A lot of bloggers new to blogging and working in Google Analytics find themselves extremely concerned with Bounce Rate.
They see a high number in their reports and they start to panic.
"Oh, no!" they think. "A high bounce rate is bad, so I must be doing something horribly wrong!"
It begs the question... What is a good bounce rate for a blog? And what's a bad bounce rate?
I'll tell you right off the bat that it's higher than you think.
I run three blogs (including this one) in different niches, with different designs and different kinds of content and topics.
My blogs together have averaged an 87.25% bounce rate this year and all of them are within that 80-90% range on any given month.
Why so high? And why am I not worried?
Let's take a closer look.
What Bounce Rate Actually Means
A bounce in Google Analytics is a single-page session.
That means, a person comes to your site via some landing page, they view that page, and then they leave without doing anything else.
The problem I see is that beginner bloggers often assume this is a bad thing.
Bounce rate won't tell you:
- If the user found what they were looking for on the page
- How much time they spent on the page (this is why you'll often see 0:00 time on page in Google Analytics)
- How engaged they were with your content
- Whether they shared it on social media or bookmarked it
- Whether they signed up for your email list
Would it be great if every person who came to your site hopped around and viewed multiple pages?
Maybe checked out your About page, browsed through a few of your blog posts, then headed to your Contact page to send you a note about how much they love your writing?
Sure, that'd be awesome.
But, at least when it comes to blogs, most people won't do that.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with a user coming to your blog, finding the exact information they were looking for, and leaving completely satisfied.
Ideally, you'll look for ways to stop a percentage of people from bouncing (we'll get to that later), but a high bounce rate itself isn't usually cause for alarm on a blog.
(A 90% bounce rate on other kinds of web sites, like squeeze pages, sales pages, ecommerce, etc., is probably not great. But we're talking about content blogs.)
Things That Contribute to a High Bounce Rate for Blogs
Why do blogs have such high bounce rates, in general?
Why don't more people stick around to read multiple posts and pages?
Well, sometimes they do.
Here are a few factors that might be contributing to a higher bounce rate (and again, these aren't bad things!)
Typically, both organic search traffic and social media traffic are going to be really bouncy.
What I mean is, that kind of traffic is often extremely transactional in nature.
If I Google "buffalo chicken dip recipe," click on the first result, and find a recipe that looks delicious and easy to follow, what am I going to do?
I'm going to either keep that page open and start making the recipe, or save the link for later and leave.
I'm not really that interested in what else the food blog has to offer.
(Though if that recipe turns out to be really good, I may come back to that blog to try some of the blogger's other recipes.)
It's the same thing when it comes to traffic from Pinterest or other social media. Users come to your site through a specific landing page because they're interested in the information on that page. Nothing else really matters to them.
A traffic source that might be less bouncy would be referral traffic to your home page. Imagine you write a guest post for a high-profile publication with a link to your blog in your author box.
People enjoy your article, so they click through to your blog and from there, they hop around a bit to see what you're all about. In other words, these users don't bounce.
Type of Content
Going back to the buffalo chicken dip recipe example, that kind of person going to that page is going to be naturally inclined to bounce.
Once they've found the recipe, there's not really anything else that they need.
Unless they're just enamored with your writing style, it's pretty unlikely they'll keep exploring the site (at least, right then and there).
A person may be less likely to bounce from somewhere like a category page. If someone ends up on your "Appetizer Recipes" page, there's a very strong chance they'll click through to one of the specific posts listed there, or potentially hop in and out of a few of them to check them out.
You'll also likely see a lower bounce rate on paginated posts (long posts with multiple pages), though that kind of seems like cheating! Paginating is an example of trying to lower the bounce rate for the sake of it without actually improving user experience, in my opinion.
Site Design, Layout & Performance
Now it certainly is possible that your site's layout is causing your bounce rate to increase.
A user might be more inclinced to bounce if:
- You have no Related Posts at the bottom of the page
- The site loads slow or is bloated with pop-ups
- Links to other pages/posts are broken or hard to find
- The page doesn't display properly on their device
I would consider these bad bounces as opposed to a good bounce, where someone finds what they want and leaves satisfied.
3 Quick Ideas to Improve Bounce Rate
A high bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing.
Still, it would probably be better if you could improve it a touch here and there.
After all, fewer bounces essentially means more of your readers are checking out more of your content... That's inherently a good thing.
Here are just a few small ideas to get you started.
Interlink with gusto
I always make sure every new post I write has at least two links going out to older posts of mine.
These are called internal links.
But lately I've been focused on "selling" those links a little harder in the copy, rather than just linking a stray keyword in the text.
In the buffalo chicken dip recipe, for example, find a natural place to drop a line like "And don't forget to check out the rest of my football appetizer recipes, I've got a few that will go perfect with this dip!" with a link to that post or page.
Internal links should be highly relevant and should be a natural next step for a user reading through your post.
Similarly, at the end of your post it's usually a good idea to not leave your users with a "dead end."
If you don't want them to bounce, they need somewhere to go.
Include some links to related posts at the bottom of each post, whether you do it manually or with a Wordpress plugin.
Explore different traffic sources
Tired of transactional traffic that comes and goes in the night?
Get yourself some media mentions or referrals from guest posts or articles, appear on a podcast as an expert, be interviewed in a YouTube video... anything you can to get your brand and persona out there.
Then, people will want to check you out and they'll come to your site to explore rather than find a specific piece of information.
Plus, you'll improve your authority and site's backlink profile.
I keep seeing all of these posts telling people that if their bounce rate is over 80%, that's "bad" or even "horrible."
Not so! At least, not for a blog.
You could be providing immense value for your readers and helping them find exactly what they're looking for.
Bounce rate isn't a particularly good measure for how much value you're providing to people.
Bounce rate, overall, isn't something I'd consistently measure and optimize for. Check the boxes (Interal links, related posts, site design & performance.) and make sure your users aren't bouncing out of frustration or hitting dead ends.
From there, focus on the metrics that really drive your blog: Rankings, traffic, revenue, email sign-ups, or whatever moves the needle for you.
Questions? Hit me up in the comments, or check out all of my favorite tools I've used to build my blogging business.