At some point the countless of hours, days and weeks spent into building an audience pay off. Traffic numbers finally start growing… What a relief!
But does that really mean anything?
I mean yes, you’ve cracked the traffic code, but it still feels like there’s no one there. No one subscribes to the feed, no one retweets the posts and no one leaves comments…
Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the fact is there are other factors you should pay attention to aside from traffic.
One of those factors is bounce rate.
Bounce rate is a very simple metric that shows the percentage of people who exit a website directly from the page they landed on. In other words those are the visitors who view only one page within a website.
Lowering the bounce rate is important, because that way visitors end up spending more time on your site and thus there’s a better chance of them taking action (subscribing, buying a product, etc.).
Today’s post is for all of you bloggers, struggling with bounce rate. Below I will give you some guidelines on how to lower bounce rate and hence the overall success of your blog.
Without further ado, let’s get started:
1. Choose Wisely What to Include in the Sidebar
When people visit a blog, they either come from a search engine link or from a social media site. In both situations they took the decision to click because of the title of a blog post. This obviously means visitors are there for the information they are HOPING to find in the article.
However if they don’t happen to find it OR if they enjoy it, they will probably look for alternative content in your sidebar.
And if you’ve been reading blogs for a while, you’d certainly know there are sidebars that are like “Please stay away from me”. They are so overcrowded and they offer so many options that in the end you simply ignore them.
See where I am going?
If you want visitors to click on a link in your sidebar instead of leaving your blog, you should minimize the options.
For instance if you are displaying popular posts, you are better off including 6-7 posts than say 18-20. Additionally if you have a recent post widget, I’d say you are better off removing it.
The three most important sidebar components are:
- About the author widget – the place where you tell the reader a bit about yourself, include a photo of yours and add a link to your About page. The About page is a great place to include a subscription form, since people who clicked on it are obviously interested in you.
- Popular Posts widget - The WordPress Popular Posts widget is a great way to include popular posts, as it allows for a ton of customizations. As I said, when it comes to that widget, less is more – include no more than 6-7 posts. The plugin I mentioned allows you to display the views or comments of the listed posts. Choose the metric at which your blogs performs better!
- Subscription form – Although not the best converting place, an email opt-in form in your sidebar is still a must.
Be very careful with what else you add to your sidebar. Providing more alternatives will often times result in less decisions and hence a higher bounce rate.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make the most out of your sidebar, check out “8 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Sidebar’s Effectiveness“
2. Be Careful with the Use of External Links
Why would you want to include links to other blogs within your posts in the first place?
- When it comes to marketing bogs for instance, often times you write about specific tools, plugins or software. In that case you must absolutely link to those products.
- Secondly external articles might provide more specific information that not everyone would be interested in within the current post.
- And thirdly pointing to other blogs is a good way to give credit for something that you discovered and wrote about.
But the problem is if you include too many external links, at one point people might just leave the your article and move on to those blogs. That is why you should be very careful with your linking strategy.
The second type of linking that I mentioned is probably the most dangerous in terms of bounce rates. Readers might namely need the more in-depth information that the article you linked to covers. That is why I’d advise you to put one or two such links at most.
Additionally if you believe it is worth providing more information about a point you talked about, why not write about it in a separate article instead of linking to an external source?
NOTE: Make sure to configure external links to open in a new window. Although there’s a lot of arguing around this, based on what I’ve tried and tested you end up with lower bounce rates by doing so.
3. Make Sure Your Blog’s Goal is Obvious
Can first-time visitors understand straight away what your blog is about without reading a single post?
If your blog fails to achieve that goal, then you might want to rethink your design… Or at least your header.
What most bloggers do is they simply include the blog’s logo or just the blog’s name in the header section. But that alone isn’t always descriptive enough to give a good idea of what the reader should expect to see.
And people definitely need to know that, especially if your blog is less than a year old and not well-known in its niche.
One important element you absolutely must have in order to get those more picky folks to scroll down and start clicking is a good tagline. The tagline is basically a short sentence that describes your blog’s topics in a very straight-to-the-point way.
Mine for instance says “Make a head start in blogging and social media!“. And that’s namely what my blog is about – blogging advice and various social media tips and tricks.
Along with that you should make sure to include a page, dedicated namely to newcomers. That is where you will tell people about your blog, its goals and will also include links to your best articles. For more information, check out “4 Pages You Should Add to Your Blog and Why You Need Them
4. Make Your Related Posts Stand Out
I guess you are already well-aware of the fact that you need to display related posts below each and every one of your articles. And still if you are yet to install one such plugin to your blog, I’d highly recommend you to try nRelate.
Anyway, showing related posts is a great way to keep the visitor browsing longer and in terms lower bounce rate. But there’s a thing – you can improve results further by making that widget stand out.
If you choose nRelate, there are three things I’d like you to consider:
- The call to action – that is basically the text that says “Related Posts” and below which namely the related posts are displayed. First I’d recommend you to increase its font size (using CSS). Mine might seem a little big at 30px, so you can go for something between 20px and 30px. Also test different wording than the standard “Related Posts” or “You Might also Like”.
- Put it within a box – what I mean is to style the background and the borders of the whole box of the plugins and to change them to something darker. Doing so will ensure that visitors will actually notice the related posts and it will create the so-called “tunnel vision” effect – enclosing the widget will make it far more noticeable.
- Work with the margins – make sure to increase the distance between the related posts, the content of the posts and what’s below the related posts widget. Making the box you just styled higher will obviously keep the visitor’s eye on it for longer, giving you a better chance for clicks.
5. Provide the Visitor with Resource Pages
As I said earlier, if someone starts to read one of your articles but doesn’t enjoy it, that guy will probably look for something else ON your blog.
Aside from including widgets to direct the traffic flow and to namely provide the visitor with different options, you could create a resources page.
What is that page all about?
Well that’s up to you to decide, but the idea is to basically cover a general topic in your niche – something that most of your readers will be interested to see.
For instance since I am writing a lot about social media and Twitter in specific, some time ago I had a page titled “Twitter Resources”, where people could find out which the Twitter tools I am using are.
Now I’ve done something different. Instead of Twitter resources, I wrote a Marketing Tools page. That is the place where I share a list of the tools that I am using to supercharge my blog.
The page is both useful to the visitor and at the same time it is a good way for me to make some money thanks to the affiliate links I have included. As you can see aside from having it in the menu, I’ve also included a banner in the sidebar to make it even more obvious.
6. Feel Free to Brag About Your Accomplishments
Noticed my “As seen on” banner?
One great way to get people interested in what you have to say (and thus get them to spend more time and view more pages) is by showing off your expertise in one way or another.
my approach as you can see is to simply include the logos of the more authoritative blogs I have guest-blogged on.
The idea is straightforward – when the visitor sees the banner and recalls one of the blogs I included there, they are sure to pay a little more attention to the content and see if it lives up to the expectations.
An alternative might be to include blogs you’ve been featured on. Or maybe you can include a ranking that you’ve achieved. Just think about who mentioned you recently and for what reason. With the right message, you can use pretty much every positive mention as a way to boost your credibility.
I really hope you enjoyed the ideas I’ve shared in the post guys! That is pretty much how I got to lower my bounce rate from a little over 80% to 70%. Although not a great achievement, that’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Now I’d like to hear your thoughts! What are is your way to lower bounce rate? Are you following one of the approaches I mentioned? What are your results? Let’s form a discussion!