Trounce the Bounce! How to Reduce Blog Post Bounce Rates

Lower the Bounce Rate on your Blog

Bounce Rates on a Blog can be hard to wrap your head around, and even harder to actively impact.

In this post we seek to answer a few questions:

  • What is bounce rate?
  • What is a typical bounce rate for a blog?
  • How do you reduce the bounce rate on your blog?

Stick with me here, and we'll take a look at how to come up with your own benchmark for bounce rate, and then take actionable steps to trounce the bounce!

Lower the Bounce Rate on your Blog

What is Bounce Rate anyway?

Bounce rate is not technically the percentage of single-page visitors to a site as defined by Google, but actually the percentage of single-interaction visitors to the site. Click To Tweet

In other words, if a visitor arrives at your site and performs an action or event, such as watching a video or filling out a form, that is not considered a bounce. A visit is only technically a bounce if the user leaves without taking ANY action on the page.

It can be a tricky metric to pin down.

Bounce Rate can be one of the more confusing metrics in Google Analytics due to the fact that it's very hard to concisely pin down what a 'good' bounce rate is. Click To Tweet

This is a result of the fact that bounce rate varies heavily based on User Intent, Content Type, and even factors such as Traffic Source or Device.

Concerned About your Bounce Rate?

We'll check it out! Happy with your overall SEO but need help improving your blog's bounce rate? We offer a comprehensive audit that can be tailored to your needs.

Establishing Expectations: What is a "Normal" Bounce Rate for a Blog?

What is a 'normal' bounce rate for your blog? TL;DR version: 'It varies'. Click To Tweet

Kristen Bell ABad Moms Christmas GIF - KristenBell ABadMomsChristmas IsThatNormal GIFs

When dealing with content marketing, expectations often have to be adjusted. Even if your team has invested heavily in the idea that content marketing works, it’s still important that we lay out the following points:

Expectation #1: Bounce Rate is VERY subjective

Bounce rate varies widely from industry to industry, and even from site to site. This variety can be brought about by any number of factors, for example, user intent, content type, traffic source, and even the type of device the visitor is using.
Therefore, it’s very difficult, bordering on impossible to establish an accurate benchmark for what makes a ‘Good’ Bounce Rate.

Bounce rate is VERY subjective and varies heavily based on User Intent, Content Type, and even factors such as Traffic Source or Device. Click To Tweet

Expectation #2: Bounce Rate will vary even within your site

Realistically speaking, you should get pretty granular regarding your Bounce Rate expectations. For instance, the accepted bounce rate on your service pages should be expected to be different to the bounce rate on your blog posts.

This largely comes down to user intent. Someone who arrives at a blog post is typically looking for information, which they find, and then typically they ‘bounce’. Someone who arrives at a service page is far more likely to navigate deeper into your site.

 

Expectation #3. Content Marketing requires multiple touches.

Converting a user via your blog can often be a battle of attrition. Current statistics show that content marketing takes on average 7-13 ‘touches’ before a sale is made.

In other words, a potential user has to encounter your brand via your blog, social media or some other source upwards of 7 times before being confident enough to commit.

"For example, at Moz, we find the average relationship has
seven to eight customer touchpoints before conversion."

So, with all those expectations set and disclaimers out of the way... What is a typical healthy bounce rate for a blog?

I'm afraid it doesn't get any clearer. Here are the findings from some industry leaders:

QuickSprout

In 2014, Quicksprout put together an infographic showing that blogs can experience a bounce rate anywhere between:

70-98%

CustomMediaLabs

However, in 2016, CustomMediaLabs put together a post showing that they found that blog bounce rates can frequently range between:

65-90%

So, with all those expectations set and disclaimers out of the way... What is a typical healthy bounce rate for a blog?

I'm afraid it doesn't get any clearer. Here are the findings from some industry leaders:

In the absence of any really reliable benchmarks for blog Bounce Rates, there's only one logical course of action. Establish your own.

"Set Your Own Baseline Rather than worrying about keeping up with the Joneses and their fancy 29% bounce rate, set a baseline for your website, and work to improve it"

Setting a benchmark Bounce Rate for your blog

So, how do you go about settling on a benchmark for your blog?

First, Perform An Audit of your current Blog Bounce Rate:

I recommend a review of the bounce rate for traffic to your blog from three perspectives:

  • Traffic arriving from different sources: Organic, Direct, Referral, etc.
  • Traffic from different devices: Mobile, Desktop, Tablet, etc.
  • Finally, bounce rate fluctuations over the last several years.

Before you can improve your bounce rate, you need to ensure that it isn’t high because of a specific user demographic, or a change you've implemented over the past few years. Click To Tweet

 

Part 1: Review your Bounce Rate history:

In order to do this, follow these 3 steps (also outlined in the screenshot below). With this knocked out, you should be able to identify any changes over time that have led to a higher than ideal bounce rate, and possibly undo them.

  1. Go to the Landing Pages report in Analytics
  2. In "Advanced Filters", restrict the visible landing pages down to just your blog. Note that if you use /news/ or some other file name for your blog, you'll need to do that here also.
  3. Adjust your date range to go back as far as you'd like, or as far as you have data. (You may also want to adjust your view to weekly or monthly increments for clarity.)
  4. Click "Select a metric" near sessions, and choose "Bounce Rate from the drop-down.

(Click image to enlarge)

Audit your Blog's Historic Bounce Rate in Analytics

 

Part 2: Review your Bounce Rate from different sources, and on different devices:

In order to do this, follow these 3 steps (also outlined in the screenshot below). The primary goal is to isolate any trends or problem areas that may be contributing to a higher than ideal bounce rate.

  1. Go to the Landing Pages report in Analytics
  2. In "Advanced Filters", restrict the visible landing pages down to just your blog. Note that if you use /news/ or some other file name for your blog, you'll need to do that here also.
  3. Now, use the Secondary Dimension dropdown to pull up "Device Category" and then "Source", looking for any patterns.

(Click image to enlarge)

Audit your Blog Bounce Rate Audit in Google Analytics

 

If you've ruled these out, chances are your bounce rate has slowly crept up and reducing it is a matter of observing and implementing changes that will help.

 

It’s worth noting that it’s unlikely you’ll find a ‘silver bullet’ that will fix your bounce rate overnight. It’s much more likely that you'll need to gradually implement changes and slowly knock the bounce rate down.

Super Actionable Takeaway: Take the 1-post challenge!

 

Tired of fluff posts that don't move your marketing forward? This is not one of those posts!

Here's my challenge to you:

 

In your next blog post: Implement as many as possible of the best practices below.

 

Rules:

  1. Make sure it’s a post you’re happy with from a content perspective, and also be sure you've got a good idea of what a typical blog post bounce rate on your site looks like.
  2. Depending on how much traffic your post gets per day/week you should soon be able to see whether your bounce rate is better than average for your site.
  3. Don't draw premature conclusions. You need at least 100 sessions, preferably several hundred before it's safe to start drawing conclusions.
  4. If your bounce rate has improved (read: gotten lower), you now know the steps needed to improve all of your other blog posts.
  5. If it hasn’t, keep in mind that the bounce rate you've been experiencing may just be a realistic percentage based on your industry, target audience, etc.

I'm willing to bet you'll see some measurable improvement though.

I took the 1-Post Bounce Rate Optimization for Blogs Challenge, from @LoftyRankings! Click To Tweet

Challenge Challengeaccepted GIF - Challenge Challengeaccepted GIFs

Here goes! The part you've been waiting for:

How to Decrease Bounce Rate on your blog:

1. Write Good, Useable Content

Obvious right?

There's no getting around it though, nothing will cause a bounce faster than poor content. Take an honest look at yours, and see if it's different or better than what's out there.

  • Produce GOOD content, on a regular basis. 
  • Find the sweet spot between the products and services you're looking to sell, and the topics your target audience likes to read about.

Bounce rate reduction tip #1: Write good, useable content. Simple, right?! Step by step instructions here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

2. Make the content easy to read / skim

Why your content needs to be skimmable:

  1. People on the internet are in a hurry. Make your content easy to digest.
  2. Long-form content ranks. Have you seen how long this blog post is?! With that much content, it's got to be skimmable.

This could be an entire post, but in a nutshell, here's how to create skimmable content:

  • Break it into short paragraphs. More than 1 or 2 sentences can look intimidating.
  • Use periodic headers and subheaders to create a skimmable overview of your post.
  • Use bullets / numbered lists for listing anything.
  • Make it interesting. Use plenty of charts, GIFs, images, screenshots and quotes from industry experts, where appropriate.
  • Bold keywords a few times (don’t overdo this).
  • Ask a lot of questions in your content, to encourage participation, not just consumption.
  • End with a clearly marked conclusion and Call to Action.

Bounce Rate Reduction Tip #2: Make your content easy to reach / skim. Step by step instructions here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

3. Deter Irrelevant Visitors

Irrelevant traffic happens in 2 ways:

  1. You're ranking for things that are unrelated to your business
  2. Something you're ranking for is relevant to more than 1 niche. For example, a heavy machinery repair business that ranks for "Clutch repair" might get a lot of irrelevant automotive-oriented traffic.

Deter irrelevant traffic with good, informative Meta Descriptions

Using the "clutch repair" example from above, a great way to deter the irrelevant traffic would be to use terms specific to heavy machinery in our title tags and meta descriptions.

As these appear right within the search engine results pages, they inform the user's decision before they ever get to your site.

Bonus: These detailed and specific titles and meta descriptions will typically be better for getting more of the RIGHT visitors as well.

Bounce rate reduction tip #3: Deter irrelevant viewers. Step by step instructions here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

4. Ensure your site is FAST and mobile friendly

A slow loading site, or one that doesn't load well on mobile, can often lead to high bounce rates. Here's how to dodge that pothole.

  • Run Page Speed and Mobile friendliness tests (Links to Google's free tools)
  • Consider implementing AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages. This can be a little tricky to implement, depending on your CMS, but will provide a lightning-fast experience for mobile users.
    • This should be done with caution. Poor AMP implementation can result in very fast, but ugly and less functional pages, which will actually hurt your bounce rate.
  • CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) can also increase performance by speeding up server response times. If you've got a global audience, you should definitely consider a CDN.

Bounce rate reduction tip #4: Ensure your site is fast and mobile friendly. Step by step instructions here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

5. Set ALL external links to open in new windows

If your users are clicking on a link that caught their eye, and it takes them to a different site, you may have just inadvertently contributed to a higher bounce rate.

Any link that goes outside of your domain should open in a new tab. Be sure to pay attention to your own social media footer links, etc.

Bounce rate reduction tip #5: Set all external links to open in new windows. Step by step instructions here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

6. Incorporate Good Featured Images

An attractive and eye-catching featured image definitely goes a long way to improving your blog.

Featured images are not just visible within the post itself. They accompany the post's excerpt wherever it is listed, including on your main Blog or Category pages, or in the "Related Posts" sections on many blogs.

A good featured image is:

  • Eye-Catching - It grabs the users attention and leaves them interested. Often, images including a person are effective in this regard, as our eyes are naturally drawn to faces. Bright colors can be effective too but should be used tastefully.
  • Compelling - Causes curiosity or interest in the post itself.
  • Relevant - Misleading featured images can be frustrating.
  • Attractive - They should look good 🙂 Personally, I prefer photos vs graphics or icons.

Bounce rate reduction tip #6: Incorporate good featured images. Step by step instructions here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

7. Include a strong Call to Action (CTA)

Including a call to action in your blog post ensures every user is given an opportunity to convert. Good blog post CTA's are:

  • Relevant to the post - Tie in the content they've been reading up till then.
  • Actually appealing - Don't just invite them to sign up for your newsletter.
  • Regularly spaced - For long-form content, I’d recommend a mid-way CTA, before any of your readers lose interest.
  • Eye-catching, but not so distinct that your readers just skip past it. It needs to appear to be a part of the post.

Bounce rate reduction tip #7: Include a strong Call to Action. Step by step instructions here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

8. Highlight relevant related posts / resources

If someone has found you because of their interest in a certain topic, they're very likely to be interested in your other content on the same topic.

The Related Posts section gives them an opportunity to navigate further into your site, avoiding a bounce. Good related post sections are:

  • Relevant. A list of actually related posts is far better than a random selection of posts
  • Enticing. A good featured image and a short excerpt help to achieve this.

Bounce rate reduction tip #8: Highlight relevant related posts & resources. Step by step instructions here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

9. Build a Good Network of Internal Links

Good internal linking has the following benefits:

  • If someone follows an internal link, that's a bounce avoided. Beyond that:
  • It’s a great idea for SEO to create topical hubs, and interlink them.
    • The search engines see all this related content, they index it as their crawlers follow the links from one post to the next, and they begin to recognize you as an authority on the topic.
  • It's sensible and efficient and improves your user experience. 

Bounce rate reduction tip #9: Build a good network of internal links. Step by step instructions for bounce rate reduction here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

10. Implement an exit-intent popup

Okay, I can sense your reservations. Any popup has the potential to be annoying. Here's why Exit Intent Popups are better:

  • An exit intent popup is a popup that appears as you mouse away from the page, looking to close out the tab or click on a different one.
  • They are far better than random or timer-based popups as they only appear when the user is leaving anyway, rather than in the middle of them browsing your content, which ruins their user experience.
  • If implemented correctly, an Exit Intent Popup doesn't have to be annoying, and can dramatically reduce your bounce rate.

The still need to be implemented cautiously, though. I would implement an exit intent popup only:

  • If I can select specific CTAs for each post or category. If I’ve got a Call to Action that is very relevant to the content the user has been reading, there is a good chance they’ll find value in it.
  • If my Call to Action represents real value to the user. Just asking someone to join my newsletter list or read another blog post isn’t going to be good enough.
  • The popup can be customized to look good and match your sites' look and feel.

Bounce rate reduction tip #10: Cautiously implement an exit intent popup. Step by step bounce rate reduction instructions here: https://goo.gl/KZYdia Click To Tweet

TL;DR Recap:

  • A Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who leave without interacting with your site in any way.
  • Bounce Rates are highly subjective. Set a benchmark for yours by auditing what you've experienced from different types of users in the past.
  • It's hard to know if your bounce rate could be improved without simply trying. Take the 1 post challenge! If your trial post has a fantastic Bounce Rate, now you know what to do to all of your other posts.
  • We provided a list of good bounce rate reducing practices.
  • Don't have the time/energy/expertise to fix your own blog's bounce rate? Have us fix it for you!

Feel like your Blog needs a little extra TLC?

We'll help you out. We've got the skills to turn your blog around!

2 Comments

  1. Caroline on June 8, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    What an awesome and informative article! I loved your step-by-step instructions, and definitely learned some new tricks!

    • jonathan@loftyrankings.com on June 9, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Thanks, Caroline! I appreciate the feedback! (Hope you’re doing well!)

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