Bounce rates can hurt. Your end goal is getting your site visitors to a specific destination, usually a conversion on a contact page or a quote request form, and if they’re bouncing from your site after only viewing the initial entry page, you’ve officially lost all hope of converting them.
The biggest problem with bounce rates is the lack of concrete justifications for their existence. Since you cannot possibly conduct exit interviews for everyone who leaves your site, determining the cause for your bounce rate is largely a subjective process.
Fortunately, there are a handful of techniques you can use to greatly reduce your bounce rate, increasing the amount of site traffic that flows to other pages and ultimately, to your intended destination. Under the right circumstances, this can have a direct and positive effect on your bottom line revenue.
Many changes to your site that can decrease bounce rates have to do with the design and structure of your site, including its layout and navigation, but there are simpler strategies that can be applied to your content to get you similar results.
One of the most valuable tools in your arsenal will be internal linking. When you write the content for a new blog post or new page on your website, look for opportunities to add hyperlinks to other pages when relevant. For example, if you’re writing an article on a specific type of hat, you could link to the product page for that specific hat, or a general category page that introduces hats which contains more information about the line. These links, when used appropriately, will attract people to venture deeper into your site to keep learning new information, giving you more opportunities to convert.
As an added bonus, the increased interlinking throughout your site will be beneficial for your search rankings—Google favors sites with heavily linked interior pages.
Stronger headlines can also decrease your bounce rate, and that goes for sub-headers in the body of your copy as well. First, “stronger” doesn’t necessarily mean more likely to attract a click—more importantly, it means more accurate and more compelling. Users who click on a link should be excited for what comes next, and that excitement needs to be fulfilled with your on-page content. If you do not meet their expectations, they will probably leave.Further headings down the page should keep your users interested in reading more, drawing them down the article bit by bit.
Plain content doesn’t engage a user nearly as much as interactive content. Studies show that just including a picture alongside an article can increase traffic and interest in an article, and if people are more interested in what they’re reading, they’re less likely to leave. Embed a video, incorporate pictures or infographics into the body of your content, and do whatever you can to use a diverse range of mediums throughout your site. It gives more options to your audience, some of whom might prefer plain written content while others might prefer watching a short video. The more options you have for your users, the more of them will stay.
Concise content is a no-brainer for increasing bounce rates. Since your goal here is to keep users on your site for as long as possible, it might be tempting to write longer articles as a result. However, length is not nearly as important as conciseness. A concise 300-word article can contain just as much valuable information as a fluff-driven 1200-word article. The more concise your content is, the more value your user will see per page on your site, and that’s going to draw them in deeper.
One option you can use to decrease your overall bounce rate involves the creation of new pages in the form of specific landing pages that cater to your core demographics and sources of traffic. For example, you could create a landing page that speaks directly to people who found you on Facebook, or those who specifically found you via a paid link on another site. You want to make a perfect first impression or else your initial traffic will simply leave, so take the time to understand the segments of your audience and cater to them personally.
Meta descriptions are the short snippets that appear under their corresponding link in major search engines. As such, they’re usually responsible for determining whether a user clicks on the link, and why they chose to click it. If your meta description is appealing enough to attract clicks, but it isn’t relevant enough to your content, users will leave your site the moment they discover this. If it’s accurate, but not compelling, they won’t even click in the first place. Your goal should be to create meta descriptions that set accurate expectations about your content, but are still dynamic enough to entice new visitors.
White space is easy on the eyes—it’s a principle of design, but it can also be harnessed with the shape and style of your content. If you keep all your paragraphs long and bunched up together, you’ll run the risk of tiring your audience’s eyes, or worse, leaving them with a bad impression of your site. Instead, break up your articles into sections with clear, distinct subheadings, and use bulleted lists whenever possible to cut through the bulkiness of your content.
It’s also a good idea to eliminate any distractions that you can. While integrated forms of media are beneficial to an inbound audience, obnoxious ads can sometimes deter them. Keep your ads subtle and off to the side whenever possible.
Throughout your content, you will probably encounter opportunities to link to external sources, which can be good for building your credibility as a source. Make sure those links open up in a new window; otherwise, anybody who clicks on them will constitute a departure from your site.
As I’ve mentioned, the best way to prevent someone from leaving your site is to attract them deeper into your site. In order to do that, you’re going to need strong calls to action. Instead of merely posting a link and hoping for the best, wrap your link in a compelling phrase that emphasizes the value of the page to come. Motivate your users with action-based language, and make the venture to your other pages seem worth the extra effort.
As you put these strategies to good use on your website, you’ll want to regularly measure your bounce rates to determine their effectiveness. Keep some of your old blogs on the radar, syndicating them alongside your newly written blogs, and compare the bounce rates of people entering your site from each initial article. Take note of specific wording choices and formats that tend to keep people venturing deeper into your site, and conduct regular audits of your campaign to detect and correct possible fault points in the relevance of your content.
Only through an ongoing process of analysis and revision will you perfect your bounce rate-decreasing strategy.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.