What the Hell Is a Bounce Rate? + 10 Things You Can Do to Improve Yours
Soooo…what the hell is a bounce rate and why do you need one? *snicker*
When I first started writing an article about bounce rates…I thought “How the hell am I going to write 1700 words on this topic?” Bounce rates seem too easy to understand. To simple. But then I started thinking. Bounce rates specifically correlate with a reader’s psyche…and THAT could be a book unto itself!! So, in this now 3,000 word post…I’m going to touch not only on what a bounce rate is, but the 10 ways to improve your bounce rate as well as how to understand the way your customer thinks!
Quick Introduction to Traffic
I know you’re thinking that you PROBABLY don’t need an introduction to traffic. You know what it is. You know you need it. You know you MAY or MAY not have it. But “traffic” refers to SO much more than the number you see on your analytics dashboard, my friend.
I think of traffic just like I think of money. In order to get more of it…you need to understand the PSYCHOLOGY of it. For example…let’s take income. Let’s say that, right now, your blog is making around $300 a month but YOU need $1,200 a month to make rent.
In your mind, you are probably thinking “If I could only make $2,000 a month…I would be able to make rent and make it work!”
Now let’s fast forward a few months. Let’s say you are making $2,000 a month…but your rent and business bills equal $3,200. So what are you saying to yourself? “If I could only make $4,000 a month…I’d be able to make this work!”
What’s my point?
Just like cash flow…traffic is something you will NEVER have enough of. Why? Because you meet goals…and change goals, and this is COMPLETELY healthy! I just want you to understand that this mentality of “needing more” will probably never change. Traffic = Larger Audience = More Sales = Better Income = Fun New Expensive Ideas = needs more traffic = Larger Audience…etc…and so the circle continues.
The Psychology of Your Reader
Your reader has brains and the WORST thing you can POSSIBLY do for your business is underestimate the intelligence of your follower. The business owners mind, generally, defaults to a sort of “holier than thou” mode (when it comes to their niche) which is what keeps us convincing both ourselves AND our readers that we know what the hell we are talking about. Big business folk refer to this as “speaking with authority”…but I just call it “speaking in my church voice”. You know those church pastors you’ve seen that are spouting off some crazy belief about the end of the world coming next week? Notice how THEY believe what they are saying…and MOST of the audience believes what they are saying?
Your blog is the same kind of platform! You teach a topic that you whole heartedly believe in…and your readers slowly but surely begin to nod their heads up and down. This is what you want!! Only…you know…you want to teach things that are true. 0_o
The KEY to having this follower reaction is two fold, though.
- Don’t underestimate your reader. – I said it above…and I’d like to reiterate it. The second you start believing that you are smarter than your reader, that your reader won’t understand what you are saying, OR that you can “pull one over” on your reader…you’re screwed. Think about it. How many times have you heard stories about bloggers plagiarizing the work of other bloggers? Often…because they get caught! How about commenters who take the time to respond to a post with derision and “your information is just plain wrong” type statements. ALL THE TIME!!!! How many times have you created a product, KNOWING it was subpar, but hoping the money would start rolling in? (How did that work out for you?) Your readers can smell shit-tastic information from a mile away and they won’t hesitate to call you out on it…or simply turn around and find another source of info. They don’t hand over their payment info or email addresses unless they feel good about the transaction. And they certainly don’t come back for more if they don’t think they got anything worth their time the first go around.
- Don’t forget to learn – One of the BEST ways to ensure that you aren’t shafting your reader AND yourself, is to constantly be learning in your arena. What is your niche? Make sure you are following all of the top dogs in your arena…as well as the top companies! What are their hot topics? What are they focusing on? How does your information compare? Now…I’m NOT saying that their information is better or more up to date! But if you are teaching and writing about knowledge you attained four years ago…you’re PROBABLY going to be chewed up and spit out pretty quickly.
TIP: I recommend setting up subliminal checkpoints in your day to day business that REMIND you of the intelligence of your readers!! What do I mean? Visit their blogs and leave intelligent comments on their posts! Participate in conversations related to your topic in Facebook Groups. Pin other blogger’s pins that relate to your niche. Don’t be an island unto yourself!!
What is “Bounce Rate”?
Woot!! Finally getting to the topic at hand!! You’ll see pretty quickly why I believe your reader’s psychology is the corner stone to improving (lowering) your bounce rate…but first, let’s go over what EXACTLY a bounce rate IS.
A bounce rate is a number that tells you the percentage of folk who stay ON your blog looking at various posts instead of looking at one post and almost immediately “bouncing” off of your website. (“We bouncin’, yo!”)
For example, a high bounce rate is bad news bears! This means that your content either wasn’t what they THOUGHT it was going to be, wasn’t well written, or didn’t solve their problem.
So what should your bounce rate goal be? Anywhere between 20-40% is SUPER healthy. This means, that only 20%-40% of your readers are leaving your blog for bigger adventures…and around 60-80% are reading your content and clicking on another article!
How your bounce relates to your website’s ranking
The connection between your website’s bounce rate number and the success of your ranking is fairly easy to piece together. Your bounce rate tells the search engines EXACTLY how popular and relevant your content is. Remember in this article, when I talked about the entire PURPOSE of Google? Search engines are NOT there to make sure you get found. They are purely there to make sure a searcher finds the perfect answer to their questions at the EXACT time they need it.
So, if you have a low bounce rate…that tells the search engines that people are LOVING what you are laying down! They are sticking around to read your content. They value what you have to say…therefor, recommending you higher in the search results for the key phrases your article is being found for, is probably a sure bet.
Your bounce rate plays a HUGE part in how well you do in rankings, so how can you tell you what your bounce rate IS?
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!
Step 1: If you haven’t already, start a Google analytics account and attach your blog or website by inserting the code Google gives you. (If you have a WordPress site, the easiest way to do this is going to be to download a plugin that allows you to just paste the code into it. I recommend Yoast…which not only makes incorporating our Analytics account a breeze, but it also makes starting on your SEO journey awesome-sauce).
Step 2: It will take 1-2 days for your analytics to begin to populate, so sit back and have a beer (or a virgin lemonade…if you’re under age). BUT, once they DO begin to appear, you’ll be able to see your bounce rate on the main page of your dashboard!
Whew! So…you’ve seen that your bounce rate is around the 90% mark, huh? A lil’ high for your liking? Remember, it could simply be high because your blog is new and you have a little bit of work to do! What do you need to do, you ask?
10 Steps to Improving Lowering Your Bounce Rate
- Write often and write well. – This is, by far, the MOST important step in this process. Remember, bounce rate isn’t simply the act of someone leaving your site…it’s the act of someone not finding ANY other pages on your site interesting! SO, you need to create content that doesn’t turn your readers off. At a minimum, try to write a post a week (although the more you write…the better!) and make sure the quality is SUPERB!! This includes: the topic of your post, your writing style, spelling and grammar, punctuation, and readability. If your post in uninformative or just plain hard to read…your readers will drop like flies. If you missed it…I wrote a PRETTY kick ass post about how to write a perfectly written and optimized blog post!
- Use your sidebar!! – This is valuable real estate…and not using it is a great way to shoot your site in the foot. YES…it’s true. Many times your sidebars content is not even glanced at, but if you’ve followed step one, your readers are going to want MORE from you…and your sidebar is a great way to show them right to what they are looking for. I recommend including a short of list of your most popular posts…as well as images that advertise a few of your most popular posts! We are going to go into it even more in a sec, but think about creating ads to pages that LITERALLY list your posts surrounding a certain topic!! These are called “libraries” or “landing pages”.
- Use the related posts plugin – One of my FAVORITE WordPress plugins is “Inline Related Posts”. This simple plugin automatically inserts a simple line in the middle of my post that says “Recommended Post: Bla Bla Bla Bla” and links directly to another article. It draws attention to articles in the same category that the reader might be interested in. Even better? It puts it in a place in the post where MOST readers will end up! Even if they drop off and stop reading the post early…this will catch them before they click that “x”. On this same topic…make sure you have turned on the “related posts” part of “Jetpack” in your WordPress dashboard. This will automatically include related recommendations at the bottom of each of your posts as well!
- Title Your Posts Amazingly! – I know you hear this ALL THE TIME!! But it’s so true!!! Make sure you are titling your posts to catch attention. This way, when those plugins we’ve been discussing kick in, your reader will be drawn in by the promise of great content and problems solved! Check out my method for titling my posts to attract readers, here! Use a website like CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to plug in your title and re-write it for your perfect audience.
- Recommend at least 3-4 related articles within your posts – Backlinking is HUGE for your SEO, not only because it improves your bounce rate…but it also helps search engines to fill in the gaps of WHAT exactly your entire website is about! If you have 10 articles that link together…all talking about titling your posts, Google will start to think that you REALLY know what you are talking about when it comes to “How to Title a Blog Post”! You will start to climb in search rankings for that key phrase. So, make sure you are linking to related posts at least 3-4 times within your articles!
- Improve your formatting (or readability score) – Make it readable!! Look…I love reading books. I’m a queen among bibliophiles. But the LAST thing I have time for in a busy day is to search for an answer…and then search for SAID answer within 3,000 words of text. AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT SHIT!!!! What I DO have time for, is skimming bolded titles, bullet points, or easy to read steps to get the answers that I need. I HIGHLY recommend making sure that EACH of your posts (if it’s longer than 2-3 paragraphs) is broken down into readable chunks. Better yet? Write your posts in readable chunks THEN break the post down into a checklist that your reader can download!
- For God’s sake…get rid of the popups. – Alright…not ALL popups are bad. I LOVE me some Popup Ally!! BUT…for the most part, popups are a thing of the past. Most readers are SO used to them…that even the best popups get closed within a mili-second of coming onto the screen. Remember the psychology of your reader! They are there to find out an answer to a question NOT to play a game of “hit the x”. Popups not only irritate your reader…but they slow your website WAY down! A slow website is pretty much the death nail for your website’s coffin. One popup is ok (although probably won’t be incredibly effective unless you are doing something amazing), but using popups to sell your product or another product like Amazon or Ebay listings is NOT a great idea. Use your sidebar and footer areas for those ads and let your readers…well…read in peace!
- Make sure you are crafting great CTA’s!! – A CTA is a “Call to Action”. This is the process of literally asking or telling your reader what action they should take next. Five years ago, a great CTA looked like “Click below to read more” or “Tweet this!”. Those are now…useless. Get creative with your CTA’s and make sure you are putting them within the text of your post. If your reader is expecting anything, it’s a “comment below” in the PS area of your post. Why not include that with your important information? Why not give them what they need…ask them a question to get them thinking…then continue with your information? THEN at the bottom of the post, include a penny for their thoughts! People LOVE LOVE LOVE talking about themselves and their blogs…so make your incentives reader oriented! Great ideas for CTA’s are: homework assignments, GREAT questions relating to your content, incentives to share like Pay With a Tweet, and images instead of PS texts. (You can see my INCREDIBLY WELL CONVERTING CTA below in the form of two images I use to get sign ups to the video library and Facebook group!
- Know your audience – When you know your audience, you can start to anticipate what they want and what they need in response to their searches. For example, because I know that my audience is probably new to SEO and maybe even blogging, my content doesn’t generally go from 101 to advanced chem! I make sure I include every step between each article. I know my audience will love the first article on bounce rates…so it won’t be TOO far of a leap when I write my next article all about my ten steps to converting readers into returning fans. KNOW what stage of the game your audience is in, and begin to guess what they are going to be looking for in your posts! What problems should you be solving for them
- Create “Index/Library/Landing” pages – This is SUCH a great idea…and I wish I could have claimed it as my own! The amaze balls Neil Patel, was where I gleaned this amazing bit of info. He recommends creating a “landing page” for the various sections of your niche! For example, I’m going to create a “New to SEO” section that lists (in order of basic to advanced) all of the articles I’ve written and will write on this topic! This means that my reader will be able to start on the topic of SEO, and see from the get go that I have content that will carry their learning a LONG way before the information runs out! In addition to that, I’m creating images for my sidebar that will show these index pages to their fullest.
I know I say this after every post…BUT I THINK THIS ONE MIGHT BE MY FAVORITE!!! 😀 This one was so much fun!! Although there is a LOT to an analytics dashboard, your bounce rate is one of the statistics that simply lays out where you are failing and succeeding. If you look at no other number on your dashboard, you can still improve your rankings by just understanding your bounce rate.
SO! As usual…be sure to leave your comments down below! I would LOVE to hear how you’ve increased traction with your readers…and of course if you have any questions about your own bounce rates or dashboards.
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