Generally, when being graded on your performance, you want the highest number possible. Take your credit score, for example. You want that number to be as close to 850 as possible. The lower the number, the more likely that your finances are in trouble.

However, the opposite is true when it comes to your site’s bounce rate. Since bounce rates measure what percentage of visitors leave a website after viewing a single page, you’re aiming for the lower end of the scale.

Before discussing the different ways you can reduce your site’s bounce rate, let’s look at what a “good” bounce rate is. That way, you can set a baseline for your site and then set to work on improving different elements to enhance the visitor experience.

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What is a good bounce rate?

According to research by RocketFuel, most websites have bounce rates between 26% and 70%. Every number in this range might be considered a “good” bounce rate, depending on the purpose and content of the site.

For example, a website that is mostly dedicated to promoting events might have a higher bounce rate. That’s because visitors often just want to check the time, date, and location of a specific event. An ecommerce site, on the other hand, should aim for a lower bounce rate since they want visitors to shop around. A high number likely indicates that visitors are leaving before making a purchase.

To set an appropriate baseline for your site, you’ll have to consider both the intent of your visitors and the purpose of your content. Once you’ve established your goal, any upward trends indicate that some elements in your site’s design or content aren’t meeting the needs of your target audience.

It could be that your site is slow to load, or that the content of your blog posts isn’t matching up with the headlines. Or maybe your site isn’t responsive so mobile visitors have to zoom in to read the text on your pages.

Whatever the reason, a high bounce rate can provide an impetus to reassess that the design and content of your site are meeting the needs and expectations of your visitors.

In this post, we’ll cover the different ways you can keep your visitors engaged and reduce the bounce rate of your WordPress site. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Analyze your traffic

To reduce the bounce rate of your site, you have to first understand what is causing it to rise. There are countless factors. Maybe some visitors clicked on the wrong page. Maybe others did not find the information they were looking for on the page and left. Others might have found the information they were looking for and left feeling satisfied. One way to gain more actionable insights into bounced visits on your site is to study your traffic

Using Google Analytics, you can see how the age, geographical location, and behavior of your visitors affect their bounce rates. For example, if there is a significant difference between the bounce rates of US visitors and visitors from other countries, then you might try adopting a more global perspective in your content. This could be as simple as including examples of businesses based in other parts of the world.

Viewing bounce rates of users by country in Google Analytics dashboard

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Or, if new visitors are bouncing at a higher rate than returning visitors, then branding might be an area of improvement to focus on. Could you use your color palette more consistently across your site? Do you have a custom logo? What about a custom footer?

Segmenting and analyzing your site traffic in this way can help you create a clear road map for improving the visitor experience and reducing bounce rates on your site.

Step 2: Improve the Speed of Your Site

No matter what age they are, the country they’re from, or the browser they’re using, today’s online consumers expect fast load times. According to a KISSmetrics report, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.

To meet this consumer expectation, you need a fast site. You can start optimizing your site’s speed by selecting a quality host and lightweight theme. You’ll also want to remove any unnecessary plugins, widgets, ads, external services, and multimedia weighing down your site.

Other best practices for improving the load time of your site include optimizing your images and compressing your GZIP files. You can do this manually or get a tool like WPMU DEV’s Hummingbird Pro to do it for you.

Minifying files in WPMU DEV's Hummingbird Pro settings to help reduce bounce rate

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Step 3: Add Navigation Menus

You want to make it easy for visitors to find the content they’re looking for on your site. This will enhance their experience and increase the likelihood that they view more of your pages and stay on your site longer.

Adding navigation menus to the header, sidebar, or footer of your site will help visitors easily and quickly find content on your site.

Depending on your site design, you may want to create a sticky navigation menu for the homepage to save visitors from having to scroll back up to the top of the page to click on another category.

Or you may want to include a search box to ensure that visitors can look up a post or page by keyword. This seemingly simple feature can improve your site’s navigation system and the user experience.

Search box included in sidebar of WordPress site can help reduce bounce rate

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Step 4: Feature Content in the Sidebar

If you decide to add a navigation menu in your header, then you can use your sidebar to feature additional content. Depending on the needs of your site, you may choose to display a list of your most recent, popular, or random posts.

For example, say you already have a lot of content on your site and you publish daily. Rather than display a list of the most recent or popular posts, you may want to display random posts to ensure that visitors can find and view all your posts, no matter when they were published.

Whatever display you choose, featuring additional posts in the sidebar of your site will enable visitors to easily find and click on another post or page. This not only improves your chances of getting more page views and reducing your bounce rate, but it also enhances the visitor experience on your site.

Display of Recent Posts in sidebar of WordPress site can help reduce bounce rate

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Step 5: Add Internal Links

Internal linking is another way to enable visitors to easily find and read relevant content on your site. Providing links to related content within your blog posts will not only make your site easier to navigate, which increases the chances that readers look at more content and stay on your site longer — it also helps search engines find all of the content you own on a particular topic. This improves your chances of ranking for the keywords associated with that topic.

Because it can keep your bounce rate low and help search engines and readers understand the value and relationship between the content on your site, an internal linking strategy is key for optimizing your site.

Step 6: Set External Links to Open in New Tabs

Imagine that a visitor is on your site and enjoying what they’re reading. They click on a hyperlinked phrase that they aren’t quite familiar with because they want to learn more after finishing your post. But, instead of opening in a new tab or window, the link opens in the same window and redirects them away from your site. Some visitors would simply click back to your site, but some might not.

Setting external links to open in a new tab or window is a simple way to prevent visitors from bouncing from your site. While you can manually set external links to open in a new tab or window, you can also use code or a plugin to automate the process.

Setting external links to open in new tab can help reduce bounce rate

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Step 7: Make Sure Your Content Is Readable

Readers will only stay on a page if the content is readable. When judging the readability of your site, you need to consider not only what the words are on the page but also how they look on the page.

Begin by removing any instances of passive voice, shortening any long sentences or paragraphs, and adding transition words to improve the flow of the post. You can then add headings and subheadings to better organize chunks of texts. You can also use bullet points to take advantage of white space on the page.

Finally, make sure to add images and videos to keep visitors engaged. Articles and blog posts that contain images get over 90% more total views than those without.

Step 8: Avoid Disruptive Ads

Many site owners use ads to monetize their sites. You can too without worrying about impacting your bounce rate, as long as you make them as unobtrusive as possible. Popups or ads that disrupt the visitor experience might lead to higher bounce rates and negatively impact your site’s rankings.

Back in 2017, Google officially announced that sites using techniques that make content less accessible to a user would not rank as highly. The primary example: showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results or while they are looking through the page.

Demo of intrusive popup that will affect site rankings and bounce rate

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These types of ads are frustrating for visitors because they make it difficult to access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result.

In short, you can place ads anywhere on your site — as long as you keep in mind that helping users find the content they’re looking for is your first priority.

Step 9: Optimize Your Site for Mobile Devices

Considering that mobile devices account for more and more organic search engine visits every year, optimizing your site for all devices is more than a nice-to-do — it’s a must.

According to McKinsey & Company, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% will visit a competitor’s site instead.

To prevent these visitors from bouncing to your competitors, you need to build a site that’s fully-functioning and responsive. By selecting themes, plugins, and media that are optimized for mobile devices, visitors can have a seamless experience on your site, no matter what device they’re using.

mobile-optimized WordPress theme Vista shown on different screen sizes

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Keep Visitors Engaged on Your Site

Reducing your site’s bounce rate is about more than chasing a number. The real goal is to help visitors have a seamless experience on your site and find value in your content. By implementing the strategies above, you can optimize your site to ensure it meets the needs of your target audience.

Use HubSpot tools on your WordPress website and connect the two platforms  without dealing with code. Click here to learn more.

 Use HubSpot tools on your WordPress website and connect the two platforms  without dealing with code. Click here to learn more.

Originally published Jan 31, 2020 12:06:16 PM, updated March 17 2021

Topics:

WordPress Website