Your bounce rate reveals the percentage of single-page visits on your website. Usually viewed as a sign of visitor dissatisfaction, a high bounce rate isn’t a great figure to see when you’re reviewing the analytics for your blog.
When Bounce Isn’t Bad
But before we talk about problems with having a lot of visitors who bounce, it’s important to address the fact that having a high bounce rate is not always bad.
For example, pages designed to get visitors to click ads or visit an external site should have high bounce rates if they’re working according to plan.
More to the point, blogs tend to have high bounce rates.
A visitor can easily encounter one of your posts during a search for a particular topic, get the information they need on the main page, then leave. They’re not necessarily dissatisfied; they got what they were seeking. Returning visitors can also increase your bounce rate. They may have already read the rest of your entries so they only check out the most recent post when they visit your blog.
How to Decrease Your Bounce Rate
But still, many bloggers want visitors to stick around, particularly new ones. They don’t want drive-by visitors; they want to attract loyal readers.
If you belong to that camp, try out these five tips for getting readers to engage with your blog for longer.
1. Speed up load times.
Did you know that most web users will only wait around three seconds for a page to load? And that each passing second we spend waiting for the page to load in front of the screen seems 15% longer than it actually is?
To prevent bounced visitors, speed up your blog. Some suggestions for non-technical bloggers might be to remove any plugins and widgets that, while nice to have, slow your site down without contributing much. Also, try using a cache plugin like W3 Total Cache.
2. Create content with web readers in mind.
Online visitors read web content differently than words in print. They’re more likely to scan your work, picking out the most salient parts of your content. Incorporating subheadings, short paragraphs, and strategic use of bold text makes it easier for the average visitor to engage with posts.
3. Guide visitors to related posts.
Help visitors learn more about the topic that got them to your blog in the first place. Link to relevant internal posts within each entry as often as possible. If you use WordPress, try out a plugin that suggests related posts, like Yet Another Related Posts.
4. Open external links in a new window.
I like linking to external websites when I think my readers would benefit from a particular page, or if I think the link is necessary to support an argument. But external links come with bounce risks because you’re setting up a scenario where you’re encouraging your reader to leave. Mitigate that risk by making all external links open in a new window. That way, visitors can check out useful external websites without abandoning your blog.
5. Highlight your most popular entries.
Do you have a couple posts that a lot of people have read, commented on, or shared? Popular entries often pique readers’ attention. Drawing attention to them somewhere on each page — in your sidebar, for example — can encourage readers to check them out.
What are some ways you decrease bounce rates?
Image Attribution: MichaelMaggs Edit by Richard Bartz