Don’t like the idea of being bounced out of the SERPs? I’ll be that none of us do, so here’s 24 actionable tips on how to reduce bounce rate and boost user engagement on your blog.
24 Tips on How to Reduce Bounce Rate
1. Optimize Your Traffic
Before optimizing your blog to reduce your traffic’s bounce rate, you need to first optimize your traffic.
Here’s the deal: the traffic you drive to your blog must be interested in what you offer. So if you blog about skateboards and your traffic efforts are bringing 90 year-old spinsters, your bounce rate will not decrease no matter how many of these 24 tips you implement, simply because your traffic couldn’t care less.
If you haven’t yet optimized your traffic sources to make sure that they are only bringing the most interested visitors to your blog who want to read your content, do so.
Not sure how to do that? Try signing up to forums relevant to your industry (skateboard forums, for example), and actively post there with a link to your blog in your signature. The traffic you receive will be 100% qualified to your niche.
Another great traffic optimization traffic is to find out in Google Analytics which traffic sources are already bringing you engaged visitors (lowest bounce rate and highest pageviews per visit and avg. visit duration), and then capitalizing on that information. Reach out to those blogs, and get them to share your content, or guest post & comment on them.
2. Avoid Popups
There’s a great deal of debate in the blogging arena as to whether popups are harmful or beneficial to your site. There are major advantages to popups, such as:
- increased opt-in rates (David Risley of Blog Marketing Academy got a 250% increase in his mailing list opt-in rate using Popup Domination)
- the ability to highlight something specific to your entire audience (an upcoming webinar, for example)
Both of those are benefits that can’t be ignored. However, there are several disadvantages:
- some say they detract from the overall user experience of a website; and I tend to agree
- banner blindness
- decreased bounce rate
The last drawback is the one most relevant to this blog post: decreased bounce rate. If increasing bounce rate is one of your major priorities, then you’ll probably want to stay away from popups.
But hey — the last thing you should do is blindly take off whatever popup you have setup your website without tracking the results. See the trade off in terms of increased engagement and decreased opt-ins (or whatever it is that your popup does) — is it worth enabling/disabling the popup?
As you can see, at Kinsta we don’t use popups, but that’s our decision after weighing the advantages/disadvantages of enabling one — specific to our blog.
3. Structure Your User Experience with Specific Menus
Your website’s menu is called the navigation for good reason: it’s the predominant way your visitors steer themselves as they browse your site.
If you’re like me, then your navigation wasn’t something you gave much thought too, right? A link to the about, services, contact, blog, etc. page, and done.
Yes, you need your important pages in your menu, but for some blogs, it might be prudent to include other links as well; a terms of service page or a specific landing page, for instance.
When creating your menu, take out a piece of paper (or, you know, open up a Word doc — after all, this is a digital age) and write down the most important pages of your website, and the ones that you want your visitors to go to: your “money” pages where you convert them.
Would it make sense to include them in your navigation? Would you, as an objective visitor, need to go there? Yes? Put them in.
4. White Space
The “white space” phenomenon is all the rage nowadays, having spiked a huge rise in the development of minimal WordPress themes.
White space is simply empty space on your website. There’s absolutely nothing there — no widget, no footer, no blog content; just your website’s background.
If you haven’t yet jumped on the white space bandwagon and your blog design is completely full of various boxes and bars and links and such, then you could be seriously hurting your bounce rate.
Empty space gives your readers eyes a chance to rest. They also subtly direct visitors to look at the important content (more on content focus later).
If you want to learn more about white space, check out this blog post from Inspired Mag on the science behind it.
5. Large Fonts
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s squinting my eyes because whatever I’m trying to read is too small for me to be able to read easily and quickly.
I am not going to adjust my pupil focus just so that I can read your blog content (no matter how awesome it is). Nope. Instead, I’ll just bounce.
And if your typography is too small, your readers are probably doing the same thing.
Make it big. 14 pt is a minimum. 16 is a lot better. Chris Lema uses 18, and I love his blog.
6. Black Text on a White Background
You might think that white on black looks cooler (and I did too when I created my first site, but then again my first website had a very high bounce rate), and it does to most people.
But the sacrifice is readability … which is something you should never sacrifice.
Our eyes are used to reading black on light (or at least dark on light). Don’t try to spark a reading revolution on your blog, because it just won’t work.
7. Focus on What’s Important
Image credit: Pete via Flickr.
Your content is the most important part of your website. Period.
Direct your users’ attention to the content. Don’t distract them with 20 widgets. Make your content visibly the most important part of your page.
Too much busyness, and your bounce rate is a goner.
8. Be Responsive
Mobile traffic is now responsible for 15% of all website traffic (Mobify). That’s huge — 15% of your traffic could be bouncing off your website just because they can’t navigate through your desktop-optimized website design!
If you are going the pre-made WordPress theme, make sure that it’s mobile & tablet responsive. If demos are available, check them out and see what your website will look like to smartphone and tablet visitors.
If you’ve gone the custom design route, ensure that your WordPress developer has made it responsive.
9. Be Cross-Browser Compatible
Not everybody uses Chrome or Firefox — some website designs can render a little weird on less popular browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Opera, or Netscape. Combined, visitors accessing your website from smaller-time browsers could make up a hefty percentage of your total traffic.
Make sure that your website displays properly on all browsers, or else you could be racking up easily avoidable bounces.
10. Don’t Use Advertising
I get it — AdSense or BuySellAds is a great way to make a little spare change from your business blog. If you’re at an early stage in your blog’s growth, then spare change might be a priority for you.
But before you dive right into advertising, know that it can be the ruination of your website engagement. Not only could unsavory ads be forcing visitors to hit the back button (increasing bounce rate), but they might even click on your ad to check out your competitor, and then you would have just lost a potential customer for a few cents. Is it really worth it?
If it is, then at least make sure the ads are static (no .gifs allowed).
11. Structure Your Blog Posts with Headings and Subheadings
Blog posts — especially huge, in-depth posts like this one — can carry a lot of information. All that information needs some sort of structure to eat, otherwise it will be mighty difficult for visitors to digest all of it, triggering a bounce.
Structure your blog posts with headings (h2s) and subheadings (h3s, h4s, and h5s).
For instance, each tip listed in this blog post is an H2. Had I abstained from using an H2 and instead just jumbled all these 24 tips together, I doubt you would have appreciated the content half so much.
12. Shorter Paragraphs
This isn’t high school English, where paragraphs had to be a minimum of 5 sentences. This is blogging, where paragraphs above 5 sentences get ignored.
If you really want your readers to read your content and not just skim it, then you need to break up your content into shorter paragraphs. 4 sentences is a maximum in my book — and really, I’d advise you to stay at 2.
Long 8-sentence monster paras just scream to your readers: “Hey, skip me!”
And then they skip the paragraph and leave your site because they weren’t able to glean anything valuable from your content.
13. Use Images Frequently
I really don’t think I need to expound on this: pictures speak a thousand words. So instead of boring your audience with a 1000 words, inspire them with an image.
Also, make sure that your image plays nicely with your content layout as well. I recommend always using full-width images when possible that fill up the entire content area. If you don’t know where to find royalty free images read this Kinsta post.
14. Sensible Permalinks
One often overlooked yet important factor to bounce rate is your permalink system. Your permalink is the link to each post or page you create. For this blog post, that happens to be https://kinsta.com/reduce-bounce-rate-actionable-tips.
That’s an example of good permalink structure. https://kinsta.com/?p=128 is bad permalinks structure.
Your URLs should clearly indicate the topic of the content to be displayed. Otherwise, people might hit backspace while your page loads because they aren’t convinced that your content is on the topic they’re researching.
15. Use a Related Content Plugin
Related content plugins display links to related content in or after your blog posts. These plugins help to reduce bounce rate by giving your readers something else (on your site) to browse after they finish going over the piece of content they are currently on.
The related plugin we use at Kinsta is YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin). Plain name, great plugin.
16. Allow Internal Search
It’s not often when this happens, but once in a while, a first-time visitor reads your blog post and likes the type of content he sees. So the visitor wants more blog posts to browse, but the topic he’s looking for isn’t linked to in the post or in the related content section.
The solution? He searches your website. And if he can’t find a search box, his next best bet is Google. Outside of your site. And you know what that means: a bounce.
By default, your WordPress installation should include an available search widget you can setup in any widgetized location. Use it (or any other search plugin).
17. Have ONLY Valuable Content
That scenario we just discussed in the previous tip about your visitor liking your content won’t happen if your content isn’t valuable. Useful. Helpful. Beneficial to the reader in some way.
In short, create content that you yourself would want to read. So the next time a visitor hits up your site, they’ll love it so much they just won’t be able to bring themselves to bounce. Instead, they’ll just want more.
18. Zero Spelling Errors & Typos
Common typos and spelling errors in your blog post tell your visitors one thing: you don’t care enough about your content (or them) to proofread your post a couple times.
It takes no more than 10-20 minutes per post. C’mon. Why risk a higher bounce rate? Make it a habit to check over each post just for typos and spelling errors twice.
19. Open External Links in New Tabs/Windows
Linking out to other people is great — it allows you to build rapport with them, make connections, and provide more valuable content to your reader.
But it also takes your visitors away from your blog … unless you set the links to open in a new window. Every external link should open up in a new tab, so your visitor still has the option to browse multiple pages.
20. Customize Your 404 Error Page
A 404 error page is the page that shows up when a visitor follows an invalid link to your website — a link that does not yet have any content up on it.
WordPress’s default 404 error page says the following:
The page you are looking for no longer exists. Perhaps you can return back to the site’s homepage and see if you can find what you are looking for. Or, you can try finding it with the information below.
And then it lists links to the website pages, categories, authors, posts, and posts by month. It’s not really all that helpful, because it just provides too much information, instead of giving the misguided visitor a simple, easy action he can follow.
Kinsta’s 404 error page gives you a search box — perfect for visitors who were know what they were trying to find but were just pointed in the wrong direction.
21. Enhance High-Bounce Pages
Google Analytics is one amazing animal.
One of its (many) capabilities is the ability to see which pages on your website have the highest bounce rate. This information is invaluable: it tells you exactly which pages are repelling your visitors. You can now go in and tweak those pages until the bounce rate begins to climb again.
22. Internal Link Often
Not only is internal linking a great SEO practice, but it can also help to reduce bounce rate on your site in a major way.
For those unaware, internal linking is simply linking from one webpage on your website to another. You’re directing your readers to another resource on your website so they have something to browse after that first pageview.
Internal link within your blog posts. Phrases that pop up in a post relevant to another post’s headline should be internally linked.
As with all things, internal link in moderation — don’t try to link irrelevant phrases just for the sake of adding a few more links. The probable decrease in content quality isn’t worth it, and could even have an adverse effect on your bounce rate.
23. Popular/Recent Post Widgets
Using popular post or recent post widgets is a powerful yet often overlooked way to get people to browse multiple pages on your website.
You know the deal. Just look over to your right in the Kinsta sidebar — we have a widget up that displays links to our five most recent posts (along with their featured image to get a better click-through rate). There are several plugins to help you get that widget up.
24. Have Lightning-Fast Page Load Speeds
Page load speed is a very influential factor in your bounce rate. Simply put, the faster your website loads, the lower your bounce rate will be (if all other variables are constant).
For truly lightning-fast speeds, you need a premium managed WordPress web host. Yes, it’s shameless self promotion ;) , but do me a favor and check out Kinsta’s hosting service. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Was this post on on how to reduce bounce rate helpful? Which ones will you be implementing on your blog today?
Let us know in the comments!