Traffic. When people decide to create a website or start blogging, they see traffic generation as the only thing that matters.
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 may 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.
These are some of the most important sidebar components:
- 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.
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 blogs for instance, often 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
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 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 “new here” 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.
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 do that, you may want to install one of the several “related posts” plugin available.
I don’t use a plugin, because my Genesis theme already supports related posts as an option:
Anyway, showing related posts is a great way to keep the visitor browsing longer and in terms lower bounce rate.
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 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.
6. Feel Free to Brag About Your Accomplishments
A 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.
You can show off your guest posts, or your interviews and mentions around the internet.
I’m rebuilding this site, so I still need to add in this about page some interviews made through this blog. But it’s a strategy I’m already following at NoPassiveIncome:
This is really effective as a way to show your expertise and boost your online credibility.
I really hope you enjoyed the ideas I’ve shared in the post guys!
Those are some ideas to lower your bounce rate.
Now I’d like to hear your thoughts!
What are is your way to lower the bounce rate of your website?
Are you following one of the approaches I mentioned?
What are your results?