Bounce rate is defined as the number of times a visitor leaves your site without clicking on any links or visiting any other pages. Sites having a low bounce rate tells you that it’s an interesting site, full of awesome things to view/read. The site manages to grab the user’s attention. One of the best examples is 9GAG. People spend several minutes on that site giggling away. In Internet metrics, if a visitor spends more than 5 minutes on a new site – it is a really big deal.
The 411 on Bounce Rates
Webmasters are constantly on the look to improve their site’s bounce rate. If they find a particular site that has a low bounce rate, they’ll immediately try to learn and implement the techniques used in it. Having a high bounce rate (even 100%) is not always a bad thing. People are busy. As soon as they find what they are looking for, they’ll leave your site. This is very common in one-page websites or all-in-one landing pages. To a search engine, a multi-page site (that’s almost all WordPress blogs fyi) with a high bounce rate is a red signal.
This site does not have relevant content, push it down the SERP”
It means that your site isn’t engaging or interesting. Worst of all, it does not have relevant content. It is the joint responsibility of the entire web development team – the webmaster, the designers and the content curators – to lay the bait for your visitors – hoping that they will fall prey to them and will eventually transform into a reader.
Ultimately, we want customers. Not just visitors.
In this article we’ll be talking about some of the best ways to improve your WordPress site’s bounce rate. We’ll use some plugins and some proven techniques that the top bloggers use to improve their site’s bounce rate.
Why Pay Attention to your site’s bounce rate?
Because it’s one of the primary ways to measure user engagement in your site. Quite a while back I talked about how to turn your visitors into readers. One of the best ways to measure that change is by examining the bounce rate of your site. Google has its own (somewhat complicated) explanation of a bounce rate and it’s a good read for folks who want to learn the technical terms. A site with a low bounce rate spells the following things:
- Better User Engagement: This tells you that your visitors are interested in your site’s content. They consider your site important enough to spend time on. You want need this.
- Higher SEO Rankings: Bounce rate and site speed are two out of the two hundred factors Google uses to rank your site against a particular keyword. Bounce rate is used to measure the quality of your site. A site with 10 pages can rank better than a site with 100 pages simply if the smaller site has better quality. Google and all search engines want quality – not quantity. So, the better your bounce rate – higher you climb up the SERP ladder.
- Higher Conversions: Let’s be honest. We want our product to sell. We want people to actually freaking buy our product instead of blindly subscribing to our newsletters and retweeting our Tweets. It’s a good thing, no doubt. But, at the end of the day, a sale is way better than a no sale. When you put in the time and effort to improve your site’s bounce rate, you connect with your readers. They come to trust your brand and you establish an identity in your niche’s community. This ultimately will turns you readers into customers.
Top 10 Reasons for a High Bounce Rate And How To Fix Them
Based on what the experts say, I’ve listed the op 10 factors that are responsible for your site’s high bounce rate. Try to avoid them at all costs.
- High page load time, i.e. slow web site
- Cluttered design with poor navigation (missing breadcrumbs)
- Non-responsive design
- Obtrusive popup opt-in forms
- Too many advertisements
- Irrelevant advertisements
- Broken links – 404 page not found, etc.
- MySQL or PHP errors on posts and pages
- Lack of social proof
- Poor content
Now that you’re aware of the problems, let’s discuss their solutions.
Improve Your WordPress Site Speed
Time and again we have talked about its importance. Your site should load fast, preferably within 3-4 seconds. People consume so much media nowadays that every millisecond counts. Here are a couple of ways you can improve your site’s speed:
- Using a WordPress caching plugin like W3 Total Cache
- Using a Content Delivery Network like MaxCDN
- Using a Managed WordPress hosting service like Media Temple or WPEngine
- Optimizing images by compressing them or using the correct format
Use a clean, responsive and unobtrusive WordPress theme. The theme that you use for your site should be such that people can find what they’re looking for, with ease. They shouldn’t have to be searching for it for more than 3 seconds.
- Make sure that you judiciously use the main sidebar, the primary menu bar and the footer. People’s eyes are accustomed to those and let’s keep it that way.
- If your blog focuses on essays and poetry, it’d be wise to use a theme with a strong focus on typography. Check out Gregory’s Sparring Mind for an excellent example of minimalistic design.
- Use relevant images. They’re worth a thousand words. You can find great free stock images from these sources.
- Use a related posts plugin like YAARP or nRelate.
- This goes without saying, your site must be responsive. It’s a mobile-first age, and there’s just no excuse for it.
It would be foolish to remove advertisements completely from you site. It’s one of the primary sources of revenue! So what do you do? Make sure that the advertisements are relevant. Irrelevant ads cause more harm than profit. If you’re using Google AdWords then you need not worry since Google spends much of its R&D on serving better ads. And they’re really good at it. But if you’re using self-operated banner ads, make sure that the product/site you’re linking to is actually useful. Link to something only if you would recommend it. A budding option among bloggers is BuySellAds. It’s a great platform for niche specific ad networks.
There is a reason why exit intent technology became so popular. The script waits for the use to leave – the second he moves the mouse toward the cross button, the popup appears. Hence the term exit intent. OptinMonster is one of the best WordPress opt-in plugins that have mastered the exit intent technology. Popular sites like Social Media Examiner and Search Engine Journal use OptinMonster.
However, there are so many sites that still don’t use this exit-intent technology. As a reader, it really annoys me when I’m trying to read something and there’s a popup on my screen every few minutes. However, this is my personal opinion and may vary from what you think. 🙂 Here’s something you might already know.
If your content is good enough, people will automatically follow and/or subscribe to your site.
Broken Links and Software Errors
As your site grows old, you generate a lot of links – both internal and external. You can also revise the site’s structure once in a while for better user experience. In the process, it very natural to land up with broken links. Here’s the problem – broken links cause a serious blow to your site’s structure and SEO scored. Don’t worry. Use a plugin like Broken Link Checker to analyse all the links in your site and fix the ones that are dead.
Software errors result from poorly configured PHP scripts, server overload, plugin-to-plugin conflicts or plugin-to-theme conflicts. There are a lot of ways which could cause these, and the solutions to each of them require sound technical knowledge. The best fix is to not use the conflicting plugins/themes. However, if it a webserver issue, contact support. If your budget can support it, move to a managed WordPress hosting service like WPEngine.
Social proof simply means how popular your content is. How many people have shared that particular post? These are the things you need to consider. If you have a new site, it’s going to be close to zero. Don’t worry. Make sure not to display the sharing statics. Just the sharing buttons would do. Better tip –
Spend double the time promoting your content, as you did with creating it.
Content is King
Last but not the least – make sure your content is top notch. Spend time reading, researching and updating your content so that it becomes a benchmark for that particular topic. Suppose you’re writing a topic on “best books on social psychology”. Simply writing 10 names won’t cut it. Include ratings, no. of reviews, sales and author background and your personal review. What is good in that book? What are the things that the book lacks? Ultimately, your post should be so good that the reader goes:
“Whoa! This post has everything I’m looking for. Better bookmark it!”
Check out Gregory’s article 50 Must-Read Social Psychology Books. Can you suggest some improvements for this article?
Today we have covered some of the best ways to improve your bounce rate, thereby improving your user engagement. If you have any tip for us, please let us know – we’re always excited to hear from our readers.