Over the past several weeks, I have been discussing the different ways to use Google analytics to help improve your blog and gain more traffic. This week I will provide some ways to reduce your bounce rate and keep readers on your site longer.
According to Wikipedia, your site’s bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.
Keeping your bounce rate as low as possible is extremely important when attracting new readers, keeping the ones who love your content, and increasing your overall traffic numbers.
Here are some tips that, applied consistently, can help improve your bounce rate.
- Create an effective home page. This is a necessity! Creating an attractive home page is key when attracting new readership, keeps readers coming back and in reducing your bounce rate.
- Place Search Box. Give your readers the option to search your blog and place the box as high up above-the-fold as you can. Don´t make them search for the search box!
- Avoid distractions. My biggest turnoff when I visit other blogs is when there are all types of blinking, pop-ups and a hodge-podge of unnecessary distracting doo-hickeys all over the place. Too many distractions will decrease page views.
- Improve loading speed. Don’t make readers wait for your page to load. Making your readers wait around while your page loads is a losing battle. It is important to regularly maintain your blog by cleaning up what you don’t use/want. Your blog’s page views will automatically increase if the pages load faster and quicker.
- Popular/Related Posts plugins. Using these types of plugins will provide your readers with additional content on your site to engage with.
- Internal linking. By linking to other posts within your site your readers can read more of your content without having to go to far. Note: Only interlink if the content is related. This is also a great way to resurrect your older posts.
- Use post excerpts. Using post excerpts will get readers to continue reading your article and won’t turn them off by having too much content on the main page.
- Get the most out of your sidebars. I recommend removing all those widgets, bells and whistles. Consider replacing them with widgets such as “Popular Posts” and “Most Commented Posts” or “Recent Posts.”
- Create a survey. If you want to interact with your readers and get to know what’s on their mind, simply ask them. If you’re looking to make changes on your blog, your readers will tell you what they like and don’t.
- Reduce external links. If you want readers to stay on your site, reduce the number of outgoing links (these are links that connect to other sites) on your home page as it can make your bounce rate very high. If you do add links, make sure they open on a separate page.
Analyze and check your bounce rate regularly (without becoming obsessed) and see what changes. If you are within the 50-60% range you are within standard, but there´s always room for improvement.
Keep an eye out for those pages that get the lowest and highest bounce rates and make changes appropriately.