reduce WordPress bounce rate

One of the hallmarks of a successful website is low bounce rate. After all, it doesn’t matter how many hits your site receives if a large percentage of users only take a quick look before closing the tab. That’s why it is so important to figure out how to reduce your WordPress bounce rate.

Making an effort to lower this metric won’t only ensure that visitors spend more time on your site – it will also provide them with a better overall experience. After all, you’ll need to improve your site’s performance and structure to reduce its bounce rate, and these changes will benefit you over the long term in many other ways.

In this article, we’ll discuss what your bounce rate is, explain why it’s crucial to keep it low, and introduce you to three of the most efficient ways to do so. Let’s bounce right in, pun intended!

What bounce rates are (and why you want to keep yours low)

While some analytics tools calculate bounce rate differently, generally a “bounce” is when someone visits your site and leaves before interacting with any part of it (clicking a button, navigating to another page, etc.). For instance, if your bounce rate is 50%, that means that 50% of your visitors leave your site without performing any other actions.

Reduce your WordPress bounce rate: An example of a site with a high bounce rate.

This website has an undesirably high bounce rate of 83.77%

In most cases, improving your site’s overall user experience should lead to a reduced bounce rate. After all, most visitors who ‘bounce’ away from your site probably do so because they weren’t satisfied with what they saw at first glance (although it could also mean they found exactly what they were looking for and didn’t need to look any further). A lower bounce rate means that users are browsing your site more deeply, which should already be one of your primary goals. The longer visitors spend with your content, the more likely they are to come back later, buy something, or maybe even recommend your site to other people.

It’s worth noting most sites have bounce rates somewhere between 26% and 70%. Naturally, you want your number to be as low as possible. But your “target” bounce rate always depends on your site’s goal. For some sites, a 20% bounce rate might be good. For others, 40% might be amazing.

How to reduce your WordPress bounce rate (in three steps)

Before you get to work on lowering your WordPress bounce rate, you need to know what it currently is. There are plenty of tools that can help, but we recommend using Google Analytics, since you can integrate it with WordPress quickly (and for free).

Once you have your bounce rate in hand, it’s time to start improving your site’s performance.

Step #1: Improve your site’s load times

Making sure your WordPress site loads quickly is one of the best ways to keep your bounce rate within a reasonable range. Users are very impatient when faced with slow page load times. If your site takes too long to load – a decent chunk of them will just hit the “back” button and find another site.

To improve your page load times, your first move should be to measure your current loading times using a service such as Pingdom. Once you have a baseline, you can start working on bringing your load times down.

An example of a website speed test.

For example, according to Pingdom, this website loads faster than 84% of all other sites.

Here are two articles that cover a number of different fixes you can try:

  1. 5 Quick Wins to Speed Up WordPress Load Times
  2. 5 More Quick Wins to Speed Up Your WordPress Site

If you want to get creative (or if your load times are still higher than you’d like), you can also try implementing ‘lazy loading’ for your website. This is a more advanced technique that should help in some cases.

Step #2: Make your site easy to navigate

Another aspect that can contribute to a high bounce rate is a complicated website navigation structure. After all, if your users are having a hard time getting from point A to point B (or are unable to find the information they need), chances are they’re going to get frustrated. To paraphrase Yoda: frustration leads to anger, and anger leads to a higher bounce rate.

Now, improving your site’s navigation is a complex topic, and you’re not going to master it in a day or two. However, there are a couple of fundamentals that should help you drastically improve your site’s overall structure:

  1. When in doubt, keep it simple. Most websites use a basic navigation bar at the top of the screen that includes all their most critical links. In most cases, this is an excellent strategy that’s easy on your users. Just remember not to add any redundant links, and make sure your buttons or links are easy to read and interact with.
  2. Use internal links to direct visitors to related content. Whenever possible, your content should include links to related posts or pages inside your site. That way, your users won’t have to look around for more information they might be interested in, and you’ll be able to increase the amount of time they spend on-site.

For more info, check out another guide of ours – this one tackles the topic of website navigation in detail.

An example of a navigation bar.

Giants like Amazon understand the importance of keeping navigation simple.

Step #3: Target a specific audience

Figuring out which audience to target isn’t necessarily a quick fix, but it can have an enormous impact on your website’s bounce rate (and its overall popularity).

Think about it this way: if your website targets too broad an audience, you’ll get a lot of visitors who may not be interested in your content. One of the best ways to nip this issue in the bud is to narrow in on your core audience from the get-go, identify their needs, and figure out how to address them.

If you already have an established website, don’t worry. You can still take this opportunity to sit down and decide what its ideal niche should be, and start targeting those users from now on. You may need to come up with some new ideas for content, but the payoff should be worth the effort. After all, it’s usually better to have a smaller, highly-engaged audience than a ton of one-time visitors who don’t care about your content or message.

Conclusion

Tackling your WordPress bounce rate isn’t just about getting ‘more’ traffic – it’s also about improving some of your site’s core aspects. A high bounce rate can be the canary in the coal mine for other user experience issues.

For example, speeding up your performance can go a long way towards lowering your bounce rate, and this technique also makes for a more enjoyable user experience.

Remember – if you want three of the biggest wins for lowering your WordPress bounce rate, try to implement these tips:

  1. Improve your site’s load times.
  2. Make your site easy to navigate.
  3. Target a specific audience.

Do you have any questions about how to lower your WordPress bounce rate? Feel free to ask us in the comments section below!