My previous posts explained What is Bounce Rate and What are the 5 Reasons why Bounce Rate Matters. Now that we are clear of our objective to “lower bounce rates”, let us concentrate on factors that can affect those figures and how to reduce them in an efficient manner.
How to Lower Bounce Rate?
1. Page Load Time – Ensure that all your pages load in less than 6 seconds. If it is taking more time, optimize your code, reduce number of images and remove any unwanted clutter. With the high speed internet revolution, no one is patient enough to wait for more than 5-8seconds for a website to load. You can also consider to have limited plugins downloaded on your site as they occupy a lot of memory to get initialized.
2. Relevant headings – I have a feeling that if anyone searches for “lower bounce rates” and they come to your page, if they see a post with a header like ’10 ways to lower your bounce rate”, you can expect them to read through the article. If the header doesnt have the relevant keywords, they are bound to search for other sites. I have also heard of a possible way to have a welcome page for readers coming from other websites which can have a reference to their previous website – provides a comfort feel for them to remain and read the articles. (Still need to explore further on this)
3. Language – It is obvious if your language is offensive you cannot expect any reader to read through the blog. You can easily alienate people if you use offensive language. Study your readers, see their areas of interest, age group, cultural beliefs, technical challenges, etc and use your words carefully based on these.
4. Highlight Popular Posts – You need to promote all of your posts that recieved a good audience and large appreciation. Make them prominent on your website by either using the Most Popular widget or any other way, but see to it that a visitor is bound to see them and navigate to those well-known prominent articles. You can also use Google Analytics to identify which of your posts are most visited and include them in a separate category maybe in your sidebar. This will spark some interest in your readers and they are sure to stay back for more.
5. Clean Navigation – Have a clean and easy navigation around your site, do not clutter them with Adsense blocks or any other promotional material. Ensure that every page of yours will have the proper header bar with the obvious Home, About, Contact & Archive Page links prominantly displayed. A visitor must be at ease when he visits and not overwhelmed at the content.
6. Testimonials – If you are selling a product or service, it is always good to prominantly display testimonials of other consumers of their experience and content. Every visitor is always looking for reviews and testimonials from others, and it is a sure eye-catcher for a new reader to remain and read through the article.
7. Motivate to click deeper into your site – Think of the reason why a visitor landed on your site, there should have been one interesting topic which lead him here. Think of all other related content and posts and display them on every post. This will help the user see what other stuff you have and make him get deeper and deeper into your site. Relevant articles widget is useful to achieve this but sometimes lists un-related articles together. It is however better to have internal links in your posts to show other articles of interest.
8. Bounce Rates of Traffic Sources – Measure the bounce rates from individual traffic sources, you can use Google Analytics for this as well. It displays the statistics of which source of traffic has what bounce rate. For example, if your traffic from Digg or Stumbleupon has lower bounce rates than maybe FaceBook or Twitter, then you can concentrate more on the ones with lesser numbers. This also provides a more clear picture as to which areas to concentrate to improve the bounce rates. Similarly you can also get the bounce rates of individual posts of yours and optimize them for better performance.
9. Aesthetic design – Your overall website design should be aesthetic and pleasing for the readers. If you are having a page for an affiliate link, then you may consider changing the page layout to be similar to the affiliate company website. A good design is imperative for you to gain and retain a visitor and make an impact.
10. Post Excerpts on Home Page – You may only be able to show 2-3 blogs in it’s entire length on your home page. If the reader doesnt find your recent posts interesting, he may bounce off to find something different. This is where you can use the post excerpts to display only a brief about your post on the home page and have a link to “read more” or “continue reading”. You can also use an image plugin to display your featured image along with the excerpt. This way you can choose to show 10-12 posts on your home page, which might retain those new visitors by displaying more content.
There are other factors that you might want to consider like reducing the number of Ad programs, providing a Search option for your blog, reducing the number of audio files, avoid auto-play of audio/video files, limit the size of your paragraphs to 3-4 sentences etc. Can you think of anything else?