Good Bounce Rate Hacks & Proven Tricks
Almost all publishers want their sites to have a good bounce rate — good meaning low! In fact, most ask, “what is a good bounce rate”? However, most site owners don’t recognize that bounce rates are relative to the type of content on the pages that visitors are landing on. This means that bounce rates vary from page to page and site to site.
Unfortunately, there does seem to be a myth out there that a page’s bounce rate is something that cannot be dramatically affected by simple changes. I’m here to tell you… nothing could be further from the truth.
Few things could have a more dramatic effect on your site’s traffic, SEO, and revenue than it’s bounce rate, so why not do everything you can to improve it? Below, I’ll share some experts hacks and proven tips for reducing the bounce rate on your site and it’s individual pages. Many of which, are rarely discussed or shared…
How bounce rate affects traffic, SEO, and ad revenue
We’ve talked a little bit about the dramatic effect that user experience (UX) metrics have on ad revenue before. However, we have not shared a ton of information about how it impacts both traffic and SEO.
A page’s bounce rate is a ranking signal from Google. More specifically, Google is looking to see how users navigate from search results to your pages — and then ultimately — if they return to the search results to find another page that matches their query. Google is wanting to see if visitors are finding your content satisfying for their searches.
Above you can see a site that implemented some of the hacks we’ve shared below to decrease the bounce rate on their non-referential page.
You can see that there is a quick and direct correlation between that pages bounce rate improvements and the amount of organic traffic that page gets from search.
Core user experience metrics are paramount to success in the world of search engine optimization. It is a marker of page quality that is almost impossible to fraudulently affect. That’s why Google likes it so much.
“What about revenue again…???”
Just as a quick refresher on how it affects revenue, UX metrics powerfully influence ad earnings; as they directly influence ad impressions and user time on site. Sites that improve session duration, bounce rate, and pageviews per visit see improvements in ad revenue that are greater — on average — than those gained by changing or optimizing the ad demand itself.
Hacks for decreasing bounce rates
One of the things we probably harp on the most is the importance of ad testing and ad combination optimization. It is stunning how impactful changes in display ads can affect things like bounce rate.
As you can see from the graph above, in a recent study we did, we were able to see just how ad density affected some pages over others. This is just one thing worth testing.
The truth is, most publishing do some level of testing on ad location and type, but A/B testing will always be inferior to multivariate ad testing. You can read more about how to do multivariate ad testing by clicking that link (or just know that Ezoic can do this for you automatically).
Bottom line, your ads play one of the biggest roles overall on bounce rate— and getting those tuned properly— could potentially increase revenue and organic traffic. See the graph above, this site actually did some recent multivariate testing and saw increases in both revenue and organic traffic on their static site.
“My ads are fine, but I still want to drive down bounce rate”
Sounds good. Another really common way to reduce bounce rate is to do a page by page audit of your most important pages to determine which ones could benefit you the most from a bounce rate reduction standpoint.
You can do this easily with any kind of keyword tool that looks at your site directly (Ezoic users can have you account managers do this for you). Simply go into a tool like SEMRush and look at all of your high volume keywords. In this case, I’m looking at Shape.com.
Then, go into each of these URL’s and make sure you’re following this formula — that we’ve talked about before — for creating more engaging content that is scientifically proven to create less bounce.
In reviewing sites, I’ll often find that smaller publishers are ranking way above the big guys in search; simply because their user stats on those pages are clearly better because of how much more engaging their content is.
Let’s use Shape.com as an example here again. For the high volume search term “hottest guys”, Shape.com has an article that ranks on page 1 of Google search results but is well below several smaller publishers with less domain authority. However, upon further inspection, we can see that the smaller publishers are actually doing a better job following the formula above. Shape’s article is text heavy with a generic image, and shallow content on the subject.
CollegeMagazine.com actually has followed the formula really well and ranks above Shape.com for the same keyword despite having a lower domain authority. They have a lower bounce rate on this page and have done a good job of creating content that is engaging to those searching for this term.
Don’t forget about pagespeed
Even sites that have good content and have their ads optimized well, usually have a handful of things that can be done to improve their pages bounce rate. Pagespeed is at the top of that list.
If you’re already leveraging a CDN (content distribution network) — which you should be — hosting, etc. won’t play a major role in your pages load time for users across the globe. You can read more about how Google and others are actually looking at pagespeed here.
On all devices, I see one of the biggest factors for even savvy sites is their images. Many sites use an image compression plug-in or service (like those available in WordPress) and think that their images are optimized for the web… THEY. ARE. NOT!
On 90% of sites, I can improve pagespeed scores pretty dramatically by actually saving images properly to begin with; which means saving for web. Compression plugins are barely putting a dent in actual image sizes.
You can do this in Photoshop, but I prefer to use this free site called, Optimizilla. Above, I took the title image from this blog and ran it through Optimizilla and actually saved it for web AFTER it had been compressed by a WordPress Plugin. I reduced it by 55%. This is a huge deal on mobile and can majorly speed up pages with lots of images.
Lastly, mobile can be a major problem for some publishers with naturally slower sites. If that’s the case, I recommend moving mobile pages to AMP. In my recent study on publishers that implemented AMP, those with the slowest sites saw the largest overall benefits from implementation.
What to do with pages that have a naturally high bounce rate?
The fact is some pages simply have a high bounce rate because they are reference pages or are designed to be one-and-done information stops. An example may be a page that simply provides a slang term definition.
These pages have been getting killed by things like Google’s Knowledge Graph recently, but those that still receive strong traffic should think about their pages this way…
- How could you better leverage these visits
- Can you afford to push the envelope monetizing these pages
In many cases, using an exit pop-up on these pages — simply to push them to visit other pages — may be able to add additional pageviews and shave down some of the bounce rate. However, sometimes the page simply cannot be affected.
A solid strategy clever publishers will use with these kinds of pages is to crank up the ad density. You don’t have to worry about spamming away users with ads as much when you know they are leaving anyways. In some cases, the ads may actually make the user stay on the page longer! Either way, you can earna few extra bucks off of these visits this way without impacting performance.
Reducing your bounce rates
Ultimately, there is a lot of merit in reducing the bounce rates on your site’s pages. You can see major impacts on revenue and organic search from your efforts in this area.
It’s important to look at your ads, your content, and your pagespeed. These are all critical factors.
Have you optimized some of these things before? What were your results? Let me know if I missed any good hacks.
Tyler is an award-winning digital marketer, SEO veteran, successful start-up founder, and well-known publishing industry speaker. Tyler also serves as the host of Pubtelligence, a publishers-only event hosted at Google offices around the globe. Tyler describes his core competency as learning. He has composed content for some of the world’s top publications and has over a decade of experience building businesses in the digital space. Tyler is currently the Head of Marketing at Ezoic and serves as an SEO and marketing expert for start-up competitions across the U.S.