Bounce rate – one of the biggest factors of a site’s overall search engine optimization levels. Simply defined, bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website after having only generated one page view. The visitor took one look at your site, decided that they didn’t want/need to browse around, and left. The lower your bounce rate, the more your users are engaged, and the better optimization your site has.
How Bounce Rate Impacts SEO
Google’s spiders take (nearly) every statistic related to a site into account when they rank a website – traffic, pageviews per visitor, PR, average visit duration, bounce rate and more.
One of the main things they look for is user engagement. If your visitors aren’t captivated by your website at first glance, they usually leave. Thus, decreasing bounce rate effectively comes down to increasing user engagement. So, here’s fifteen tips to lower your bounce rate, by boosting user engagement.
1. Increase Page Load Speed
The faster your website loads, the better for your bounce rate. The slower it loads, the more likely your viewers will leave after one pageview (or, they might not even wait for the first page to load).
As you probably know, nobody likes to wait. Sure, some people can tolerate it more than others, but – Nobody. Likes. Waiting. And since this is the Internet, they’re a lot less likely to wait for you, especially since there are numerous other sites out there that load way faster.
How to implement it – Try to limit the number of images you use on your site. Whenever you use images, compress the size as much as possible – JPGs are the best size-wise. Deactivate and delete unnecessary plugins. Don’t go overboard with widgets Use a browser caching plugin (we recommend WP Super Cache). Take advantage of our affordable speed optimization service.
2. Show Readers How They Benefit Immediately
Let’s face it – most of the time, the only reason why people visit your site is to get something out of you for themselves. You’ve got a free tip they want to learn, a funny video that makes up them crack up, a paid service they desperately need – something they can benefit from.
If they don’t see how they will benefit straightaway, there’s little chance they’ll stick around to find out exactly what it is that you’re offering.
How to implement it – Have a clear CTA (call to action) at the top of the page. Don’t put unnecessary, large images above the fold that distract the reader from what he/she came to look at. In fact, you can even go ahead and straight out say exactly how they will benefit from your site.
3. Slow The Busyness Down
Always avoid having a “busy” site that seems to have more activity than it can hold. Go for a clean, organized look that doesn’t overwhelm the reader at first glance.
How to implement it – Avoid unnecessary widgets. Especially avoid large images in the sidebar – those can really be a huge killer. Use a harmonious color scheme that flows. Avoid using drastically different colors (example yellow and black) close by each other.
4. Structure Your Blog Posts
It’s absolutely vital to have an easy-to-follow structure to your blog posts/pages. Organize the content in a way that they can easily make out the primary topic of discussion and the subordinate points – readers will thank you for it.
In some cases, using a structure can even help you write your blog posts faster. Developing a small outline that lists the details of each argument/point you discuss in your blog post allows you to organize your thoughts better and write about each point in a specific order. You’ll find that your thoughts will flow much more freely.
How to implement it – Consider developing a small outline before writing a blog post. After you do this a few times, it won’t take you much more than 5-10 minutes. When you start the actual writing process, fill in the missing details for each point in the outline, and check over for sentence fluency. Also create categories for your blog posts and place your posts in the corresponding category.
5. Clear Navigation Menus
Your navigation menu is the bar at the top of your website that lists important pages, posts, or categories. It’s the basic navigation of your site – a quick look at and guide to the most important places.
It’s very, very important to have one in place. Although you probably have a menu up there, it most likely isn’t optimized for bounce rate. As it’s such an integral part of your website, it’s vital that you ensure it has been structured appropriately.
How to implement it – Create your menu (if you haven’t already) by navigating your WordPress dashboard to Appearance >> Menus. Add only the important pages – don’t clutter it full to the brim. Make the title of each menu item as short as possible for a cleaner look. If your theme supports multiple menus, take advantage of both if you find that one menu isn’t enough to fit everything.
6. Avoid Pop-Ups
Yes, pop-ups can be an excellent way to build your list, but they also can be a major turnoff for new visitors. This is especially true when the pop-up loads slowly, and the exit button loads last, at the very end.
If you do decide to using a pop-up, at least make sure that it only appears after 20-30 seconds. Your reader should have had a chance to read the content on your site/blog and decide whether or not he/she likes it. If the visitor doesn’t like it, he will exit regardless of whether the pop-up appears or not. If the visitor has already decided that he does in fact like your blog, the pop-up is likely to have higher conversion rates and be much more effective.
How to implement it – Avoid using pop-ups when possible. If it cannot be avoided, delay the pop-up by at least 20-30 seconds and make sure it doesn’t beat around the bush and loads as fast as possible. Have a very clear exit button, and do not show it multiple times during the same session.
7. Premium Design/Theme
Eight seconds – that’s all you have to convince your visitor that your blog is the best thing since sliced bread (according to Pro Site News). A premium theme that looks good amazing is the first step.
Nowadays, you need to have a premium theme. No excuses. There might be a couple nice free themes out there (but I’m yet to find them), and there’s always a reason why they’re free.
If the cost is a major consideration, just be glad that you don’t have to get a custom website design from a professional coder. Those can run you up to $500+ a pop.
Tip – There’s also another reason to go for a premium theme apart from a decrease in bounce rate – SEO. Sloppy coding (which is what you normally get in premium themes) can cost you in terms of search engine optimization. Google doesn’t take too kindly to poorly optimized code. Paid themes from creators who know what they are doing are more likely to be optimized, rock-solid.
8. Avoid AdSense & Other Ad Networks
If AdSense is the top monetization strategy for your blog – find something else. Websites that use AdSense, direct advertising, or any sort of sponsored content are known to have higher bounce rates.
There are a ton of monetization strategies to replace AdSense – affiliate promotions, your own products, CPA networks, etc. Don’t feel pressurized to use advertising just because “so-and-so who makes 6 figures does”. You’re likely to make much more with your own products.
How to implement it – Avoid placing advertisements, sponsored content, or the like on your website. If there is no way around it, make sure that the ad colors blend in well with your theme. Ensure that the sponsored results are relevant to your website – this can also result in higher click-through rates.
9. Within Each Post Add A “Related Content” Section
Although this strategy is not popular with most blogs, online newspapers and e-zines have perfected this technique. The last time you visit CNN.com, you probably viewed at least two different news pieces, correct?
That’s because CNN.com (and others) have mastered the art of placing links to related content within their posts. Most of the bloggers who don’t use this technique say that it’s blatant promotion. To be honest, it is. But more often than not, it will end up getting you a few more pageviews, a lower bounce rate, escalated user engagement, and a happier visitor.
How to implement it – Smack in the middle of a post, add a “related content” section and hyperlink to posts that are relevant to the one at hand. Observe the following.
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10. New Link – New Window
Every link in your text should (in most cases) open in a new window/tab. This is especially true of the links to related content that come in the middle of the post. Readers want to check out the rest of your content, but they also want to finish reading what they’re on first.
Opening it in the same page distracts them, confuses them about where in the post they were reading, and creates extra work for them, since they have to go through the trouble of hitting the “back” button. Plus, they’re also less likely to check out the content they tried to in the first place.
How to implement it – Implementing this technique is as simple as remembering the check the box that says “Open link a new window/tab”. If the link comes at the end of the post, this is not necessary, as the reader has already finished the post.
11. Be The Visitor
Although this is super-simple, most bloggers overlook/forget it. Step into your visitors’ shoes, browse your website, and do your best to be honest with yourself. Naturally, you will have some sort of bias towards your own website – I know I do.
If you really feel that your bias alters your judgement, then just ask a close friend to take a look at it. Make sure he/she knows NOT to leave positive feedback – ask him to criticize anything that doesn’t 100% appeal to him.
How to implement it – Attempt to view your website from the viewpoint of a new visitor. What do you like about it? What do you hate about it? Use that information to remove the negative aspects, and capitalize on the positive ones. Ask a friend if your bias clouds your judgement.
12. Use Shorter Paragraphs
Each paragraph of your content should be no more than 3-5 lines – 7 at the very max. Breaking up the content is much, much easier on the eyes. Long paragraphs of 8-10 sentences (what your English teacher taught you in high school) doesn’t cut it on the World Wide Web.
How to implement it – Break up your content into shorter paragraphs. Remember to structure it so that each paragraph deals with a certain aspect, and the points you make don’t run over each other. Although it’s a relatively small thing, it’s much more important than you could imagine, and is almost certain to bring down bounce rate by at least 5%.
13. Use A High-Contrast, Large Font
The only time when colors should clash on your website is in the case of the background and the text. Your font should be clear and legible, easy to see, and not blending in with the background.
Additionally, you should write in a 14 pt font (at least). What most bloggers use actually isn’t large enough – which is one of the reasons why viewing screens and reading text online for a long time plays havoc with your eyes.
How to implement it – If necessary, change your theme’s default font/background color so that the two contrast as much as possible. However, make sure that the colors are opposites. White and black are opposites – white and yellow are NOT. Write in a 14 pt font, at the very least.
14. Avoid Using A Black Background
Although many people (falsely) assume that black backgrounds look “cool”, your readers will thank you for staying far away from any sort of dark background. Everyone’s eyes are accustomed to reading black text on a white background – changing up that routine can cause havoc with your bounce rate.
NOTE: It’s okay to have a predominantly dark theme (but still, stay away from black), so long as the background color in which the actual text is set is either white or close to it.
How to implement it – Simple – don’t use a dark background. Use black text.
15. Be Mobile Friendly (Responsive)
A responsive theme is one that senses the type of device it’s being displayed on – desktop, tablet, or mobile – and automatically adjusts to fit the device display.
One can hardly expect a website that looks good on a 1024 x 768 px screen to look smashing on a 400 x 250 screen. Not only will the links be a lot smaller (making it hard to click on with a touch screen), but so will the text. Readers will have to either go cross-eyed or change the default zoom to view your post – and most people dislike both.
How to implement it – Make sure the premium theme you choose is responsive. Nowadays, nearly all premium themes are responsive, but it’s always good to double check.
Bounce rate is incredibly important to your overall optimization levels. Implement these 15 simple tips with your own website, and you’re (almost) guaranteed to see a decrease of at least 5%.
Is there anything we missed? Let us know in a comment!