Before we go into how to decrease your bounce rate, let us take a look at how Kiss Metrics defines bounce rate.
So now that you know what it is, the big question is…
What can you do to decrease your bounce rate?
I have researched this topic many times over in an effort to improve the bounce rate of my websites and my clients. Through many years of trial and error, I have identified 25 tactics that consistently work the best.
Let’s avoid any more chit chat and get right into the tactics that will have the biggest impact on reducing your bounce rate.
Make Sure Your Content Is Consumable
People don’t like reading huge chunks of content when they come to a blog post or a landing page. If they have arrived at your website, then they’re already interested in what you are offering. Now you need to deliver relevant content that is understandable, legible, and readable.
#1 No More Than 7 Sentences Per Paragraph
This will limit the amount of text that will be blocked together, and it will keep new visitors from feeling psychologically overwhelmed. I will often break up my paragraphs into different sizes to enhance variation throughout my posts.
An occasional single sentence paragraph can speed up the flow and add white space to the article.
#2 Constrain Your Column Width to 700 to 800 pixels
Anything beyond 800 pixels will make your content look a little long when it is viewed with a desktop. A 700 pixel width column is the ideal width, and it will allow between 80 and 90 characters per line.
Smashing Magazine did a detailed study on typographic design patterns in websites. They found that the majority of websites had between 75 to 90 characters per line.
#3 Use Headers and Sub-Headers to Organize Content
Your blog posts should be broken down into sections using headers. Be sure to spend some time creating compelling titles for each header to entice new viewers to dive deeper into the section.
There is going to be a significant percentage of visitors that are looking for a specific piece of content within your post. A good blog post will use headers to make it easy for visitors to find the answers that they are looking for.
#4 Create List Posts As Often As Possible
People love to click on list posts because they are real easy to scan. This is why titles that start with a number (19 SEO Techniques Used By the Pros) dominate the first page of Google results.
Because they are easy to scan, list posts have the lowest bounce rate of all styles of blog posts.
MOZ recently shared the results of a study on headline preferences. Numbered titles easily ranked number one, and they were clicked on 75% more than the second headline preference.
#5 Use Black Text on a White Background
There is a good reason why 99% of all books ever published use black text on white background. It is the ideal contrast for reading, and nothing else comes close.
If you want to go crazy with colors, then do it with your logo and footer.
#6 Use Georgia or Arial Font Typefaces
Georgia and Arial are the easiest typefaces to read on computer and mobile screens. In addition, they are the two most used typefaces on websites. This creates an expected norm because the eyes are used to reading articles that are using Georgia or Arial.
#7 Set Your Font Size Between 14pt and 18pt
Smaller fonts make it hard to read. Make your fonts nice and big so that people of all age groups can easily read your content.
Six years ago, the average font size used on blogs was between 12pt and 14pt. The same Smashing Magazine typeface study that I mentioned earlier, also found that there has been a significant shift towards larger font sizes used in the body copy of websites. 16pt font is now the most used size, and the next most used font sizes are 14pt and 18pt.
#8 Set Your Line Height to 150%
The proper line height will incorporate the ideal amount of white space between each line of text. A line height of 150% stimulates horizontal motion when reading. A larger line height also helps readers quickly recognize word shapes.
#9 Incorporate Bullets with Bold Text to List Key Points
This is another simple formatting technique that makes it easy to scan while framing valuable content. If you have 3 to 5 key points within a section or paragraph, then use bullets to make them stand out. I like to highlight each of the key points in bold, and then I follow that with 2 to 3 sentences of elaboration.
#10 Make Your Posts Visual Stimulating
Visual images placed throughout your blog posts will pull new visitors in and keep them from bouncing. You need to have images, slideshows, and videos strategically placed throughout each of your blog posts. Each visual needs to be relevant and offer the reader an opportunity to dive deeper into a specific point mentioned in the post.
In a recent article, Balcom Agency revealed five key statistics that show why visual content is truly the king.
Today, more than ever, it is real easy to find quality content that someone else created to use within your post. Over the years, I have consistently used embedded content from four websites.
- YouTube for Videos. YouTube is my top choice for embedded content because you can find quality videos on pretty much any topic. Look for videos that have a good thumbs up to thumbs down ratio, that are between 3 to 20 minutes in length.
- Twitter for Pictures. Instead of using boring stock photos, I prefer to use Twitter tweets with images. This will save you money, and it will make your blog posts socially interactive.
- SlideShare.net for Slideshows. Although SlideShare does not cover as many niche topics as YouTube and Twitter, it is filled with great slideshows on popular topics.
- Visual.ly for Infographics. The community section of Visual.ly has a searchable index of thousands of top notch infographics that can be embedded directly into your blog posts.
In addition to decreasing the bounce rate, adding visual content to your articles will dramatically increase your social shares. BuzzSumo did a study which found that a simple addition of one image in a post increased the average shares by over 120%.
Improve the User Experience (UX) of Your Site
Your website’s UX should make everything easy and simple for new visitors. From ads to links, everything should be strategically placed to drive each new visitor deeper into your website.
#11 Use Exit Intent Technology on Your Pop-Ups
Most of the paid email opt-in plugins will offer a technology called exit intent. This allows you to only show your pop-ups when a new visitor moves the mouse off of your website towards the back button. If you use exit intent pop-ups, then your pop-ups will actually decrease your bounce rate.
#12 Place Your Ads in the Right Locations
We all want our blogs to make money, but you do not have blow up the user experience to do it. I recommend making three important adjustments to your ads.
- Adsense Ads Should Be Strategically Placed. The best practice is to have one 300×250 ad above your post and one 300×250 ad below the post. This keeps it simple and does not disrupt the flow of your articles. The third Adsense ad can be a large one in the sidebar (300×600) or below your main navigation (970×90). I recommend passing on Google ad links.
- Affiliate Links Should Be Carefully Placed. Affiliate banner ads do not work anymore, and they will destroy your bounce rate. Instead of plastering your site with affiliate banner ads, try adding an affiliate text link into the natural flow of an article.
- Make Sure Your Ads Look Right Across All Devices. If you place a new ad banner on your blog, then take the time to check how it looks on every device. A large banner that does not resize can dramatically increase your bounce rate.
Forbes published a study by MediaLets showing that ads on tablets have a 44% higher click through rate than ads on mobile phones. This is largely attributed to not optimizing ads to run properly on mobile phones.
#13 Your Blog Posts Should Start Above the Fold
Above the fold is what your visitors see on the screen before they have to scroll down. If new visitors can not see the beginning of your blog post above the fold, then they will hit the back button.
Design Hooks revealed that the ideal spot above the fold is between 200 and 500 pixels from the top. This is the location where your blog title should show up.
#14 Stock Your Main Navigation With Only the Best
A blog’s main navigation needs to have only five to eight links in it. Do not waste one of these spaces with a “home” link. Today, everyone knows that the logo will take you to the home page, which makes the additional link in the main navigation redundant.
Choose six categories where you have great content, which will be easily recognized by new visitors. For example, my main navigation categories are blogging, social media, seo, marketing, entrepreneur, and business. The remaining two links on my main navigation are my most liked posts and my course.
#15 Use Internal Links Within Your Blog Posts
Internal linking is probably the most effective way of reducing the bounce rate of a blog post. There are three internal linking best practices that deliver the best results.
- Use One Internal Link Per 500 Words. Do not go crazy placing internal links all over your posts. A 1500 word post should have a maximum of 3 internal links.
- Link to Relevant Content Only. The internal link should be related to the post. If you do not have any relevant content to link to, then it is an opportunity to write some additional posts that will benefit your readers and decrease your bounce rate.
- Use Text Links Naturally in The Post. The flow of your post should not be disrupted by the internal link. A single phrase text link will get 300% more clicks than an image or banner.
Take a look at your analytics and make a list of your 100 most viewed blog posts. Then start from the top and begin strategically placing internal links in each of them.
Search Engine Watch shared a study by Conductor on the distribution of anchor text by the number of words. The results showed that 77% of internal links use 1 to 3 words of anchor text. The takeaway is that visitors are psychologically conditioned to recognize legitimate internal links as having three or less words. If you go beyond 3 words, then your internal link will get less clicks because it will be falsely recognized as an ad.
#16 Place Your Best Content at the Top and Bottom of Your Sidebar
Although many bloggers have written off the sidebar, the top and bottom locations still drive significant traffic. Instead of filling these locations with ads to other websites, use these spots to promote your best content. My top sidebar spot has a large visual banner that promotes my comeback story, which is a 5000 word about me page documenting how I overcame the struggles of life to find success again.
For the bottom spot, I promote two of my most popular blog posts using banners with strong contrasting colors. I also use a smart sidebar that allows the bottom two banners to stick in place. So, when someone finishes reading an article those two banners will always be to the right of the article.
One important note to remember… if you use Adsense in the sidebar, then you can not use a smart sidebar because it is a policy violation.
#17 Place Compelling Call-to-Action Banners in Your Post
Call-to-action banners to your money pages are a great way to make a dent in your bounce rate and add to your revenue. I use one banner after the first paragraph and another at the end of each post. The banner in the first paragraph leads to a 2000 word post that promotes an affiliate and my blogging course. The end of the post banner is a call-to-action for a free internet marketing consult, which helps me add marketing services clients.
There are six call-to-action tips, from Vieo Design, that I recommend incorporating in your banners.
#18 Make Sure Your Site Looks Right Across All Devices
By now, everyone should have a responsive website. With that in mind, all responsive themes are not created equal. The Rocket Blog revealed that the average bounce rate for pages viewed with mobile devices is 72% higher than on desktops. This shows that there is still a significant portion of websites that are not optimized for mobile traffic.
You should manually test how your blog looks on a desktop, laptop, tablet, large screen smartphone, and small screen smartphone. When you review your blog on different devices do not stop at your home page. Look at how every style of page shows up in each device.
Increase the Speed of Your Website
In 1995, people would wait 20 minutes for a website to load if they thought it looked cool. With high speed internet readily available today, you need to have a landing page which can load in a second or two. If your website is slow, then your bounce rate is going to be much higher than it needs to be.
There are five really good ways that you can increase the speed of your website.
#19 Only Use Essential Plugins
A common cardinal mistake of newbie bloggers is to download and activate every cool plugin they read about. Nothing will slow down a site more than too many plugins. The ideal amount of active plugins for a blog is less than ten, and you should never have more than twenty.
Creative Minds found that 53% of WordPress sites use 10 or more plugins, with 4% using over 50 plugins.
#20 Reduce the Size of Your Images
Every image that is on your site needs to be reduced to the bare minimum. This includes your logo, banners, and featured images.
One of the most common mistakes bloggers make is not taking the time to crop images to the correct size. If the width of your page is 700 pixels, then every image used should have a width of 700 pixels or less.
#21 Use an Effective Caching Plugin
Instart Logic identified that over 30% of web pages will request over 100 resources when they are loaded, and the lifetime cache of these resources is less than one day.
With these stats in mind, it is extremely important to use a plugin that will streamline the caching of your blog. W3 Total Cache is, by far, the best caching plugin on the market. It will give you a significant bump in your site speed by caching your posts and pages as static files. In most cases, it will double or triple your average page load speed.
#22 Implement a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Total Server Solutions shared some interesting statistics on load times. They compared sites that were using a CDN to sites without a CDN. The optimal CDN delivery of the style.css file, by itself, cut almost 3 seconds off of the load time.
#23 Choose a Quality Host and Know When to Upgrade to a Dedicated Server
Do not cut corners with your hosting company. I only use 1and1, GoDaddy and BlueHost for my blogs. Famous Bloggers published a nice graph showing the web hosting distribution across the top 1 million most visited web sites. This gives you a great list of proven hosting companies to choose from.
If your blog is optimized for maximum speed, then a shared host will max out at approximately 15,000 page views a day. As you approach 15,000, you will need to make plans to move your blog to a dedicated server.
Go the Extra Mile With Your Content
Before we wrap it up, I want to share two more tactics that will reduce your bounce rate and increase your engagement.
#24 Update Your Posts to Make Sure They Are Evergreen
Have you heard of the terms “pillar content” or “evergreen content?” For a blog post to be evergreen, it needs to have both consistent audience interest and provide long term relevancy.
There are two things I do to make sure the majority of the posts I produce are evergreen.
- Do Not Use Specific Dates in Your Title or Content. A post with the title of 11 Top Web Design Tips for 2015 will no longer be relevant in 2016 and beyond. The same goes for the content in your post.
- Review and Update Your Top 100 Most Viewed Posts Once a Year. For me, posts that cover social media and SEO topics are the ones that consistently need yearly updates. This may be editing a couple of paragraphs or adding a new section.
If you remember to update your most viewed posts and avoid listing specific dates, then you will have a blog filled with evergreen content.
#25 Offer Readers a Content Upgrade as a Lead Magnet
A content upgrade is where you offer additional content in exchange for the visitor’s email address, via an opt-in form. Ascend2 found that the top marketers prefer to use a short form that has 2 to 4 fields. For content upgrades, I recommend using two. This will allow you to get their name and email address, which is all you really need.
I live by three simple strategies when it comes to content upgrades.
- Focus on Your Most Viewed Posts First. A good content upgrade will take 1 to 3 hours to create and implement. With this in mine, you should start with your most viewed blog posts and work your way down.
- Your Content Upgrade Needs to Be Relevant to Each Post. If your post is 11 Great SEO Techniques for Bloggers, then your content upgrade could be 9 Must Have SEO WordPress Plugins. A post specific content upgrade will easily convert 400% higher than a run of the site opt-in.
- Simple Upgrades Convert Better than Long eBooks. The highest converting content upgrades are simple lists that are 300 to 500 words in length. This makes it real easy to knock out multiple custom upgrades in less than a day.
In addition to improving your bounce rate, the content upgrade is the top technique pro bloggers use to grow their email list.
So… There you have it.
You are now equipped with the top 25 proven tactics for decreasing the bounce rate of your blog.
As with most everything, knowledge paired with action will deliver serious results. Take a moment, right now, to identify three of these tactics that you can take action on over the next seven days.
Your future bounce rate will thank you for it.