I know you are probably tired of hearing about all of the Google animal updates (Panda, Penguin, Werewolf… just kidding) but this one is really important and can be directly influencing your search traffic and thus your income. I repeat, this could be costing you actual MONEY...
Google has worked hard to dramatically improve the quality of its search results and provide Google users with the absolute best search results possible. Over the past two years, Google’s focus has been improving the quality of material being delivered. In doing this, they have focused on many new elements such as social engagement and a site’s bounce rate.
What is Bounce Rate?
There are a lot of competing definitions for exactly what counts as an official “bounce,” but the only one that really counts is Google’s — as usual. According to Google, here is the definition of bounce rate:
“Bounce rate is the percentage of visits that go only one page before exiting a site.”
Although Google has been analyzing bounce rates for a long time, recently they have added a lot more weight and credibility to the statistic. This means that we now need to be taking a harder look at our site’s bounce rates and what we can do to improve them, especially if a page isn’t ranking well.
How Do I Find My Site’s Bounce Rate?
The easy way to get this information is directly from Google. If you don’t already have Google Analytics connected to your site, you need to take a few minutes to make this happen. Lots of WordPress users rely on third-party plugins for their analytics information, but I recommend that you rely on Google Analytics for your traffic info.
Not only is Google Analytics going to reflect the data that Google is using to rank your site, but it’s also free and simple to set-up.
In this example you can see that the bounce rate is 52% which sounds bad but in actuality it is average for content sites. I found an infographic that can help you better understand Bounce Rates. You can view the full version here. If this site could get its bounce rate down below 50%, it could start to see search engine ranking improvement. So. . .
How Do I Improve My Bounce Rate?
There are actually many, many ways you can tweak your site that will help keep your readers on your site. The key is to get them to click on other, internal links to additional content on your site.
Here are a few quick improvements you can make to help facilitate an improvement in bounce rate:
- Make sure you have at least two contextual links to other, relevant pages within the body of your page. It’s simple to look back into your previous posts and select related posts, but few webmasters do this.
- Add an “Other Articles You May Enjoy” section at the end of your content. Sites that showcase more content on each page, typically get more clicks to internal content. It’s simply maximizing the traffic you’re already getting.
- Reduce the number of outbound links on your page or at the very least, have them open in a new window. Simple enough.
- Encourage social engagement through comments. The longer you keep them engaged on your site, the better the odds that they click to another page, e.g. encourage comments and discussions on your blog posts!
There are many other factors that can affect your site’s bounce rate but this will be a great start. If you improve on these elements of your site, you should start to see a slight reduction in your bounce rate over time depending on the amount of traffic your site gets.
I encourage you to ask any questions you may have here in the comments section. I will try to answer them all to the best of my ability.