When someone ‘bounces’ from your website, that means that they leave your website after viewing only a single page. In other words, they might land on your home page, decide that there’s nothing else they’re interested in there, and then leave. While this is the technical definition, the term can sometimes be extended to describe more specifically people who don’t engage with your content at all. Someone who ‘bounces’ then might be someone who only loads the page for a couple of seconds and leaves.
The average visitor (55% of traffic) actually only spends 15 seconds or less on a website before leaving. This might come as a surprise, but if you think about the way that you navigate the web it might make sense. For instance, you will likely search for a topic you’re interested in on Google, then open a few links and leave immediately when you see they aren’t quite what you’re looking for. You’ll then only opt to stay on a page once you find the link that seems to do everything right that you’re looking for.
In order to find one page that you stick with, you’ll ‘bounce’ from several others. Bounce rates are toxic for site and business owners however. If you are paying for PPC ads then you area paying for each of those bounced visitors which in turn means that you are losing profit. At the same time, if you try and sell advertising space on your website, then those advertisers are going to look at your bounce rates and that’s going to be considered a serious turn-off which will massively reduce the amount of money you can charge.
Google now also looks at bounce rates and considers them as a key signal for whether or not it should promote your site. In other words, high bounce rates = low ranking on the SERPs. So the question becomes: how can you lower your bounce rates?
How to Stop People Leaving Your Site
The first thing to try and address is the type of visitor who lands on your site and then immediately leaves. That’s the worst type of bounce rate. So what can you do to change it?
The first thing to do is to look at your load times. Recognize that people are incredibly impatient when it comes to their browsing habits. The web has spoiled us and we are now used to getting whatever we are looking for within seconds. If we have to wait for a page to load – even for a little bit – then we will often give up and leave.
This is why it’s so important to consider page optimizations. Some things you can do to this end include:
- Choosing a speed optimized WP theme
- Choosing the right hosting account
- Reducing the size of the images on your website
- Reducing the amount of unnecessary plugins that have to load
- Keeping your advertising to a minimum
You should consider using Google’s ‘Speed Test’ page in order to find out whether or not your site is performing at an acceptably speedy rate. At the same, you should also consider some of the other things that might be turning your visitors off.
One simple example is poor spelling. If your site has poor spelling or grammar, or if it uses Pidgin English, then this can turn people away right away. Most people browsing the web will be looking for high quality content that will be entertaining, accurate and authoritative.
If it seems instantly apparent that the writer:
- Isn’t English/an adult
- Doesn’t know what they’re talking about
Then they will leave and they won’t look to that brand for future information.
You need to ensure then that your copy instantly inspires confidence in the reader by using well written and structured essays and articles. Consider the AP Style Guides and make sure that you don’t outsource your writing to low quality services. Even the best freelance writer in the world will do a bad job if they don’t know the topic. If your content is going to stand out, then it needs to be clearly written by someone who is passionate about the topic and who is contributing the kind of discussion that the reader can’t get anywhere else. That only happens if you use someone who is genuinely interested in the subject matter.
Think as well about the design of your site. If you’ve ever loaded up a site that looks like it was built in the 00s ‘Geocities’ era by a teenager, then you’ll know how off-putting that can be. This is especially true if the site is a shop and they expect you to enter your credit card details! Conversely, we are far more likely to shop with a site that is mobile friendly and that uses crisp, clear and well-designed graphics that load quickly.
So, invest in good web design. Use a high quality, responsive WordPress theme and outsource the process to a team that really knows what it is doing.
Another consideration is how you organize the text itself. One of the worst things you can possibly do is to have your articles load as a single block of text with no paragraphs or headings, no images and small font. Make sure your content is big and inviting to read and that it doesn’t look ‘daunting’. Insert pull quotes, use images and use lots of headings and paragraphs. Keep in mind that most people now skim read content rather than sitting back and enjoying it properly. You need to adapt to this change and use a way of writing that is conducive to that style. Well written headlines should be comprehensive enough to tell almost the entire story on their own.
Another consideration is how to target your audience. We’ve seen that your branding and logo can do this. But also important is the advertising and the SEO. If you are using SEO with the wrong keywords for instance, then you’ll be bringing the wrong kind of visitor to your site.
In other words, you can have the best web design in the world – but if your ads are being clicked by men and your site is about beauty tips… well then your bounce rates will be high. Make sure you are doing everything you can to target the right audience and to communicate to both the visitors and Google what the topic of your site is.
How to Keep People on Your Site
The next objective is to keep people on your site and actively engaged in what you are saying. This means you want them to get to the bottom of your pages and then to click on a link that will take them to the next page.
A few things you can do to accomplish this include:
- Adding a ‘you might also be interested’ section to the bottom of each article. There are many WordPress plugins that can do this for you automatically and that way, people are constantly given something new to check out.
- Avoid breakpoints. Both in terms of your content and in terms of the web design. Try reading through yourself and make sure there are no natural points at which you would feel compelled to leave.
- Consider using an autoscrolling design. This has drawbacks too – it can slow down load times and hurt user experience for instance. However, if your site automatically scrolls to the next post, then it will lead the user on to the next article as soon as they’re finished with the last one. Not only that, but it will artificially inflate your figures as far as your bounce rates go. This isn’t great for your analytics but it is very useful for helping you to attract advertisers and the like.
- Add a pop up. This is a controversial option that won’t be right for everyone. However, on some sites, it can help to open up a pop-up when the user tries to leave the page. This should ask them to stay and remind them that there is more good content to be found.