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3 Ways to Reduce Bounce Rates and Increase Conversions

This guest post is by Gregory Ciotti of sparringmind.com.

One of the many tough obstacles that newer bloggers have to deal with is the fact that many of their visitors, which they work very hard to get, will often “bounce” away from their pages—they’ll immediately leave the blog after landing on the homepage.

Reducing bounce rates

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This “bounce rate” can have a drastic effect on your blog’s success at any stage, but especially in the beginning. It’s very important to be able to keep the interest of your earliest visitors in order to build the loyal following that’s the essential foundation of any great blog.

So, what can you do to keep people around your blog long enough to explore its great content?

1. Set up a navigation bar with “super pages”

As a blogger, you’re probably very familiar with (and even have) a navigation bar on your blog, and you likely recognize its importance in helping readers get to your content.

However, many people do not take full advantage of this above-the-fold navigation bar, which inevitably draws a lot of clicks. After all, your nav bar really stands out on your site, and people are very familiar with how these menus work.

You can get more out of your navigation bar by having it link to pages that are much more than just a sequential list of posts in separate categories (as most bloggers do). I’d like to show you how by teaching you about a tactic that I call “super pages” that will direct readers to your best content.

Instead of just listing those categories up on your navigation bar, you can create separate blog pages that accomplish many useful goals, including pages that turn into SEO powerhouses and are incredibly shareable (linkbait), pages that convert new visitors, and pages that help you establish trust with people coming across your blog for the first time.

First things first, one super page to include in your navigation bar would be a Start Here page, where you can include a lot of elements that could be beneficial for first-time readers, and boost your subscriber count.

This page will reduce your bounce rate, guaranteed, as readers who may otherwise have been confused and left your site now have somewhere to begin. In fact, on many of my blogs, it is the most clicked link on my navigation bar.

Secondly, the Start Here page gives visitors a chance to see what your site is really about. You can also make this a little About Me page, putting a trustworthy face on a formerly anonymous website, and letting visitors know that your blog is run by a real person looking to offer great content.

Third, if the above two things weren’t enough: you can use this opportunity (after a descriptive About Me section and great Getting Started guide on your page) to offer visitors a way to get email updates, and if they like what they’ve seen thus far, they will opt in.

So not only will you be reducing bounce rates, you’ll be gaining more subscribers who might otherwise have slipped away after visiting your Getting Started page.

The other way to use super pages effectively is illustrated by Copyblogger. You’ll notice the navigation on that site includes topics that the site posts about, such as landing pages, email marketing, and keyword research. However, these links on the nav bar do not take you to a categorical list of posts.

Rather, they take you to a super page that presents a long description of the topic, including useful insight into getting started in that category, with plenty of links to the best posts on Copyblogger on that specific topic.

So, for instance, on the Email Marketing page on Copyblogger, an intro on the topic and its effectiveness is given, followed by links to great Copyblogger content, followed by a link to the Copyblogger newsletter specifically on email marketing (which people are obviously interested in). This is followed at last by an opt-in form that states that Copyblogger is a great place to learn about email marketing.

Anyone clicking to this page will be interested in email marketing, so now they have a list of links to great posts that is easily shareable (you’ll find that super pages are some of the most shareable pages on your site), a way to opt in to get updates, and a great descriptor of the topic at hand.

Much better than just a list of archived blog posts, wouldn’t you say?

2. Everybody loves a freebie!

One strategy that is implemented on almost all successful WordPress blogs is the giving away of freebies. These are almost always digital products, so that it doesn’t cost the blogger anything to give these products away.

This strategy works so well because people are much more likely to follow your blog if they see free and valuable content coming their way: they won’t want to miss out on anything in the future.

One of the best ways to do this is to create an autoresponder to send out a freebie if people sign up for your blog’s updates. I’ve found an extremely useful tool on MailChimp for doing this, which is described in detail on MailChimp’s blog.

If that sounds a bit too complicated, don’t worry! Freebies by themselves work as great promoters for people to follow you, so even by sharing a few freebies you are bound to gain more subscribers.

However, there is a way to greatly leverage your freebies: make people share your website in order to get them!

You may have heard of the service PayWithATweet, but there is a much better option that I’d like to show you called CloudFlood. What this service allows you to do is share anything you’d like to give away for free, but your viewers have to send out a tweet (that you generate) in order to gain access to it.

So if I’m sharing a new pack of icons for web design, and I want to give it away for free, I can set up my CloudFlood button and whenever someone wants to access the free download, all they have to do is send out the automatic tweet that I made, and they get instant access.

I could make the tweet link back to my username on Twitter, and have it say something like “Free icon pack for web designers up for grabs, download it now! bit.ly/SomeLinkHere.”

So, I get to give away free content that is useful to people, and they share my website to their Twitter followers … sounds like a win-win!

3. Make it easy for people to subscribe

If there is one thing you should take away from any place giving blog advice, it’s this: your blog is nothing without loyal subscribers or followers.

Thus, it is very important to convert people from the get-go, and making it easy to follow your blog is something that is of utmost importance.

Creattica has some great, free pre-made PSD buttons that are easily edited (you don’t need to be a designer, it’s very simple) so you can add whatever text you want. You can also get some great buttons at Graphic River, such as these.

The link above takes you to an example button that you can edit if you have the PSD files (which are included on the Creattica buttons as well as on Graphic River). So you could easily edit the text to say something like “Follow Me For Updates” or “Get Updates From My Blog” or whatever you think will encourage your subscribers to click on the button.

Eye-catching buttons that stand out and complement your blog are guaranteed to make those who come across your content more likely to subscribe. Copywriters and bloggers alike know that big, beautiful buttons are just calling to be clicked. Are there any on your page?

Why it’s important

As you can see there are a lot of things that you can do (for free!) to reduce your blog’s bounce rate, and in the end, grow your blog’s subscribers.

Even if you only drop your bounce rate by a few percentage points, think about how many visitors that will mean in the long run, over your blog’s life.

Capturing a visitor when they land is the starting point for any visitor to become a new subscriber to your blog. You need to do all you can to make sure things start off on the right foot.

How do you plan on dropping your blog’s bounce rate?

Gregory is an avid blogger and marketer, and loves improving and measuring his blogs. You can find him discussing effective WordPress strategies, and even talking about the hot topic of tumblelogs and lifestreaming on his blog I Love Tumblr.

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Comments

  1. rakesh kumar says:

    Very effectively explained article to tackle bounce rate. Super pages and freebies are the best methods to reduce bounce rate according to me.

    • Thanks Rakesh!

      I’ve noticed that content pages (or “super pages” as I’m so fond of calling them) have been converting great on my other blogs, and I’ve been slowly implementing them onto my marketing blog as we speak and they’ve been nothing but beneficial!

      Glad you enjoyed the post =).

  2. Stacey says:

    Genius! I have super pages… but I never thought to have a ‘start here’ page for newbies! Makes so much sense :)

    • Thanks Stacy!

      I only ever picked up on this from a few of my own experiences.

      I would find myself coming across really unique blogs, but totally lost on where to begin (this is also problems for blogs with HUGE amounts of content).

      I’ve noticed more and more successful blogs implementing “start here” pages, so it obviously seems to be working, it definitely makes things easier for new visitors.

      Thanks for your comment =).

    • Elisabeth says:

      Stacey, you are on top of it! I see you already got you ‘start here’ page up… that’s awesome! That’s something I will need to work on too.

  3. Great article! I’ve been struggling with setting up a solid method for allowing people to follow my blog posts, i’m definitely going to implement some of the button functions. I also think your site does a great job of laying out the articles with pictures on the home page which makes it easier for the user to find what they’re looking for and navigate around. Thanks for the great advice.

    • Thank you for the comment and kind words Rob.

      Glad you’ve taken a liking to my site, it’s VERY new at the moment as I run other much more established blogs on my passions (electronic music for one), but I hope to get SparringMind up to speed and use what I’ve learned to really put up some unique posts.

      Well designed buttons can definitely draw people’s attention (in a good way), and I’ve also been experimenting with Facebook opt-ins (as in, people opt-in to your list via Facebook) and big, bold Facebook buttons seem to convert very well!

      Thanks for your comment! =)

  4. Steve Scott says:

    Gregory,

    I totally agree with the use of superpages, freebies and ease of navigation. Getting those visitors to visit more of the site is not only a great way to decrease bounce rate but a way to show off your best stuff and hopefully keep them coming back for more.

    I am not sure how getting people to subscribe reduces “bounce rate” Obviously it is something that we all WANT. No quibbles there. But subscribed readers can sometimes work to increase BR, since they may come, read one article and since they are familiar with the older work, leave after (creating a bounce since they did not visit more than 1 page)

    Obviously this would be a “good” bounce, but a bounce it would be.

    • Hey Steve,

      Thanks for the comment, glad you enjoyed the post.

      You make a good point about the habits of subscribed readers.

      In this instance, I was referring more to the “bounce rate” of a lost visitor, rather than the specific bounce rate statistic that you might find in Google Analytics or Clicky.

      But as you stated, even their “bounce” from your site after reading a post would still be a good bounce, since they’ve already subscribed, and it’s for reasons like this that you can never get a bounce rate down to 0%.

      So really I was targeting reducing the bounce rate of specifically new visitors, which as you probably agree, is the more important bounce rate to consider.

      Thanks for reading & for the comment!

  5. Ben Norman says:

    Very nice info here. Especially about the use of a ‘Start Here’ page. I find that I do the same when browsing, if a site doesn’t seem to offer the information I am looking for (for the short time I am looking) I move on. A Start Here page would definitely encourage me to give the site a second chance.

    • Definitely! Glad you enjoyed the post.

      I’ve found I’m much more willing to “dig in” to a site when I have somewhere to begin.

      Some sites with HUGE amounts of content are intimidating to sift through, so having a starting page (with an email opt-in of course) can be a great way to retain visitors.

  6. suraj says:

    i am new in blogging world..and face high bounce rate you post help me to overcome

    • Glad to hear that!

      Given time, and use of strategies like these to help new visitors feel more “at home” and welcomed on your site, you will no doubt see your bounce rate drop considerably!

      Thanks for your comment! =)

  7. Just a question: Do people subscribe much to blogs any more? I think it’s easier to bookmark them.

    • People do subscribe, although I will grant that given the many ways to follow blogs nowadays (Twitter, Facebook, bookmarking etc.) that you may see less people using subscriptions via RSS.

      Although I do still think email subscriptions are strong, you just have to be trustworthy and not abuse people’s emails, I do that by only sending full excerpts of my best content and never spam people with affiliate offers.

  8. Superpages are logical, yet so underused, including by myself, but I’ll be sure to change that in the near future now that I have my new design up and running.

    The only thing missing on my new design is the subscribe/social/about widget, all the info is there now, but I’m having a professional designer make me a great one and that will include the custom subscribe button.

    • That’s awesome! SparringMind.com definitely needs some design love, I’ve taken care of my other blogs quite well, but I always put design off for too long when I’m building a new blog.

      Time to stop being lazy and open up Photoshop, ha!

      Glad you enjoyed the post, hope it was helpful!

  9. I have quite high bounce rate, I was searching for some new technique that can be used to reduce the bounce rate. This post will help me a lot. Thanks :)

    • Glad you found the post useful! Dropping your bounce rate is definitely key to kickstarting your blog, as people are much more likely to engage with your content if you can keep than for at least a minute or two.

  10. Josh Jones says:

    I’ve heard the term “bounce rate” a lot but I had no means to actually research and look it up.

    Thanks for the info! I’m already brainstorming ways to lower that bounce rate.

    • Definitely a good idea, I’m glad the post was able to clarify that for you.

      Remember that you should be focusing mostly on the “new visitor” bounce rate, the overall bounce rate in your Google Analytics account will just be a general guideline, but if you can you should try to target the bounce rate of new visitors, because that’s what matters the most.

  11. Melissa says:

    I would add that a ‘related posts’ type plugin beneath your posts is a great way to keep people engaged with your site, particularly if you have been blogging for a while and have a fair bit of content. That one plugin alone greatly reduced my bounce rate. Also, a ‘read more’ link on your front page can affect bounce rate.

    I also recently have added a start here page and while I don’t at the moment, I think it would make a better landing page than the basic url. All up, my bounce rate averages at about 7%.

    Thanks for the links for the buttons, I’m looking to redo mine, very helpful.

    • Definitely, I always either opt for a related posts or just a very long “Popular Posts” section on the sidebar to keep people reading, as that is the goal with the “end goal” so to speak being a subscription.

      Glad the post was helpful to you!

  12. Devin says:

    I love your ideas, but I don’t know what I would give away as a freebie. My site focuses on reviews, and some video content, and I’m completely stumped on the freebie part.

    • Hey Devin,

      Finding a good freebie can be a bit troublesome, especially for a review site.

      Any type of whitepaper/e-guide can work well for most industries, but as you stated review sites are a unique type of site to run.

      Maybe a “Best Of” guide for a certain year, or of a certain category?

  13. StylezShop says:

    The PayWithaTweet is a great idea. Is there any other sites or methods similar to this one you of?

    • Yes, the Cloud:Flood tool that I (think?) linked to above, it’s an even better tool in my opinion and can be customized with your own button.

      As a paid tool, I would recommend Reward Button, although my personal opinion is that it is overrated.

  14. Duncan says:

    I enjoyed you post, definitely plan to implement the super pages concept. I also found that implementing video helps with bounce rate as it keeps visitors around longer since they spend time viewing the video.

    • Definitely true, I’ve found that if you put a very brief description and make the video as short as possible (1-4 minutes) then many people will opt to watch it.

      This may be just be, but I’ve found people are more likely to stay for YouTube embed videos than Vimeo or self-hosted videos, maybe due to their familiarity with YouTube?

  15. Iago Fraga says:

    Nice advice! Actually bounce rate is latelly driving me mad since I feel nothing I do really changes it but I am gonna try what you suggest. In fact, I was already working on this “start here” page but I’ll keep in mind your points, seem logic after all.

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for the comment Iago!

      Bounce rates can be hard to get down, but I’ve found that making people feel comfortable is the “essential” thing to pursue, my above techniques really help with that (or so I’ve found).

      Otherwise, and friendly and inviting site design also helps people to stick around.

  16. Mark Aylward says:

    Gregory
    I love the Start Here tab idea. I read about this just yesterday, but your explanation and detail clarified it for me. It’s on my list of things to do!
    Cheers
    Mark

    • Glad this post was useful for you Mark!

      I’ve found that “start here” tabs are very clickable if you have a stream of new visitors coming into your blog, and are a great way to convert people that found your site via search engines.

  17. Thanks for this very good explanation on dropping the bounce rate! I’m using the “related posts” plugin and saw it’s a good way to keep visitors on my page. But i never thought of introducing super pages. I’ll try it out :)
    But do you think it’s enough to have a text only menu without any images linking to the super pages? Wouldn’t some images increase the clicking rate?

    • That’s a good question.

      I’ve found that images can sometimes be mistaken for ads if you aren’t careful about it, so I guess this could really go either way.

      Text based navigation bars seem to get lots of clicks anyway, so you might be safer using a text nav bar at least at first.

      Glad the post was useful for you!