I’ve discussed how to monitor bounce rate in this Beginners Guide to Google Analytics but in this post I’ll talk about what it is, how to find your sites bounce rate and how to reduce it.
What is bounce rate?
Your blogs bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who land on one page of your blog, read that page and leave without visiting another page. A bounce could be them pressing a back button, clicking out of the tab or browser, clicking an external url or typing a different url. It could also be that the user has opened another link on your site but in a different tab or window, therefore they stop interacting with your site in the original tab. Another factor . The aim is to have this low meaning that visitors are staying on your site longer and interacting with your content more. Bloggers tend to have a hard time keeping their bounce rate below 50% – my theory on this is that we tend to promote our blog post by post so if your visitors read your posts daily from Bloglovin or Twitter for example and are already caught up on your other content then once they’ve read your newest post they’ll probably leave. The average bounce rate according to Google is 40-60% for content websites, 60-90% for blogs and 70-90% for landing pages, take those figures lightly as a number of factors are involved.
Is a high bounce rate bad?
In my opinion, no. I don’t think having a high bounce rate is bad especially for bloggers. Think of the number of people who use things like Bloglovin, Bloggers GFC/Reading List and Feedly to keep up with posts. Chances are they have a list of blog posts to read so they just read the newest post for each blog. They may have gotten what they needed from you or your blog, they might have been looking for a contact address or some specific piece of information. Also, if you want people to come on your site to get information to then email/ring you or go to your online store, then leaving your site wouldn’t really be a bad thing if the connection or sale was made. It all depends on your end goal! Online stores tend to have a low bounce rate because of the number of pages or steps the visitor goes through to purchase a product. One page websites typically have 100% bounce rate.
How to check bounce rate on Google Analytics
If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed, then I recommend setting it up straight away. Your bounce rate stats are located under Behaviour. Clicking overview will give you some information about the amount of time people are spending on your site and the bounce rate in percent. By clicking Behaviour > Site Content > All pages, you’ll be able to see the bounce rate for your posts and pages as well as how long people spend reading each post. This is valuable information that can help you reduce your bounce rate. By clicking Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages, you’ll see where people usually leave your site from. Perhaps these pages could be improved using the steps below.
How to reduce your sites bounce rate
1. Point your visitors elsewhere – direct your visitors to other content that they’d find interesting. Consider linking to your most popular posts or services on your about page as this is a page that is regularly visited especially by new users. Use images where possible to draw people in. You could also add a list of popular posts to your sidebar, set up related posts such as nrelate or linkwithin to place similar content at the end of each blog post. When writing a new blog post link to related posts that you have previously written that will give the reader more information.
2. Improve readability and navigation – if a visitor lands on your site and it’s difficult to find what they’re looking for or it’s too difficult to read your content, then they probably won’t stick around very long. Break up your post with headings, paragraphs and images. Perhaps even install post summaries to give them an overview of content and a larger chance of them seeing something they find interesting. Think about when you click on a new site, how many scrolls do you do before deciding to stay or not? Using post summaries or page breaks means they’ll see more content in order to decide if they want to read something, which means they’ll have to click to read more. Consider limiting the amount of posts that show on your home page, so the visitor will click next page if they want to see more, again making them engage somehow. Make sure the font is clear and big enough to read also. Try avoid clutter and big chunks of text. Add categories/labels, a good navigation menu and a search bar so users can move freely around your site. It’s also important to consider the mobile version of your site!
3. Be relevant with target audience – Don’t try to trick search engines or readers by using incorrect titles and keywords. When optimising your site, taking part in SEO and sharing your blog posts make sure you’re targeting the right visitors and not misleading people for pageviews. If I use a search engine to search for visiting Italy and I land on your blog post which is actually about traveling with children, then I’m probably going to leave straight away.
4. Open external links in new tab – If linking to an external site make the link open in a new tab/window so that you aren’t losing the visitor. That way the reader can check out the link and come back to your blog. Here’s a tutorial for making links open in a new tab/window. I’d recommend using this sparingly for internal links – your readers might get annoyed if every time they clicked a link for your site that it open in a new tab/window each time. Think about when it is appropriate – if a visitor is reading a post and you’ve linked to another post with more information halfway through, would the user want to continue reading the current post as well as visiting the other one? If so then make it open in a new tab.
5. Improve your site content/design – if you have a high bounce rate and low average time on site meaning people are clicking off quickly then you need to evaluate why. Is it your content or the design of your site? Perhaps it means that they’ve found exactly what they’re looking for? Check your analytics and review what people are spending time on and what pages/posts people are leaving quickly on. These are pages you could add some links too to try redirect people once they’ve read it.
6. Avoid confusion – make sure when a visitor lands on your site they know where to go. If a visitor feels overwhelmed or confused they’ll probably just leave. This links with my second point above, have a good navigation and a clear call to action on your home or landing page to lead them to your next page, your sales page or your blog.
7. Improve loading time – your sites loading speed is important to Google and for SEO but it’s also vital to your bounce rate. If your site takes forever to load, the majority of visitors are just going to leave before they even see your content. If your blog is extra slow to load, take a look at reducing the amount of images or graphics, reduce the number of posts that show on your homepage, installing post summaries can help, check for HTML/CSS/Script errors in your template and try removing unnecessary features and gadgets.
8. Consider limiting content for readers – you could consider setting your RSS Feed to summary instead of full posts or limit content that goes to those subscribed to your posts via email. That means that those using feed readers or email subscriptions will have to click over to read the rest of your content and will hopefully find something else that interests them. This is something I would take some time to consider however as reading posts in a reader or inbox without having to visit each blog is highly convenient for some people.