It’s not just you.
Blogs typically have a really high bounce rate. Most visitors will click a link from search engines or social media, read the post it takes them to, and then disappear off. When I was looking at my bounce rate recently, I noticed that some days it was as high as 90% (what?!).
Here are some things I did that really helped to bring that number down…and keep it down.
Housekeeping: Jump links + RSS
Before we get started, two super quick things to check are ‘Read More’ jump links and your RSS feed. These are quick wins that make a lot of difference.
If you check out my homepage, you’ll see that only the first few lines of text are displayed for each blog post. Not only does this reduce your bounce rate, it improves your site speed if you use several images in your blog posts, and also makes it harder for bots to scrape/steal your content.
Many themes do this automatically, but you can add a ‘more’ tag in yourself for each post, either by clicking the ‘more’ button at the top of your post (in the Text editor) or the little three line icon (in the Visual editor):
Setting your RSS feed to ‘Summary’
Having your RSS feed set to ‘Summary’ rather than ‘Full Text’ makes it harder for people to use scripts to steal your content. It also means that people using feed readers like Feedly and Bloglovin’ have to click through to read your whole post. Otherwise they can just read every blog post you publish without ever even visiting your website.
The good news is that it’s just one simple setting in WordPress. From your Dashboard, go to Settings > Reading, and make sure the ‘Summary’ option is checked:
Now the housekeeping’s sorted, let’s move on to looking at some useful plugins.
WordPress plugins to reduce your bounce rate
upPrev is a free plugin that slides in a box to recommend another blog post to your readers. It has a few customisation features; for example, mine is set to slide in from the right once a visitor gets 70% of the way down the page. I’ve also set it to suggest another post from the same category. You can test it out yourself by scrolling to the bottom of this post.
You can include post thumbnails and choose whether category links are displayed or not.
If you don’t like upPrev, Recommended For You is also worth checking out.
Listing related posts at the end of a blog post is a tried and tested way to reduce your bounce rate. It’s easy enough to say, but it’s actually tricky to find a good related posts plugin for WordPress. I’ve tried pretty much all of them, and the quality varies a lot.
My favourite is the simply-named WordPress Related Posts. It actually pulls posts that are related, and not just the laziest ‘last posts in the same category’ that many other plugins do. It uses a range of factors to generate the best posts to suggest, and they’re easy to edit from the bottom of your post too, if you don’t like the ones that have been selected.
PS If you’re using Jetpack for related posts (or anything else), uninstall it. It’s horribly bloated and really bad for your page speed.
Give your sidebar some bounce rate love by listing your most popular posts. I use Mashshare for this, but there are plenty of WordPress plugins that will do it for you (no, don’t use Jetpack).
You can choose the image sizes, views, time frame, and a bunch of other things.
Inline Related Posts
Automatically include links to related posts within a blog post with Inline Related Posts. There are basic text options with the free version, or you can make the related post really stand out with the premium version, if that’s your thing.
Broken Link Checker
If you have ‘404 Page Not Found’ errors, your visitors will often bounce. Check Google Search Console regularly for 404 errors, or install a plugin like Broken Link Checker that will notify you if any errors are found. You can also create a custom 404 page if you don’t already have one, but you need to have a clear call to action on it to reduce the chances of visitors bouncing.
There are a couple of plugins that actually mark posts as unread for each individual visitor: Mark New Posts and Unread Posts. This is a great way to draw attention to posts your readers haven’t read yet and encourages them to discover your content more. However, that also comes with the disadvantage that your readers may stop clicking around if they’ve read all your posts, so it can be better to avoid it if your blog is new (doesn’t have many posts), or you have a lot of regular repeat visitors.
There are plenty of options out there for an info bar that directs your visitor to a specific blog post. I don’t use one personally, but I’ve used Hello Bar in the past and it’s been fairly good. If you’re using one for email subscriptions rather than directing people to blog posts however, you probably want to stick with using it for that instead.
Make your website faster
Improving your website speed has endless benefits, so it’s something you should check and try to improve on regularly. It’s also great for improving your bounce rate as your visitors will bounce if your pages are taking too long to load.
Many people swear by Google’s PageSpeed tool; it’s good but it can be confusing if you’re not technical, and ultimately it’s an automated tool making automated checks. It’s not really an accurate way of gauging how fast your site is in practice. To get a better idea of how your website actually performs, try Pingdom or WebPageTest.
Web hosting and caching makes a huge difference. Opt for WordPress-optimised hosting where possible, and full SSD storage.
As a general rule, plugins and images will be the main things slowing your website down. Make sure you’re optimising images for the web (there are tools online for this as well as plugins and save options in graphics software), and use P3 Profiler to identify pesky plugins.
PPS Did you uninstall Jetpack yet?
Meet your visitors’ expectations
One of the biggest reasons visitors bounce is because they didn’t find what they were after on your website. Make sure your post and page titles are clear and accurate: be interesting, but don’t promise the world if you can’t deliver on it. If your title suggests kitten videos, give your visitors kitten videos. The same goes for your meta descriptions and social media descriptions and messages. Don’t go down the clickbait route: make sure your reader knows what to expect of your content.
You don’t have to use all these ideas, but you may have noticed that they cover a wide range of locations – the top of the page, the bottom, within your post, at the end of your post, your homepage, your RSS, and even the back end of your website. Spreading different techniques around increases the likelihood that one of them will draw your visitors’ attention – you just need to balance it so your website doesn’t get too busy, demanding, or slow. It’s always worth testing different things in different combinations to see what works for you and your audience.
Tip: If you like someone, always visit at least two pages when you go to their website
How do you decrease your blog bounce rate? Will you be trying any of these? Let me know in the comments!
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