Your bounce rate is essentially your rejection rate. It may hurt to hear it but every bounce is someone taking a look at your site and thinking “Nah, that’s not what I’m looking for”. And it sends a signal, not just to you and your feelings but to Google also. Your bounce rate tells Google that your site isn’t the prettiest in the serps and not important enough for a longer look.
But wait, it doesn’t have to be that way. With some changes to your site you can reduce the bounce rate, increase the visitor dwell time and benefit from the rumoured boost to your rankings. And there are a variety changes you can make.
#1 Improve Content Readability
The first one is Google’s old favourite, “Content is King”, sounds really cheesy in the current year but it still holds true. Well written content that answers the visitors question or presents a suitable product will stop the immediate search for the back button. But it’s not just the content itself, it’s also the presentation of that content.
We know that very few people read a webpage, it’s more a case of scanning the page for clues that this is the page with the answer to our question. And with that in mind, we can structure our content to take advantage of this.
Almost forgot! One other thing to be aware of is that not everyone is a native English speaker. The shorter and more concise your sentences are, the easier it will be for a wider audience to read and understand your content. For an idea of how complicated your writing is, run it through this free Flesh-Kincaid reading level tool.
#2 The Ancient Art of Chunking
The age old art of chunking as practised by every public speaker back to the time of Cesar, is just breaking up sentences with pauses. This allows the listener, or in our case the reader, to digest the information.
Chunking for the internet age is a little bit different, it’s the use of paragraphs, bullet points and empty space to allow the visitor to identify the key information.
The aim is present your information as clearly as possible and allow the user to scan for the information they need.
#3 Use Lots of Sub Headers
Another important factor in presenting information clearly is the use of subheadings throughout our content. If a user is searching for a particular piece of information buried in a sea of paragraphs with no easy way to zero in on the relevant section, they are much more likely to bounce rather than slog it through your wall of text.
Personally, I always chuckle at those YouTube comments. You know the ones, no paragraphs and a screen full of text. They are obviously written on mobile, where the person has felt so strongly that they spent 20 minutes writing a detailed critique of the video. They then post the comment without considering how it will look to the reader. Nobody is going to read comments that look like that. Which brings us to another common problem that became the standard without anyone thinking it through.
#4 External Links Open a New Window
When you have fought Google to get eyeballs reading your content and you have been coerced into linking out to relevant sites that provide the user value, why not keep that user on your site and open the link in a new window. This reduces the chances of a user quickly clicking through to another site and raises dwell time.
#5 Make Your Site Fast
Perhaps the easiest problem to tackle for any web optimisation specialist, is site speed. A recent study found that 47 percent of users expect a page to be fully rendered in 2 seconds. Bearing this in mind, is there any point in making huge changes to your content if almost half your visitors are going to bounce back to the serps when faced with you slow loading site? There is a range of different ways this can be tackled including:
- Leveraging a CDN
- Caching Pages for quick loading
- Removing Render Blocking Files
- Improving Hosting
- Optimising Images
#6 Optimise For Mobile First
With mobile queries outstripping that of the desktop in late 2016, any website that isn’t optimized for the mobile device is making a big mistake. If a user has to pinch to zoom in on your content chances are they will leave pretty frustrated.
There are a plethora of modern responsive themes to get the ball rolling for whatever platform you favour.
So all in all, there’s no reason for your site to be the ugly duckling. Make these changes and reduce your user bounce rate.