In our previous articles in our series of Essential Guides to Blogging, we looked at elements that will help improve your blog or website and its discoverability via search engines. We’ve covered tips to improve your search ranking, the importance of link building, making a wordpress blog search engine friendly, and author Sarah Webb has give us excellent tips on attracting traffic to your blog.
Your blog or website is a reference point on the web that allows you to show off your wares whilst maintaining control over your own image and marketing message, and making it the best that it can be is essential to building and maintaining regular visitors. This week we’ve something else for you to think about – bounce rates and duplicated content.
Bounce Rates Count
What on earth is a bounce? A bounce occurs if a visitor lands on a page and then leaves without visiting any other page on your site. If the number of visitors who leave your site without clicking through to another page is too high, Google will conclude that something is wrong – and they could be right. Perhaps…
- Your site design is off-putting. Maybe it’s difficult to read, or appears spammy, or maybe it greets visitors with annoying music on auto-play. All of these things present a bad user experience that can manifest itself in a high bounce rate.
- Your keywords don’t match your message. If you search for “dog training collars” and Google gives you a link to a site that sells knitting supplies, you’ll probably immediately hit the back button. That’s a clear indication that something is wrong with the search results and the way you have set up your metadata (key words, categories, page titles etc). How many times have you found a webpage that clearly has little to do with the title?
- A link or ad promised something you didn’t deliver. Have you ever clicked the About page of a website only to find a contact form but no information? Chances are you hit the back key.
Of course, some pages will naturally have a high bounce rate, and there’s nothing you can do about that except try to keep it in perspective.
Reducing Your Bounce Rate
You can take steps to reduce the bounce rate on your site. Some easy-to-implement techniques include:
- Adding a list of related articles at the bottom of each page. “if you enjoyed this article, you might like…” or “for more on how ‘The Golden Warrior’ came about, click here…” is a good way to get readers to click through to other pages – especially if compelling titles and images are used.
- Link to other pages within your content. Not only do links to other pages give your reader some where else to go, but they show how interesting your site is. And it’s good for Search Engine Optimisation as well – remember to use your keywords!
- Use excerpts. If a reader lands on your home page and can read the entire last article from your blog, there’s no good reason to click further. Instead, craft a compelling excerpt that entices your visitor to want to read more. Have the opening paragraphs of your last few blog posts appear with a READ MORE link.
- Make your site easy to navigate. If your menu is hidden at the bottom of the page in a tiny font, you’re going to lose a lot of readers. Make it clear to them how to get from one page to another and the content those pages contain.
- Make sure your site is mobile friendly. A site with tiny print and impossible-to-click links will turn off viewers who arrive via mobile devices with tiny screens (and there are a growing number of them!)
- Clarify your message. You have about 3 seconds to get your point across to a new visitor. If he or she can’t figure out what your site is about in that time, they’ll hit the back button and move on.
Want to know what your bounce rate is and which pages are the worst offenders? Add Google Analytics tracking code to your website, and you will be able to access this data easily and for free.
Google Analytics is a rich source of information about your blog or site – find out where visitors come from, what keywords they used to find you (some are really quite strange!), which social media networks are your biggest referrers. If you are spending an hour a day on Ffacebook but all your traffic is coming from Twitter, it’s time to reorganise your time.
Guest Blogging & The Truth About Duplicate Content
With every update to Google’s algorithm, there are concerns about duplicate content. Google does not want to show the same article repeated on four different websites in answer to a search query, and therefore is set to recognise duplicate content. When duplicate content is discovered, Google will not delist a site but instead simply will not show the searcher, the duplicate pages.
Those pages are instead placed in the “supplemental index” that appears when you reach the end of the search results and see the words:
“In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 30 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.”
Obviously this is counter productive in terms of promoting your blog or site! Spot check guest posts you may receive from people you don’t already know – not everyone is aware of the unspoken duplicate content rule. Paste a couple of sentences between quotes into Google, and see if the article has been used before.
If you are looking to promote your book, avoid embarrassment by not sending the same interview/ carefully crafted Q&A out to twenty different sites – blog owners won’t thank you for it. Tailor each submission to the site in question, give different examples and your content will be sufficiently different in each instance to maintain it’s credibility in the search results – and be interesting for visitors to read.
Provide a good user experience
Providing entertaining or informative content in an accessible and attractive way will guarantee to reduce your bounce rates and improve your discoverability. What do the type of people who read your book want to know about? What interests them? Identify your audience and connect with them to help build your online presence. Make your site attractive and easy to navigate and your readers will thank you.