For the final installment of the Bounce Rate Defines Series, I’d like to share with you 3 design choices that can hurt your blog’s bounce rate. I’m not getting all artsy-fartsy-techy-coder on you today. The design choices I’m referring to today are elements we add to our blog’s design. These are not issues created by theme coding or made by designers, but by us bloggers.
After years of Blog SEO Evaluations (based on google analytics and visitor usability) I’ve found several things we bloggers don’t usually think of when organizing our blog’s design. These 3 are priority because they really make huge dents in your traffic.
The only way I know how to explain this is to share the experiences.
Be prepared for the longest short list you may have ever read.
One: Tribes and Social Sharing
So you got yourself a tribe…maybe it’s a Triberr tribe, a private Google+ Community or a FB group…that’s great and I totally endorse it. Everyone needs a tribe. All have a list of requirements. Keeps things fair, ya know.
I have a client who’s tribe suggests their members have sharing buttons on the top of their posts so busy members can stop by, share the post and leave.
- Visit blog.
- Share Post.
Without a doubt, your posts need social shares to rank in the search engines.
But Google’s not stupid.
Google looks at your visits from all sources. And if you’re getting 30 visits per post where people visit but don’t scroll the page and leave, you’re hurting your bounce rate.
My client is a food blogger. He’s got great recipes and he’s search engine optimizing every post and has at least 50+ shares, per network, for each recipe.
Two months ago he contacted me asking what he was doing wrong.
His blog is targeting a very specific niche within food blogs.
Search volume for his recipes are acceptable and competition is low.
Why isn’t his alexa improving, why isn’t Google sending him visitors?
Why are his recipes buried on pay 20 of the search results?
After a thorough review of his Google Analytics and blog structure, I asked him to remove the social share buttons from the top of his posts.
Getting him to remove it was like pulling teeth. He felt the added bonus of having the share buttons at the top showed visitors how popular his posts were and encouraged them to read it.But his bounce rate was 90%. He agreed to remove them “temporarily”.
Within 6 weeks…
- his bounce rate dropped,
- old recipes moved up to pages 5 through 8 of the search results,
- he found 3 new posts on page one of the search results
- his alexa dropped from 1 million to 300k.
- finally started seeing traffic from the search engines.
Removing the share buttons from the top of his posts were the only change we made. His tribe had to scroll down the page to share it and many started leaving comments.
Give people a chance to read your post before pushing them to share.
And if, like me, you’re super busy and don’t always get to blog hop but want to share posts from bloggers that you KNOW rock, then automate shares from their feeds. at least this way you’re not showing up and hurting their bounce rate by sharing and leaving.
Two: Ads – Everywhere
Monetizing your blog…yes I endorse this too.
Going ad crazy… I don’t endorse.
A client who’s been blogging for 6 years decided to monetize her blog late last year after taking a “make money with your blog course”. Within 6 months she lost 50% of her traffic.
She contacted me asking if it were due to Google’s updates, Panda and Penguin.
We reviewed her google analytics together during a google hangout. Her traffic drop was happening everyday, not in big chunks as you would expect after an update, but gradually on a daily basis. Visitors were coming from multiple sources and leaving within 30 seconds.
Now in all honesty, I did not look through her blog when she contacted me. I looked at the homepage, which was a static page, all clean and organized…I hadn’t looked at the posts until we had our evaluation session.
The client had learned from the blog course to add banner and display ads to her header, her sidebar and within her posts. Big ads, rows of little ads…ads everywhere. There were three adspaces in her sidebar all showing the same verzion fios ad.
I, personally, can not focus on text when there’s flashing stuff in my peripheral vision.
We reduced her ads from 12 on a page to 3. Her bounce rate is slowly dropping. Slowly. We’re still monitoring it.
Three: Exit Widgets
Every widget in your sidebar should serve a purpose. Ads are to make you money. Follow buttons to increase your exposure. Newsletter sign up to increase your readership and traffic. Etc, etc.
A friend of mine recently pulled most of the widgets from her sidebar.
I asked why.
She’d signed up for the CrazyEgg 30 day free trial and checked out her Overlay report.
Her impressive pics and pins displayed on her Flicker and Pinterest widgets were getting the most clicks. Leading people away from her blog.
This would have been awesome if that in anyway related to her blog’s goals or made her money. But it didn’t and instead of readers heading over to another post or leaving a comment, they were following her awesome pics right off her blog.
Now I’m not saying to remove your widgets. I’m saying to make sure that if you’re going to take a hit on your bounce rate, it’s for a reason that brings you closer to your goals.
A Pinterest widget that leads to Pins that you want exposure to (your etsy shop, your other blog, a sponsor) is a positive move.
I couldn’t write this post without mentioning popups. Why? Cause they piss me off. Pop Ups for newsletter sign up, text ad popups (ya know when you hover over a text link and an add pops up in a bubble), and those freakin’ stars that slide across the screen advertising some call to action – while I’m reading your post.
I hate these and unless you’re a well-known-somebody and authority in a specific niche, I’ll leave as soon as I see your pop up. Pushing a pop up in my face will not encourage me to sign up. If I like your post, your way of thinking, if you’ve totally impressed me, I’ll sign up for your feed/newsletter. Having a signup option at the end of the post and in the sidebar is simply perfect.
If you’re thinking, this chic is crazy, the “gurus” say to use it, I see it everywhere I go, my sign ups have increased (no doubt because of the freebie), blah, blah, blah,…If you disagree with me or are just unsure about having a pop-up box on your site, I suggest you sign into your google analytics and review how long your visitors from search engines are sticking around. If you’re using aweber or mailchimp, check out your analytics and see how many subscribers are opening your emails.
What causes you to leave a blog right away? Please share, it would help me greatly when evaluating a blog’s seo woes.