Simple Steps that Reduced my Bounce Rate

Bounce
Credit: flickr / OiD-W

Given that my current project is all about engagement, it’s probably not surprising that I’m more focused on engagement with my website than number of hits. Here’s my SEO strategy: write content, post regularly, give pages different names, insert images properly. That’s it.

However the bounce rate is more interesting – that’s the number of people who come, look at just one page, and leave. Another nice measure is average time on site (mine is a little over 3 minutes). Recently , I made some simple changes that reduced my bounce rate from around 70% to 50%.

  • Adding related posts (I think this is the biggest change).
  • Changing my theme and clearing up navigation. I really liked my previous theme, but the categories along the top weren’t working well. My new theme gives me two side bars, so I have more space there to list categories. I also added a link back to my main site.
  • Changing the comments to Disqus.
  • Adding a custom Twitter landing page where I mention that I don’t promote my blog on Twitter (so grab the RSS).
  • Scheduling posts so they go out at 8am EST, every morning (except for Monday’s, which archives my Twitter feed and goes out a little earlier).
  • Going through the navigation in Google Analytics and checking that all pages had the script that registers them (0% clickthrough is a giveaway).

Finally, did you know that in WordPress each category has it’s own RSS feed? Potentially handy if you blog on diverse topics, or in different languages.

Anything else I could be doing to improve engagement? Tell me what you want to see, in the comments or via Twitter.

7 thoughts on “Simple Steps that Reduced my Bounce Rate

  1. Disqus is interesting, but I'm still on the fence about it. =)

    I use the same 8AM schedule, too. How's that working out for you? It's hard to stick with one post a day–I've got blog posts scheduled until the end of the month–but it turns out to be good for making decisions.

    I need to figure out how to get Google Analytics to tell me the clickthroughs on my Random Posts and On This Day widgets. I think the numbers might be a little off because of the changing URLs. It's good for more discovery, though.

    Rock on!

  2. Your scheduling inspired me to do this! I subscribe by RSS, and I really noticed the difference and thought it was an improvement. Actually, because of this I now subscribe to my own blog (is that weird?) because things go out a little while after I wrote them, it's a good time for a final proofread and I get a better sense of how things show up in Google Reader.

    It's working well, I don't think it's changed (reduced) the volume of posts per week so much as spaced them out evenly and it's good for my self-discipline. I've not had more than 5 queued up and sometimes it prompts me to write something – like this post – that I've been meaning to write about but hasn't been written because there have been more exciting things going on.

    For analytics on this day, it's not a great solution, but you could just take the range right down to just one day and then look at your traffic stats? Then you might get an idea of how far analytics is off. Once all your traffic is amalgamated, it gets difficult/impossible to see short term patterns.

  3. What puts you on the fence about Disqus? I went with it because I *really* didn't want to use CAPTCHAs and I'm pretty happy with it so far 🙂

  4. Oh, mostly that Disqus requires Javascript or a click-through to comment,
    and some geeks using non-JS-capable browsers. (Like w3 for Emacs. There's at
    least one person in the last month who has used vi to look at my site, I kid
    you not. Text editors gone wild.)

    I do like the reply-by-email bit for Disqus, though. Let's see if it works.

    I'm quite bursty when it comes to writing posts. Some days I'll write four
    or five, some days I'll be busy. Spacing them out–except for the odd post
    that I really do want to post that day–makes me think about what's timely
    and what's timeless. =)

    My weekly statistics tend to look like my monthly statistics. My incoming
    searches and referrals are dominated by Emacs or Drupal, even though I
    haven't been writing about either much lately. Yay archives!

    Analytics: It's good to segment your stats by new/returning, too. Might give
    you some interesting questions. I've just started looking at new referrals –
    new site visitors coming in through other people's links. Must play around
    with these numbers some more in order to get a sense of what questions are
    good to ask…

  5. I visit your site whenever you post something, and then leave right after I get to reading those tabs. Does that count as a bounce?
    I think bounce rate must be misleading, for a blog, because there will be a ton of visitors who have already visited the site and who simply show up to read one article at a time.

    Now that I think of it, I wonder if this is why some news sites have multi-page articles (besides keeping things above the fold and adding breaks).

  6. It depends, if you only stay on the first page – yes. This is why blogs typically have a higher bounce rate than a regular website.

    And yeah you can have that, or teaser links to make people click through to read the whole thing. Then your bounce rate is a better measure of how many people don't bother to read past the first paragraph, which is potentially helpful.

  7. It depends, if you only stay on the first page – yes. This is why blogs typically have a higher bounce rate than a regular website.

    And yeah you can have that, or teaser links to make people click through to read the whole thing. Then your bounce rate is a better measure of how many people don't bother to read past the first paragraph, which is potentially helpful.

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