What’s a Bounce Rate?
A “bounce rate” is the percentage of visitors who bounce away from your site after only viewing one page. This percentage is derived by dividing total number of visits viewing one page by the total number of visits. Basically, your bounce rate is the number of guests who would say, “I came. I saw. I wasn’t impressed.” The goal of this post is to help you make a great first impression.
The average bounce rate for blogs is between 40- and 60-percent. Marketing sites strive for a 20-percent or less bounce rate, which they attempt to achieve using targeted keyword campaigns. A bounce rate below 35-percent is considered excellent, and most bloggers shouldn’t worry too much unless their site consistently bounces more than 60 percent of visitors.
How can I find out my site’s bounce rate?
The easiest way is to sign up for a free analytics profile with either Google Analytics or Alexa. You’ll be required to insert a line of code into your site to verify you’re the site owner. Then simply wait until the analytics site gathers enough data to begin generating reports.
WordPress users can install and activate the Ultimate Google Analytics plugin, which allows bloggers to enter the Google Analytics into the plugin configuration screen without diving into your site’s Editor area. (Note: If you aren’t familiar with .php code, it’s best to avoid the Editor area.)
How can I lower my bounce rate?
- Listen to your readers. Google offers a variety of stats on bounce rates. For instance, I’ve learned that my bounce rate is much lower on days when I present practical “how-to” content, and that SEO Saturdays have the lowest bounce rate so far for On Blogging Well, followed closely by Marketing Monday. That tells me that my readers are more interested in learning how to draw and retain visitors and promote their sites than some of the other topics I’ve blogged about. This blog is still young, but in another month or so, if this trend continues, I may consider dropping some of my daily topics and including more of the low bounce-rate topics.
- Ensure your site design is as good as it possibly can be. Flashy graphics often annoy visitors. Make sure your color scheme is pleasant and that your navigation system is easy to use and understand.
- Avoid technical issues, such as sites that require additional downloads to view components, missing images, error codes, hyperlinks that lead to nowhere, etc.
- Create compelling content. Awesome design will only take you so far in the blogosphere. You must provide value for your reader’s time and solve the problems they are seeking answers to. Otherwise, you’re just another pretty website — all dressed up with no one to read.
- Align your site’s title, description, and ads with its content. Few things annoy web surfers more than typing in a search string about a problem they want a solution for and getting a list of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) that have absolutely nothing to do with their search. I try to keep everything on my blog focused toward better blogging, from the title/description to the blogroll, to the ads and products. Even the give-aways are geared toward bloggers. Keeping your site tightly focused will help your audience find you and avoid sending searchers of other material your way.
- Include a clear call to action. The old “ask and you shall receive” law works well in all aspects of life, including blogging. If you want your readers to do something, ask them. Make it plain but not passive, and place your request “above the fold.” For instance, statistics show that the best spot to place your subscription form is in the right sidebar, preferably near the top. I don’t know why, but this is the “optimum” place to put it. I put my “Keep in Touch” area there, with links to join my communities on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and get email updates via FeedBurner. Right beneath those icons is my call to action for podcast subscriptions, followed by the form to sign up for my newsletter. Keep your action request in plain site and mention them from time to time in your blog posts (like I just did).
- Use your outposts to bring targeted traffic. Google Analytics provides not only the overall bounce rate for your site but breaks it down by referrer. My top two referrers are Facebook and Twitter. Those who read my tweets or see my Facebook updates have a good idea what they’re going to get when they visit my site, therefore, they click through more pages and stay on the site longer. My highest bounce rate comes from “organic searches” through Google. These are people who are searching for something specific and returned my site in their search results. Most of these visitors could tell quickly that the site wasn’t what they were looking for. I can cut down this figure by improving my keyword usage.
Many SEO gurus claim the bounce rate is the most important stat for a site owner to watch. Hopefully the tips in this post will help you get yours as low as possible.
Until next time,