According to Wikipedia, bounce rate “represents the average percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site”. In other words, bounce rate is the number of people who left right after they arrived without having a look at other pages of your website. Was the content boring? Did your visitors look for one precise information with no interest for other entries of your website? There can be many reasons for a high bounce rate, and there are also many ways to reduce it.
What is important to remember is that every reader leaving a page directly is a lost opportunity to get a loyal reader. It is then obvious to do everything you can to make your visitors feel home and have a look around. They may want to come back later on!
Lots of people keep trying to improve traffic on their website. What is less common though, is people who understand that if you want more traffic, one of the secrets is making sure people stay longer and visit more often. Then bounce rate becomes an interesting tool. We will try to do a global analysis of it in this blog entry.
First of all I would like to point the difference between Bounce rate and exit rate, which is an index indicating people who entered anywhere on your website but exited from this page. Consequently it is not as interesting as the bounce rate that shows a real “problem” on that particular page. Content? Navigation problem? Horrible design? Hidden links? There can be many problems, also depending on the aim of the people viewing this particular page.
Let’s then have a look at the different causes of bounce rate:
1. The causes
A reader can leave your page by different ways but what is important for us to know is that your reader will either close the window/tab and open a new one, or click on a link on your web page. This link will either bring him to another page of your website or to another website you linked to.
In any of these cases you have to analyse what your reader’s behavior to understand the causes of the high bounce rate. In order to do that, check with Google Analytics what are your pages with the highest bounce rate, and then analyse the behavior of readers browsing your page. Where do they come from? How do they leave your page?
It could be that most of your readers are coming from a search engine, and they do not find any link to some more of your content related to their search. in that case you will have to determine why. Was that precise article out of your editorial line? Is there a very interesting link in your article, and everybody is clicking on it? Or is the absence of an easy navigation system that your readers could use to jump to an other page?
Google analytics can help you find out with the Site Overlay feature. it shows you where your readers are clicking on your pages. This tool wil help you realize where do your readers go. If they are not clicking anywhere, why not looking at solutions to propose exit links to your readers?
2. The solutions
Obviously you will try to keep your readers browsing your website. According to the results of your first analysis, you can determinate if you should act on content or on navigation tools.
That is maybe the most difficult thing to change. However by keeping a straight editorial line, in a specific niche, you have more chances to be a specialist in your domain and then write quality posts. If your reader starts reading an interesting post he may want to read more of your articles.
Then again stay focused on one main topic, your reader will thus find articles related to what he is interested in. If he came looking for your grandmother recipes he may be disappointed if you wrote only one post about her secret pancakes you loved as a child!
That is the most important tool to drag your reader’s attention to where you want him to go. There are a few rules you can apply to yourself:
- Show off your tags and categories: tag clouds were created for that! It is an easy way to show quickly t your reader what else he can read on your blog! At the same time do not use too many of them. As for the categories for instance, 10 should be a maximum. Above, your reader will not be able to look at all of them.
- Put your best posts to the front: your reader should have access to your best posts as fast as possible. These are the ones that will make him subscribe to your RSS feed and then come back.
- Create a good About page: after reading a few posts, your reader will want to know more about you. A good About page will tell a lot about you and make your reader interested in your opinions. Consider these few tips to make it better.
- Link to your main page: a link in your upper navigation panel as well as on your main logo should bring the visitor to your main page: it is an important page on your website. There you can summarize all your websites content. it should provide a list of your best articles, a link to your About page and all what a new visitor wants to know about your web page.
- Help you reader to find his way: an easy access to related posts, a search form and a visible RSS icon are the key for loyal visitors. You can find many RSS icons in my previous article, and WordPress provides tool to add intelligent content to your blog posts.
A few WordPress plugins can help you keep your readers aware of what you can offer them: two of them are in my opinion really important when your blog content begins to be quite consistent:
This plugin will display some related articles for people arriving to your web page from search engines. Your visitors will consequently directly see other posts you may be interested in.
This plugin will display related posts at the bottom of every article, in order to propose other posts on the same topic to all your readers. You can choose how many related posts you want to display and where to display it.
To conclude, it is important to have a blog with a precise editorial line, with a clear design displaying tags, categories and navigation panel in a clear way, and thanks to the tools WordPress provides your reader will surely come back to discover the other secrets your grand mother let you!
Have another opinion? Do you use other tools to manage your bounce rate? Please let us know in the comments!