When studying our website analytics, many of us will keep track of the number of sessions or users that our websites have attracted, but we should also be keeping an eye on our bounce rate.
What is the bounce rate?
This is the percentage of visitors who have landed on your website and clicked straight off again, after only viewing one page. You can view this metric in Google Analytics and it allows you to view, not only the bounce rate for your whole website but the bounce rate for individual pages too.
As an example, if your website’s bounce rate was at 75%, that would mean that three-quarters of the people visiting your site left without visiting any other pages.
How is your bounce rate useful?
We can never know what truly causes our website visitors to do what they do. If someone exited your blog, for example, it could be because they don’t want to read any more or their dinner might’ve been ready halfway through reading a post.
But, although you can’t know the individual reasons for people leaving your website, you can spot trends using your analytics. Your bounce rate can tell you which pages aren’t encouraging people to explore your site, meaning you’ll need to work on improving them. It can also tell you which pages are performing well in that regard, so you can attempt to emulate their success on other pages.
Using your bounce rate and the ‘behavior flow’ in Google Analytics can show you how many people are exploring your site after landing on a particular page, and where they go next.
It’s worth noting that there are circumstances under which your bounce rate would be less useful. For instance, you could have landing pages that you expect to have a high bounce rate as it serves only one purpose, or you could have a one-page site.
Your blog, however, you’d expect to have a low bounce rate, as a big reason for having a blog in the first place is to encourage visitors to do more on your site. So, how can you improve your blog’s bounce rate?
1. Improve your layout
Your main aim when writing your blog posts is to get your readers to the end of the post. By improving the overall readability of the post, you can encourage visitors to reach the end of your post, even if they don’t read every word. To do this, you need to make it look a little more enticing than a big block of text!
- Shorter paragraphs – use the enter key a lot and try to keep your paragraphs under 5 lines.
- Don’t use complex words – talking through your topic in simple, understandable language makes for a much nicer read.
- Use images when relevant – including images whenever it makes sense to is a great way of breaking up the text and making a longer post look less overwhelming.
- Block quotes – you can use these to make your key points stand out. Just make sure you use them sparingly and only on the really important points.
- Headers – split your post up into separate points by giving them titles. This allows the reader to skim through the post and read the bits they’re interested in.
2. Allow the reader to get to know you
Your readers will be more likely to want to explore and read more if they want to get to know you. To get them to the stage where they want to know more about you, you have to show them your personality. That’s what will make your blog stand out.
- Write like you speak – don’t try to be too professional and formal. Write like you’re talking to a friend and the reader will start to feel like your friend.
- Give your opinions – when you’re discussing a topic or event, or giving some tips, make sure you include snippets of your own thoughts on the matter. Give readers some insight into the way you think.
- Use second person – talk directly to the reader. For example, saying “if you do this, it will…” rather than “doing this will…”.
- Tell a story – use real-life examples and talk about your own experiences. It helps to back up your point and it tells people a little more about you and your business.
3. Don’t annoy the reader
We’ve all visited blogs where constant pop-ups and advertising take up more of the page than the blog posts themselves. And what do we do? We click off.
Don’t be tempted to promote your services or products at every chance you get. Your aim is to encourage your visitors to read more and spend more time on your blog; allow them to do this by refraining from interrupting their reading flow.
Your website should also be mobile-friendly and relatively speedy. The majority of your traffic is now likely to be coming from smartphones and tablets and, if your site isn’t optimised for them, those visitors aren’t likely to stick around. Similarly, if your website is taking a long time to load, visitors probably won’t wait around. As consumers, we don’t have much patience. As businesses, we need to keep up.
4. Think about where the reader might go next
You’ve probably heard of calls-to-action. If not, this is the part where you tell the reader where you want them to go next or what you want them to do. This doesn’t necessarily have to be self-promotional, as many people think. In fact, they’re usually much more successful when you don’t promote your own services or products.
Give your readers options when it comes to going elsewhere on the site, and make them enticing!
- Related posts – recommend some posts that they might enjoy if they liked reading the post they’re currently on.
- Categories – have your list of blog categories in view so they can see more posts within the current category, or choose to explore other ones.
- Suggested posts – whilst the related posts would be on display at the bottom of the post, suggested posts could sit in the sidebar, in case they feel like reading something else when they haven’t finished the current post.
– These could be your favourite posts, your most popular posts, or posts that could do with a little more traffic.
- Internal links – include links to other blog posts throughout your posts. If you mention a topic but don’t go into too much depth, you should link this to another blog post that does.
- ‘Next post’ button – your readers may just fancy flicking through your posts – let them do this with back and forward buttons.
5. Be consistent
One way of keeping your bounce rate low is to build a following of readers that keep coming back for more. These return visitors are generally unlikely to only read one page as they’ll be interested in finding out what’s new.
So, make sure there’s something new for them to see! Keep your blog updated with valuable content and give them an easy way to stay up-to-date, such as a newsletter.
To further increase the loyalty of your repeat visitors, stay active on social media and let them get to know you further. Posting links to your latest posts is another way to tell them what’s new on the blog.
6. Know your target audience
Staying focused on your target audience when writing your blog posts will generate more of the repeat visits we discussed in the last point. Imagine you’re speaking directly to your ideal client and talk about subjects that they’d be interested in hearing about.
For example, if your usual clients are small businesses, you’ll want to tailor your posts so that they’re full of helpful information specifically for small businesses.
Produce focused, valuable content and work on building a social following for your target audience, and you’ll attract the right people. And, usually, the right people tend to hang about on your website longer.