Considering the fact that the internet is becoming more and more crowded with each passing day, getting visitors to your website or blog has become a task that requires a great deal of efforts. However, the more difficult part is to retain those visitors on your website.
As I’m sure many of you are aware, reducing the bounce rate of your site is important for gaining new visitors and retaining current ones. In this article, I will discuss the concept of bounce rate, and how WordPress users can reduce it.
Bounce Rate: What, How and Why?
In simple terms, if a visitor arrives at your website, but leaves quickly, without actually clicking on any link and/or browsing any of the other pages, it counts as a ‘bounce.’ Quite obviously, a reduced bounce rate means visitors tend to stay longer on your website, thereby adding to the success of your site.
In other words, if a visitor stays longer on your website, the chances that he or she might be interested in your offerings or the content on your site are high. So, low bounce rates mean that you have a better chance of engaging your visitors and turning them into loyal customers.
Even from an SEO perspective, high bounce rates can adversely affect your website. If Google notices that visitors are not staying for long on your site, it sees this as an indication that your website’s content is not relevant, and thereby penalizes your website in terms of pagerank.
So, what causes a visitor to ‘bounce’? Well, there are plenty of reasons: Poor website design, irrelevant content, obtrusive adverts, slow website, poor mobile design, and 404 errors, just to name a few. In addition, there are specialized reasons that cause visitors to bounce. Low-on-patience visitors like myself tend to leave the website instantly if the “Give us Feedback” pop-ups are overused.
When it comes to measuring the bounce rate of your website, there is hardly any sure-shot metric. However, you can use tools such as Google Analytics for start.
The bigger and more important aspect is what can be termed as a ‘good bounce rate’ for your website? This varies from one website to another. If you’re running a site that relies on one-off visitors, you shouldn’t worry too much here. For example, if you are running Dictionary.com or Wikipedia, you will be getting visitors who will visit your site seeking a particular bit of information (say, the meaning of a given word or the encyclopedia entry for a given topic). In this case, your visitors will get the info they seek right from the landing page, and then leave your website. Your bounce rate might be high, but your website is still serving its purpose and holds a good standing with its users.
However, if you’re running a magazine or a blog, you need to be alarmed if your bounce rate is anywhere above 60%.
Reducing the Bounce Rate of Your WordPress Website
So, how do we reduce the bounce rate of our WordPress websites? The following steps might help:
You can’t afford to underestimate this fact: if your website is not visually appealing, you will lose visitors. As such, it is a great idea to invest in a good WordPress theme, possibly a premium one that suits your needs. Even more so, if needed and possible, you might also consider a custom design for your website.
That said, there is more to appearance than just the WordPress theme. You need to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. There are hardly any alternatives left to responsive design (if that is not your thing, you might also consider adaptive design). Whatever you do, know that in all likelihood, mobile users will be a big part of your traffic.
Focus on the navigation of your website. If your site’s main menu is too cumbersome to use or too obsolete to be noticed, your users will prefer hitting Ctrl+W rather than searching for the navigation links.
Plus, you should also consider using Related Posts plugins to show relevant content to your visitors, especially if your website is a blog or magazine.
Next, user inter-linking and tags to offer additional relevant content. It goes without saying that you should keep the advertisements as unobtrusive as possible. Beyond that, you should also invest some time in reducing the number of error pages on your website—broken links should be fixed, for example.
Having a caching plugin and/or a good web host to enhance the speed of your website can also be useful in reducing bounce rates.
This has been said way too many times, so I’ll keep it short: make sure you are publishing quality content that is both relevant and error-free. Your content should speak for itself. If your content is not useless to website visitors, any level of good web design cannot save your website, sadly.
This one is more of a long shot, but still useful. There are SEO experts who claim that Google uses social proof as a metric in deciding the ‘worth’ of a website, but reports also claim otherwise.
SEO apart, and generally speaking, a good number of social shares and social media following gives the message to your visitors that your website has authority, due to its strong following and user base. Similarly, lack of social media followers can be interpreted as a bad mark on the merit of your website.
Therefore, it is worth investing in social media promotion for your website. If not, consider disabling certain widgets, so that your website doesn’t show off its social media shares and followers if the numbers aren’t impressive.
High bounce rates can have a disastrous impact on your website, both in terms of visitors and search engine pagerank. However, by taking care of the aforementioned minor, but extremely important aspects, along with publishing good quality useful content, you can reduce your website’s bounce rate easily.
What do you think of these suggestions? Also, do you have any strategies to reduce the bounce rate of your website? Share them with us using the comments below!
Sufyan bin Uzayr is a freelance writer and Linux enthusiast. He writes for several print magazines as well as technology blogs, and has also authored a book named Sufism: A Brief History. His primary areas of interest include open source, mobile development and web CMS. He is also the Editor of an e-journal named Brave New World. You can visit his website, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.