How to Reduce the Bounce Rate on your WordPress site

Your bounce rate tells you what percentage of visitors leave your website after viewing only a single page — as a blogger, it’s one of the key metrics you’ll judge yourself on.

But why is having a low bounce rate so important?

Simple: The more visitors that stay on your site the more money you make; you’ll get more subscribers, more ad revenue and more qualified prospects.

Not all “bounces” are bad — users clicking your affiliate links, for example — but in general a lower bounce rate is good news for your bottom line.

Want to lower your bounce rate? Here are seven tips that WordPress users can implement today.

Point to Related Content

After reading your article, what do readers do next? Do they stick around or jump straight to the back button?

Great content naturally encourages readers to stay and read more; even so, you still need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

The best way to do this? Internal linking and related content widgets at the end of each article and in your sidebar; a great plugin for this is YARPP.

Use a Great Design

If your website looks like it belongs in 1999, don’t expect people to take you seriously. Online users are a demanding bunch, and an attractive design is just one thing they’ve come to expect.

And really, with plenty of beautiful WordPress themes readily available — many of them free — there’s no excuse for bad design.

More than just looking good, your website should be functional, too. If a user struggles to navigate your site, they leave. It’s that simple.

Don’t just focus on desktop users either. A good chunk of your traffic will come from mobile and tablets, so choose a responsive theme, or install the WPTouch plugin to make sure your site can be viewed on any device.

Use Relevant Headlines

I could write the best article in the world on content marketing, but if I use the headline “What Went Wrong for Manchester United in 2013/14” then (clearly) I’m going to attract the wrong crowd.

What happens? Instant exits and puzzled looks abound.

OK, that example might be a little extreme, but you get the point: Your headline sets expectations for the content of your article.

Deliver on these expectations and you’ll do just fine.

The same applies to cramming non-related keywords into your piece. Sure, you might pick up some extra traffic, but your bounce rate will be much higher as your content won’t meet these additional audience members’ needs.

Open External Links in New Windows

When a user clicks a link to an external source on your website, does it open in a new window?

If you’ve answered no, it’s no wonder your bounce rate is high; you’re actively sending your audience away from your website.

There is good news, though: This is a really simple one for WordPress users to fix.

When you create a link, you’ll see a checkbox that says Open link in a new window/tab. Check it and you’re good to go.

Make sure all external links open in new windows if you want to keep visitors on-site and reduce your bounce rate.

Redirect 404 Errors

Your 404 Error page tells visitors that your site is working but the page they’re looking for doesn’t exist — common culprits are changing permalink structures, deleting content and broken links.

Not seeing the content they were expecting, it’s unsurprising to learn that visitors leave your site via the 404 error page far more than any other.

Whilst some 404 errors are unavoidable, if you can keep them to a minimum your bounce rate will be lower. I’d recommend the Redirection plugin to help with this. Not only does the plugin automatically send users to the right place after any URL changes, but you can even redirect known broken links to the correct place.

Reduce Load Speeds

The Internet era has created a generation hell-bent on instant gratification — they want it and they want it now.

If your website has a load-speed of just three seconds, you’ll lose 57% of your traffic. That’s a lot for such a small time delay, don’t you think?

The primary cause of slow load-speed is having too many plugins. One plugin you do need is the W3 Total Cache plugin — it will display your site in quick-loading HTML rather than slower PHP.

Beyond bounce rates, a fast-loading website can bolster your SEO efforts, too.

Keep Pop-ups to a Minimum

It’s difficult to know where to stand on the issue of pop-ups. On one hand, pop-ups come with a proven track record of improving subscriptions; on the other, they’re imposing, hurt user-experience and cause people to leave your site.

Ultimately though, your conversion rate has to take priority over bounce rate. That’s why I’m all for pop-ups — but only when used properly.

Use them sparingly and at the appropriate time — ie, not straight away. If you want to get maximum benefit from them, whilst minimising friction, check out the “smart settings” on SumoMe.

Wrapping Up

What impact do you think bounce rate has on a website’s profitability? Perhaps you have an additional tip for reducing bounce rates? Get in touch using the comments section below!

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Pietro Saccomani

Pietro is the founder of MobiLoud, where he helps site owners grow their audience on mobile with their own mobile apps.

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