Now that you know why you should lower your blog’s bounce rate, let’s cover some easy ways you can reduce the bounce rate of your blog.
First, it’s important to understand what a bounce rate is, and to analyze your current bounce rate using Google Analytics. So if you don’t already have Google Analytics installed on your blog, install it and wait at least a week to accumulate some stats and determine your blog’s bounce rate. And keep in mind that blogs tend to have a higher bounce rate than other types of websites.
Definition of Bounce Rate
Bounce Rate is the percentage of readers that “bounce” away from your blog after just one page view. According to Google expert Avinash Kaushik, your bouncing site traffic won’t even give you five seconds of consideration; that’s not much chance to impress! You can find out your blog’s Bounce Rate right on the Dashboard of Google Analytics. The formula Google Analytics uses to calculate bounce rate is:
Bounce Rate = Total Visits With Only One Page View / Total Visits
A reader can bounce, or exit, your blog by:
Clicking the back button to leave your blog
Closing the tab or window of your blog
Going to a new URL from the browser’s URL bar
Clicking a link to another site
Session timeout (when a user only has one page view, but leaves the browser open for 30 minutes on that page)
How To Improve Your Blog’s Bounce Rate
1. Highlight popular posts above the fold
Many blogs make it difficult to find the highest quality posts, so the users quickly get bored and leave. With the oversaturation of content on the Internet, it’s important to prominently display your most popular posts from your blog above the fold where they can be easily seen, such as on the top of your sidebar. You can use Google Analytics to learn what your most popular posts are. This will spark the reader’s interest to click and read more on something you already know your readers find interesting.
2. Use post excerpts on the homepage
If each of your blog posts are too long, you may only be able to fit 2-3 blog posts on your homepage. If your first-time visitors don’t find one of those few posts interesting, it’ll lead to a higher bounce rate. This is where blog excerpts come in handy. Display only a paragraph or two of each post on the homepage. This way, you can fit anywhere from 10-15 blog posts on your homepage, which gives readers a much greater likelihood of being interested in one of those posts.
3. Share related posts on each post page
Traffic from search engines or social media sites will usually land on a single post page. This kind of traffic tends to have a higher bounce rate. Listing 4-5 related posts on the bottom of each post could help keep these users interested. You can manually add these links at the bottom of each posts, or if you have a WordPress blog, the WordPress plugin Similar Posts will automatically generate five related posts to list at the bottom of each post.
4. Interlink within the content of each post
If you are writing a post and find yourself referring to something you’ve previously written about, link to that older post using relevant anchor text. If you look at the first paragraph of this blog post, you’ll see that I’ve linked to my previous blog post 5 Reasons to Lower Your Blog’s Bounce Rate. There, I’ve just done it again. Have these links open in a new window so that your readers can get that clarification from your previous post, and then return back to the first post to keep reading. Interlinking will also improve your blog’s SEO.
5. Provide obvious links to homepage
If your first-time readers are landing on a single-post page and are interested in your blog, they will want to see your blog’s homepage. So make your header image link to your homepage. It really surprises me how often I see the header image NOT link to the homepage; this should be an automatic setting on every blogging platform. If the link to your homepage is hard to find, your readers might get frustrated and leave your blog entirely. Provide another link to your homepage in the navigation.
6. Have clean navigation
Make your navigation clean and easy to spot; try not to clutter the navigation area with Google AdSense or affiliate ads. And keep it simple; your top navigation should link to your homepage, about page, contact page, archive, and perhaps a few other top-category pages.
7. List the your blog categories
Include a list of your blog categories in your sidebar. This way, if a user is interested in a particular topic, he can easily navigate to a page that will list all of your posts on that topic. Utilize the setting that displays the number of posts you have in each topic to peak interest.
8. Post high-quality content
Content is always king. You will read this everywhere (at least, from authors who know what they’re talking about). Good content = high traffic. Good content = high viral sharing. Good content = lower bounce rate. If you’re looking for easy ways to get tons of traffic, you might be sick of hearing this. But it’s so true. Having good content isn’t always easy, but if you focus on turning out high-quality posts a few times a week rather than short, crappy posts every day, you will reap the rewards.
9. Improve loading speed
Users might get frustrated if your blog takes forever to load. If you use a blogging platform with plugins, such as WordPress, try keeping the amount of plugins installed to below 15. And if there’s one plugin that slows down your blog significantly, consider finding an alternative. Also make sure all of your images are compressed so they load quickly.
10. Remove anything that autoplays
Videos, music, or any sort of media should never autoplay. There’s no better way to get a visitor to click the back button than by having autoplay media on your blog. The user should opt into any media on your site via a play button..
11. Provide ways for users to interact
Prompt your readers to comment on your blog posts by asking questions at the bottom of each post. Have a blog commenting system that is visually appealing and easy to use. Also, include polls, surveys, or other interactive plugins to keep your visitors on your site.
12. Be smart about monetizing
Most bloggers try some methods for monetizing their blogs. This is great, but don’t overfill your blog with ads. Not only does your bounce rate increase with each ad click on the first page view, but too many ads will make for a frustrating user experience. Anything that might frustrate your readers will give them a reason to click that back button.
13. Rethink your sidebar
Try removing some of the external links from your sidebar. If your blogroll doesn’t include extremely relevant links to your niche, remove it. If you see that not many people are clicking through to your MySpace page through your sidebar, delete the link.
14. Research using Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an extremely useful and completely free tool; take advantage of it! You can find out all sorts of cool nerdy things like which traffic sources yield the highest bounce rates. For example, traffic from StumbleUpon might have a bounce rate of 88%, but traffic from your Facebook fan page might have a bounce rate of 60%. This way, you can learn which traffic sources to focus more of your marketing efforts on. You can also see the bounce rate of each and every page on your site and optimize accordingly. How awesome is that??? (Yes, I’m a dork.)
15. Optimize older blog posts
Don’t just forget about your older blog posts as time passes. If you elaborate on a certain point you made on an older blog post, go back to that older post and link relevant text to your new post. If that text doesn’t exist, make a slight modification to add it in. Make these tweaks and then note the changes in Google Analytics to see how effective your interlinking really is.
16. Test, test test!
To build on #19, after you make optimizations to reduce your bounce rate, wait a week or two and then look at your Google Analytics stats to see if your optimizations were effective. Don’t be afraid to tweak and try new tactics; you can always change things back.
What other tips do you have to reduce bounce rate? Have you implemented any of these tips? If so, how have they worked for your blog?