Bounce rate. You may have heard the term being thrown around but what is it? How can you improve it? As a blogger, you will need to know what a bounce rate is and what it means so that you can understand your audience better.
Simply put, a bounce rate is a calculation of how many people look at one page/post then take off, or ‘bounce’. You want your bounce rate to be low. This means that people are sticking around and exploring more of your awesome content. For example, if your bounce rate is 30% that means that 30% of your visitors are taking off after one page. The other 70% have checked out more of your site. Ideally, your bounce rate should be between 30 and 50%. A bounce rate of 75% and above is not ideal. Luckily, there are a few easy tips in store for you to help bring that rate down.
Why do I need to worry about my bounce rate?
Well, you want people to stick around, don’t you? Having a high bounce rate means that your readers aren’t sticking around. You want your readers to navigate and explore your site more thoroughly. This shows that they find your content valuable, they are interested in what you have to say and they want more of your awesome content.
Your bounce rate shows your reader’s behaviour so it is an important statistic to analyse when you are looking at your sites stats.
Is a high bounce rate a bad thing?
No, not always. It depends on why people are leaving your page. If they have left because they have clicked on one of your social media links then that isn’t a bad thing. Alternatively, your reader could have found the information they are looking for and don’t need to stick around. Your job is done.
But if they are coming to your homepage and not exploring any further then you need to look at why they are leaving. There are many reasons why this is happening. It could be because your page loading speed is too slow, your homepage is too hard to navigate or it looks unprofessional. These are all issues you will need to address if you have a high bouncing homepage.
How is my bounce rate calculated?
Google Analytics counts a reader that only visits one page during a session as a bounce. They don’t click or navigate to any other links/pages on your site. The reader trigger only a single request to the Analytics server during their session. Although they may come back later and check out some more of your content, Analytics counts that as a whole new session.
The bounce rate is calculated by the percentage of all sessions on your site where the user viewed only a single page. These single-page sessions have a session duration of 0 seconds since there are no subsequent hits after the first one that would let Analytics calculate the length of the session.
Where can I find my bounce rate?
Hopefully, you have installed Google Analytics by now, if you haven’t and you don’t know how. Don’t worry, I got yo back.
To check your bounce rate go to your Google Analytics homepage, select the site you wish to check and it’ll be right there alongside users, sessions and session duration up the top as the first thing you see. However, this just provides an overview of your entire sites bounce rate.
To check individual pages and posts you need to delve a little further into the analytics.
Click on Behaviour – Site Content – All Pages.
Here you can see your stats for each page on your site. Information such as bounce rate, page views, time on page and entrances are all calculated for you to analyse. But, today we are just talking about bounce rate. You can sort the stats from highest to lowest bounce rate and also from lowest to highest. Google Analytics automatically sorts by pageviews so it is useful to know how to sort by bounce rate. Sorting by bounce rate is helpful when you want to quickly see which are your best-performing pages and posts easily without scrolling through each and every page and post.
How can I improve my bounce rate?
As you build more content on your site your bounce rate will lower as there is more to explore. In the beginning, you are going to have a high bounce rate. However, if you continue to work on it, over time it should come down. Here are some handy tips on how to bring down your bounce rate:
Be link savvy
Include relevant links to your other content throughout your blog posts or on your pages. This encourages your readers to delve further into your site. Create a ‘you may also like’ section linking to other content that is similar to what they are reading. Link within your content to relevant posts throughout paragraphs. But don’t go overboard. It looks cheap and sleazy. It is often off-putting as well. Only include necessary relevant links.
Set all external links to open in a new window. If they open in the same window, readers will automatically be taken away from your site which then increases your bounce rate. To do this when inserting a link click on the settings button and click the open in a new window checkbox. Easy huh? You’ll be surprised at how many people miss this step when inserting links into their content.
Avoid too many Pop-ups
Pop-ups are annoying. Especially ones that pop-up as soon as you enter a page. These pop-ups don’t even let you look at the content first. When you do use pop-ups, make sure they are as unobtrusive as possible. If there are too many pop-ups I will exit straight away and avoid coming back. Similarly, I go to a site and there is a pop-up straight away I will either close the pop-up without even reading it or exit the site straight away. I think most people are similar. Don’t annoy your readers. They won’t want to come back. Don’t put off your readers with unnecessary pop-ups. Use them sparingly and wisely.
I personally only have one pop-up and it doesn’t appear until readers are past the halfway point on a post. I have set it so that it appears to the right of the content, not covering it.
Improve your content for readability
Use short sentences and short paragraphs and have clear, bold headings. This makes your content easily scannable and less overwhelming to read. Readers don’t like to have to work too hard. By having shorter paragraphs and breaking your content down into sections with headings, you are making your content easier to read.
Use bullet points, charts, images, screenshots and quotes to make your content vary. Bold important points but don’t overdo it. Ask questions and use a conclusion.
Make sure you are using proper grammar and spelling
I don’t know about you, but if I see a typo or poor grammar it immediately turns me off. I lose trust in the writer and their credibility goes out the window. It’s easy to stay on top of spelling and grammar with spell checks and tools such as Grammarly. It’s free and will help you correct your spelling and grammar as you write.
Make your site easy to navigate
A few things will help you optimise your site for navigation:
- Include a clear search bar option, you can add one to your main menu or as a widget on your sidebar.
- Add clear headings to your menu. Include drop down boxes so readers can find your content easily
- Turn on relevant posts in your settings (on the main dashboard in WordPress) so at the bottom of each post a list of relevant posts is displayed
- Have a ‘recent posts’ or ‘top posts’ widget on your sidebar so your readers can quickly see your other content
Create a clear call-to-action
What do you want your readers to do next? Tell or even show them. This could be a button, a link, a read more, anything that helps them stick around. If a reader has never been to your site before, help them out. Show them what to do. Make it obvious. Don’t include too many call to actions, this will overwhelm and confuse your reader. Instead, pick one clear call to action and make it obvious.
Keep your website fresh and relevant
Be consistent with your new content and keep it relevant to your niche and readers. If you create a consistent schedule, your readers will know when to expect new content from you. Keeping it fresh will enable you to stay at the top of the game. Creating relevant content will help you keep your readers and not confuse them. For example, I won’t post about parenting on this website because it isn’t relevant to my readers.
Make your site mobile friendly
A lot of people scroll their phones on their lunch breaks, waiting in line or while they are having their morning cuppa. You can test whether your site is mobile friendly using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Most WordPress themes are automatically optimised for mobile already.
If your page is not optimised for mobile readers you are losing out on a huge number of readers. Everybody is on their phones nowadays. When you have a page that is hard to read on mobile, those readers aren’t going to stick around. Look at things such as your loading time, text size and images.
Attract the right readers
Be smart about where you promote your content. Find out where your readers hang out online and promote your content there. For example, a lot of my readers hang out on Pinterest, so that’s where I spend a lot of time promoting my content. Join niche specific groups on Facebook and Pinterest Groups. Promote your content to the relevant readers. There is no point pushing your content on people who don’t care about what you write about. They may look out of curiosity but they won’t stick around.
If your readers trust you they are more likely to return and devour more of your content. Be yourself and let your personality shine through. Readers like real people. Entertain them or educate them. Be as helpful as possible and solve their problems. This helps you build trust and credibility.
Write compelling meta descriptions for search users
That doesn’t mean be clickbaity. You don’t want to do that. Write an intriguing description that compels your ideal reader to click on your website. If you use Yoast SEO it will encourage you to change your meta description so search engines don’t just copy the first paragraph of your content. You want to do this. Leave them wanting to find out more after they read your short description in the search engine results page. Include keywords and a call to action.
Speed up your pages loading time
No one likes a slow site and statistics prove that users will exit after 3 seconds if your page doesn’t load. That’s not a long time at all. You can test your sites using the site speed test tool at Pingdom. There are a few ways you can increase your speed. The following will help your site speed:
- Optimise your images using a plugin such as WPSmush
- Removing all unnecessary plugins. Each plugin you install slows your site slightly, I have a list of 9 essential WordPress plugins.
- Use banners and ads sparingly
- Install W3 Total Cache
- Resize your photos before uploading them, even though WPSmush helps optimise your images, you can still help the process along by uploading small files
A high bounce rate is normal in the early stages of a website. Over time you can work on lowering it as you add more content and optimise your readers experience on your website. Having an easy to navigate, fast loading website with relevant internal links is only the beginning. You can do it though!
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