Sunday, 7 October 2012

Reduce Blog Bounce Rate

If you have been blogging for a reasonable amount of time, you would be well aware about the importance of a blog’s bounce rate. It is perhaps one of the biggest, most important indicators of a blog or a website’s health and progress. Bloggers and webmasters strive to ensure that their blogs and websites have a low bounce rate.

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of single page visits, such as the visits in which the visitor left your website after browsing only one page (i.e. the page that he landed on), without browsing any other pages on your website.

For instance a 20% bounce rate means that 20 in every 100 (2 in every 10) of your visitors leave your website without going to any other page than the one they landed on. Conversely, a 90% bounce rate would mean than 9 out of 10 of your visitors ‘bounce off’ your website straight from the landing page.

A low bounce rate is therefore ideal; the lower it is the better.

Bounce rate is therefore essentially an indicator of how long people stay on your blog, and a good indicator of whether you’re putting interesting content on your blog that is relevant to your niche, and making it easy for people to access that content (by putting it a single mouse-click away, for instance).

But as any blogger would know, making people stay on your blog (and having a low bounce rate) is easier said than done! Here are a few simple things that you can do make your blog/website more user-friendly, have people stay on your website, read your posts and become regular visitors.

If you do notice an improvement in your bounce rate after following these, do let us know in the comments!

1. Design

You might be surprised to know how important your website’s design really is, especially when it comes to having people stay on your blog. Having a visually attractive, neat, clean and an appealing design is essential. How many times do you find yourself sticking around on a blog that looks fantastic? Use a good theme for your blog that looks great, goes well with the content, has easy-to-read and legible text and does a good job of catching the attention of your readers. 

2. Content

One of the biggest and best thing you can do to ensure that people actually stick around on your blog, is produce some excellent, high-quality content! Content that people actually want to read, content that I valuable to your visitors and people in your niche, and content that actually helps people with something. If you do, you’ll be able to keep your existing visitors on your blog very easily because people will actually want to stay on your blog. Write intriguing and interesting headlines/titles which help draw visitors in. Make sure that your posts are factually and grammatically-correct. Try keeping your posts error-free.

3. Navigation

One of the aspects of having a well-designed blog or website includes a website with excellent, user-friendly navigation. Having a good navigational system in place allows your visitors to easily browse your blog, and move to different parts of your blog (such as another post on your blog) from wherever they might be. Never have your visitors go through hoops or be required to click too many times in order to get to another part of your website. Divide your content into categories, and use the top navbar to display all categories, pages and parts of your website. Something like a drop-down menu works really well here. In addition, display your latest posts, most popular posts, most commented posts, most visited posts, or random posts on the sidebar of your blog.

4. Load Times

Load times are important and directly related to your blog’s bounce rate. In simple terms, the longer it takes for your blog to load up, the higher your bounce rate will be. If your blog has been overloaded with widgets and plugins, uses an unoptimized theme (such a free theme), or is hosted on a poor webhosting service, chances are that it will take a large amount of time for the pages to load up. This is guaranteed to adversely affect your bounce rate, because people will leave your blog (or any other website for that matter) if it takes more than a few second to load up. The solution: use a good premium theme framework (like Thesis, if you’re on Wordpress), choose a good webhosting service (you get what you pay for!), and keep plugins and widgets at a minimum.

5. Internal Linking

Internal linking is not only good for your blog’s PR, ranking and search engine optimization, it is also one of the best ways of keeping your bounce rate at a minimum. Include links to other parts of your blog (posts and pages) in your write-ups, a couple of links to your older posts would do the trick. However make sure that the link are relevant, and are hyperlinked behind the right keywords in the correct manner. Internal linking will also give you a good SEO boost, as it lets you keep link juice within your blog. Internal linking can be done manually, or by using a plugin such SEOSmartLinks on Wordpress which takes care of this for you.

6. External Linking

The principle here is simply: all external links should always open in a new window or a new tab in the browser. Whenever you add an external link, make sure it opens in another window. Popular blogging platforms such as Blogspot and Wordpress let you manage this easily (by showing a check-box every time you add a hyperlink). This ensures that your blog remains open so that your visitors stay on the post that they were reading.

7. Targeted Visitors

Make sure that your SEO is having you ranked for the correct keywords, so that you’re able to bring in targeted traffic to your blog – visitors who are actually interested in what you have on offer, as opposed to people who are not interested in your posts or the content of your blog. If you successfully get targeted traffic, i.e. a bunch of people on your blog who are interested in what you’re writing about, your bounce rate will automatically improve, as these are the people who will actually want to stay on your blog and read what you have to say.

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