process of elimination, try to remove yourself emotionally from your website and look at it as a bunch of data (as objectively as possible). Remember that at this point, if you have a terrible bounce rate, it may be that you’re the only person who loves your website.

Let’s go through each issue and see how you measure up against each one.

Reason 1: Lack of Trust

The first one is trust. Trust is a huge factor. If you land on a website that looks like it was put together in someone’s bedroom in a rush using an old cheap template that has never been updated, then the last thing you’re going to be doing is reaching for your credit card.

In this scenario, reaching for a credit card is a conversion example. But your website doesn’t need to sell something in order to be affected by the trust issue.

If your website design isn't up to modern standards then a lot of people are simply not going to trust your website.Click To Tweet

If your website looks and feels ‘bad’, then people are not going to spend time on your website, even if you have great content.

Lack of trust as a result of bad design means that people are going to be exiting your website without even reading the content, so you could have the best content in the world but if you wrap that around a poor design then no one is going to ever experience that great content.

Worse yet, an out of date website design can bring into question your credentials and your ability to deliver whatever it is that you promise to deliver, even if the two things are not related.

For example, a top-notch surgeon with an old website will struggle to generate the trust that his or her qualifications alone should be able to generate.

The website design has nothing to do with the surgeon’s ability, training, experience and anything else, but it can bring all of that into question in the visitor’s mind.

Reason 2: Relevancy

The second reason for a high bounce rate that qualifies as a Usual Suspect is relevancy. This is all about the content supporting the title.

For example, let’s say that you do a search online for mortgage help and you end up on a page with 10 results. All you have to work with at that point are titles and small snippets of each description.

Let’s say that the title that catches your eye is: here’s a proven way to reduce your mortgage by 50 percent.

That title is making a promise. When you click on that title and you go through to the corresponding landing page, presuming that you get past the design at least enough to trust the website, you expect the content to deliver on the promise made by the title.

The title on a webpage is a promise. The job of the content is to support that promise.Click To Tweet

Following with this example, if you start reading the content and you discover that you could indeed reduce your mortgage by 50 percent as promised, but only if you meet a very specific set of circumstances, then you feel cheated.

The title was clickbait. It was designed to just get the click. But as soon as you understand that you’ve been cheated, that this was a trap, that this content does not apply to you, you’re going to hit the back button.

And that’s a big reason for people bouncing off a website: because the content just does not deliver on the promise made by the title.

Reason 3: Quality

The third major reason is quality.

Let’s say that you click on that title and you land on the site and let’s say that you get past the design (trust is the first hurdle) and then you get past the second hurdle, which is relevancy.

You read through the content and you see that the content does support and in fact deliver on what the title promised, but the quality of the content is really poor. There are grammatical errors everywhere, there are misspellings and it’s just hard to read. There are no paragraphs, no spacing… everything is one clump of text.

This is a major turnoff. Bad grammar and poor use of visual space also affect trust.

It’s all about trust at the end of the day.

When you start to read through that mess, you start to wonder all kinds of things – at least on a subconscious level.

Things like:

  • who put this content together?
  • they didn’t spend any time tidying this up
  • they spent no effort making this readable
  • the person who wrote this can’t even write properly
  • if they can’t string sentences together, should I be trusting them?

All those are legit questions. They’re some of the thoughts that can pop into your mind when you hit a web page.


Visiting a web page and engaging or performing an action like subscribing, bookmarking the page, buying something or even spending some time consuming the content, is a transaction.

Your website visitors need to trust the person at the other end of the transaction (i.e. you or your company).

There are many possible reasons behind why people leave your website, including annoying widgets, ads and pop-ups, and those can all be identified through a little testing (turning things on and off and measuring the results).

But the main three things that add to a high bounce rate that I have seen consistently over the years are:

  • trust
  • relevancy
  • quality

And these things matter more now than they ever did before. Get these three things right and you’ll be on the right track to lowering bounce rate.

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