SO here it is: my definitive guide to getting the bounce rate of your blog or your website down to manageable (i.e. significantly reduced) levels:

Terminology First!

Before we begin, let’s be sure we know what we are talking about. Bounce rate is a single page visit, either to your blog or your site, where a person comes on, looks at what you are, and leaves. Hence the term “bounce”. That is given as a percentage for your site or your blog – so the greater your bounce rate number, the less chance there is that your visitors are being influenced in any way by your content (that would be a hint for one of the ways to reduce your bounce rate, btw).

1: Design is Important

If your website looks rubbish people will leave it. An age old rule of web design that still holds. By “rubbish” I mean “anything other than what people expect to find” as well as genuinely awful. There are fashions in web design and you need to follow them otherwise you get labelled as behind the times.

2: Content, Content, Content

Content is still everything, no matter how many times I or anyone else tells you this. If you haven’t got focused, relevant content on your landing page, then people won’t hang around to find out why, they will just leave. Focused means that you talk about one thing and one thing only – and that it’s immediately obvious from your content what it is your are doing and why.

3: How Do Your Visitors Find Their Way Around?

Navigation is, was and always will be extremely important for website design. If your site user cannot find out how to get from where he or she is to where he or she wants to be straight away, he or she will end up deciding to be somewhere else instead. Keep it simple and accessible from every page.

4: Content (again!)

Update your content as often as you can – but bear in mind that updating one lot of posts with other posts that say the same thing as before is not god enough. That will just about fool a search engine but it will not trick a genuine human user. You need to keep things fresh and constant, which is a pain but there you go. If you have a dry spell, take all the dates off your posts so people don’t realise they are old.

5: Ads are Bad

Users hate ads. Side bars and header bars that do not move, or shout, or play music, are OK – but anything else, pop ups for example or all singing all dancing ads that distract from your content, are basic evidence that you are not really interested in letting your user find out what you have to say. My average length of time for staying on a page with pop ups is the amount of time it takes me to close the pop ups and go somewhere else.

6: How Quick Are You?

The length of time your page takes to load is extremely important to a visitor. If I am hanging around waiting for a page to load for more than around 5 seconds, I leave and find a different source of the same information.

7: External Links Are Evil

If you land on a page with an interesting external link – you’re gone. Bouncing off through the web to someone else’s site. The more external links you have on your landing page the worse it will be for you, unless of course those links go to other sites owned by you – in which case carry on!

8: Match Your Headlines or Watch Them Bounce Away

An attention grabbing headline is absolutely imperative for a click through. But the amount of times I have clicked on a promising link and been taken somewhere that has no relevance whatsoever still makes me grind my teeth in my sleep.

Basically: good housekeeping, good content and the ability to make your user feel like you care. They’re the Holy Trinity of keeping them on your page.