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7 Reasons Your New Blog Visitors Bounce, and How to Stop Them

This guest post is by Christian Schappel of Progressive Business Publications.

The last thing you want is for people to land on your website or blog only to immediately hit the Back button.

The vast majority of the time, it’s an avoidable scenario. Something on the page turned the visitor off to make him or her move on to another site.

To find out how likely your site or blog is to drive visitors away, consult this list of the top eight blunders that spark abandons and see if your blog guilty of any.

Your blog requires browser plugins (from the start)

Making visitors install new software just to access your site is the biggest turnoff of them all. From the time a person lands on your site, you’ve got about four seconds to connect with them, or they’re gone. Four seconds! That’s never going to happen if they have to install a plugin.

If you have to require a plugin to show off a product—or to satisfy a web designer’s lust to show off his or her creativity—don’t require it on a landing page.

Make sure your content gets visitors interested before you start making demands.

It asks for a browser upgrade

Unless someone’s using a browser from 2004, they should be able to view your content without any major problems.

It’s great that you’re on the cutting edge, but requiring a browser upgrade not only keeps you from connecting with visitors in four seconds or less, it sends the message that you’re not compatible with them. It also tells them they’ve done something wrong.

Test to make sure your site renders well on most semi-modern web browsers.

It auto-plays multimedia

Ever landed on a site that automatically started to play music and not reached for the volume controls to turn it down?

Music, sound effects and video that play automatically trigger people’s instincts to hit the Back button—even if just to spare those around them from the noise.

If these elements are vital to your introduction, add a button that says, Click to listen, rather than just assuming visitors want to hear them.

It presents long-winded introductory copy

Of course you have to explain what you do, but at a certain point your introductory copy begins to have a negative effect.

That point is at about 100 words.

Large blocks of gray text look daunting, and people would rather move on to the next site or blog than read a novel about what it is you do.

Even at 100 words, you’ve got to break copy up into bite-sized chunks.

Then make sure you use bullet points to make the rest of your website and blog copy scannable and easy to digest.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use short, one-sentence paragraphs.

It doesn’t provide full contact details

Three things that need to be on your site/blog, without question:

  • a phone number
  • your email address
  • a full postal address.

If the first page visitors land on is missing one of these, it gives them the impression that you’re hiding something. They begin to think, “Why don’t they want me to call or email?”

Bonus: Search engines love to see each of these elements on websites and blogs. They’ll improve your organic search ranking—especially for local searches.

It displays old dates

Your site or blog may have been built pre-Y2K, but it shouldn’t look like it.

Check the bottom of your pages. Do any say copyright 2011? If so, it’s time to update.

The only places dates 2011 or older are acceptable are buried deep in your blog or news feed.

Keeping an old copyright date tells visitors you’re asleep at the wheel.

It’s full of dead ends

Horizontal rules and separators, changes in background color, and even too much white space reduce scannability.

Remove anything that disrupts the flow of your blog. You don’t want anything to disrupt a visitor’s train of thought.

You’ll also want to check that each page of your site or blog links back to the homepage and contains navigation buttons of some kind. Pages that lead to a dead end and fail to include navigation options result in abandons.

Is your blog guilty of any of these issues? Do you have high bounce rates? Tell us in the comments.

Christian Schappel is the Editor-in-Chief of The Internet & Marketing Report newsletter, which is published by Progressive Business Publications (PBP) to provide marketers with news, research and ideas to help them increase revenue. Connect with PBP on LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. MiciROX says:

    I absolutely hate automatic playing media, especially if the page doesn’t load right a way then I open other pages and now I don’t know where the music is coming from when it actually loads! Nice compilation of some of the pet peeves I have around the net :D

  2. sadek says:

    According to me the main reason is quality content. If you provide quality article and easy navigation (with related posts) your blogs bounce rate will decrease by a lot.

    • John says:

      I think you are exactly right…. more than anything it’s quality that lowers bounce rate.

      But not just content – it’s the quality of the design as well. Some might argue design is more important than content as your visitors will see your site before they start reading it.

      I really doubt having full contact info front and center is the key to lower bounce rate, sure in some markets it might be necessary, but in most cases I’d say a contact email is all you really need.

  3. Jon Rhodes says:

    I think the biggest mistake is when a site automatically plays audio when you land. I ALWAYS hit the back button immediately. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and it seems that nearly everyone else does as well.

  4. Being perfectly within the boundaries of your exact niche helps a lot. I run a tech blog and many other tech blogs that I come accross have very high bounce rate, including the sites with very high traffic.

    Another reason is ad placement. Generally good blogs have CTR of around 4 to 9%.

    Bad design remains on top, as soon as a user lands on badly designed blog prejudice takes the control and user loses any hope in finding what he/she came for.

  5. I’m glad you mentioned auto-playing content; this is one of my biggest pet-hates (although interestingly, youtube seem to get away with it!). I often open up multiple tabs in one go, so that I can work my way through…

    There’s nothing worse than opening 10 tabs and then one of them starts playing some annoying music!

  6. Tom says:

    I’m glad you mentioned auto-playing content; this is one of my biggest pet-hates

  7. You must use plugins like Linkwithin which helps the visitor explore new articles in your site. This greatly decreases bounce rate.

  8. I usually think of content issues (or something like misleading titles) as being the bigger culprit, but your post reminds me that the technical aspects of the site can matter just as much. Something to add to my checklist. Thanks!

  9. Ravi says:

    Most of the times Readers read the Introduction and Sub titles, if they find it interesting then only they read it otherwise they bounce back, so it is important to write good introduction and highlighting sub points

  10. Rahul says:

    very nice tips when we start blogging then our blog should me simple not much ads and easy navigation thanks for sharing…

  11. Kushal says:

    Good post Christian.
    Currently I am facing this kind of problem.In my case, my website loading time is the main culprit.
    About old copyright date, you can add a piece of PHP code that will automatically update your copyright date.The example code is –

  12. Matt Brennan says:

    All of these are turnoffs! I agree with a lot of the commenters. Uninvited audio is about the biggest sin. Funny story. I had a designer friend who didn’t see it that way. He had audio all over his site. We were up late one night working on the pages, and the audio he put on woke up his baby. Talk about learning the hard way!

  13. I agree with most of these, but for security and basic privacy reasons I don’t think it is a good idea to post your phone number and address on your blog…

    • Clarissa says:

      I agree, Anna. Readers don’t need to know my address and phone number, but I do have my social media and email shown.

      I like the balance of images and text. If there’s no image, the break up of the text is important. I don’t like reading long posts that look like an essay, but I’m also ADD so that can be it :)

  14. Christian, so glad I read your post. I was sailing along, congratulating myself, when I came to copyright dates – oops! I hadn’t changed 2012 to 2013, but at least it didn’t still say 2011! Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Anthony says:

    Nice advice… plus a reminder to update the copyright date on my own blog! Perhaps entering into an electronic calendar (Google Calendar, OS X’s Calendar, etc.) an annual reminder around New Year’s to update said copyright notice might also help?

    • Stewmoney says:

      Your copyright year can be updated with a simple javascript in your footer. Just type ‘javascript to update copyright year’ in a search engine.

  16. Lewis Saka says:

    It all boils down to content, if you have something valuable that people want to read then they won’t bounce

  17. prabhat says:

    certainly, these are the things which make your audience leave your website. i’d like to add some more things like flash content and pop-ups and the loading time and yes the most irritating thing is automatic playing media.
    i close the website if it starts playing some videos or audios itself. it is the most irritating thing

  18. mohit says:

    Loading speed time of blog is very important if a blog’s page is taking up to much time to load then it is ery bad for a blog.

  19. Is there still a blog or website that auto-plays multimedia? You’re kidding us.

  20. Ahmed Sharif says:

    some really good points!
    lots of mentions of quality content here… I believe most people wouldn’t even enter the blog or click on a link that leads to the blog unless there is a catchy title…. this just shows the importance of backing up a good headline with quality content…. catchy title with nothing behind it can be disastrous….

  21. Aloha Christian,

    I was surprised by these suggestions. I thought for sure that adding above-the-fold pics and videos would have been at the top of your list, along with making sure that at the end of every single page/post there’s internal links to other pages.

    I’m so glad you brought up audio. That kills me every time. I practically jump out of my chair and start slamming keys to try and turn it down.

    Mohit mentioned page load time in the comments. I tried installing some cache plugin to reduce load time on my blog, but it seems like it actually takes longer now LOL. Do you recommend any WP plugins for speeding up load time?

  22. I’ve also been working on reducing my blog’s bounce rate, particularly trying to reduce the percentage of visitors whose visit length is less than 5 seconds. I’m doing a little case study on it over on my hubpages account…

    http://chrisinhawaii.hubpages.com/_chrisinhawaii/hub/BOUNCE-RATE-CASE-STUDY-How-Can-I-Improve-Stickiness-Visit-Length-On-My-Blog

    So far I’ve focused mostly on above-the-fold improvements. I shortened my header so that more of my content is visible right away. In the sidebar, I moved my subscription field further down and instead put an image at the very top that links internally to an article.

    Then I dumped most of the text in the sidebar and replaced category text with graphic buttons.

    If you want to check my blog itself, it’s at http://www.iworkofftheclock.com

    Oh. And I did a plugin (as I mentioned in the first comment), but I’m not sure if it’s helped at all. I can’t remember the plugin’s name at the moment.

    It’s only been a month since I started making these changes, but the results so far…suck. My “less than 5 seconds” visit length went from 69.1% to 72.5% =) Great.

    I wasn’t tracking how fast that number was rising before last month, so who knows…maybe that’s actually an improvement? hahaha

    If anyone has successfully dropped their bounce rate on their site, I’d love to get some feedback.

    Thanks, Chris

  23. Rejina says:

    One of the most essential part of blogging is knowing what your audience want and need. Write something that would be of value to them.

    Say, if your website is about outsourcing then you know your target audience are entrepreneurs who are looking for virtual assistants or looking for offshore companies who can cater to their outsourcing needs.

    This means that you should focus on giving your target readers solid information that they can actually use. Topics on virtual assistants and offshore outsourcing companies would be great materials for your blog. Check out this OTTP blog to see what I mean: http://www.outsourcetothephilippines.com/blog/

  24. Paul says:

    Auto play videos is something I hate on a websites, I see that I close straight away. Pop-ups is another one, if I can’t see your content because there is a massive popup begging me to subscribe to your newsletter I close straight away. If I’m going to sign up to your newsletter at least let me read your content first.

  25. Nikki says:

    Those automatic pop-up subscribe forms are one of the biggest reasons I leave blogs & websites only a few second after clicking. If a blogger is going to use that for lead generation, he should configure the settings to get readers time to actually read!