In the previous article in our series on bounce rate and revenue, we learned what can go wrong when attracting visitors to your site and how to attract the right traffic. But if you’ve corrected the public perception of your website (or just a single page) and your bounce rate is still too high, it’s probably time to take a long, hard look at your website content.
In today’s post we’ll talk about how to fix common content problems that could be increasing the bounce rate on your site.
Just a warning: This post is going to be a long one because I’ve prepared a hefty list of suggestions for you. So grab a cup of tea or coffee before you settle in—I think you’ll find that these ideas are worth a few extra minutes.
Match your keywords to your copy
If a user leaves your page immediately, there’s a good chance your page copy does not correspond to the external link that led the visitor to your site. (We already discussed this issue a bit in the previous article.)
In this case you either need to update the page meta tags (title, description, keywords) to make sure the page content is reflected accurately in search engine results, or update external links and ads to display the right information about your site. Or, finally, adjust your page copy according to the keywords you’re targeting.
Focus on user intent. Whether your visitors reach your site through paid ads, social media or search engine results, you need to answer two important questions about their motivations:
- Why did they come to your site?
- What are they expecting to find?
If it isn’t immediately and abundantly clear to your visitor that they’re in the right place, they will leave. Make it obvious that they have found what they came here for. Yes, it’s that simple.
Improve your brand storytelling
The word storytelling has crept into discussions of how brands communicate with customers—and it’s an important strategy to consider when trying to maintain a low bounce rate. On top of meeting the expectations of your users, you should make sure they understand who you are as a brand, what you stand for and what you have to offer.
Digital marketer Rob Longert explains the connection between brand storytelling and bounce rate:
“A low bounce rate is a good indicator that the story you’re trying to tell is resonating with customers and potential customers. Brand storytelling is about cutting through the clutter and hooking your visitors in the story, products or content on your site, and analyzing bounce rate is a good way to tell if that’s working.”
To improve your storytelling, make sure your page copy…
- is relevant to the visitors you’re targeting
- engages your visitors with fresh, interesting information
- lays out a cohesive image of your brand and products
- inspires visitors to interact with your brand
Use multimedia wisely
Video, audio and even still images can spice up landing pages as well as the blog, news, and events sections of your website. But there are definitely some best practices to keep in mind when using multimedia elements:
- Be careful with auto-play video and audio—it can make users feel out of control and often leads to a bounce. That said, auto-play might increase your conversions by putting key information right in front of visitors. Test auto-play on your site to see what works best.
- Experiment with the length of your multimedia elements. Remember that visitors have little tolerance for irrelevant information.
- Don’t forget to include calls to action in your audio and video components to tell your visitor what to do next.
Respect visitors’ time
If your landing page contains all the information your visitors are looking for but the content is hard to consume in a short period of time, then you can expect a high bounce rate.
Even visitors who want to peruse your page may bookmark it and return when they have more time—meaning their first visit is recorded as a bounce. (And you run the risk that they’ll never remember to come back.) Instead, develop content that can be consumed quickly.
Now, this suggestion is not a hard-and-fast rule. If you’re selling expensive or complex products for a niche audience, then a page of detailed copy might be the right approach. You’ll just need to test several versions of your content and keep whatever works best. We recommend A/B testing to check multiple versions of copy in parallel.
Freshen up your content
If your blog posts from 2005 are still showing up in search engine results, visitors may click, take one look at the date, and bolt. They may not even bother to check for newer content.
You can’t do much about the fact that search engines still find your old posts, or that external links to your old posts exist in remote corners of the web. But if your older posts are still getting traffic, why not take advantage by refreshing the content and making it more current?
Trends and the ever-changing nature of technology make nearly any post “refreshable,” so take a stroll down archive lane and see what you can do to modernize your old stuff.
A few ideas to get you started:
- Update statistics
- Find new examples related to current events or the latest technology
- Add a recent case study
- Incorporate new insights
And, of course, label your posts with the date they were last modified instead of the date they were published.
Split up long posts
People have shorter attention spans than ever. When visitors have to scroll and scroll and scroll to read your posts, they’ll feel like they’re back in high school trudging through Crime and Punishment.
Consider splitting up your lengthy articles into separate posts in a single series or adding pagination to break up the content into smaller, more digestible chunks. The New York Times does a fantastic job of organizing this piece (an incredible article, by the way) into chapters in order to break up a substantial amount of content and keep readers engaged with multiple points of interaction.
By employing a similar technique, you’ll also provide an easy call to action for your visitor: Click “next” to continue reading! (More on that in a bit.)
Organize text for readability
Nothing will send your visitors running faster than massively long chunks of text with no visual breaks—that’s just plain hard to read!
Instead, make sure your text…
- is large enough to be read easily
- uses a legible font that fits the design of your site
- is split into paragraphs of reasonable length
- includes bullet lists, headers and other visual tools to make parts of the content stand out
Tell visitors what to do next
A primary cause of a high bounce rate is visitor confusion. If they click to your page, consume the content and say, “Now what?” you need to provide an answer—otherwise, they’ll bounce. That’s why it’s critical to have a clear call to action on your page.
When you create your next great piece of content (be it an article, landing page or “About Us” page), first ask yourself, What is the main purpose of this content?
The answer will usually tell you what you want users to do after reading the page, which might be:
- subscribe to your newsletter
- sign up to receive deals and coupons
- fill out a contact form
- read a related article
- download free content or resources
- purchase your product
- or, at the very least, like, share or comment on your post
Don’t let visitors leave your page without taking the next step; otherwise, their visit is a waste. Give visitors a clear call to action on all your pages, and your site’s bounce rate will decrease dramatically.
Leverage internal search
If you don’t currently offer a search function on your website or if you don’t regularly review your site’s internal search analytics, then you’re missing the boat. Web users have become so accustomed to search that it’s a necessity for your site—and an easy tool to leverage to improve the user experience. After all, if visitors can’t easily find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll go somewhere else.
Also, by regularly monitoring what your visitors are searching for on your site, you’ll have an extra source of ideas for future blog posts and articles. The most basic solution for monitoring your internal search form activity is Google Analytics:
Thankfully, most popular website builders (like WordPress) come with internal search functionality. So you don’t have to spend any extra time or money installing a search form for your visitors.
What you should do now
As always, we’ve got a checklist of steps you can take right now to start improving your content:
- Go to the page on your site that has the highest bounce rate (you should have looked it up after reading the previous post).
- Read the copy from a visitor’s point of view. Is the information relevant? Are you telling your brand’s story?
- Improve the technical aspects: Divide the page into sub-pages if it’s too long, split the text into smaller paragraphs to make it easier to read, make sure the font is large and legible.
- Ensure you have a site search form that’s easy to access.
- Add a clear call to action: A contact form, list of related articles, subscription sign-up box, sales form, etc.
- Repeat this process for other pages on your site.
When you’re done, give it a few days or weeks (depending on your site’s traffic volume), and then check your bounce rate again. Let me know the results!
I’d really love to see your bounce rate go down after your hard work. But if your results aren’t so promising, post a comment below and I’ll personally give you other ideas that may work for your website.
In the next post we’ll look at more technical issues that can add up to a high bounce rate—in fact, sometimes these issues are the biggest culprits. So stay tuned!