8 Proven Ways On How To Reduce Bounce Rate – From My Top Bloggers

Frau - Sport - fitness - Jubel - HintergrundOver the years I’ve experimented with many websites, some my own, and some being a project I was doing for other clients. I’ve used Google Analytics to track the performance of my websites paying close attention to what affects visitors, acquisition, queries, landing pages and how to lower bounce rate. Bounce rates are one page visits with an immediate exit meaning that visitors are arriving on your site and not visiting any other page on your blog. A high bounce rate usual indicates…poor blog design, irrelevant content, too many adverts, slower speed, etc.

Here is Google Analytics Bounce Rate Definition

“Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).”

Online you’ll find a lot of garbage content from inexperienced bloggers on “reducing bounce rate”. For those of you who are familiar with my blog know that I owe a lot to my mentors and always included them in my content referencing their expertise within my topic. I’ve decided to do the same here skimming through the sites of 6 top bloggers finding common answers on how to reduce bounce rate.  I’ve noted them down and put them in order below.

Here are 8 proven tips on how to reduce bounce rate from the following bloggers: BloggingTips.com, JohnChow.com, Backlinko.com, QuickSprout.com, SearchEngineWatch.com, CrazyEgg.com and LearnBloggingTips.com. I’ve listed them according to how many times a “Tip” was mentioned by the top bloggers, here are the results…

  • Freshen Up Content
  • Poor Website Design
  • External Links in New Tab
  • Slow Speed
  • Avoid Pop-Ups
  • Optimize 404 Error Pages
  • Attract The Right Audience
  • Interlinking to Relevant Content

Poor Content/Revive Content

Reducing bounce rate through content regeneration is very effective. What does this exactly mean? It’s when you update your old content, answer the question that it promises to do in the search results and keep the user engaged by writing in your own voice. There are a few things you need to keep in mind about the way humans interact with your content:

First, you have to remember that visitors arrived on your site searching for a specific outcome. If they found your blog through the Google search results then they’re looking for the EXACT content outlined within your title and description tags. For example, let’s look at this illustration using the search phrase “reducing bounce rate”:

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If you look at the top 5 search results you’ll notice their “title” and “description” which is 90% responsible for the click-through (other 10% being that it’s #1 in the results). Your title and description are making a promise to the reader that they’ll find a solution to “reducing bounce rate”.

At this point the visitor would click-through to your landing page and skim through the content looking for “action” words which are in the form of “steps to-take” to reduce bounce rate. Your content should contain actual steps the reader would take to reduce their bounce rate like improving content, increase site speed, etc. They look for visual aids that would help them understand the content which can be actual traffic statistics, case studies, videos and infographics.

While I was researching content online, I asked myself a question: If the visitors stays on the page for 10 minutes and leave, does Google count that as high bounce rate? The visitor can be attracted to my content and follow the solution but fail to navigate to any other page which would still produce a bounce rate jump…no?

I wanted to find a way to differentiate between visitors arriving on my site and leaving immediately with those that actually stay on my page reading my content. I found this awesome Reduce Bounce Rate WordPress plugin which alerts Google every 10 seconds that the visitor is still interacting with your page.

Here’s some effective ways to reduce your bounce rate by improving your content.

I’ve always said the best type of content solves a problem providing the visitor with something to gain after reading it so it’s time for you to adjust your content around your “title” and “description” tags.

You’re goal should be when the visitors click-through they get exactly what they want.

If you want to immediately catch the reader’s attention then add a quick outline of your content in the opening paragraphs. I learned this technique from Matthew Woodward who outlines what his content will include so the reader knows what to expect. Bloggers will write 3000-5000 word posts which can be difficult for someone to skim through especially if they need a solution right away. Many times they’re NOT sure if they will find the answer within your content so providing a quick outline towards the top is a great way to heighten their expectation.

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Adding images, videos and infographics definitely lower’s you’re bounce rate. I have an easier time following video tutorials compared to 5000 word blog posts and many of you would agree with this statement. Videos have been proven to stimulate the mind because…

It pays more attention to actual faces then just words on a piece of paper. The human mind has been hard wired to respond to human faces in gathering information more efficiently. Human voices add an element of trust and richness when conveying information.   Body language and movement within videos is very powerful in grabbing attention. Many bloggers have used this strategy by automatically starting a video once the user lands on the blog page to grab their attention immediately.

Poor Website Design

You can decrease bounce rate by giving your website an overall facelift. Poor website design can include things like:  domain, navigation, colors and interface.

Here are 3 examples of poor website designs from TopDesignMag.com

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With all 3 you’ll notice they contain these 5-6 elements of a poor web design.

Outdated Website

People are looking for the most up-to-date information so will immediately leave if they feel that the website has NOT been updated for some time. As a blogger the most common type of outdated content I’ve noticed is “numbered list” posts which would outline “The Top # Keyword”. Many of these are written a few years back and bloggers forget to update the list providing the reader with inaccurate content. The links on these pages are broken which ruins the credibility of the blog.

Another factor is the “Last Post” date on a blog. Why? It shows how active and often the blogger produce’s fresh new content for their readers. I’ve eliminated a number of blogs and no longer visit them because NO fresh content has been added in months. This shows lack of passion in keeping up with the changing tides of marketing and I know that updated information could be found somewhere else. I know that even under the worst case scenario, new content should be added every 3-4 weeks.

Solution

If you’re having a difficult time coming up with topics as time goes on than schedule your content to be published overtime. For example, WordPress will allow you to change the publish date spreading your content overtime. If you have a handful of ideas then write the content and upload it into WordPress scheduling each one to “go live” a week a part. This will give you enough time to research new content or hire someone part time to do the work for you.

To do this, log into WordPress and “Add a New Post

Once the screen opens up, add your content and on the right you’ll notice “Publish Immediately” which you can edit to a different date.

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Bad Website Layout

An ineffective blog layout is what I to call a “silent killer” because your first instinct is to write better content or improve your blog design. Let me explain, a “poor design” is when you have confusing navigational bars, clutter and unattractive colors. A “poor layout” is when your boxes are in the wrong place or the width of your main column is too narrow or wide.

Here’s an example of 3 effective blog layouts. I want you to scan through them and let me know what they all have in common:

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The first thing you’ll notice is the main content is located on the left side while the sidebar boxes are on the right. Check out some of the most popular marketing blogs you’ll notice this same layout. Here are a few: MatthewWoodward.co.uk, Shoemoney.com, JohnChow.com, ZacJohnson.com and Backlinko.com.

There are many reasons why the optimal layout is with the content on the left and sidebars being to the right. The most simplistic reason is that it’s just the way we read. We always begin to read from the left proceeding to the right then back to the left.

Here’s a quick case study done by MatthewWoodward: Left vs Right Sidebar – Which One Performs Better?

Poor Navigation

Reducing bounce rate by improving navigational structure should be your first line of defense against high bounce rates. When you have a navigation bar located in the wrong place it makes it difficult for visitors to find what they’re looking for. When I visit a blog I skim the homepage then look to at the top for the navigation bar.

Here are a few things that will help organize the information…

Create a horizontal navigation bar at the top right below the header. Having your navigation bar located in a non-standard location like between content or out of view increases bounce rate and lower pages visited.

The navigation bar should “not” be generic and should communicate to the reader immediately. For example, if one of my labels is “products” you still have no idea what type of products I’m selling. A label marked “Hockey Products” will tell you instantaneously that I sell Hockey Products.

Here’ some more common descriptive labels which convert very well:

About Us, Contact Us, Advertise, How-To Guides, etc.

Another common mistake is to have too many labels in your navigation bar. For example, here’s an example from Kissmetrics.com:

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You’ll notice way too many links which forces the visitor’s eyes to scan creating a higher chance that they’ll skim past something important. Only keep the most important items on your navigation bar which reflects the purpose of your blog. If you need to narrow down further then use a drop-down menu with no more than 2 items.

Finally, the order of labels on your navigation bar is very important. Having a layout which lists most-to-least important could decrease bounce rate dramatically. The bounce rate is determined by how often people visit a second page after arriving on your site. Providing a way for your visitors to find the content they need right away increases the chance of converting a visitor to a second page. On the top navigation bar the order should move left to right from most-to-least important.

Here’s something from Kissmetrics.com:

“Psychology studies show that, attention and retention are highest for things that appear at the beginning and at the end. It’s called the “serial position effect,” and it’s based on the principles of primacy and recency.”

5-primacy-vs-receny

The important things at the beginning means you’ve just increase the chance of a visitor moving to another page and eliminating the “bounce rate” tick from your statistics.

Everyone Hates Too Much Clutter

Another word for clutter is “confusing” and a blog which makes a visitor uneasy will convert into a higher bounce rate. A cluttered website provides the reader with too many elements or options that are distracting making it difficult for the visitor to make a choice. For example, when you provide too many options to your reader they don’t know where to click and just leave thinking that the information they are looking for is buried somewhere within your content.

It’s important to provide the required information to your visitors as soon as they arrive on your blog. For example, you’ll notice most blogs provide latest post (in order), relevant banner ads (1-2), a right sidebar with opt-in form, popular posts and a way for them to connect to your social network. That’s it!

Of course the navigation bar should be simple to follow so they can visit the categories they need and are relevant to your blog.

Solution:

Remove the unnecessary content from the homepage so only the best is available. Remember my first “tip” on how outdated content will increase your bounce rate. On the sidebars limit banner ads to 1 or 2 keeping them relevant to your blog (discussed further below).

Premium examples of non-cluttered blogs:

BACKLINKO_BOUNCE

SMARTPASSIVE

 

PREMIUM

Way Too Many Text Ads and Banners

I understand that adding banners to your blog could convert into profit but at what price. Remember that many of these CPC networks pay you $0.15 per click and you lose a valuable visitor to a potential competitor. Many of the top bloggers in my industry are aware of this so they’ve setup their own advertising network charging advertisers $1000+ per 30 days. This way if a visitor is redirected to another website through a banner ad, the profit compared to retention of visitor balance out.

How do adverts increase bounce rate?

Too many ads on the landing page increases the likelihood of a banner redirecting your visitor off the page. This registers as a “bounce” since no other pages were visited. Remember the definition of bounce rate:  Bounce rates are one page visits with an immediate exit. This does include a redirect through banner advertisements!

Solution:

Make content stand out and not advertisements. When someone arrives on my blog, it’s my content that should be eye catching and NOT flashing banners. If you have more than 1x (300 x 250) banner ad above the fold then you’ve just increase the chances of a higher bounce rate. Above the fold should include header, navigation bar, new blog posts and 1 banner ad to the right.

Open External Links in New Tab

This is a very simple way of reducing bounce rate and can be easily done by adding some code or installing a WordPress plugin to automate the process. When a link opens in a new tab you’re staying on the original page while you’re browser opens a new window to display the external content.

There are benefits to having a setup like this…

First, you’re keeping the visitor on your blog by opening external content within a new browser window. You keep the visitor active on your page and this does NOT register as a “enter” than “exit”. Secondly, it helps with visitor retention because if the visitor does NOT find the external resource helpful they can change tabs returning back to your site.

If you’re a developer using HTML coding to incorporate external links than simply add:

<a href=”http://www.ranktactics.com” target=”_blank”>Read More Information</a>

For those of you using WordPress, a simple plugin like “External Links” will process all links and change them to open within a new window.

Avoid Pop-Ups

Decrease bounce rate by removing pop-ups from your website. Pop-ups can increase conversions but also have a huge affect on your bounce rate. If you’ve established your credibility, provide value by adding a pop-up email subscription form to increase your opt-ins. The problem is that bloggers are in a rush to add pop-ups to their site without testing the long term affects on bounce rate.

Here are some of the common mistakes that people make:

The timing is off and it pushes people away from the blog. If I want visitors to opt-in to an email form, why have a form pop-up as soon as they enter my website. When this happens visitors are unable to view the correct content their looking for and leave increasing your bounce rate.

Avoid pop-ups that give no value because it’ll decrease your conversion rate. If you look at other blogs you’re often given an incentive to opt-in. Many bloggers offer a FREE mini e-book relevant to their niche and this incentive works because it provides value to the reader. I’ve noticed blogs which have pop-ups offering NO incentive other than FREE updates on blog posts. No one is interested in FREE blog updates if you haven’t built credibility! This strategy only works if you have loyal visitors that enjoy your content.

A simple mistake is choosing the wrong color combination for your pop-up. Create a form that looks inviting and captures the visitor’s attention. Using bright colors has proven to be very effective in attracting the eyes. The objective should be to attract attention and create a conversion. You may want to test out different variations before settling on the final format.

If you’re looking for an ESP that captures subscribers while providing a split testing platform then Aweber.com is perfect. You can create several forms while testing them to capture valuable analytical information. The key is to track conversions and use only the best performing form.

Solution:

Before adding any pop-ups to your website you need to build momentum. Generate traffic by giving your readers what they want – high quality content. Once you build a solid following than existing readers will be more than happy to pay attention to anything on your website. The best way to setup pop-ups to get conversions comes down to timing.

Here’s something that works…

When a visitor’s arrives on your website the form should be timed so they can check out the content they came looking for. If they typed “link building techniques” in Google and were redirected to your website, then don’t distract your visitor by immediately having a form pop-up. Time it so readers can skim through the content and gain value from what they’ve read. If your content provides a solution, which means their objective is met, they’re more likely to find value in your blog increasing the chance of them opting into a subscription form.

Use both Google and Aweber Analytics to track of your conversions. In Google you can keep a close eye on the landing page stats where you have the pop-up installed. Start by setting the pop-up timing at “immediate” looking at the bounce rate. If it’s high then configure a delayed pop-up spreading it 30-60 sec’s apart checking if bounce rate decreases. You’ll be able to figure out if a timed pop-up form is decreasing your bounce rate. Aweber will tell you which version of the form works best simply by checking the opt-in rate.

Improve Site Speed

A great way to decrease bounce rate is by improving your sites performance. Did you know that  a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Many people searching online are in need of immediate information and NOT going to wait for a slow site to load. When a page doesn’t load, it not only forces the visitor to exit but will affect your search engine rankings. Google has made it clear they incorporate “site speed” into their 200 ranking factors.

Here’s something from Matt Cutts, head of WEBSPAM at Google….Google incorporating site speed in search rankings

Solution:

Start by testing your site speed using these FREE tools: Pingdom Speed Test, GTMetrix.com, WebPageTest.org and Google PageSpeed Insights.

Next,

With the performance report you’ll get a breakdown of ways to improve your speed. Make the necessary changes to your site and then retest your load time. Use this chart from Moz.com to compare your data:

page speed load time equation

 

  • If your site loads in 5 seconds it is faster than approximately 25% of the web
  • If your site loads in 2.9 seconds it is faster than approximately 50% of the web
  • If your site loads in 1.7 seconds it is faster than approximately 75% of the web
  • If your site loads in 0.8 seconds it is faster than approximately 94% of the web

The objective should be to improve user experience so they can load content and find a solution to their problem immediately.

I recently put together a case study which tested how small changes on your blog can affect performance. It involved the following:

  • Initial speed test WITHOUT any changes
  • Deleting WordPress theme files and its affect on site speed
  • Deleting inactive WordPress plugins and its affect on site speed
  • Updating WordPress plugins and its affect on site speed
  • Effectiveness of WP Quick Cache in improving site speed

Check out my Website Speed Optimization Case Study

Remove 404 Errors

We’ve all seen a “404” error “NOT FOUND”. This error is rooted on the blogs server side and occurs when a page is NOT found. The visitor expecting to find content eventually leaves causing a bounce rate hit on your end. A page not found is something that is unacceptable especially when you’re trying to build momentum to your blog and achieve a low bounce rate. You promised your visitors content but when they arrive it’s an error page. At this point you’ve lost a loyal reader, unless, you make sure this never happens again. So, how can you avoid these errors?

Download the “Check My Links” extension for Chrome. This plugin will scan your web page looking for broken links notifying you in ”red” of errors. Works perfect for those NOT using WordPress for blogging. If you’re using WordPress then here’s an awesome plugin “404 Error Monitor”.

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Solution:

If the “404 Error Monitor” alerts you of an error you have two options:

If there’s content on that page and the error is due to a title or page location change than edit the link correcting the external link URL. Secondly, if the error is caused because content was removed, than redirect people landing to the page using a 404 redirect. For WordPress bloggers, install the “404 Redirected” plugin and configure it by selecting the error page from the drop down and adding a custom URL.

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Attract the Right Audience

Many people are under the impression that fluctuations in bounce rate occur only through search results. However, bounce rate is affected through other marketing efforts including social, PPC, PPV and Media Buys. If you’re marketing to irrelevant people and they click-through to your website the chances are much higher that they’ll leave right away.

You’re wondering why people will click on advertisements not relevant to them? Simple…

  • Sometimes the message is NOT clear so they’re curious
  • They’re attracted to the image your using (colors, border, actual image)
  • They JUST want to check out what your promoting
  • They’re competitors wanting to check your blog (I’ve done this :))

All of these people will land on your page and immediately leave resulting in a bounce rate “hit”.

How can you lower bounce rate by adjusting your target audience? Here are few pointers:

Social: It’s important to attract the right people when sharing content on social networks. Many people often have irrelevant followers on their social profile due to the craze with gaining followers. Twitter is an awesome tool but it gives you complete control over who you can add. This has positive and negative effects on the way you use the platform.

The positive effect is that you can explore relevant users on Twitter and add them hoping they’ll follow you back. The negative is that beginners who are inexperienced will go around adding random people without thinking how it will impact their blog. They’ll then share content with irrelevant followers who click-through, skim the content and exit because it doesn’t apply to them.

PPC: Investing money in pay-per-click networks can be very lucrative for bloggers looking to create a buzz. Bounce rate is influenced by visitors being redirected by PPC networks if you’re campaign is not setup the right way. Advertising networks have become more sophisticated in recent years giving us more targeting control. Google Adwords, the most popular, allows its advertisers to target geographic locations, targeted keywords, language, devices, etc.

The objective when using PPC networks is to narrow down your target audience so that you’re advertisement is shown to people that would benefit from your content. You’re not trying to attract people to your blog but build engagement with your content. For example, if I published content on “email marketing” and want to setup a campaign through Google Adwords, I can do the following:

Choose keywords relevant to my content, i.e (gain email subscribers, effective email marketing, email marketing software)

Visit relevant blogs and track down their audience using Alexa.com and Quantcast.com. Configure Google Adwords campaign with this targeting information.

Collect email subscribers to build long-term loyalty. You’re spending $0.25-$3.45 a click on PPC networks so increase visitor retention by collecting their email addresses. Setup a form on your website, which can be done using Aweber, and provide visitors with a FREE mini-course relevant to email marketing. To download the course they just need to enter their email address. For the price of a click you’ve gained a subscriber and can send them follow-ups on products, content, etc.

Split test the ad variations and use the highest converting. Create ads with different headlines, descriptions and images. Keep track of CTR (click-through-rate) and see which “ad” gives you the most ROI – return on investment.

Media Buys: Find relevant websites and purchase banner space. BuySellAds.com provides a great selection of relevant websites to place banners on. The key thing to look for is…

  • Target audience making sure that they are interested in the content you publish
  • Monthly impressions which you can check through Alexa.com
  • Cost and CTR keeping track of your ROI – return on investment

Interlinking Content

The problem with bounce rate statistics is that if visitors skim through your entire content and closes the page, it’s still marked as a bounce hit. I researched some popular bloggers like ZacJohnson.com, MatthewWoodward.co.uk, Backlinko.com and QuickSprout.com and noticed something interesting. Each one of them provided a minimum of 4-5 interlinks to relevant content on their blogs. What does this mean? They’ve just increased their chance to lower Page Bounce Rate 4-5 times throughout their content. If a visitor skims through the content finding other relevant content and clicks on the link, they’ve visited another page on the blog which does NOT count as a bounce rate exit.

It’s a strategic awesome way to lower bounce rate and should be used by every blogger. As a matter of fact, if you do a WordPress search for interlinking plugins, you’ll find a huge list.

Solution:

Lower bounce rate by interlinking relevant posts to increase page views for your blog. When you link relevant content, you’re offering a way for your readers to engage with other content which can do two important things: First, increase bounce rate by them not exiting right after the initial landing page. Next, interlinking content is a great way to send targeted traffic to your old content and revive the buzz. If you’ve just started blogging and have few posts than why not wait before going “live”. Write 10-20 blog posts and publish them over a series of days.

If you’re using WordPress, here are two awesome plugins: SEO Smart Links and Insights.

Final Thoughts:

Going forward you can start making effective changes on your website to lower bounce rate. People will agree that there are several things that influence bounce rate however these “8 factors” should be your starting point. I use bounce rate as an indicator telling me if my content resonates with my readers. The longer that people stay on my website visiting several pages at a time, the more gratifying the experience is for me.

If you’re looking some sort of visual aid showing you how to decrease bounce rate, here is an awesome infographic provided by QuickSprout

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