OK, you started a blog, started getting traffic, and noticed you have a super high bounce rate in Google Analytics. Or wait, is it high?
We know a 100% bounce rate is bad, and the lower you can get your bounce rate, the better. If you’re a brand new blogger who has put no work into keeping visitors on your site, I’d expect your bounce rate to land at over 90%. If you follow the tips below, I’d expect that you can get your blog’s bounce rate well under 80%.
What is a Bounce Rate?
Google Analytics defines a bounce as a session that only triggers one request to Google Analytics. This usually happens when a visitor opens one page on your website and then leaves.
It’s important to note that if your site fires events within Google Analytics, that is a second request to Google Analytics. Those sessions will not be counted as a bounce.
This makes your “bounce rate” a bit of a vanity metric that can be easily manipulated. For example, say you fire an event to Google Analytics when a user subscribes to an email list or scrolls to the bottom of the page. Sure, maybe you should count those things as conversions, but not every site will have the same setup which makes it useless to compare yourself to other websites.
Why is a Low Bounce Rate Good?
In short, users who stick around longer are more likely to become customers.
According to Salesforce, it takes 6-8 interactions with your website before a person becomes a viable sales lead. If a user comes to your website then bounces, they’re gone forever. The more valuable content you can serve to them, the more likely they are to become repeat visitors or a sale.
Will a Lower Bounce Rate Increase My Google Rankings?
Back in 2010, Matt Cutts said that Google doesn’t use any of your Google Analytics data to determine rankings. So bounce rate, dwell time, etc.
But, you have to carefully parse this statement. Cutts said they don’t use your Google Analytics data, not that they don’t use metrics similar to this. They very well could be using stats from the Google Chrome User Experience Report. In fact, Google has confirmed doing that to measure site speed.
As far as if the bounce rate is a ranking factor, it’s tough to say. Most SEO’s say yes, but so many people have attempted to hack this over the years that Google may have lessened its impact. Remember websites that would create list posts and make you click the link to the next item on the list? They did this to hack their bounce rate in Google.
Whether it helps your Google ranking or not, it will improve your conversion rate if you can keep visitors on your site longer. So let’s look at how to do that.
How To Improve Bounce Rate: Link to Other Posts In Your Content
Whenever you’re describing something you’ve already written about, link to it in your post. So if I wrote a post on how a new blogger should do keyword research, I should make sure the link is in my content when it comes up.
This keeps visitors on your website longer. It also helps to spread Google link juice throughout your website and move your site up the rankings.
I wrote an entire post on why ads are a terrible way to monetize your website. It’s centered around the fact that you get a low RPM (revenue per thousand page views) compared to selling your own products. There’s also another problem with ads.
That’s right; whenever a user clicks your ad, they’re not coming back. They just bounced forever. Sure, you made a small amount of money, but you could have gotten a lot more out of that visitor if you kept them on your site.
There’s another problem with ads, they can slow your website down significantly.
Better Page Speed
You won’t rank better on Google by increasing your website’s speed. Not unless your website took 8+ seconds to load, and you got it down to under 3 seconds.
That said, people start leaving your site en-masse after waiting more than 3 seconds for it to load. Every second of load time costs you perfectly good traffic.
Don’t improve your site’s speed for the Google ranking. Do it because if your site takes 8 seconds to load you just lost nearly 60% of your traffic. Getting your load time under 3 seconds will improve your bounce rate.
Fewer links to External Sites
Linking to external sites is a good thing, and you should do it if it’ll help your users find what they’re looking for.
That said, when somebody leaves your site, they’re gone forever. Think about how valuable an external link really is before you litter your site with them. They’re exit ramps you’ve placed all over your website.
This includes Amazon Affiliate links. Many people see affiliate link clicks as the primary goal of their website. There isn’t anything wrong with this mindset, but if you sell your own product, you’re removing potential customers from your site when you get these clicks.
Add Multimedia and Headers to Break-up Text
Most users land on a blog, skim the contents and only decide to read if the formatting looks appealing.
We like to think our content is what matters. And it does, just not as much as the formatting or the pretty pictures you use to describe what you’re saying. Readers will feel stressed and leave your site if you present them with a giant wall of text.
Create a Related Articles Section After Post
When the user finishes reading your post, if there’s no call to action, they leave.
Now is the time to either hit them with related posts or to pitch your product or email list to them. If they liked what they read, they’re much more likely to be receptive to more content or products.
Optimize For Mobile
In 2021, this should be common sense. However, some people still have websites that are hard to navigate on cell phones.
Over half of your website’s traffic will come from cell-phones. Don’t let half of your visitors bounce because of your theme.
While you should attempt to lower your bounce rate to convert more leads to sales. It’s not the end-all-be-all of metrics and won’t determine the success or failure of your blog. Do what you can to optimize your bounce rate and then move on.