From Content Marketing and Linking, to Design and Ad Placement, Every Bit Counts
Your site’s bounce rate might not be as glamorous or exciting an aspect of your ongoing SEO strategy as some others, but it’s just as important. This is because it’s an invaluable metric of how well your site is fulfilling its intended purpose, and at its core it combines every element of your site: the design, structure, content, optimization, and more will all determine your bounce rate.
Your bounce rate, quite simply, is a measure of how well your site is engaging users. The more users are coming to your site, visiting more than one page, and staying there long enough to actually absorb your content or to complete a conversion, the lower your bounce rate will be. However, this information should always be considered carefully. For example, your “Contact Us” page will likely have a higher bounce rate, because people come to it, find your hours or your phone number right away, and leave satisfied—in this case, a lower rate for people landing on this page might indicate that your site is confusing. Alternatively, a high bounce rate on your home page or a landing page likely indicates that people are coming to your site, looking around, and going, “Nah, this is not where I want to be!”
What we’re going to talk about is how to reduce the latter—by making it more worth people’s time to stick around. These are not catch-all solutions and not every tip will work for or even apply to every situation; rather, this is a place to start get the ball rolling (instead of bouncing).
What better place to start than with what is guaranteed to be someone’s first experience with your site—waiting for it to load? The days of 56 kbps are long gone. If you remind your visitors of that harrowing and soul-crushing time in their lives, though, they may—and often do—click “back” out of spite. You can fix this by making sure pictures are appropriate sizes for the web and cutting down on outdated media like Flash animation or music.
This is an issue of both load time and user experience (UX). You have to make the best design choices for your mobile experience, whether that means a separate mobile design altogether, a responsive design, or an adaptive design. You have ask yourself the questions, does it load quickly on a mobile device, and is it easy to use?
Regularly Re-Evaluate Keywords
You should always be monitoring the effectiveness of the keywords you use in your SEO. Are they relevant to your industry, or too general? Are they driving low-value traffic to your site, then it might be time to ditch them and re-optimize for new keywords, and that’s okay; SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done solution. You should also be sure to keep your optimization local—you’re going to get a whole lot of low-value traffic if your Ottawa-based pizza shop is getting clicks from Moscow, Beirut, and Toronto!
Landing pages need to have powerful Calls to Action if they’re going to convert—otherwise, visitors will bounce right off of them without converting. Talk about bad! Always be sure to follow best practices for landing pages and CTAs.
Good Design + Intuitive Navigation
Today’s model for good web design is about bringing aesthetics and functionality together. Because of this, your site’s design can affect your bounce rate in two main ways. First off, a poorly-designed site can raise questions about how professional you are. Secondly, a design that is difficult to use or navigate is going to frustrate users, driving them away from your site because they have no idea where to click to find the content they want. Supplementing strong design with a logical navigation that is accessible from every page is also a must.
This is where we start to touch on your actual content. If you don’t employ content marketing, now would be a good time to seriously consider it. From page titles to headings and sub-headings, make it clear right off the bat what each page contains. This is a great way to tell people they’ve come to the right place.
Links (In & Out); “Related Content”
Links—both internal and external—are important. Internal links keep people clicking around your site, showing them more content and moving them through a conversion funnel. External links, where necessary, can help you back up the information you present. However, it’s important to make sure these links open in a new tab, or else people may leave and forget to come back.
Personally, I’m a sucker for “Related Content” links. I have to be careful every time I visit websites like Cracked.com or BuzzFeed, lest I go on a link opening spree and end up with a dozen tabs open and not enough time to read them all.
Content marketing is more than just writing words that sound nice. It’s about creating content that provides real, actual value to your visitors, whether it’s a page outlining the benefits of your product or a blog about how to take care of your windows in the winter. It needs to present that valuable information in an easy-to-digest way, and be well-understood—write to your intended audience. A great content marketing tip is to break almost everything up into sub-headings that allow people to scan the page and find what they need, and include a CTA or a link to an order form to keep them in the sales funnel.
Ads are a great thing because they keep the bulk of the web free. They’re also an essential part of SEO. But if you’re not careful, the ads you display on your site can become so annoying that they drive customers away. Your site shouldn’t resemble Times Square on New Year’s Eve, so avoid pop-ups, disruptive auto-playing sound or video, flashing banners—anything that disrupts their browsing experience and drives them to bounce.
Say “No” to Pagination
Pagination is taking your content and dividing it across multiple pages. While this can actually be a good thing with longer, media-rich content or on mobile devices, the truth is, it’s better to just let users scroll. If your content is so needlessly long that pagination actually looks preferable, you may need to re-evaluate your approach to content marketing.
Rethink the 404
The 404 warning—that a page in the domain could not be found—is not something that you want users to land on, but it’s impossible to prevent in 100% of instances, so it’s better to be prepared. Don’t just stand there shrugging, mumbling a half-hearted apology at them; be helpful! Offer links back to the main pages of your site. If you have an internal search, include that. For added value, take this opportunity to build some good will with your visitor by adding some humour to the page. Have fun with it, and you might just prevent them from bouncing away.
At the end of the day, the best way to improve your bounce rate is to create a site people won’t want to bounce away from—and make sure that your SEO and content marketing strategies are tailored towards leading high-value traffic to your landing pages.
For help keeping your bounce rate low, or for other SEO and digital marketing services, the team at SEO TWIST is available to help you grow your business online.