How to satisfy your visitors and make them stay on your site? How to encourage them not to go elsewhere after a few seconds, and to accomplish the action you want?

Reducing your WordPress bounce rate isn’t easy, is it? Yet it’s an indicator to take seriously.

It’s not simple, but it’s something you can do significantly by working on 4 areas in particular.

In this article, I will present which ones, and give you 17 tips that you can implement immediately and easily at home.

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What is the bounce rate?

1 – Definition

I don’t know about you, but when people talk to me about bounce, I immediately think of basketball. It’s probably due to my addiction to sports. Anyway, let’s not talk about Michael Jordan here ^^

Basketball player Michael Jordan

According to Wikipedia, the “bounce rate is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site”.

For example, it is estimated that a visitor bounced when he went to the home page and left it by closing the browser window or typing a new URL.

Several factors can characterize a high bounce rate, including:

  • A slow loading time of your pages. Your visitors are tired of being able to pick up their mail while it’s loading, and go elsewhere.
  • The design and ergonomics of your site are neglected. As a result, your visitors don’t easily find the information they came for, and say goodbye.
  • The content you serve them is of poor quality and does not meet their search intentions. As a result, they prefer to go and see if there’s better with your competitors, for example.

At first glance, you must surely think that a high bounce rate is not the best, and that it’s better to try to reduce it as much as possible.

This is true, but the reality is that it’s not that simple.

I suggest you see why just below.

2 – My bounce rate on WordPress is high: is it serious doctor?

On the left, you read that an acceptable bounce rate should not exceed 60%. On the right, you discover that on average it’s 50%.

You’re a little confused, you’re worried about it, and want to know what the norm is. Well yes, are you really there?

According to this 2017 study, the average bounce rate would be 58.18%.

But it should be treated cautiously because in reality, we can’t appreciate a bounce rate in general, without taking into account certain specificities.

This rate may vary depending on your sector of activity (B2B or B2C), your type of activity, your type of pages, and also demographic criteria (age, gender, country etc.).

In fact, it is impossible to set an ideal bounce rate. And I have even better to confuse you: a high bounce rate is not necessarily negative!

surprised cat turning his head quickly

On this point, Google is very clear: “If the success of your site depends on users viewing more than one page, then, yes, a high bounce rate is bad. For example, if your home page is the gateway to the rest of your site (e.g., news articles, product pages, your checkout process) and a high percentage of users are viewing only your home page, then you don’t want a high bounce rate. On the other hand, if you have a single-page site like a blog, or offer other types of content for which single-page sessions are expected, then a high bounce rate is perfectly normal.”

In fact, it’s quite possible that a visitor will find what they’re looking for by viewing only one page on your site.

If you provide them with everything they need (e.g. practical information about an event, downloading a file, etc.), they won’t need to go anywhere else and will be satisfied.

And sometimes, you won’t be able to do anything to decrease your bounce rate, due to the nature of certain pages. A thank you page is a good example: it usually leads nowhere.

However, the bounce rate will remain high. That’s why it’s not always important to focus on this indicator, since “The bounce rate can therefore mean different things in different situations“.

In short, also try to understand why your visitors don’t stay on your site, instead of focusing only on raw and encrypted data, which are not always easy to contextualize.

To get a first idea of this data, you can get a first impression from Google Analytics.

Let’s take a look at it!

3 – How to check your bounce rate on Google Analytics?

To know your bounce rate, go to Google Analytics, a free tool that allows you to analyze the audience of a website.

In the left column, click on Audience > Overview.

bounce rate in the Overview dashboard on Google Analytics

The bounce rate shown in the screenshot above is the average bounce rate recorded on all your pages based on the total number of visits you received over a given period of time (here, I chose to do it from October 7th to 13th, for example).

If you want to analyze more finely, by finding out the bounce rate per page, for example, you can go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

bounce rate view in site content on Google Analytics

4 – An optimized bounce rate, why is it important?

We have seen that a high bounce rate is not always a bad signal.

Nevertheless, most of the time, it remains important to optimize it for two good reasons that I will detail right away.

a – So as not to penalize your SEO too much

Through its artificial intelligence algorithm known as Rank Brain, Google is able to deliver the most relevant results to users based on their search intent.

Google is also able to understand user satisfaction. Basically, the more a user likes a page, the more likely it is that Google will improve its ranking on its search engine (of course, it takes many other factors into account as well, but this one is becoming more and more important).

You see my point: if your bounce rate is high, Google may consider that the content you offer is not appropriate, or of poor quality.

And it will highlight results that are more in line with user expectations.

So, yes: today, Google is becoming more and more human. Its goal is first and foremost to satisfy its users, and that’s no bad thing.

robot under the appearance of a human

b – To optimize your conversions

This point remains correlated to the first one: if you don’t have traffic on your site, it will be difficult for you to make conversions.

As you can imagine, in order to make a visitor perform a specific action, it will be necessary that he does not leave your site immediately after arriving on it.

Nevertheless, this brings us back to the sometimes contradictory aspect of the bounce rate: you may very well have a high bounce rate, while converting significantly.

Take this example: you have just created a landing page that offers downloadable PDF content to your visitors.

If they leave your site immediately after viewing it, but give you their email address to download the PDF, you win!

Now that you have a global vision of the bounce rate and how it works, I suggest you see what you can do to reduce it.

Over the next few lines, we will focus on 4 aspects:

  • Ergonomics and user experience
  • Content
  • SEO
  • Performance

4 key areas to reduce your bounce rate on WordPress

1 – Work on ergonomics and user experience

User experience, which you may also know as UX, refers to the quality of the experience a user has on a website or application.

It must therefore be optimal if you want to reduce your bounce rate.

To do this, the UX Design of your site must meet several criteria that we will discuss below.

a – Responsive design

A website is said to be responsive when it fits on a desktop, tablet, and smartphone.

Example of a responsive professional WordPress site
An example of a responsive website

To quickly know if your site is responsive, you can use this tool.

In general, most WordPress themes are responsive, although you will probably need to add a few pinches of CSS to get a rendering that meets your expectations.

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Having a responsive site is essential for the user experience, but also for your SEO.

Since March 2018, Google has implemented what is called mobile-first indexing.

This means that Google mainly uses the mobile version of your site to index and position your pages in its search engine results.

When you think about it, nothing could be more logical: in the U.S., people now use their smartphone more than their computer to browse the Internet. (It’s valid worldwide too.)

b – Compatibility with web browsers

In the U.S., Google Chrome is the most used browser, with almost 50% market share (data from September 2020).

The majority of Internet users use it, but not all of them. For example, there are still 2.5% of people who use Internet Explorer.

The concern with the latter is that your layouts will not always be displayed in the same way as on Chrome, Safari or Firefox (and vice versa).

And a layout with a dubious display can make you run away, and by ricochet increase your bounce rate.

You then have 2 solutions:

  • Either try to fix the problem.
  • Either ask your client (if it is the case) to stop using Internet Explorer (this one is a bit extreme anyway).

More seriously, you can easily know which browser your visitors are using thanks to Google Analytics.

Go to Audience > Technology > Browser & OS.

browsers traffic on Google Analytics

And to know the compatibility of your site on different browsers, you can also use BrowserStack.

c – Navigation and search

Your visitors must be able to easily find what they are looking for in order to take the desired actions.

First of all, navigation must be clear, simple and intuitive. This starts with a well-designed and not too overloaded menu.

Ideally, it should follow the user’s behavior throughout his visit while always being visible: this is called a sticky menu.

Then, I advise you to use a search form and make it clearly visible to your visitors.

By default, WordPress has one. But if you’ve already used it, you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t always display the most relevant results.

And it’s not going to get any better as you add content…

To overcome this problem, you can use the Relevanssi plugin, which is much more complete.

screenshot of the Relevanssi plugin on the official directory

d – The design

Of course, in order for your users not to want to leave your site at the first click, you will also have to give a lot of importance to the design.

Start by keeping consistency in the colors of your site, and don’t put colors everywhere.

Next, consider using a font that is suitable for mobile and tablet reading. This is the case for most sans serif fonts. You can find hundreds of free fonts on Google Fonts.

Finally, don’t neglect the font size. What is your first reflex when you read content that is way too small?

Of course, you can zoom in, but I bet that most of the time, you will leave the said page.

Don’t give your visitors that chance. A standard font size should be at least 14 px.

After that, it’s up to you to see what looks good. On most themes, you will be able to change this size directly from the WordPress customizer (font size).

So try it out, and adapt!

e – Beware of ads and other popup windows

To finish this first part about the user experience, I would like to discuss with you the case of ads and popup windows.

When misused, they can be a real repellent to visitors, and increase your bounce rate.

So be careful. Of course, nothing prevents you from monetizing your site, but be careful to do it sparingly, without being too intrusive.

For example, avoid this kind of thing:

annoying pop up windows on a site

Remember: your users’ satisfaction should be your priority.

The same goes for popup windows. On WPMarmite, in the article about opt-in forms, we explained how important it is to set up an email list to increase your readership.

However, this does not mean that you should do anything by bombarding your visitors with forms.

To find out if you should keep them, take a look at your conversion rate.

If you see that they convert little and that, despite this, your bounce rate remains high, perhaps it is safer to review your strategy.

If you use OptinMonster, for example, it is possible to trigger the display of a form as soon as a visitor leaves a page (this is called exit-intent technology). This can be a good compromise.

After reviewing the user experience, let’s talk about another key area to reduce your bounce rate: offering relevant content to your visitors.

2 – Offer relevant and enjoyable content

To retain your visitors, there’s one thing you can’t compromise on, and that’s the production of quality content.

hand showing the sign ok

Of course, this content must first be adapted to your target audience. For example, if you have a site that specializes in cat breeding, avoid writing about dog training.

Therefore, focus on content about our feline friends.

Then, good content is often characterized by the following elements:

  • It deals with a subject in depth.
  • It answers the questions your visitors have.
  • It contains keywords, but in a natural way (keyword stuffing has been out of fashion for a long time).
  • It helps your visitors by providing them with useful information.
  • It involves its readership. Ask questions to your visitors, ask them to comment, share or perform specific actions.

Remember: Google is becoming more and more human, so don’t just treat it like a robot!

Specifically, there are several things you can do to reduce your WordPress bounce rate. Here they are.

a – Improve readability

Here, we’ll talk about the presentation of your posts. To make them digestible for your visitors, and pleasant to browse.

I don’t know about you, but there’s one thing I can’t stand when I read on the web: blocks.

These large blocks of text that, in the end, make reading very difficult. And indirectly incite to click on the cross in the window or tab.

example of website with too much content in heavy blocks

To avoid this, you can and you must:

  • Create short and airy paragraphs. There is not really a rule, but if you find it confusing when reading again, press Enter a little 😉
  • Don’t skimp on subtitles when possible. This improves readability.
  • Use bulleted lists when you can (you see, I don’t mind). It makes it clearer, doesn’t it?
  • Think about integrating images and videos to enhance interaction. In general, it is considered good to insert an illustration every 250/300 words.
  • Finally, a little bold and italics don’t hurt either. This will help you to highlight certain bits and make them stand out.

Thanks to these little tricks, you will have more chances to keep your visitors on your site.

That way, you send a great message to Google that will say: “Wow, this content looks great, I’m going to put it up in the search results.”

b – And what about length, does size matter?

A little bit, my captain. With 300 words, do you really think you can tackle a subject in depth, and answer all the questions that a visitor to your site might have?

Personally, I highly doubt it. Or else, you are very talented, and I congratulate you.

But then, the longer, the better?

woman laughs with a tape measure

According to a study conducted by BuzzSumo, yes. According to it, the longer an article is, the more shares it generates.

According to Brian Dean, one of the most eminent American SEO specialists, who has analyzed more than 11 million Google search results:

The average size of a content positioned on the first page of the search engine is 1,890 words.

On closer inspection, it makes sense. The longer a piece of content is, the more time a person will tend to spend on it, if they find their answer.

And if you manage to catch them with content that sells them a dream, chances are they’ll want to check out the other articles you offer on your blog. And in turn, you technically decrease your bounce rate.

Look with WPMarmite: don’t tell me that you don’t devour all the articles on the blog? (or almost all of them, admit it!)

One small note, though: there’s no point in writing a 10,000-word block if you can tell the same thing in 2,000 words.

c – Force the opening of external links in a new tab

You may have already noticed this, but many long articles often tend to redirect to external resources through links.

This often allows you to source and support the subject matter, and can have positive effects on your SEO, especially if the links are made to authority sites.

The concern with creating external links is that you send your visitors to another page, without the certainty that they will come back to you.

And then, you get it: the impact on your bounce rate can be significant.

To fight this, there’s a little trick that Alex uses on the blog: force external links to open in a new tab.

To do this, it’s very simple: when you add a link when editing an article, activate the “Open in a new tab” button as on the screenshot below.

open in new tab option on wordpress gutenberg

It’s just silly, but take this article for example, you want to read it to the end, don’t you? How would you feel if the cited resources opened in the same tab?

Go ahead and say it. It would piss you off, wouldn’t it?

d – Check spelling and grammar

To finish with the Content part, I suggest we talk about spelling and grammar (not your grandmother, eh).

In principle, the denser your content is, the more likely you are to leave mistakes lying around.

I don’t know where your tolerance level is at this point, but for most people, it will be pretty close to zero (zero mistake, so).

A text full of jokes does not encourage further reading and, in turn, may increase your bounce rate.

So OK, we are in the age of SMS and social networks, and everyone writes in text mode, based on LOL and LMAO. Well, save that for your friends and smartphones.

lol sign animation

On your blog, think about reading yourself again (rather twice than once). If you can, ask someone to check your prose (better four eyes than two).

And don’t hesitate to use more traditional solutions, like a dictionary: there’s no shame in that.

Even better: Antidote, a corrector that also makes a dictionary.

3 – Work on your SEO

After having mentioned the content, I propose to continue with the logical next step: SEO. Indeed, one does not go without the other.

a – Keywords and SEO tags

We’ve already mentioned a lot of tips to keep a reader interested on your page.

But there’s one we haven’t talked about yet: let’s get started right away. I want to talk about the choice of keywords, of course.

I’m not going to detail how to choose them, this could be the subject of a separate article. The idea is rather to explain to you that you must use keywords that match your content.

For example, if you create content around WordPress plugins, optimize it around this keyword, and not on another one because it is more searched for.

In short: don’t mislead your readers about the merchandise, otherwise they will go elsewhere.

And of course, don’t do keyword stuffing. This ancestral technique is now out of fashion and could lead you to a Google penalty.

Still in the same vein, I encourage you to fill in the meta title and meta description tags for all your content.

If you use Yoast SEO, nothing could be simpler: the plugin provides you with a dedicated insert to write them.

edit snippet function on yoast seo wordpress

Often, you forget to fill them in. Or you don’t fill them in voluntarily out of laziness. Error. One of the purposes of these tags is to encourage the reader to click on your content.

They are not to be neglected (the meta title tag is even important in SEO). Result: fill them in for all your content (articles, pages, etc.).

meta tags are very important for a professional wordpress website
The meta title tag (in red) and the meta description tag (in blue) of the WPMarmite home page

b – Prioritize and work on the internal linking

With a good choice of keywords and without falling into over optimization, you’ve already come a long way.

Also think about correctly prioritizing your content, thanks to the use of title tags (they are also called hn tags).

You know, these are the famous h1, h2, h3, h4 etc.

Let’s start with the h1 tag. Make sure you put this in the noggin: there should be only one in your content: the title of your article or page.

Then, use h2, h3 or even h4 tags for your subtitles. This helps search engines understand the structure of your content.

And your readers will also see much more clearly, so at the same time you encourage them not to leave your page.

hn tags on wordpress gutenberg editor

To help your visitors navigate between the pages of your site, there is also something not to be neglected: internal linking.

Making links between the contents of your site allows your readers to stay with you, which has less impact on your bounce rate.

However, don’t overdo the good stuff: a few links are enough, don’t put one in every sentence.

You can also use the WP Sitemap Page extension to create a sitemap page.

Finally, remember to activate a plugin to add articles related to your site. On the one hand, it helps the positioning of the pages. On the other hand, it encourages your visitors to stay on your site.

You can use Related Posts for WordPress, or a related posts feature from Jetpack.

c – Remove dead links

To make sure you are providing the best user experience, also remember to check your links from time to time to make sure they are working.

If your content is full of dead links (that no longer work), your visitors are likely to desert your site.

To check this, you can use the Broken Link Checker plugin. It tells you which links aren’t working, and allows you to fix them.

screenshot of the broken link checker plugin on the official directory

Be careful with it though: it is very resource intensive, so when you don’t use it, remember to disable it.

Otherwise, there is also a small and nice add-on for Chrome browser called Check My Links.

It scans the links of your choice and tells you which ones are faulty. It’s great to get a quick overview, but then you’ll have to think about fixing them.

d – Create a 404 error page

Speaking of broken links, there may be something that comes to mind. Do you know what I mean?

A 404 error, of course. It refers to a page that doesn’t exist or no longer exists.

Google doesn’t like that. Neither do your visitors. Know that you can easily identify and correct them thanks to the Redirection plugin.

Finally, I advise you to create a custom 404 error page. You might as well put all the assets on your side to avoid scaring your visitors away when they see it.

wpmarmite 404 error page

You can for example check this resource to find ideas and use the 404page plugin to create a personalized 404 page according to your wishes.

If you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can also modify your theme’s 404.php file (if it contains one) by adding the text of your choice.

4 – Optimize the performance of your pages

After talking about user experience, content, and SEO, I’d like to talk about one last part that’s crucial if you want to lower your bounce rate on WordPress: speed and performance.

a – How do you know if a site is not loading too slowly?

By nature, an Internet user is impatient: he wants it to go fast and find answers to his questions almost immediately. Otherwise, he will have no qualms about going elsewhere.

According to this source, you can imagine that:

  • 47% of consumers expect a page to load in less than 2 seconds.
  • A slower loading time of one second would result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

After the observation, time for action. How do you know if your site is loading quickly and correct any problems?

Well you can for example use one of the 3 following tools:

b – Go for it!

When you’re talking about speed and performance, there’s one thing you shouldn’t neglect: caching.

Caching is a system that consists in keeping in memory the pages of your site already loaded, in order to be able to propose them to your visitors in a faster way, afterwards.

Result: it improves (normally) the loading time of your site.

There are a lot of cache plugins but if I had to recommend one, it would be WP Rocket. It is very simple to use, efficient and powerful. In five words: it will speed up your site. We told you about it on WPMarmite.

Speed up your website with WP Rocket

Turn your site into a rocket with the most powerful caching plugin recognized by WordPress experts.
Logo WP Rocket

c – Compress your images

Did you know that images account for more than 50% of page loading time.

So you might as well know that if they aren’t optimized, your page will be slow to load and your visitors will leave.

For information, as a general rule, a web page should not exceed 2Mo.

The solution to compress your images? The Imagify plugin. It will optimize your images in one click, without losing quality.

d – Opt for a powerful theme

If you find that your site is slow, the images may not always be to blame.

Having a well-coded and performance-optimized theme is also a necessary prerequisite.

In 2019, the theme market is essentially dominated by multi-option templates, with which you can do absolutely everything and anything.

Beware of this: they will certainly allow you to let your creativity speak for itself, but some of them load a lot of sometimes useless resources that will make the loading speed of your pages suffer.

And remember: if your site loads slowly, your bounce rate may increase.

Among the themes that are known to be fast, I could mention the following:

If you don’t know how to code, nothing prevents you from using them with a page builder like Elementor or Beaver Builder.

Finally, speaking of themes, I think it is essential to say a word on plugins. Don’t overload your site with plugins and remember to disable and remove the ones you don’t use anymore.

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That brings you to the end of this article explaining how to reduce your bounce rate on WordPress.

You have seen how important this performance indicator is, even if it should not be an obsession.

If you publish good content that is relevant to your target audience, pay attention to the user experience, and look for ways to optimize your performance, you should be doing well.

Now it’s up to you. What do you think of the bounce rate? What actions have you put in place to decrease it, if necessary?

Tell us all about it. And if you liked this article, share it on social networks.