Friday, 15 May 2015

How I Reduced My Site's Bounce Rate From 86-4%

How I Reduced My Site's Bounce Rate {From 86% To 4%} #blogging
According to Google Analytics, bounce rate is “…the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).” In other words, a visitor lands on a specific page on your website, glances at the content, and then exits your site–without any interaction.
Theories behind the existence of single page visitors:
  • they found the information they were looking for on the first page {no further browsing was required}
  • the website took too long to load so they exited the site {I admit that I’ve done this}
  • the advertisements were intrusive {for example: video ads with audio that runs automatically, display ads that take over the whole page, or ads that float and fly across the page} Side note: I will leave a site if there are annoying pop-up messages.
  • they visited the site on their mobile device only to discover the website wasn’t mobile friendly
  • poor site design–no clear navigation bars/menus, no search option, text that is difficult to read {funky font or text is colored hot pink, etc., }
  • other unknown reasons.
As bloggers and website owners, how do we decrease our bounce rate? How do we keep visitors on our site? After a year of tweaks, experiments, and trials and errors, my bounce rate has consistently remained below 10% for over 8 months. Say what?? Yes, I’m shocked too. Do you want to know what my bounce rate used to hover at?
Between 60 and 86% !!!
How I Reduced My Site's Bounce Rate {From 86% To 4%} #blogging
So what changes did I make to decrease my bounce rate over the past year? I will spill the deets but please keep one thing in mind as you read this post:  I’m not an expert. Nope, I’m not. I’m just a girl who’s been blogging for over 5 years {I guess that gives me some sort of street cred ;)}. Seriously, I’m no expert. I’m just sharing what has worked for me.
Are you ready? Here we go…
Actions Taken To Help Decrease Bounce Rate
  • I reduced the amount of monthly giveaways—I was previously hosting a minimum of 1 giveaway a week, every week. This brought out the sweepers and giveaway junkies who visited my site, entered the giveaway, and then left {personal note:  I love to enter giveaways myself so don’t think I’m picking on you if you like to enter giveaways}. This user behavior was wreaking havoc on my bounce rate. Currently, I only run 1 or 2 giveaways a month and I always make 1 of those giveaways available to newsletter subscribers only.

  • I added more content and less fluff—If you’re a blogger, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There is always pressure to post something fresh so sometimes bloggers post fluff. I consider fluff to be any blog post which doesn’t require a whole lot of thought or original images. Fluff content may even be copy and paste. An example of fluff content on my site? Disney movie trailers—>I receive the PR release, copy and paste, and hit publish. I love, love, love the fact that I get Disney publicity emails but guess what, it’s not original content. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with publishing fluff content as long as your original content outweighs the fluff 5:1.
Quality content is king and the king reduces bounce rates.
How I Reduced My Site's Bounce Rate {From 86% To 4%} #blogging

  • I improved the load time of my website—I don’t want visitors to leave my site because it’s taking too long to load. Ugh. That gives me the sadz. First, I analyzed my site on Google’s PageSpeed tool and then I made the recommended changes {as many as I could}.  Second, I activated the Photon feature in the WordPress Jetpack plugin.  My blog images are now hosted on WordPress’s content delivery network which makes them load incredibly fast and reduces the load on my website’s server {see note below}Third, I enabled GZIP compressionin my cache plugin {I’m using ZenCache Pro wordpress plugin}.  If you’re not using a cache plugin on your WordPress website, I highly recommend adding one. So what does GZIP compression do anyway? It reduces the size of your web pages by as much as 70%, thus making your site load faster. Finally, I used the WC3 Validator to fix as many errors on my website as I possibly could. The result? My website loads in under 2 seconds.
Side note:  I have read a few articles that suggest Photon is bad for Search Engine Optimization {SEO} and web traffic. Since activating Photon, my web traffic continues to increase and my blog photos continue to be indexed by Google. End of my story.
Still with me?
How I Reduced My Site's Bounce Rate {From 86% To 4%} #blogging
  • I changed the aesthetics of my site design—Over the past year, I have changed my blog design more times than I care to count. My trial and error methods tell me that my readers like soothing colors {my logo and links contain blue} and easy to read text {I’m using Raleway and Open Sans fonts}. Some may argue that a site’s design has little influence on bounce rate. I disagree. Marketing studies prove that color plays a role in how a brand is perceived. There is such a thing as the psychology of color and I find it fascinating. In addition, I cleaned up my sidebars and footers by removing any unnecessary widgets. A website that has a clean look and easy to navigate? I’m certain it’s helped decrease my site’s bounce rate.
  •  I already had these 2 actions in place but they’re worth mentioning based on their importance. One–make sure that the WordPress theme you’re using is mobile friendly or mobile optimized. A significant percentage of my readers access this site on their mobile devices. The theme we’re using–Magazine Pro Theme {affiliate link}–makes Saving More Than Me look good on mobile and tablet devices.  Two–if the theme you’re using isn’t mobile optimized, make your website mobile friendly by adding a mobile friendly plugin.  According to comScore:
Mobile has swiftly risen to become the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for an astounding 60 percent of digital media time spent in the U.S.
The bottom line:  Improve your bounce rate by making your site as mobile friendly as possible.
I know that this post contains an abundance of information so take your time to digest it all. I didn’t learn all of this overnight so don’t push yourself to do implement everything overnight. I DO hope that you’ve found this information useful and that you can apply these tips to your website. Remember, lowering your bounce rate takes time so don’t get frustrated if it takes months to see results. I hope the Google Gods grace you all with low bounce rates, increased page views, and many returning visitors!
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