7 Ways to Steady Your WordPress Bounce Rate

You’ve probably come across your ‘bounce rate’ figure when analysing your website’s performance. Perhaps you don’t quite understand its implications, or are neglecting it completely. That’s all about to change.

Simply put, the percentage of people that visit your site and then close-to-immediately navigate away from it (the bounce rate) has a profound impact on your performance metrics and ultimately your ability to rank well in SERPs.

Each and every time a single visitor does this, your bounce rate steadily increases. Naturally, such adverse user-engagement is reflective of your content. Something obviously prompted them to click on your page, but either something scared them away or nothing made them stay.

WordPress bounce rate

Are High Bounce Rates Always Bad?

Do remember that benchmark or ‘acceptable’ bounce rates are relative to your industry and should also be looked at on a page-by-page basis.

It is common for a site landing page to have a higher bounce rate of above 70%. At first glance, this is shockingly high – especially if you are aiming to hit rates of 40.5 (average BR). Most people would interpret such a high percentage to mean that visitors land on the page and find no reason to explore the website further.

But consider this: the landing web page might just be doing a good enough job to satisfy the visitor’s query. If they land on the page and find the information they’re looking for, in most cases, people looking for an answer, fact, or contact information will have little reason to go further into the site. In such cases, their contribution to the bounce rate should be weighed differently.

Clearly, if a website is more content-driven or aims to prompt a given call to action (CTA) like selling a product or service, then the goal should be to increase click-through-rates (CTR).

In the same vein, performance metrics like ‘time on site’ don’t always amount to good website performance. For instance, users might be struggling to find what they’re looking for whilst they click around a site- increasing page-per-visit and time on site.

Implications of a High Bounce Rate

A high bounce rate is often indicative of poor or misleading content. It’s a sign that the right audience isn’t being attracted. Those that are attracted- clearly have no business consuming your content. So, you’re potentially wasting money on poor content creation; or losing money by not targeting the right people; or both.

Google values relevant content of high quality and it measures such by the attention and user-engagement websites receive from visitors. It also takes into consideration whether a topic is gaining a substantial amount of searches and social media mentions.

Even Google knows that there are many factors that account for bounce rates and so they only moderately affect rankings. However, it’s ranking capabilities certainly do depend on other factors that could be at risk if your bounce rate is high for the wrong reasons.

The top three ranking factors used by Google are as follows:

  • Links- strong links and link votes
  • Content- quality content
  • RankBrain- Google’s AI ranking system

These top factors that could see your site rise to prominence in the early pages of SERPs are only attainable when users stay on your site long enough to engage with the links and content.

Steadying Your WordPress Bounce Rate

WordPress bounce rate

If it’s not already clear by now, let’s begin by stating that the following tips will be as effective as your content. In other words, the first tip is to ensure the highest quality of useful, engaging and original content.

1. Harmonise Your Content with Your Traffic

The bottom line is; no matter how many of these tips you implement, if your site is about website design and if the traffic you drive to your blog is interested in interior design, your bounce rate won’t decrease.

The first thing to do is to optimise all titles across your site, including articles and individual pages. For example, website design posts should avoid generic ‘design’ titles. Even if it’s abundantly clear to you and most people that the topic is website design.

An effective change from “5 Design Ideas to Implement Now” to “5 Website Design Ideas to Implement Now” will help to eliminate those who click on your page under false expectations and bring down your bounce rate. It may well reduce the total number of visits to your page but will increase the quality of the remaining traffic.

Another way to tailor your content appropriately to your target audience is to take advantage of the data you already have. Use Google Analytics to determine which traffic sources are bringing you the lowest bounce rate, highest page-views per visit and average visit duration; and reach out to these sources for more content shares and collaboration.

2. Use Top and Footer Navigation Menus

Help users navigate their way around your site to find what they’re looking for. Without it, many users give us and bounce off. Through in-depth market research, you should have a sound awareness of what your visitors will actually use and need.

This will also help to put into perspective your ‘on-site time’ metric. Given users now have the option to search for what they’re looking for, you will know it’s unlikely that a large portion of your them will merely be clicking their way around looking for something in particular. It allows you to eliminate this misleading factor when analysing the average amount of time users stay on your site.

3. Utilise White Space

The development of minimalist WordPress themes came at a rising time for minimal aesthetic across most industries. The use of the ‘White Space’ in website design has been used to direct visitors in a certain direction and has been found to drastically assist in the reduction of bounce rates.

This simple, empty space on your website acts to give your reader’s eye a chance to rest. It has the opposite effect of an overly busy, ad-filled, bars and link-centric webpage. This preferred aesthetic also gives readers the chance to look at your important content or respond to your CTAs.

In many cases, less really can mean more. There are plenty of websites that utilise white space to great effect, most notably Google – a search engine that’s almost entirely blank. Google’s use of white space means that your eyes are almost always guided to its search bar, which is prominently positioned in the middle of the homepage. This clutter-free approach encourages visitors to achieve their goals quicker, which in this case would involve finding the information they were looking for.

When Google arrived on the search engine scene in the late 90s, the notion of minimalism on the World Wide Web was something of a novel one. While competitors like Ask Jeeves and Lycos were opting for displaying more and more information, Google kept things simple – and this dedication to simplicity may well have played a significant role on the search engine’s route to world domination.

4. Show Related Posts after Posts

We already know that users who stick around on your site longer don’t necessarily translate into good news. But keeping interested readers longer is always good. There will inevitably be someone who reads a post and wants to know more- so give it to them.

Showing a user a list of ‘similar or related posts’ can help to prompt them to visit another page on your site. There are a few useful tools that can help you to add related posts to your blog effectively. WordPress plugin YARPP uses an advanced algorithm to pick related posts or posts created by the same author.

5. Internally Link

Internal links in your posts are one thing but effective internal links that actually contribute to CTR and pageviews are another. Keep bounce rates low and SEO prospects high by interlinking within your site’s pages.

WordPress 3.1 makes interlinking easier as you can search for the post you want to link while adding links. Well-placed links should act to pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to follow the link through. If a visitor is considering leaving your site, an effective link should be able to reel them back in.

WordPress 3.2 makes interlinking easier by allowing you to search for the post you want to link whilst adding links. With time you’d have probably created new content. Go back and link them to your older articles. Automatically link keyword in WordPress with plugins like Pretty Link Pro.

6. Mobile Responsiveness

Nothing makes a user exit a web page faster than an unresponsive design. Increasingly, the majority of your target audience may well be mobile users. In fact, they probably are. As of 2018, 52.2% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. This is up from 15% in 2013.

Of this global web traffic, Google suggests that 61% of them are not likely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing. 40% of which, visit a competitors site instead (McKinsey & Company). That gives rise to the possibility of over half of your traffic bouncing because they can’t navigate your site on their mobile device.

Most WordPress themes today are mobile responsive, but be sure to test your site to be safe. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test will put you on the right track and ensure that your site is safe for mobile-first indexing.

7. Choose a Good Web Hosting Provider

If an unresponsive design comes first; then slow loading pages definitely teeter in first place for reasons users immediately bounce. So, the faster your pages load, the lower you can expect your bounce rates to be.

It’s been found that websites taking longer than 3 seconds to load, instantly lose at least 40% of traffic. Following this, 97% of dissatisfied visitors almost never return to slow loading websites (ThinkWithGoogle).

Test your website speed with speed-checker tools like WebPageTest.org and Pingdom.com. Use PageSpeed Insights for suggested elements you can tweak to speed up your WordPress site.

Lightweight WordPress themes like Zakra and Astra, exist to manage and load pages by up to 50 times quicker. Where possible, opt for a lightweight theme. Alternatively, turn to useful WordPress plugins for speedy results.

Shared hosting environments can be favourable to some small blogs. But they fail to deliver fast loading times during peak traffic hours. This happens because you’re effectively sharing the same server space with countless others. Premium managed WordPress hosting services such as Cloudways can allow further speedy delivery of as much content as you wish.

Whilst you keep in mind that high bounce rates aren’t necessarily always bad, do remember that there are more preventative measures that you can take to limit the number of bounces you receive – from crunching images to optimising your headlines – in the hectic world of WordPress, there’s always something to do.

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  1. I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good.Thanks alot

  2. I agree showing related posts would help a visitor stay more on the site

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