March 15, 2017

Reducing Your Bounce Rate

A visual Clickpath Analysis showing t...
A visual clickpath analysis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here's another tip in the "Jump-Starting Your Blog" series. For this one, we are going to need to go into Google Analytics and take a quick look at the numbers for your blog. You have installed Google Analytics, haven't you? If not, you are really missing out on a useful source of information. I suggest you install it, let it collect data on your blog for the next month, and then return to this post.

When you log into your Google Analytics account, you'll see several relevant numbers. Sessions and Pageviews tell you about the number of visitors your blog has had over whatever time frame you have selected. Sessions is designed to show a group of interactions within a time frame (usually 30 minutes) on your blog, and so it can be thought of as sort of an "active users" metric rather than just visits. These tend to be the numbers everyone focuses on since they tell you about how much traffic your blog is getting, but these are not the numbers we're interested in now.

Take a look at Avg. Session Duration. This is exactly what it sounds like: How much time, on average, are visitors to your blog spending on your blog. Obviously, you'd like this number to be higher because this would suggest that people are taking the time to read your content. If you want people to share, promote, or interact with your content, it would be nice if they were reading it first, right? For the month of November, my average session duration was 57 seconds. I believe this reflects some room for improvement.

The primary number I want you to look at now is the Bounce Rate. This shows the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e., what percentage of the time does a visitor to your blog leave your blog without browsing further?). Ideally, one wants a fairly low bounce rate because this means that visitors are taking the time to explore your blog when they land on it. For the month of November, my bounce rate was 4.95%. Since I have seen bounce rates as high as 80%, I am pretty happy with that number.

Reduce Your Bounce Rate

As Google explains, there are many reasons one might have a high bounce rate. But since we are talking about blogs and not single-page websites, it makes sense that we would want to reduce our bounce rate. Here are some suggestions for reducing your bounce rate:
  1. Check to see how your blog is showing up in search engines and make sure the description is accurate.
  2. Make sure your blog is easy to navigate, especially for first-time visitors.
  3. Critically evaluate your blog design and avoid rookie mistakes like using a font that is way too small to be readable or a black background.
  4. Use internal links (i.e., include links in most of your posts directing readers to other posts on your blog).
  5. Make sure that your post titles accurately describe the content of the post.
  6. When you include an external link in a post, set it to open in a new browser window.
  7. Provide a mechanism for visitors to search your blog (i.e., a search box).
  8. Split up long posts.
A high bounce rate tells you that someone landing on your blog (usually from a search engine) is not finding any compelling reason to explore your site. You need to give them a reason and make it as easy as possible for them to do so. This is going to take some time and effort, but it is possible. Thanks to Google Analytics, you can track your bounce rate over time as you implement some of these strategies.