Does your site have more bounce than a trampoline?
Recently we looked at ways you can get people to stick around on your site longer by reducing your bounce rate (missed it? Check it out here). There was some great feedback from that, raising two very important questions:
- What is a ‘bounce’?
- What’s a good bounce rate?
So today I’m going to get out my Geek to English dictionary and lay it all out for you. Plus I’ve got even more tips to reduce your bounce rate, this time focusing on your blog and how you can make some simple changes to get people to explore more of your site.
1. What is a ‘bounce’?
Google defines a bounce as “a single-page session on your site”.
In other words, when someone visits one page, or blog post, on your website, then leaves without viewing any other pages or taking other action, they ‘bounce’ off your site. That doesn’t necessarily mean they arrive on your page then immediately leave again. Some might be, for sure, but others actually stick around to read the entire page then leave.
However, because tools like Google Analytics are triggered when a page loads, if someone only views one page, Analytics is only triggered once. It can’t tell how long that person stayed on your site or how much of the page they read. And that means it tells you that person was on your site for 0 seconds. Even if they spent 10 minutes reading your whole super-in-depth blog post 🙁
2. What’s a ‘good’ bounce rate?
Your bounce rate is the percentage of people having these single-page sessions on your site compared to those people who are viewing multiple pages.
A ‘good’ bounce rate isn’t actually a specific number. But if more people are having single-page sessions than multi-page sessions, that’s something you’re probably gonna want to work on.
Typical bounce rates vary from industry to industry and also depend on the type of site you have. A site like Amazon would have a lower bounce rate as lots of people visit with the intention of comparing several products (that’s a multi-page session right there) or browsing for inspiration (also a multi-page session) or making a purchase (ditto).
On the other hand, a site with a blog might have a higher bounce rate than a similar site without a blog. That’s because even if people like your content, they might be visiting your site at that moment purely to read one particular post.
So rather than comparing your site to industry averages or your competitors, it can be more useful to focus purely on your own stats and how you can improve the performance of your site.
What’s your bounce rate right now? Is that more or less than 1 month ago? Or 3 months ago? Or this time last year?
If it’s steady or increasing, that’s definitely something you can work on.
3. How to reduce the bounce rate on your blog
As we’ve just seen, having a blog on your site can actually increase your bounce rate, as many people can be visiting to just read one post.
But that doesn’t mean blogging is bad for your site. There plenty of benefits to blogging that offset this small drawback.
And there are plenty of small, easy changes you can make to your site that can reduce the bounce rate on your blog. The aim is to encourage all those people who are just viewing one blog post to read more and explore or interact with your site in some way.
Attract the right readers with your meta description
The first step is to make sure you’re attracting the right people to your site. Because if you’re bringing the wrong kind of readers to your site, they are going to leave again very quickly. But if you start attracting the right kind of readers, it’s much easier to convince them to explore more of your site.
You do this by making sure the meta description of your blog post is appealing and relevant.
The meta description of your post is the brief excerpt of your post that shows in search results:
You have a limited space in which to ‘sell’ your blog post to the person doing the search. So you need to make sure your post sounds like it’s going to be interesting and enjoyable to read. Plus – and this is the most important part – the description needs to show that person that your post will answer the question they have or help with whatever issue they’re struggling with.
Because people are busy. They don’t want to trawl through Google looking for answers. They want to click on one or two links, max, to find the answers they need. So if your meta description shows that you can help them, they’re gonna be disappointed and frustrated if your blog post doesn’t actually deliver on that.
Now, you don’t want to actually answer that question or provide the solution within the meta description – because then there will be no incentive for people to click through and read the post!
But if you show that the post will help them, when they click through to read it and you’ve delivered on that promise, then you have a happy reader. They’ve just seen the value you provide and it’ll be much easier to get them to read more posts, or interact with your site in some way, like leaving a comment or signing up to your mailing list.
How do you edit the meta description?
Easy peesy. Have you installed the Yoast SEO plugin on your site? If you haven’t, you’ll find a free step by step guide to installing plugins with this blog post.
Note: There are other good SEO plugins around. All In One SEO Pack is pretty handy and I’ve heard great things about The SEO Framework. Yoast is just my favourite of the ones I’ve tried.
The plugin adds an SEO panel at the bottom of each page and post on your site and there you can edit the meta description, along with the SEO title, keyword and more.
Use internal links to show off your other content
Once you’ve been blogging for a while you’ll have a whole bunch of posts. And some of those will cover different parts of the same topic.
So when you’re writing a post and you already have another post in your archives that would make a complementary piece, it’s a good idea to include a link to it. It benefits you because your readers can easily click through to read that other post (thereby reducing your bounce rate 🙂 ) and it benefits them because you’re giving them even more help.
For example, I have loads of WordPress tips and how-tos in my archives. So when I’m writing a post like this one, there’s bound to be some other WordPress or blogging tips that I can link to that will provide an extra bit of value or interest.
I already linked to one above, because if you haven’t got an SEO plugin on your site already, but want to add one, then a tutorial on installing plugins could be properly handy.
These internal links (by the way, an internal link, as you might imagine, is a link to a different part of your own website, while an external link is a link to a page on a different website) can be subtly placed within a sentence, like the ones I’ve used so far in this post, so as not to disturb the flow of your post.
Or you can really highlight it by adding in a standalone “You might also like this post” statement. For example:
Want to know how to add a link? You might also like: How to format text in WordPress
This style is more intrusive but as it’s more eye-catching, can get more clicks.
Open external links in a new tab
While we’re on the subject of links, let’s look at external links. As well as linking to your own content in your posts, it can be helpful for your readers to link to other websites.
When you do this, make sure you’re setting these external links to open in a new tab.
Some people would disagree with this option, because they feel the user should be in charge of opening new tabs in their browser. But I think it actually benefits the reader.
Because if someone clicks a link that takes them off your site, they might not actually have been finished browsing your site. They may not have finished reading that blog post, or maybe they intended to check out some more. Yet you’ve just sent them away to another site where they could get distracted and not come back to finish reading your post at all.
Or by the time they’re ready to come back to your site, they may have to click the back button so many times they get frustrated and give up.
But if the external link opens in a new tab, your site is still sitting there, waiting for when they’re ready to come back to it. They won’t lose their place or have to click the back button fifty times. And you won’t lose your reader – it’s win-win.
Add related posts to keep them reading
Just like you added some internal links within your posts to help your readers find more content they’re interested in, adding a ‘related posts’ section at the bottom of your blog posts can be a good way to keep them reading.
Because if they read to the bottom of the post already, it’s a fair assumption that they liked it and/or found it interesting or useful. So at this point they should be in the right frame of mind to read more, and showing them a few other posts that could also help them can be a good way to encourage that.
Promote your greatest hits
Another way to encourage readers to explore more of your site is to promote your greatest hits: your most popular blog posts.
Some of your most popular posts may have been written months, or even years, ago. But you can’t expect readers to browse through a huge archive of posts and stumble across them.
These older posts may still be super helpful (especially if you update them regularly to make sure the content stays current and relevant). And their popularity offers some social proof that other people are enjoying your content.
So highlight your greatest hits in a ‘popular’ or ‘featured’ posts section to make it easy for people to find them.
You might also like: What your blog’s sidebar really needs (and what to avoid)
Add a call to action to get people to interact with your site
As Google Analytics is only triggered when a page loads, if someone only reads your post then leaves your site, they’ll count as a bounce.
We’ve already covered several ways to get people to read more than more page on your site, but you can also encourage them to interact with your site in another way to reduce your bounce rate even when they only read one page or blog post.
To get your readers beyond the passive read and leave stage, your post needs a call to action.
Each and every post needs a call to action but you don’t need to use the same one all the time. It would actually be far too repetitive and regular readers would become ‘blind’ to it and just skim over it. So make the call to action relevant and specific to each blog post.
Common types of interaction include:
- Leaving a comment on the post: feedback can be useful, plus the interaction can also help this post become one of your most popular posts
- Downloading a freebie lead magnet; also a great way to build your email list, which can be a great way to build community and nurture future sales
- Clicking through to check out your services and book a consult call
The type of call to action you use will depend on the subject of each post. Some may lend themselves really well to directing people to checking out your services, while others may be perfect for a lead magnet, like a free workbook or email series.
Here’s your call to action 🙂
Are you ready to take action? Pick a few tips from this list to start implementing and don’t forget to take a note of what your current bounce rate is so you can track your progress. Check in on your rate on a monthly basis so you can see if your changes are working.
And if you want even more tips on improving your WordPress site, be sure to enter your email address below to get weekly advice straight into your inbox.
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