Bounce rate is a number that’s used to gauge the quality of the traffic your blog or website receives. There are a number of things that can effect your bounce rate, some you can control and some you can’t, and contrary to popular opinion there’s really no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ bounce rate. But no matter what it is, you can always try to make it better.
Basically, the bounce rate takes into consideration the number of people who visit your blog, how many pages they view, and how long they stay on your site. The lower the number the better, but it’s not an absolute indicator of the quality of your site. Before you can determine if your bounce rate is killing your blog you have to figure out where that number came from.
If you have an established blog that’s been running a consistent 30 or 40 percent bounce rate and all of a sudden it jumps up to 70 or 80 percent that’s not necessarily cause for panic. An established blog probably has a fair amount of repeat traffic. Your visitors have already read most of your blog. When they stop by now they’re only interested in reading your most recent post and then they’re going to leave. Don’t worry. They’ll be back for your next post, but they’ve already read everything else so there’s no sense sticking around.
Established blogs also attract a large amount of unexplained search engine traffic. The search engines glom onto all kinds of keywords you’re not even aware of. Let’s say you use Britney Spear’s name as an example in the middle of your post about writing good article titles. The search engines are going to see Britney Spears and include your site on the index for that keyword, even though your site is about a totally unrelated topic. People who click on your link in the index are going to arrive at your blog expecting to see news about Britney and when they don’t they’re going to click away.
So these two factors are beyond your control and can both have a massive effect on your bounce rate. But there are things you can control that will keep your bounce rate from killing your blog.
- Poor navigation: If your links don’t work or visitors can’t easily find what they’re looking for on your site then they’re going to click away.
- Irrelevant content: If your title promises one thing but your content doesn’t deliver, readers will exit your site before they even reach the end of the article.
- Poor website design: Too flashy, too bright, too loud, too anything and visitors will become agitated and leave.
- Slow load times: Google has already stated that load times are taken into consideration. A lot of users are still on a dial-up Internet connection. If it takes too long for your site to load, they’re not going to hang around.
- Cluttered pages: Cluttering up the page with Adsense ads, banner ads, opt-in forms, surveys, polls, Facebook widgets, Twitter widgets and whatever else you can think of will not attract more attention. In fact, it does just the opposite. The reader can’t find the information they’re looking for because it’s surrounded by all that clutter so they just click away and go somewhere else to find it.
- Pop-ups: Putting a pop-up on your blog is like putting a big, beefy bouncer at the entrance of your bar. A lot of people are intimidated by pop-ups and won’t even bother entering your site. If they do, they’re afraid they’re going to pick up a virus if they stick around so they make sure to get out of there quick.
- Internal linking: Create internal links to lead your readers to more relevant content, deeper within your blog. Even some of your repeat visitors may have missed that previous blog post or might appreciate the refresher course. And it’s a great way to introduce new visitors to everything your blog has to offer. Set up those internal links to increase the amount of time that all visitors spend on your site.
Why is bounce rate so important? Obviously, the more time your visitor spends on your blog the better your chances of him turning into a loyal, repeat visitor and then into a buyer. But search engines are also beginning to consider bounce rate in the algorithms that determine index position. A high bounce rate won’t necessarily kill your blog. But everything you to do lower it helps increase your chances of success.