13 Key Ways to Lower Your Blog’s Bounce Rate (and Why it Matters)

The post 13 Key Ways
to Lower Your Blog’s Bounce Rate (and Why it Matters)

appeared first on ProBlogger.

13 key ways to lower your blog's bounce rate (and why it matters)

Bounce rate is a Google Analytics metric that tells you the
percentage of people who “bounce” off your site (i.e. visit
your site and leave from the first page they arrive on).

To find out your bounce rate, log into your Google
Analytics
 account.

(If you haven’t set up Google Analytics on your blog, do it.
It’s powerful, very useful, and completely free.
You can fi
nd
out more about Google Analytics in episode 30 of the
podcast
.)

Once you’re in Google Analytics, go to Audience → Overview
and look at the Bounce Rate. You should see a little chart and a
percentage that looks something like this:

On my Digital
Photography School
 site the percentage is around 78%. That
means 78% of the people who arrive at the site only view the page
they arrive on.

You can click the little chart or select from the dropdown menu
to see the entire chart for the previous month (or whatever period
you select):

Most blogs don’t see much day-to day-variation in their bounce
rate. Mine changes slightly when I send out our email (which I’ll
talk about soon), but chances are your blog has a steady, even line
when you view your chart.

Interpreting Your Bounce Rate

A high number (say, 99%) means a lot of people are leaving your
blog without checking out any of your content beyond the page they
arrive on.

A low number means a lot of people are sticking around, and
looking at more than one post or page on your site.

Bloggers often think a high number is bad and a low number is
good, and later in the post I’ll be showing you ways to lower
your bounce rate. But it’s worth keeping in mind that a high
bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For instance:

  • You might want readers to leave and do something else. For
    instance, if you promote affiliate products you probably want to
    send readers away to buy them.
  • You might want people to call your business. And a high bounce
    rate might suggest that’s working. People are finding your site,
    and then picking up the phone to call you.
  • You might sell products through a major e-retailer such as
    Amazon or eBay. If you are, you’ll need to send people away from
    your site.
  • You might be getting readers to sign up to your email
    list through a popup tool that doesn’t load another page on your
    site.

How to Drill Down When You’re Looking at Bounce Rate

While looking at the bounce rate for your entire site can be
interesting, it’s better to focus on specific pages. You can do
this by going to Behavior → Site Content → Content Drilldown,
and clicking on the page you’re interested in. Here’s an
example:

On ProBlogger, the bounce rate for the front page is 61%.
That’s lower than our site average, which is normally in the high
70s. When people arrive on the front page, they’re probably
trying to figure out what the site is, what content they’re
interested in, and so on. So it makes sense for the bounce rate of
that page to be relatively low.

Some pages on ProBlogger have a really low bounce rate. On the
Start Here
page it’s 54%, and on the job board it’s 35%. That’s
great, because it means people are clicking to view individual
jobs.

Other pages have a much higher bounce rate. One post from 2012
gets search engine traffic every day, but its bounce rate is 91%.
People arrive, see that the information isn’t relevant for them,
and leave.

How to Look at the Bounce Rate of Different Sources of Traffic

Another thing to be aware of is that bounce rates vary depending
on the traffic source. In Google Analytics, you can go to
Acquisition → All Traffic → Channels to view the bounce rates
for different sources of traffic. It’ll look something like
this:

On Digital Photography School, Google traffic bounces away at
77% and social media traffic bounces at 81%. But email traffic has
a much lower bounce rate – 55%.

So when I’m looking at lowering the bounce rate there, I’m
particularly interested in the Google traffic because more than
half of my traffic comes from Google. And most of it comes from
first-time visitors. I’d love them to stick around and hopefully
subscribe.

But I’m not particularly bothered about lowering the bounce
rate for email traffic. It’s already pretty low, and those people
have already subscribed.

13 Straightforward Ways to Lower the Bounce Rate on Your Blog

Now that you understand bounce rates, and how to break it down
by page and traffic source in Google Analytics, let’s go through
some ways to lower it.

#1: Make a Great First Impression

When someone comes to your site for the first time, they decide
within seconds whether it’s credible, is relevant to them, and
has content worth reading.

And they base those decisions on your design, branding, tagline,
and other clear indicators to the benefits of them reading.

#2: Work on Social Proof

If you have a testimony from a reader (or from someone well
known), include it. If you’ve got a lot of Twitter followers or
email subscribers, put the number on your site. If you’ve been
quoted or featured in mainstream media and can use that
publication’s logo, use it.

These are all signals to first-time visitors that your site is
credible and useful.

#3: Remove the Dates on Your Blog Posts

This might be a bit controversial, but I’m going to suggest it
anyway. Consider removing the dates on your blog posts. It can help
make a good first impression – especially when you have a lot of
older evergreen posts.

On my Digital Photography School site I have a post about
shutter speed that I wrote in 2007. It’s just as relevant today,
but if I included the date on that post people would inevitably
judge it as less worth reading.

#4: Make Your Site Easy to Use

It might sound obvious, but people are more likely to click
around on your site if it’s easy to do. Make sure your site loads
quickly, and make your content easy to read.

For more on this, you might want to listen to
episode 176 of the podcast
 where I talk about creating
scannable content: making sure the text is easy to read, having
clear navigation, making your site responsive so it’s optimised
for mobile, minimising interruptions, and so on.

#5: Focus on High-Quality Content

If a first-time reader lands on a well-written, articulate
article that enhances their life in some way, they’re going to
click around. So
focus on writing consistently good posts that help your reader as
much as possible
.

And investing time to write great content improves your blog in
other ways too.

#6: Ask Readers to Connect in Some Way

Normally you want readers to make an ongoing connection with you
– perhaps by subscribing to your
email list
 or following you on social media. Make strong,
clear calls to action in various parts of your blog to encourage
readers to connect to you.

This will help keep readers coming back to your site as return
visitors, which will reduce your bounce rate over time. On Digital
Photography School we see that people who come back every day click
around at a much higher rate than first-time visitors.

#7: Create Portals for Your Site

This is one of the best things I’ve done on ProBlogger. On the
front page we have icons for different ‘portals’ (under “I
need help to…”). The same icons also appear in the sidebar next
to every single post.

Each portal is a special page that includes a video greeting
(where I make a personal connection) and a call to subscribe.
There’s also lots of information on each portal page. It isn’t
a category page with links to our latest posts. Instead it’s a
curated list of the best content we have.

These portals have reduced our bounce rate a lo. The individual
portal pages have a bounce rate as low as 40%. If you’d like to
know more about them,
check out episode 114 of the podcast
.

#8: Create a “Start Here” Page

Our “Start
Here
” page is featured prominently in our navigation: it’s
the first item in the menu. It’s targeted at first-time readers,
particularly those coming from Google who hopefully spot the link
in the navigation and click on it.

You don’t have call yours a “Start Here” page. An
“About” or “My Story” page could serve the same
purpose.

#9: Make External Links Open in a New Tab

When you link to another site or blog from one of your posts, a
simple way to ensure you don’t lose your reader is to make the
external link open up in a new tab (or window). That way, the
reader won’t actually leave your site.

This is simple to do in WordPress. Simply edit the link and
click the checkbox to open it in a new tab. There are also
WordPress plugins that can handle this for you, such as
Open external links in a new window
.

#10: Link Back to Older Content from Your Posts

When you write your next blog post, challenge yourself to create
links to at least three of your existing posts. For example, you
could link to a previous post that covers something you mention in
greater detail.

Another option is to add suggested reading (or listening) at the
end of your post. While you can do this using a plugin, I like to
add in my own so I can choose exactly what I want to encourage
readers to look at next.

You could also create an interlinked series of
posts
, which can be great not only for lowering your bounce
rate but also for exploring more complex ideas on your blog.

#11: Link to Popular Posts in Your Sidebar

If you’ve got a post (or several posts) you know are popular,
make sure they’re really easy to find. You could highlight them
on your About or Start Here page. But you can also link to them in
your sidebar.

You can do it with a text link, or you can get more creative
with a button or a banner. For example, on ProBlogger we have an
image in the sidebar that links to our “How to Start a Blog”
post, with the call to action text in the image itself.

#12: Create a “Sneeze” Page

In the menu on Digital Photography School, we highlight a post
called “Tips for Beginners” because it’s always popular with
our readers. If a reader clicks that link, they end up on what I
call a “Sneeze” page.

This page introduces the topic, then lists 40 or so different
posts we’ve written that are relevant for beginners. The point of
the page is to get people “sneezed” deeply into our
archives.

You can also write entire posts with this in mind. One we
produced for Digital Photography School is “21
Settings, Techniques and Rules All New Camera Owners Should
Know
”.

#13: Make it Easy to Search Your Site

Many blogs don’t give readers the opportunity to search their
content, or bury their search bar somewhere low on the page. This
makes it hard for readers to search for information they
particularly want.

Make sure your search bar is easy to find. You want you readers
to find the right content as easily as possible.

I know that’s a lot to take in. So here are some practical
steps for what you can do next:

#1: Identify the top three posts on your site that consistently
get a lot of traffic.

#2: Have a look at the bounce rate on each post. Are they all
similar, or is one much higher or lower than the others? Can you
figure out why?

#3: Try to optimise those three posts to reduce the bounce rate.
You could add a call to subscribe, include further reading, or add
extra links in that content.

If you want to go further, create a “Start Here” page for
your site, or create some “Sneeze” pages or posts to list your
best content in particular categories.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below to let us know how you
get on.

Image credit:
Markus Spiske

The post 13 Key Ways
to Lower Your Blog’s Bounce Rate (and Why it Matters)

appeared first on ProBlogger.

Source: Marketing Blogs
13 Key Ways to Lower Your Blog’s Bounce Rate (and Why it Matters)