So you’ve finally found a content writer who actually speaks English and knows a little about SEO on the side. You’re high up on Google search engine rankings for your preferred keywords. However, you’re getting a terrible bounce rate. Nobody wants to stay on your site for more than ten seconds. Why? Well, I hope you didn’t skimp on your web designer because most of the problems that cause major bounce rate issues can be traced back to issues other than those awesome articles. Fortunately, they’re fixable if you can swallow a little ad revenue and track down these issues.
Bounce Rate Affects Your SEO
Think it doesn’t matter if people don’t stick around? Not only are you failing to make conversions when your bounce rate is high, but it actually affects the number of people who find you on Google.
- Ads. This is one of the major ones. I have a tendency to have several tabs open at the same time and, because Google Chromium shows me which one is making sound, I usually close out the one with the noisy ad pretty fast. Pop-ups, interstitials (AKA that big full-page ad that Forbes added to its site), and prioritizing the loading of ads before loading the rest of the content are other major pet peeves that are costing you major bounce numbers. Do not add redirects because what’s the point of attracting visitors to your website if you’re just going to send them to somebody else’s website before they get a good look at you? Ad revenue is fine and I have a few banner ads for that purpose, but I try not to make that the whole point of owning a blog.
- Slow loading content. Most people who actually have Internet access also have high speed Internet these days, but when people have their Skype open and they’re streaming videos on Youtube, that bandwidth can get eaten up pretty fast. Photo galleries are cool, but you don’t want to overdo it on pictures and any other content that has a tendency to suck bandwidth. If you have banner ads, load the content first so that people can look at the content while waiting for the ad server.
- Pagination. Yeah, you’ve probably seen the same Answers.com ads on Facebook that I have. There’s only so many clickable slideshows that I can hack before I just ignore them. Even when your post is basically a Top Ten list, you just don’t want to go there.
- Flashing content. Some people actually have seizures that are triggered by a lot of crazy flashing lights and they could be triggered by a lot of flashing content. Even when your visitors don’t have that kind of medical condition, they usually find content that flashes or bounces around to be annoying.
- Stale content. How often have you seen a blog that hasn’t been updated for the past couple of years? If you’re looking for the latest cool gadget, you’re probably out of there so fast that the owner probably doesn’t even know you exist if he’s paying attention at all. So update often so people know what’s new with your subject matter.
- Bad navigation. You want to make it easy for humans to click around on your website for many of the same reasons that you want to make things easy for Google’s web crawlers. Every link should have a descriptive name and should be laid out in a way that people don’t have to hunt for the “About Us” page or search for more than a minute for obvious information like the price of that widget you’re selling.
- Instant demands to sign up for something. Demands that users register or enter their email to receive your newsletter before they see any of your content are almost as bad as interstitial ads. If you must, have a registration box in the sidebar that your visitors can use to register if they’re interested in what you actually have to say.
- A boring or unprofessional look. If you look at WebMD, it’s boring and people just go there for information. It serves a single purpose and that’s to just find information. The problem, though, is that it doesn’t replace a real live physician because it can’t interact with you. On the flip side, people aren’t going to take you seriously if you’re making a lot of wisecracks or use a font that looks like it was borrowed from Disney. It’s best to find a middle ground where you go light on the graphics, make sure the website’s colors don’t clash, use one or two relevant Youtube videos to highlight important points, and make it so that people aren’t scrolling forever to find what they came here for.
- Spelling, grammar and syntax errors. Does your content look like it was written by someone who doesn’t speak English very well? This is a killer. As a content writer, it actually offends me when somebody tried to get a bargain on their articles by hiring someone who isn’t a native English speaker and they ended up with an article that needs to be rewritten before it makes any kind of sense. Even the people who aren’t professional content creators will click away fast if they can’t comprehend what you were trying to say because the words don’t flow naturally.
If you can clean up those elements, you’ll be making good progress toward improving your bounce rates. People generally come to your website to solve a problem, not look at advertising or sign up for your newsletter. Keep that in mind from the start and you’ll be that much closer to having a website that’s worth sticking around on for a while.