Feeling odd and a little gloomy because readers bounce off your site like so many ping pong balls?
A “bounce” occurs when a visitor leaves your site without clicking on anything.
Seeing bounces has always left me feeling bewildered. Did the visitor read any of my fine article before bouncing off? How much? Or was the visit just a mistake?
A bounce does not mean the reader didn’t read some or all of your article
Now, in your dreams, a bounce may show the reader’s complete satisfaction with the content. Having found exactly what they needed, your readers leave on their merry way.
A high “bounce rate” implies readers aren’t even reading your posts, which may well be the case.
Visitors coming in using search engines typically seek very specific information.
If your post doesn’t fill the bill; they move on . Hey, that’s life in the “organic search” big city.
But if a reader clicks on something — anything — on your site, you don’t get a bounce. Yippee! Using Google Analytics, you can see exactly how long they spent on an article. It may be a few seconds or a couple of minutes. Average time on site over a couple of minutes is quite good. If someone actually spent time looking at a specific article, Google Analytics can tell you that, too, but not when they bounce.
Since “bounces” leave you with zero information about how long a reader read, it’s your job to get them to click on something, anything.
We are not dealing with ordinary readers but scanners, with the attention spans of kangaroos. I know. I’m one, too.
What bounces really mean is that you offered readers no obvious options to click. I know because I’ve lowered my bounce rate. Here are some ideas:
One way to reduce bounces: Offer a link to a external site with a great resource. Here’s an example:
You want to learn about bounce rate from an amazing blogging pro? Click here on Bounce Rate from Ana Hoffman’s perspective.
I’ve written articles based completely around discoveries on valuable external sites.
Another place for readers to click are embedded links to your own articles.
In the paragraphs below you will see examples of both an external link and and internal link, both of which have the potential to keep a reader from bouncing.
Best bounce stopper: Content
Not that long ago a buddy of mine, Harrison Li at Social Hooks suggested that I had enough content to install a Related Posts widget. Related Posts offer an automatic linking mechanism to your other articles, whose compelling titles should be worded to tantalize a reader to keep clicking.
I looked around in WordPress Add New plugin search and found the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) which is free. Basic instructions on How to install a plugin can be found at the bottom of this article on plugins.
You can see YARPP in action at the bottom of this post as a text list of stories.
Then, while reading this hilarious article on why you should never pay more than $5 for an article on the Clear Copywriter blog, I saw an photo version of Related Posts! It was just like YARPP but with photos. I wanted it!
The photo-studded related posts plugin is called LinkedWithin.
It’s free but doesn’t appear when you search Add New plugin in WordPress. You get the plugin at the Linked Within website. Download the zip file onto you local computer, then use the Upload function in New Plugin to find it in your computer’s downloads folder and pull in the .zip file. After that, it’s a snap in install.
You can see LinkedWithin at the bottom of this post, just above the YARPP titles. It’s the one with all the pretty pictures.
The two algorithms differ in how they define “related.” YARPP gives you some control over why posts should be considered related – Titles, Body text, Tags, Category. LinkedWithin seems to be more hard wired, letting you set the number of posts to display at the site, but not much else. (Or maybe I haven’t found the settings.)
I like them both and may keep them both for awhile.