Your bounce rate is a measurement of the number of people who visit your side but don’t click around to other pages. Most webmasters consider this to be a thoroughly negative metric, but the reality is that it’s not always bad. There are three types of traffic that add to your bounce rate:
The third type of traffic can be filtered out of your analytics, removing it from consideration. It’s not a problem. The second is also not a problem, per se, but it’s an opportunity for you to improve your pages to encourage users to click through. The first is a bit more of a problem. What reasons cause the first type of traffic to bounce?
This might be your choice of colors clashing or making your text hard to read. It might be the use of some kind of startling autoplay audio or video. It might be because you make heavy use of Flash or multimedia that doesn’t render properly. It might be any number of usability reasons.
If a user visits your site and finds the content they want, they have a choice; they can either leave immediately or stick around to explore other content. If they can’t see any content from where they land, they’re probably going to leave. That’s why related article widgets are so popular. It’s also why you should strive to fill every article with internal links to other posts on your page. It’s easy enough to add a widget to your blog, or even manually create a related article list at the end of each post, under “further reading.”
You need to make sure every piece of content you’re writing is targeted towards the right keywords. This includes the meta title and description, as well as your headline. If you’re not using the keywords you want to see, you’re not going to pull in traffic. However, your content exists, which means an index will pull some keywords from it. If they’re different than how you wanted it to be targeted, you’re going to lose users. In essence, you’re answering a question other than the question they asked.
This can happen accidentally or maliciously, as part of a negative SEO attack. Most of the time, you’ll be able to ignore the link. Sometimes, you can contact the webmaster and ask them to revise or remove the link; it’s possible the traffic could become legitimate if they knew what they were getting into. In the case of a spam link or negative SEO attack, you can use Google’s disavow links tool to make sure that link isn’t counting against you.
Unless you’re using asynchronous code loading, one of the first things to load on your website is your analytics tracking code. Unfortunately, if the rest of your site takes too long to load or fails to load entirely, you’re going to find users bouncing away before the load is complete. Internet users have some of the shortest attention spans among consumers of any sort of media. After all, when you turn the page in a book or flip TV channels, you don’t have to wait for the new content to load. Web users don’t want to have to wait either.
Some sites use pop-ups very effectively, triggering them to appear on exit or exit intent. The goal with this timing is to catch users right when they’re about to leave, to give them one more chance to do something that benefits your site. Unfortunately, the more intrusive that pop-up is, the more people it’s going to drive away. Some users will leave the moment they see one. Others will be less inclined to click around and explore when you’re interrupting them reading your content. This is doubly a problem because it also keeps them from reading your content completely.
Long articles full of long paragraphs and small, bland text do nothing to help keep your readers’ attention. You need skimmable formatting. You need vibrant graphics. You need a clean site design. You need to minimize your blatant advertising and limit it to a few choice calls to action. You need to capture their attention and keep it through your entire piece.
Everyone strives to either be the first resource or the best resource on the web. The older your content is, the more likely it’s out of date. As soon as a user encounters a piece of information they know is incorrect, they’re going to disregard you as an authority. It’s in your best interests to keep your content up to date. There’s also the issue that search engines give preference to newer content in general, all other factors being equal.
Would it surprise you to know that, as of this year, over half of all Internet traffic is coming from mobile devices? If a user tries to visit your site on a smartphone or tablet, are they going to get a sized-down version of your desktop site, or are they going to get a site that was designed to work on mobile?
Unless a web browser overrides this decision – some do – it’s going to drive users away. Many users just want to click your links to open them in new tabs or new windows for later reading. If you disrupt their read of your content by forcing them to load a new page in the window, it counts as a bounce. It also decreases the chances of the user coming back to finish reading.
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