How to Reduce Your Bounce Rate: 19 Steps to Reduce Bounces by 29%

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Bounce rate is a commonly misunderstood metric with negative connotations. When you understand what truly constitutes a ‘bounce’, it’s clear that a high bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing.

A bounce is defined as a single page visit. If a user clicks on a link to a page on your website, spends five minutes reading that page, and then exits your site, they’re a bounce. In other words, a user could find exactly what they’re looking for, have a great experience on your website, and still be counted as a bounce.

To put your mind at ease, most of the best blogs in the world have a bounce rate over 80%. So why are we trying to decrease it?

Fewer bounces mean more page views, which may translate into more revenue, more engagement, or a stronger connection with readers. An unusually high bounce rate is also a signal of poor user experience, so it’s worth decreasing it to a point where you’re sure that your users are ‘good bounces’, not bad ones.

So how can we lower our bounce rate? Below are 19 tips that will help you get started.

#1 Update your outdated content

Do you still have content on your website from 2001 telling people how to optimise their Myspace page? Yeah, you’ll want to fix that. Even in less extreme cases, it’s important to keep old high-traffic posts up to date to keep your bounce rate down.

Pro-tip: Do a site search in Google for ‘Site:yourwebsite.com YEAR’ like in the screenshot below to find all of the outdated content on your website that needs updating.

#2 Don’t use pop-ups… unless they’re exit-intent pop-ups

In general, pop-ups are awful for the user experience and should be avoided at all costs.

The only case where it’s (kind of) okay is when you’re using an exit-intent tool like Bounce Exchange or OptinMonster, which use mouse tracking technology to identify when a user is about to bounce, and then shows a popup to reduce the likelihood of this.

Larry Kim reduced WordStream’s bounce rate from 69% to 40% by installing Bounce Exchange on their site, which he claims also improved his conversions.

Bounce Exchange

While Bounce Exchange’s service is very expensive, there are many affordable alternatives like Optimonk and OptinMonster.

#3 Write shorter paragraphs

Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, which is why it’s important to write concisely and in short sentences.

#4 Check ‘double meaning’ keywords

One of my old clients sold laboratory space. I was thrilled one day when I got into the office and noticed they ranked #1 on Google for ‘labs for sale’.

I was less thrilled when I noticed the surge in traffic had a 94% bounce rate, and my client had been receiving telephone enquiries all day from people wanting Labradors.

When my friend Kevin Gibbons wrote a post on ’77 SES London Takeaways’, he noticed a spike in low-quality traffic every Friday and Saturday. Turns out he ranked page #1 for ‘London takeaways’.

Be mindful of where your traffic is coming from, and cull any sources that are completely irrelevant.

#5 Translate your site for international traffic

One of my current clients receives a lot of traffic from Israel, Japan, and China. Trouble is, his site was only available in English.

I decided to install WPML to translate his site into a few different languages. The result? His bounce rate for international traffic decreased from 81% to 44%.

WPML traffic

#6 Make your site search more prominent

In Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug explains how some people are search-orientated and these users will look for a search box as soon as they enter a site. Don’t make it difficult for users to search for what they’re looking for.

#7 Make your 404 page more useful

Google explicitly advises that your 404 error page should be useful in helping people find what they were looking for. They also advise using the enhanced 404 widget to include a search box on your 404 page.

IFTTT 404 page

#8 Reduce your broken links

Lots of broken links will cause a poor user experience, driving your bounce rates up. Using the Webmaster Tools crawl error report, or a scraper like Screaming Frog, identify all of the broken links on your site and fix as many of them as possible.

#9 Make all external links open in a new window

For blogs, it’s likely that a large portion of your bounces are coming from people clicking on external links in your posts.

If you’re using WordPress, there’s a plugin that will automatically open all of your external links in a new tab. Otherwise, the easiest thing to do is to simply add target=”_blank” in all of your external links.

#10 Improve your page loading speed

57% of users will abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. I recently wrote a post on how I improved the loading speed of this site by 70.39% in 45 minutes. There are 22 tips in that post that will help you reduce loading times.

#11 Add more internal links

Internal links, like this one to our blog, keep people navigating around your website. Use them to reduce your bounce rate, and help users find what they’re looking for without searching.

#12 Improve your copy’s readability

The Flesch-Kincaid readability test determines how understandable your writing is for different comprehension levels. There are readability tests that you can use to identify your Flesch-Kincaid score. Alternatively, you can just use the formula as a guide.

Flesch Kindcaid

The more readable your content, the better the user experience and the lower your bounce rate will be.

#13 Make your navigation intuitive

Simple navigation makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for, or at least get to a point where they can easily find out. Don’t try to be overly innovative with your navigation – like a supermarket, or a light switch, we prefer things to be how we expect them to be. Strange navigation is just a headache for your users.

#14 Invest in a great design

A good design instils trust and makes navigation intuitive. People don’t spend much time on sites they don’t trust or find difficult to navigate. Make it easy for your visitors by having a great design to begin with. If you’re using WordPress, there’s a great list of beautiful responsive WordPress themes here.

#15 Make sure your website’s cross browser compatible

I recently noticed on one of my side projects that the bounce rate in IE and Safari was ~10% higher than that in Chrome. While this is not too unusual, I was curious to figure out why.

Bounce Rates

It turned out to be a browser compatibility issue. IE users were seeing a page with some broken CSS and HTML5 loading issues. Once fixed, the bounce rate decreased from 68% to 60%.

Make sure you’re running regular user tests and browser tests to check your visitors and reaching any roadblocks.

#16 Use an intelligent content recommendation plugin

At the bottom of this post, you’ll see the YARRP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin) recommending a handful of related posts. You’ll also see that we’re using WP Popular Posts to display our best performing posts in the right-hand sidebar. Both of these plugins reduce bounce rates while helping readers find your best content.

#17 Improving your copywriting

Leo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist, famously wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

When you write, a relationship is formed with your reader. If you’re arrogant or write long paragraphs to transfer simple points, readers will bounce.

Investing in your copywriting skills will not only reduce your bounce rate, it’ll lift conversions, click through rates, and how much people enjoy reading your writing.

#18 Split up longer posts into chapters

I’m sure we’re all familiar with those ‘top 50’ posts where you have to click next to load the next page in the countdown. Initially, publishers used this technique to boost advert impressions (one visit became 50 impressions, instead of one). While you may not need to go quite this far, you can reduce your bounce rates by splitting your long posts into a series of shorter chapters.

#19 Make your website mobile responsive

As stats from Gomez reveal, mobile visitors have even less patience than desktop visitors. Ensure your website has a responsive design to provide mobile users with a great user experience.

Image Credit: Ginger Fuhrer

1 thought on “How to Reduce Your Bounce Rate: 19 Steps to Reduce Bounces by 29%

  1. Hi Marcus

    It’s really a fact, Nowadays many bloggers are getting high bounce rates on their blog which is really a head ache for them.
    Due to high bounce rate, they aren’t able to generate sales. I am also one of them.

    Since last 4 months, I have been noticing that my blog is getting high bounce rate and my visitors are leaving my site so frequently.
    They aren’t engaged with my content.

    So to solve this issue, I was doing research on it and searching for some best ways which I can implement to reduce bounce of my blog.
    While doing research, I have learn’t below points which can help to reduce bounce rate of the blog.

    1. Fresh & Helpful Content

    During the research, I was noticing few blog content and I found a big difference in them.
    I have seen two blogs and one of them writing content just to sell their product and to drive traffic. The writer of that blog just writing articles based on keywords and their articles aren’t enough informative.

    On that blog, I only seen content which aren’t helpful to me.
    On the other side, the second blog is filled with awesome content.

    Articles on the second blog is completely eye catchy and even after reading their titles, I wasn’t able to resist myself from reading those articles. I read almost 4-5 articles there and they all are hub of helpful information.

    Difference which I noticed in between these two blogs is, 1st blog is only writing for sales and traffic But 2nd blog is writing just to help their readers.

    2nd blog was focusing on creating high quality content which can solve issue, which can create results.

    The writer of 2nd blog was giving brilliant solutions and writing in-depth articles.
    He was focusing on readership and building relationship with their readers.

    This was the big difference in these 2 blogs. & I learnt that content should be of such kind which can create results and solve issues. :D

    2. Updating Old Articles

    2nd thing which I learnt is, Updating old articles.
    I have learnt If we will not update old articles with fresh information then there would be high chances, the reader will surely leave our blog because they might not be getting what they really want.

    So updating articles with fresh information would be a technique to hold them and engage them on our blog. Right? :D

    3. Content Readability

    I myself never read those articles which have so long and thick paragraphs. I have seen some websites which writes so long and thick paragraphs which scare readers to read them.
    I also scare when I see such long paragraphs and I don’t read them.
    I always love to read short and clean paragraphs.

    So we should must improve our content readability so that readers can find it interesting and helpful. :D

    There are also some other points like improving blog design etc etc But I can’t mention all of them in a single comment. :D

    Your article is really helpful to me and I learned so many points from you.
    Thanks Marcus for sharing such a great piece of content with us.
    Happy Blogging ;)

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