How to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your WordPress Website
Bounce Rate is a term that you might have heard before. I know what you’re thinking and the answer is no. A bounce rate is NOT a measurement of times you can bounce up and down on your chair before a page is done loading. Bad jokes aside, a bounce rate IS a term used to describe the percentage of people who visit one of your webpages, and leave without viewing any other pages on your site.
This is based off the first page that is visited, known as the landing page. Many people confuse bounce rate with exit rate. Exit rate is a measure of visitors who left your site from a page. The bounce rate can be found using web analytic tools and is usually expressed as a percentage. If your bounce rate is 80%, then 80% of your sites visitors left after viewing one page. Here are four of the most common bounce rate scenarios:
- Back button is clicked
- Browser is closed
- New URL is entered
- No activity. Session times out after 30 mins
The Bounce Rate Debate
Bounce rate is one of those metrics terms that get thrown around a lot when website analytics are mentioned. Usually people discuss the reduction of bounce rates in absolute terms, but there is more to the story. Reducing your bounce rate shouldn’t be a goal in itself. The real key is to have engaging content and create a high quality user experience on your site. While following tips to reduce bounce rate will probably help you improve your sites look and feel, it’s important to have a solid foundation to work with.
You also have to consider what your goals are for your site. A lot of the time having a 100% bounce rate might not be a bad thing. This means visitors are finding exactly what they are looking for and leaving, or that they didn’t find anything useful at all. Keep in mind that call to action buttons and forms to not count as viewing another page on the website. Single page sights will always have a 100% bounce rate. Many times users come to one of your pages,to use an app, and then leave perfectly happy.
Lowering Your Bounce Rate
Enough subjectivity for the moment. Let’s focus on what you can do to reduce your bounce rate. What it really comes down to is that bounce rates can help you figure out if you are drawing the right kind of traffic your pages. If you want retain more guests on your site, you can implement changes and use the bounce rate to gauge your progress. The goal is to ensure that once a visitor lands on one of your pages, they are enticed to browse through more pages on your site.
Say you have a site where it’s important for you to get your visitors to stay. Basically the number of page views you get will directly affect the success of your site. You want them to spend time clicking and browsing through content.
If you have high bounce rates for these types of sites, you’ll probably want to do everything you can to reduce the rate. A bounce rate reduction is usually a sign that your site is engaging visitors and has a great chance of conversion. Following are some guidelines to help you decrease the bounce rate on your website. Even though each website is different, some of these bounce reduction strategies have proven lucrative for many webmasters.
Often the first place to start to get an idea of how your website is being viewed is with web analytics. There are many tools you can easily acquire to measure your websites traffic. You have a ton of options in the way of plugins when it comes to tools to study quality metrics. Once you do you can use the built in stats viewer or download more plugins to analyze your sites traffic.
There are many free and premium web analytic tools for WordPress. One thing that made WordPress grow in popularity is the abundance of tools available to track, measure and customize your WordPress website. Every single form, widget, ad, link, comment or click can easily be analyzed and optimized with the right tools. With WordPress plugins you can tweak your install to your heart’s desire.
Jetpack for WordPress is a free WordPress plugin by Automattic, the creators of WordPress. This plugin is more than just a tool for analyzing traffic, although it is one of its most touted features. Use jetpack to measure your traffic by day, week, month or any other time increment. Many webmasters choose to use the industry standard, Google analytics, to measure the bounce rate of their WordPress site. Whatever your choice is, there are a ton of tools to help you measure your bounce rate.
WordPress SEO Optimization
SEO is a marketing term that gets used a lot in the world of web design. Optimizing your site for search engine visibility can help you attract the right kind of visitors. SEO, or search engine optimization, is simply steps taken to make your website more visible for search engines. This pertains to words and phrases relevant to what your site provides, site traffic and content.
Many times the SEO industry gets a bad rap because some people in the industry give it a bad name. Unscrupulous webmasters may use it to spam the web or defraud search engines to manipulate traffic. In many ways SEO is about working smart and making sure your website will be seen by its intended audience.
There are a million things you can do to make your site more visible. This includes anything from optimizing the front end to cleaning up the PHP code. Doing your homework and understanding what type of content your audience is looking for can go a long way. By being dedicated and diligent you can use SEO practices to.
It’s All About Content
While having an intuitive, kickass website to showcase your content is always a sure way to make browsing your site easier, it’s important to remember that providing quality content is important. If you don’t have anything useful or engaging, people won’t want to peruse through your site. I’ve seen and even helped build websites that looked and felt great on many devices, but were seriously lacking in content. I still visit websites today that look like they were created on Angelfire (in 1997 on a dial up modem) because I simply love the content. Always keep in mind that content is the key.
Change Your WordPress Theme
The theme you choose on your site will have a big impact on the performance of the site. Once you’ve good decent content and optimized backend, the next step is to polish the look of your site. Try and stay current, unless your niche is retro. Long gone are the days where a barebones layout with basic HTML characters and default CSS layouts are acceptable on a site. A clean, lightweight theme will perform much smoother than a busier theme with a slower load time. No one likes to wait an unreasonable amount of time for a webpage to load. Here are some common ways to optimize your theme to make your traffic stick.
- Reduce the number of files needed to display page
- Merge multiple CSS files into one single file
- Query Reduction / Optimize database queries
- Hardcode static menus into your theme.
There’s plenty of prudent techniques to make sure your pages load quickly and efficiently. First off, make sure that you have the latest software updates because they often fix bugs and increase performance. It’s always a good idea to run the latest versions of your OS, Apache, MySQL and PHP. If you are using plugins, you know how much they can impact your sites performance. Too many can slow down performance significantly. Be sure to deactivate and delete any unused plugins.
Another thing that affects performance is the server load. How you configure your server to handle your sites traffic will significantly affect the websites performance as well. If you don’t have a caching solution, page requests could stack up and crash your database server. Configuring everything properly on your site should ensure that the server can handle high traffic. Dividing traffic between multiple servers also reduces server load. Identifying and shutting down abusive traffic, such as DoS (Denial of Service) attacks can also help you decrease the load. Securing your site from this kind of malicious traffic is an important part of server load maintenance.
It’s good practice to make sure all images and graphics are not overloading the server as well. Optimizing the images in all your posts can increase search engine presence and save loading time. If you can, try to remove unnecessary images. There are plugins like WP Smush that can help optimize your images.
Optimize for Mobile Devices
In 2014, the amount of web traffic from mobile devices overtook the amount from laptops or home computers. Over 60% of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. With an ever increasing plethora of tablets, smart phones and other mobile devices connected to the internet, you will want to test your site on all mobile devices. This is a huge chunk of the market that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
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