In this post we will take a look at some tried and tested ways to help increase the number pages each visitor to your website views during their visit. We will also cover how you can reduce the number of visitors who leave your website almost instantly, without interacting with it in any way.

Whenever a visitor to your site leaves without clicking on any links or visiting any other pages on your site, it’s known as a bounce. This metric is measured as your bounce rate and reducing this number, along with increasing your page views per visit, is beneficial for a few important reasons.

To find out what your site’s current bounce rate is, Google Analytics, a free web stats service will display this, plus a lot more data about how visitors interact with your site.

In this article we will discuss some of the ways WordPress users can go about reducing the bounce rate of their site, and also increase the amount of pages each visitor views during their visit.

Measure Bounce Rate with Google Analytics

Why Reduce Bounce Rate?

One benefit of increasing the number of pages each visitor views during their time on your site, in addition to reducing your site’s bounce rate, is that the more of your content a visitor consumes, the more likely they are to connect with you, your brand, or your business. Forging this connection with your audience increases the chances of them becoming a customer, client, or regular reader.

There is another important benefit of having a low bounce rate for your site. When search engines like Google evaluate a website in order to determine where to rank its pages in their results, one factor that is widely believed to be used to evaluate the quality of a website is the bounce rate.

If Google detects that visitors are leaving your site a few seconds after clicking through to it from their search engine results, it gives them a good indication that your site isn’t useful or relevant. Therefore Google shouldn’t list your site in their results for that particular search term.

In short, from an SEO perspective, a high bounce rate can negatively affect your site’s position in the search engines, and therefore the amount of visitors it receives. This is why it is important to try and reduce your site’s bounce rate, or the number of visitors who quickly leave after landing on your site.

How is Bounce Rate Measured?

Google hasn’t made it entirely clear how bounce rate is measured. Popular consensus states that any visitor who leaves your site after a short period of arriving without interacting with it in any way counts as a bounce. The time window is unknown but thought to be less than 10 seconds.

It is also unclear exactly what a good bounce rate is. However, a common figure that is cited is that less than 50% is good and anything over 60% is cause for concern.

While some types of sites shouldn’t be too worried about a high bounce rate, such as those that instantly show the user what they came to see on the landing page, such as an online dictionary.  Other types of site, such as blogs, or online stores, which should be aiming to generate prolonged or multi-page visits, should be concerned with a high bounce rate.

This is because for content heavy sites such as blogs, a high bounce rate is a good indication that your content isn’t engaging or interesting. It can also be a sign that there is something fundamentally flawed with the site’s design, which is instantly repelling visitors. If this is the case, it means some serious work is required to fix the problem.

Causes of a High Bounce Rate

The most common cause of a high bounce rate is that the content is not relevant to what the visitor was searching for. If the visitor did a search for ‘London’ while looking for information on the capital of England and then clicked through to a site about London in Canada, they would quickly bounce.

Other factors that might be repelling visitors and causing a high bounce rate could include:

  • A badly designed site
  • Low quality content
  • Over use of popup opt-in forms
  • Slow loading pages
  • Confusing navigation
  • Non-mobile friendly or lack of a responsive design
  • Too many prominent adverts
  • Errors on the page or page not found
  • Lack of social proof

While there isn’t much you can do about the first example, short of changing the focus of your content, there is plenty you can do to overcome this second set of causes of a high bounce rate.

How WordPress Uses Can Reduce Their Bounce Rate

Thankfully for WordPress users there is a lot you can do to easily fix many of the problems that could be putting off visitors as they arrive on your site, causing them to hit the back button, and pushing up your bounce rate. Here are some tips on how WordPress users can reduce their bounce rate.

Ensure your Site is Visually Pleasing

With it taking users just two-tenths of a second to form an opinion about a brand when they land on their website, ensuring the design of your website, along with its logo, are of a high standard is very important.

It is also vital that the design and visual style of your website matches its content and appeals to your target audience. While a vividly coloured website with eye catching imagery might be ideal for one type of, it might not be what your visitors are expecting when looking for a financial advice website.

Solution: Thankfully as a WordPress user you are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing an affordable, off the shelf design for your website. Just browse the many premium themes available for WordPress to find one that is pleasing on the eye and matches the message or purpose of your website. Getting a high quality logo designed isn’t a problem either thanks to the many options available for commissioning a unique logo design.

Improve the Site’s Navigation

While a short visit of a few seconds is thought to be the threshold for counting a one-page visitor as a bounce, improving the navigational features of your site can still be of benefit.

By making it as easy as possible for readers to find their way to the other pages of your site, you can not only decrease your bounce rate, but also increase the pages per visit count, and time on site. These metrics can all signal to the search engines that your overall site is high quality and of interest to visitors, and therefore worthy of a good position in their rankings.

Solution: Interlink your content using contextual links within your articles. Ensure text links are styled so that they are easily identifiable. Display the recent posts widget and other links to content in the sidebars and footer areas. Organize and style your main navigation menu so that it is easy to read and use.

Publish Engaging and Error-Free Content

This should go without saying but if you are trying to portray a professional image, then it is vital that your website’s content is free of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Some audiences can be more forgiving, but in most cases problems with your content is sure to put visitors off.

Engaging, well written content that instantly grabs the visitor’s attention is also a great way to increase time on site, page views per visit, and general user engagement.

Solution: Proofread all content before hitting publish and if necessary, employee the services of a professional copywriter.

Remove Intrusive or Irrelevant Adverts

According to a study by HubSpot from 2011, 84% of 25-34 year-olds have left a favourite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising. If you are displaying site wide ads on every page of your site, it’s worth considering if they are relevant to each piece of content that you’ve published.

Solution: By using a WordPress advertising plugin in combination with a custom sidebar plugin, you can easily create multiple sidebars for displaying more relevant sidebar content to your readers, based on the post or page they are currently viewing.

Responsive Design to Reduce Bounce Rate

Mobile Friendly Design

Responsive website design, that is web pages with a layout that responds to the screen size or device they are being viewed on, is now a very common aspect of modern web design.

However, many websites still aren’t taking advantage of a responsive layout, which is a simple and effective way to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. With most sites not making the effort to appeal to the growing number of mobile users, this is a great way to help your website stand out from its rivals.

While creating a mobile-friendly website, or a mobile version of it, can help reduce your bounce rate, it is also another way to help increase the position of your website in the search engine results pages, or at least prevent it getting demoted.

Solution: Upgrade your theme to one with a responsive layout or create a mobile version of your site.

Unhelpful Error Pages

If the page on your site that is listed in the search engine results is no longer online or has moved, visitors will be shown a 404 error page indicating that the page cannot be found.

As most default 404 error pages aren’t that interesting or helpful to visitors, seeing one can result in an instant bounce from most users. However, by taking the time to implement an informative and helpful 404 error page, you can give yourself the opportunity of steering visitors towards another page on your site, preventing them from leaving empty handed.

Solution: Install a 404 redirect plugin, or use a plugin to create a custom 404 error page.

Lack of Social Proof

While Google might claim that they don’t use social signals, such as Tweets, and Likes, to determine where to rank a site, these numbers can still help indicate to the visitors of your site whether your content is popular or not and worth sticking around for.

While a healthy amount of shares and likes can quickly let visitors know that your content is well-regarded and worth reading, the opposite could be said of a site or publisher without fans and followers.

Solution: Trydisabling widgets that display the number of fans and followers your site’s social media profiles have if the numbers are low. Invite users to follow, like, or subscribe, but don’t advertise your lack of social proof until the numbers are more respectable.

Conclusion

Hopefully you should now be aware of what bounce rate is and how a high bounce rate can have a negative affect your site’s visibility in the search engines.

Thankfully WordPress users have a number of great tools at their disposal that can help bring this number down. By combining these tactics with great content that is well-written, engaging, and useful, you can do a lot to improve your site’s bounce rate, the number of pages viewed per visits, and the time on site per visitor, which can all help indicate to the search engines like Google that your content is worth displaying in their results.

What other tactics and strategies have you employed to reduce your bounce rate and increase pages per visit?


Author:

Joe has been using WordPress for many years and spends his time creating content for a wide range of websites and blogs. If you need compelling content for your blog, visit his freelance services portfolio now.

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4 Comments

  1. Virendar Warwal

    We have to focus on site design, navigation (categories) and site speed.

    It helps me much because I want page rank for my new blog.

    Thanks!
    Virendar

  2. To balance your point about social proof: recent studies have shown that low social proof numbers actually lower user confidence, especially on ecommerce sites. In other words, if all your FB buttons say “1 share” or “0 shares,” you might be better off without them. Low numbers tell readers, “No else wanted to share this.”

    Here’s one of those studies: http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/removing-social-sharing-buttons-from-ecommerce-product-page-increase-conversions/

  3. Brent Toderash

    “Proofread all content before hitting publish and if necessary, employee the services of a professional copywriter.”

    Just noting that one because I love irony. ;-) Nice article though, offers good help for a deeper understanding of the bounce rate metric.

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