Managing Your Blog’s Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is a fickle little statistic within the blogging world. Specifically, it is the percentage of people that visit your website and decide to go to a second page or not. A high percentage (above 75%) means that most people are coming to your website, reading the link that sent them their, and then moving on. For a normal website, you want this number to be very low and even with a blog, a second page means another pageview and a higher demand from advertisers.
So how can we correctly measure bounce rate within our blog to know if it is good and what are some techniques to manage it?
When Bounce Rate Happens
A visitor contributes to your bounce rate five different ways that will increase it:
- Clicks the back button
- Closes the browser (window/tab)
- Types a new URL
- Does nothing (session times out after 30min)
- Clicks a link on your page and goes to a new site.
The most common of these surveyed is that a person will hit the back button, whether because what they found in the search engine not what they expected or they meant to navigate somewhere else. Short of writing great content, writing appropriate titles that fully sum up your article, and have a good site layout that makes it easy for the user to find the content quickly and effectively, you cannot fight this.
The same rules for clicking back also apply to closing the browser, typing a new URL, and doing nothing. All a web designer and blogger can do is write the best content and code that they can and leave it in the user’s hands to continue on with the website. Design is always important, so try to continuously look at your website with fresh eyes and make sure that you do have exciting but appropriate titles so the user does not feel tricked or lied to.
When looking at the bounce rate on your Google Analytics, (you can find this when you click on the Standard Reporting tab at the top of the analytics section) simply taking that number as it is is laziness on your part. Here are some numbers you need to go find and write down to get a fuller look at the bounce rate:
- Time on Page
- Ratio of New versus Returning Visitors
- Average Page Load Time
- Traffic Types
Time On Page
A high bounce rate first and foremost must be compared to the time spent on a page. Two different things came be happening in this page: one that leads to issues that are critical and the other to simply excepting that you may have a large portion of people reading one article and leaving. A high time on page statistic means that people are using Google to find your site or clicking the link you shared on Twitter, taking the time to read your post, and then leaving. This actually is neutral in the sense of good or bad because it simply means that people are reading your content. If you also have a high comment rate, then take this bounce rate as a high compliment because people are also engaging in your content.
For low time on page numbers, you need to see this as a red flag. For people that only stay for a couple of seconds, this can indicate that there is an issue with the page loading (see below), they instantly know this is not what they want, or the design is poor and they do not want to take the time to shift through your website. This combination needs to be addressed quickly because you will begin to have a reputation with viewers that your website is one to not visit and traffic will begin to rapidly drop off.
Ratio of New v. Returning Visitors
This is one of those analytic stats that can completely change how you market and write for your blog. If you have a blog that is heavy wit returning visitors, it would make sense that you have a high bounce rate because they have already seen many of the other articles.
A high group of new visitors means that your marketing, social media, or SEO techniques are working because new people are finding your site. This is a great thing, but we want to move them from new to returning visitors, so consider how we can get them back into the website. At the same time, to reduce the bouncing rate, you might want to consider marketing and structuring your website with plugins and links to ensure in-house navigation to other blog posts or pages on your website.
Average Load Time
Regardless of what is going wrong, you need to fix it. Most websites load in under 4 seconds and a study has shown that you have at most five seconds to get them the website before the person gives up. This means that load spikes may kill peoples attention span for your website and you may permanently lose visitors to your site if they do not have much interest in it in the first place. By far this is the worst of all of the technical issues.
Traffic times show where your traffic is coming from, including direct, organic, feed, and referral types. These different times may be an indication that you market differently with the approach that is bringing in the traffic. To further investigate, look at the social media networks that are driving traffic to know which networks may need a different approach in how you advertise your blog. Feeds will probably have a high bounce rate if they have already read your article and simply are showing up to view your videos that might not show up or the full article if it is an excerpt. Direct and organic traffic have the ability to lower the bounce rate, but you need to have a good layout and flow to your site as well as entice content to drive them to new pages. Also ensure all external links are set to a new window because if they click to Like your Facebook page and leave your site, your bounce rate has gone up.
What techniques are you going to use to manage your bounce rate?