I don’t have to tell you how important user engagement factors are.
For the longest time, Google entrusted their SERPs to other bloggers. Links were perceived as a stamp of approval where one blogger transfers his authority to another. Potential for misuse was enormous and lo and behold, websites started taking advantage of this.
Google decided to put a stop to this slowly starting to transfer decision making to visitors. User’s opinion is slowly becoming the dominant factor that will guide the rankings.
This is why bounce rate is so important nowadays.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate is the percentage visitors who visit the site and then leave it right away.
Basically, when you see something interesting on the Internet and you click on it, you will be sent to a landing page. This is the first page you see and your first contact with a website.
Some people will not be satisfied with this page causing them to instantly leave.
The number of visitors who instantly left form the bounce rate index. It is measured in percentage. So, if 100 % of visitors bounced (left), this is a good indication that they hate what they’re seeing.
When Google sees such a behavior, it is good indication that their search algorithm was wrong. Increased bounce rate makes the page less relevant and it slowly starts losing rankings.
Because of this, it is necessary to pay attention to this metric and lower your bounce rate as much as possible. The Lower the better.
Here are some great ways to do it.
Improve your targeting
High bounce rate is usually caused by poor targeting.
If you share your message with an audience that isn’t generally into it, they might click on a link and visit the page due to curiosity. Even if they like the content, they probably won’t have the incentive to browse forward.
When targeting your audience, you have to make sure they are not only interested in this single topic but in a number of similar topics. This will increase the likelihood of them browsing through your site.
- Use Google Analytics to check all the traffic channels
- If a certain traffic channel has high bounce rate, change your strategy
- If it has low bounce rate, try to attract more visitors through that channel
- Do not share content with random people
- Focus on a smaller number of visitors and grow from there
Be careful with titles
Titles need to be catchy so that the visitor would click on your link. But, they also have to be truthful.
There is nothing worse than an angry visitor. It is a type of traffic which you need to avoid at all costs. Not only will it have a negative affect on your bounce rate and other user engagement factors, it may also lead to some negative feedback.
Most of the traffic issues begin with the title. It is the process of careful planning where you need to attract visitors while not pushing them away.
- Do not overhype
- Don’t write titles longer than 55 symbols (or Google will cut them off)
- Write a direct and easy to understand title
- Your title has to provide value
- It has to be truthful and not to mislead the visitor
Do not forget meta description
Sometimes, titles simply won’t cut it.
This is when you have to use meta descriptions as a way of providing additional info.
Meta descriptions are still very relevant and they provide most value when paired up with titles. However, you need to realize the difference between the two. While titles are a way of promoting your page, meta descriptions are there to explain it.
- Meta descriptions should fit in less than 2 lines of text (about 155 symbols)
- A good meta description should complement the title
- Avoid having ellipsis (…) at the end
- Tips for titles also apply for meta description
Quality content is a must
If titles and meta descriptions can be perceived as an advertising effort then, content is definitely a product. Needless to say, your readers should be satisfied with the item you’re providing.
Quality of content is usually a subjective thing.
Like books, tastes will differ and sometimes it will be really hard to say if your article hit the target. However, there are ways to psychologically affect a reader improving his opinion.
Here’s how to make your content bounce rate friendly.
- Avoid empty talk, try to stay focused on the topic
- Create shorter paragraphs and sentences (ideally stick to 2-3 lines per paragraph)
- Break your text with bullets, images, videos, etc.
- Link out to valuable resources that support your theses
- Put internal links to your own articles
- Try to answer all the questions a visitor may have
- Be credible and incite further reading
- Form and size of your article will depend on its topic (an ultimate guide will be longer while, an entertaining article should provide a new experience, etc.)
Handling ads and popups
Majority of bloggers use their website as a way to make profit. Due to this, ads and popups are a commonplace. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of a person who loves to see a popup while reading an insightful piece.
These two can easily and quickly destroy user experience leading to an increased bounce rate. At the same time, it is hard to completely neglect them. For example, popups can do wonders for your email subscription list.
Luckily, there is a smart way of using them.
- Unless you have high traffic, avoid ads
- Do not place more than 1 or 2 ads on a page
- Make sure your ads look presentable and they fit your website theme
- Avoid potentially insulting or forceful popups
- Try to make them less obstructive
- Explain your visitors how they can benefit from a sign-up form
Use call-to-action (CTA)
Oftentimes, you have to lead your visitors by the hand if you want them to do something.
Best way of doing this is by using call-to-action.
With it, you can offer free trials, provide product descriptions, sell services and lead your visitors to other resources on your site.
Besides the fact that call-to-action will increase the engagement level, it will also lower the bounce rate as it forces a person to go to another page. It is a sure shot strategy that creates an instant effect.
- Your CTA should be distinctively different from anything else on the page
- It should be a stand-alone message
- Make sure your CTA is short and directly showing users how they can benefit
- Consider creating a unique color for your CTA
Improve your navigation
Your visitors don’t have to be irritated with your content or popups to leave a website. Perhaps they bounced because they couldn’t find what they were searching for.
Navigation is one of the basic tools that ensures low bounce rate.
If a person knows where to click, they won’t leave your website seeking a better source. Proper navigation is especially important for e-commerce websites and such that have a lot of sub-menus.
Like with everything else, you need to provide a quick and painless solution to your visitor.
- You should be able to reach any page on a website in 3 clicks or less
- Add big menus and subcategories
- Consider adding some filters to help visitors
- Make sure you also add a search bar
- Your tabs should be easily noticeable
Speed up your website
Nowadays Google puts a lot of focus on improving website speed. This is an inseparable part of SEO and it has an enormous impact on user experience and even rankings.
If your pages cannot load quickly, you visitor will leave. This will increase your bounce rate big time.
Furthermore, research has shown that people who bounce due to slow website speed are less likely to return in comparison to users who left due to some other reason.
- Your pages should load in less than 2 seconds
- Choose a reliable and fast hosting provider
- Use less plugins if possible
- Remove or reduce your banners
Mobile-friendly is the way to go
Similarly to having a fast website, being mobile-friendly is something that all users expect to see.
Today, majority of the Internet users access the Internet through their mobile devices. As such, optimization is the necessary ingredient for a low bounce rate.
- Set form input attributes
- Set dimensions for mobile devices
- Use word-wrap with long strings
- Utilize media queries
You should never forget that bounce rate measures visitors’ satisfaction.
If a visitor likes your website and everything you’ve done with it, they will likely start browsing through it. Of course, you are the one that has to set up the basis for this.
In a way, this metric shows you how well you’re managing your site.
If you notice high bounce rate percentage, this is a reason for concern and you should definitely change your strategy. This is precisely why Google is placing so much emphasis on this metric.
Do you have issues keeping visitors on your pages? Do you think you can improve your bounce rate? Share it in the comment section below!