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How I Lowered My Bounce Rate

This article will show you what 'bounce rate' is and the 3 things I did to lower my bounce rate in a three month period. I'm continually going through my old articles to fix them so that I can take my bounce rate down even further (see the copy of my Analytics proof at the end of this post). For those who need more explanation, you can easily check your bounce rate by going to your Google Analytics account and looking on your dashboard. The higher your bounce rate, the worse it is for your Google rating. You work hard to get traffic to your blog, only to find that they leave as quickly as they came. You want to fix this now.

 How I lowered my bounce rate
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What is bounce rate 
Unlike pageviews, a high bounce rate is bad and a low one is good. If you have a bounce rate of 85% it means that 80% of people who visit your site go away after visiting just one page. If you have a bounce rate of 35% it means that only 35% of people visiting your site leave after visiting 1 page. A large percentage of your visitors hang around, read more of your stuff, and generally interact with your site. They must be finding your blog pretty helpful or entertaining, hence they're loving being there. Google sees this as your authority. The longer you can keep your visitors, the higher your site can potentially rise in big, bad, Google's eyes.

Why does your site have a high bounce rate
A high bounce rate can mean that the traffic your blog is getting is not well-targeted. People rush in to read or find out something they think is there, only to arrive and find that it isn't. Sites like StumbleUpon are great for getting traffic to your site. However, SU is also a large part of the reason you may have a high bounce rate. SU traffic barge in, then out. They hardly ever look at anything else on your site. Questionable sites also will have a high bounce rate because people are being tricked to visit. When the traffic turns up they soon realise their mistake and get out of there as fast as they can. Sometimes a high bounce rate can result from simply not knowing what to do to decrease it (as in my case).
Some new bloggers (tutorials for new bloggers) may not even know it exists, let alone that it's important for their site's reputation. This is why I'm here to show you the 3 things I did to lower my bounce rate. You can do them too!

I used 'read more' feature to lower my bounce rate 
The read more or continue reading feature splits all your blog posts in two. This means that everyone who reads 1 article, essentially views at least 2 pages. My blog has an old Blogger template. As most of you know Blogger templates - especially the older ones - don't support the read more element. If your template supports this - go ahead and start using it today. You can check this by doing the following:
Go to the blog you want to check and click Layout on the left of your page.
Scroll down until you find Blog Posts.
Click on Edit at the bottom right hand side of the blog posts panel.
You'll be given a page that says Configure Blog Post. There are several options you can toggle here, but the one we want is Post page link text.
Set this text to 'Read more' or 'Continue reading' or whatever else you wish, but don't go overboard here because you want your readers to actually click on it to read more. You'll defeat the purpose if you get too creative.
Remember to save your work.
 Now with this small part taken care of, time for the acid test:
Go to your latest blog post and click on 'edit'.
In your composition editor (where you compose a new blog post) look at your tool bar at the very top of the page. Find where you want your 'read more' to appear, and click on the icon that looks like a broken page (below).
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If your template is an old one, or does not support this post summary (read more) option you'll have to edit your html. You'll know it isn't working when you click on the 'read more' and nothing happens. If you need to edit your html, here's the post summaries tutorial I used to do mine. If you can't do yours, I can do it for you for a small fee. Let me know.
Important: always click on your 'read more' link to see if your blog templates support this. It always needs checking to make sure. Also, it's best to finish writing your entire post before splitting them.

I opened links in new windows to lower my bounce rate
You can easily set your links on wordpress sites to open up in a new window. This means that while my readers click on various links to see other sites I may have featured in my articles, they generally stay on my site for the duration of the time they're reading elsewhere. Even when readers are reading other articles around on A Blogger's Books, having each post open up in a new window makes it easy for them to find their way back to the original article. Having this privilege on Blogger is not so straight forward, however. Surprisingly, it's so easy to do this in Blogger, you'll kick yourself for never having noticed it before. At the moment I'm continuing to lower my bounce rate by repairing all my old posts. I'm so annoyed at myself when I see how many links I have opening in the same window.
To have all your links open in a different window here's what you do: Insert a link in your post in the usual way. Highlight your anchor text (the word you want linked) and click on link in your tool bar. The box below appears

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Look to the bottom left of the box (just above the words OK and Cancel). You'll see this phrase: Open this link in a new window. Once you've inserted your link, make sure this box is ticked like it is in the picture. If it isn't, all your links will open up in the same window. This can sometimes lower the user experience on your site, thus preventing them from staying longer. I've discovered an easy way to check your old blog posts to make sure links open in a different window.
1. In your 'edit post' mode in Blogger, right click on your existing link.
2. A small box appears under your link giving you the options to go to the url, change it or remove it.
3. Click on 'change'.
4. You can easily tick your 'open this link in a new window' box from here. Discovering this has saved me hours. I'm still working on mine...

I used my 'popular posts' to lower my bounce rate 
People love to find out what others are seeing. They want to make sure they're not missing out on any goodies. We're all like that. We follow others. At work yesterday I colleague and I were feeling a bit mischievous. I pointed to a spot on the ceiling and he looked up at it with interest. We got every one in the room at one point or another to peer at that spot to see what we were seeing.
Later on we did the same thing to a spot on the floor, where I pretended to trip up on something.

The bottom line is that people follow people. If a post is popular people want to know why, so they have to have a look themselves just to make sure they're not missing out. Years ago you had to download a gadget in order to display 'popular posts' on your blog. Today this gadget comes as standard. I use this on my blogs now to let others see where the crowds are. I named this gadget 'Other's loved these' and if you want to find out why they did, just have a look at my side panel on the right to check out why. Go on, you might me missing out on something important.

Simply add this gadget to your blog by going to your dashboard - layout - add a gadget - popular posts.You can choose how many posts you want to use, whether you want a snippet or not, and what type of popular posts you want. I chose to have the posts which were popular for the last 7 days to show up because I wanted the newer posts to have a look in. Besides, this means that different posts have a chance of showing up here. This is a personal decision that may change with time. You're free to choose what you want.

My lowered bounce rate in Google Analytics

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 Here's the proof of my lowered bounce rate from Google Analytics. As you can see, my bounce rate has gone from almost 80% to 73.18%. This is in just 3 months! In the next 5 months or so, I hope to get it down to under 60%. I want to improve user-experience on my site, so please let me know what I can do to keep you around for longer :-) Naturally, the amount of time people are staying has also improved with my healthier bounce rate. You stayed for just over one minute, but now you're staying for a minute and a half. This is a good score for a blog like mine.

Let us know what other ways you're actively using to lower your bounce rate. Please share them in the comment box below. And here are some more tools that will help you with traffic on your site:

    



11 comments:

Rachel Platt March 17, 2012 at 8:35 PM  

Hi Anne,

Do you know how to install google analytics on a wordpress site?

Thanks!

Anne Lyken-Garner March 17, 2012 at 9:24 PM  

Hi Rachel. Download this free plugin called 'Webmaster Tools Verification'. You can easily put in your site ID in the 3 major search engines' verification panels. The plugin site is here:http://www.jamespegram.com/webmaster-tools-verification/

Of course, you'll need to create a google analytics account before you're given an ID for your site.

If in doubt, go to my articles here: 1.
http://www.abloggersbooks.com/2011/10/what-is-google-analytics.html and 2. http://www.abloggersbooks.com/2011/10/google-analytics-best-features.html

Let me know if this helps.

Icy BC March 18, 2012 at 9:04 PM  

I finally install the codes to my template to get the Read More function working..

Anne Lyken-Garner March 19, 2012 at 10:45 AM  

Yes, Icy. I noticed. I would've thought they were standard on your new blogs. It's odd that they weren't. My diy blog was like that before I switched it to WP.

UFO Bob March 25, 2012 at 11:07 PM  

Anne, great blog. I've been so focused on traffic that I forgot about bounce rate though my rating is different, depending on the platform.

I tried joining your blog network but it won't play game, even when I sign into FB. Just tells me to keep signing in....

I've deactivated my Quora account as they didn't like my name change from Alien Bob to Bill Bob. It's too formal over there for me. It's only a social discussion site on the modal of 'Yahoo Answers'. I prefer sites that allow u to do what u want.

Alien Bob March 25, 2012 at 11:11 PM  

Just tweeted your page to make up for the joining. I'll try again if u PM me on Twitter some time;)

By the way, I know u do Amazon associates but do u know u can use Pinterest with affiliate links?? Scoop.it as well. here's a step by step guide http://www.squidoo.com/earning-money-with-pinterest

Anne Lyken-Garner March 26, 2012 at 11:05 AM  

Thanks for the tips AB. I'll have to have a look at that when I have some time. Can't think of why they won't like that name. I don't see anything wrong with it at all. Thanks for the tweet.

raki August 22, 2012 at 6:37 AM  

nice blog and there is lot ofgood post in it.
hi i need a help.. i want to know how to put NEXT and PREVIOUS controls in my blog when viewing pictures galleries. thank you

my blog

chubskulit August 23, 2012 at 7:49 PM  

Uh-oh, I need some quiet time to digest all these hahaha. I am not a techy person so it is hard for me to get this in one reading.

The only concern I have of putting the "read more" feature is that some advertiser doesn't like it.

Thank you for telling me about this though.

chubskulit September 10, 2012 at 5:00 PM  

I referred this post to a fellow blogger, Anne.

Anne Lyken-Garner September 10, 2012 at 7:15 PM  

Thanks, Rose. Please Let me know if you need direction on anything else.

Anne's a published author, freelance writer and experienced editor. She's just signed her second publishing contract this year with 2 separate publishing houses. You can hire her or see her available books in the side panel on the right.
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