If you use Google Analytics then you will probably have noticed a metric called "bounce rate". Plainly speaking, this is a measure of the percentage of people who left your site from the same page they entered it, without having visited any other pages (you can check out the official Google definition here).
A high bounce rate tends to indicate that your landing pages aren't very relevant to visitors. This reflects poorly on your website, and also has a negative impact on your search engine rankings. On the other hand, websites with low bounce rates are more likely to rank well in Google (and other search engines)
So how do you reduce your website's bounce rate?
In this blog post I'm going to show you a few very simple things you can do in order to reduce the bounce rate on your website. Keep these in mind when you create new pages or posts, and you'll notice a big decrease in your bounce rate (which is good, because it means visitors are going to stick around for longer)
Add Internal Links To The Top Of Your Pages
One of the easiest ways to reduce your bounce rate (with almost zero effort) is to introduce internal links to the top of your pages. By now you probably know the effectiveness of internal linking for high search engine rankings. However, you can take this one step further by adding anchor text optimized links to other pages on your site, but adding them well above the page fold.
Here is an example from one of my sites:
From the red arrow above you can clearly see an internal link to another one of my pages. If a visitor clicks on that link shortly after landing on the above page then my bounce rate will decrease.
This is so easy to do - I highly recommend that you start adding internal links near the top of every one of your pages and posts.
Avoid Excessive Ads
One thing that really puts visitors off your site quickly is when they are greeted with excessive numbers of ads. I'm not talking simple text-link CTAs that you might use for Clickbank or Amazon products here. Instead, I'm talking about intrusive Adsense displays, gaudy banner ads, and other "in your face" forms of advertisement.
Although these may have all been very effective in early days of the Internet, most visitors now suffer from what Internet marketers like to term "banner blindness". This is basically a situation where people avoid clicking on banners or other intrusive ads.
Worse still, if you use lots of these types of ads then many visitors will simply hit your page and leave without ever exploring your content. To be honest, you can't blame them! Nobody wants to be bombarded with spammy-looking content that is clearly designed to elicit a click.
Protip - if you're going to use banners then err on the side of using too few, as opposed to using too many. Make sure any visual ads you display are tasteful and don't interfere with getting people to read your content.
Build Pages That Load Quickly
Clicking on a search result in Google, only to hit the back button after you find yourself waiting for what seems like an eternity for the page to load, is a common online experience. If your visitors are leaving your landing pages because they don't load quickly enough then you are in big trouble, as you will have a big bounce rate.
Make sure that your pages load as quickly as possible (remembering that not all visitors will have fast Internet connections, or a great deal of patience)
Here are some tips to decrease both your page load times and bounce rate:
- Analyze your page load times with Pingdoom Tools (it's free, and you get a cool performance grade out of 100)
- Use "save for web" options for your images to reduce their size and load times
- Don't use HTML to resize images - make sure that you upload in the correct size to begin with
- If you use Wordpress then try a caching plugin like WP Super Cache - this can dramatically reduce your page load times
- Avoid using tacky animated gif images
Decreasing page load times is also extremely important because many visitors will simply refuse to use your site if pages take too long to load. According to some research, most web users expect that a page will load in 2 seconds or less and will almost certainly leave if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load (check the details here)
In today's blog post you have learned three of the easiest ways to reduce the bounce rate of your website. By doing so you will improve traffic flow through your site, and hopefully increase your search engine rankings as well. Small tweaks like those you learned today can make a large difference to your website.
To recap, make sure that you place internal links prominently above the page fold, avoid excessive ads on your pages, and decrease your site loading time.
I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for reducing page bounce rates (or your thoughts on this blog post). Just leave a comment below and get the discussion started!