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20 Proven Ways To Reduce Your Bounce Rate

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20 Proven Ways To Reduce Your Bounce Rate


Properly diagnosing high bounce rates to identify areas of improvement is a useful way to increase user engagement, improve site rankings, and put more money in your pocket.

There are many misconceptions about bounce rates, so let’s define what it is and explore why it’s sometimes a good thing but other times needs improvement.

Google defines bounce rate as:

“…is a single-page session on your site.

In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”

Essentially, this means that when a visitor “bounces” from a webpage, they have left not just that webpage; they’ve also exited the entire website after only viewing one page.

While this definition is clear and easy to understand, the underlying cause of a bounce is generally more complex.

What Causes A High Bounce Rate?

Sometimes a high bounce rate can be an indication of a poor user experience.

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A site visitor hit the page and either the page didn’t deliver the content they were expecting or they were underwhelmed by something else, like a non-responsive webpage.

On the other hand, a high bounce rate can also be the result of a positive user experience.

For example, let’s imagine a user is searching for a recipe’s ingredient measurements.

They click through the search result and land on a site where they immediately see the ingredients list need. They get it and leave the site.

That high bounce rate is an example of a great user experience. The visitor instantly found the information that they were looking for, then left.

Ideally, some of those high bounce rate site visitors will bookmark the page for future reference, and some other visitors may remember the site another day and return to it, seeking it out by name on Google.

When Google Causes A High Bounce Rate

Google’s algorithm exceeds at identifying what a page of content is about and what a search query is about.

However, there may be some rare edge cases where Google may show a website that does not have the correct answer.

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This can happen when a searcher uses a poor choice of keywords (like vague words) or the search phrase is rare.

In that situation, Google sent the visitor to the incorrect webpage.

The visitor did not find the content they needed.

The high bounce rate in that situation is not a poor reflection on the website itself, as there’s nothing wrong with the content.

The source of the problem could be with Google’s algorithm or, more likely, with the search phrase a user typed in.

A high bounce rate is not always a sign of problems with the webpage itself.

Nevertheless, it’s still important to keep an eye on bounce rates to make sure there is not something there that might be driving website visitors away.

Here are 20 proven ways to reduce your bounce rate when needed.

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1. Pay Attention To Page Load Time

When a user has to wait an excessive amount of time (and by excessive I mean more than three seconds) for a page load, it creates an incredibly poor user experience.

The content on the page does not matter if a visitor cannot even see it immediately.

Page load time is even more crucial on mobile devices because users are more likely to become frustrated with slow load times and bounce.

2. Make Site Search Easy

Some websites neglect adding a site search functionality or make it difficult to see.

If a user is searching for something specific that they do not instantly see on a page, this is an extremely useful tool that they can use to search with instead of possibly leaving the page or site entirely.

3. Provide Easy Navigation

Navigation should be easy and effortless for visitors.

When a user gets to a site, they need a clear direction of where the content that they are looking for lives.

If this is not simplistic and clearly laid out in an intuitive navigation, they will most likely bounce from the site.

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4. Focus On A Great Design

Good website design is intuitive and builds trust with a user. A good website design is also a signal of quality.

Visitors will not spend a large amount of time a site that is unpleasant, unattractive, or have difficulty trusting.

Provide an appealing user experience by starting with a great design is not just about aesthetics. It’s about creating a functional, intuitive, and pleasant overall website experience.

5. Keep Mobile Top-Of-Mind

Mobile users have even less patience than desktop users.

A website should have a responsive design in order to provide users on mobile devices with a solid user experience.

6. Make Webpages Easy To Read

Content on a webpage should be clearly and effectively formatted.

This is crucial from a user experience standpoint, as no visitor to a website wants to see large chunks of disorganized text.

When this happens, users will usually skip over crucial content.

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However, if that content was formatted into smaller blocks, including bullet points or also image or video content, a user will have a much easier time understanding the content and sharing it with others.

7. Write Shorter Paragraphs

One of the primary things that help with the overall readability of a site is the length of the content.

Create content within short paragraphs so that your visitors can quickly read the content on the small mobile devices most people use these days when consuming content.

8. Use Various Types Of Content

Another focus area when it comes to website readability is to use multiple forms of content in order to engage site visitors more effectively.

Video content can communicate certain kinds of information (like how-to instructions) more efficiently than text.

High-quality images can also help to break up the text, improve communication of big ideas, and help to reduce bounce rates.

9. Use Relevant Keywords

Use relevant keywords that are appropriate for the content topic.

The accurate use of words, sentences, paragraphs, and headings will help to communicate to Google what the page is about.

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Stay on topic, do not stray.

The closer on topic the webpage is, the more likely the visitors Google sends will also be on-topic with what they expect to find on the page, thereby reducing the bounce rate.

10. Target Relevant Audience

Similar to relevant keywords, relevant content, on the whole, should be used across the site, and the right users should be targeted.

Identify the core target audience of the site and create niche content around that audience.

Targeting should not be too broad, as there is a greater chance of getting users who are not looking for what your site features.

Honing in and focusing on a specific group of users helps to ensure that you are finding people who want to find what your site offers.

These users will be more engaged and apt to spend a great amount of time exploring your site.

11. Stay Away From Popups

Users generally do not enjoy intrusive interstitials that prevent them from getting to the content.

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There are better ways to show interstitials that will not impact users or your webpage rankings.

The rule of thumb is to not get in the way of a site visitor and the content they expect to see.

Allowing them to scroll and enjoy the content first is a better user experience.

If you can avoid using interstitial popups then give it a try.

12. Limit Distracting Ads

Similar to avoiding interstitials and popups, distracting ads should be avoided as well.

A horizontal rectangular ad unit at the top of the page generally performs well, followed by ads within the content and along the sides.

Large ads that make it difficult to read the content can be a poor user experience.

Be aware of the kinds of ads shown on your site in order to catch and block annoying ads.

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Listen to site visitors if they complain about specific ads, and follow up with them to understand why they’re having a problem with those ads.

13. Add A Convincing Call-To-Action

A call-to-action (CTA) should be clearly visible on a website.

The user should be able to locate this within the first few seconds of being on a page.

A CTA should also be compelling so that a user is enticed to click on it.

The colors used, the fonts, the verbiage, etc. are all elements that can make a large impact on whether a person clicks.

14. Limit Broken Links

A large number of broken links will only create a poor user experience, leaving a visitor to a website dissatisfied and frustrated if they cannot locate the content that they want to find.

There are a few different ways to locate all of the broken links on a website, such as through Google Search Console or through a site auditing tool such as Screaming Frog.

15. Focus On An Internal Link Strategy

Focus on increasing the likelihood of a user staying on your site by using internal links to keep a user there.

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This helps to let users easily navigate to what section of a website they are looking for, and keep their overall user experience enjoyable.

16. Ensure That Links Open On A New Tab

When creating a sound internal linking strategy and linking to other pages on a site, it is important to remember to ensure that those links open in a tab.

This helps to potentially increase the time a user spends on a site since they will have multiple pages open at once.

17. Create A 404 Page That Is Helpful

A 404 page should communicate that a page was not found and also provide alternative webpages for a user to navigate to.

This will help to lower the bounce rate by helping users find what they are looking for.

18. Publish New Content Frequently

Creating fresh content consistently that can offer users a wide variety of topics to explore can be helpful in order to convince people to visit and stay on a site.

19. Display Credibility

Visitors are always looking for how trustworthy a site seems.

When visitors land on your website, they are going through an examination of the content and assessing how reliable it seems.

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As a way to help build credibility and increase trust with visitors, it is a good idea to include positive reviews of whatever products and/or services your site features.

Showcase any special seals, and make the site secure in order to help a user trust a site, and thus, decrease the likelihood of them bouncing.

20. Utilize Google Analytics & Other Tools

Several tools can help you when tracking user engagement.

Google Analytics can track:

  • Time on site.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Pages per session.
  • Most frequently and least frequently visited pages.
  • And much more.

Track User Experience with Microsoft Clarity

Other tools like the free Microsoft Clarity can provide heat mapping and visitor recording so that you can see exactly what a user did during a session.

You can view how users react to pages and then adjust and test changes on those pages accordingly.

Increase User Satisfaction

Increase site visitor engagement by diagnosing the reason for high bounce rates then using those insights to improve the site visitor’s user experience.

Optimize based on findings identified by Google Analytics and Microsoft Clarity so that avoidable high bounce rates can be avoided.

The end result will be a website that users enjoy which is exactly what Google prefers to rank.

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Featured Image: Bakhtiar Zein/Shutterstock





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SEO

How & Why To Prevent Bots From Crawling Your Site

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How & Why To Prevent Bots From Crawling Your Site

For the most part, bots and spiders are relatively harmless.

You want Google’s bot, for example, to crawl and index your website.

However, bots and spiders can sometimes be a problem and provide unwanted traffic.

This kind of unwanted traffic can result in:

  • Obfuscation of where the traffic is coming from.
  • Confusing and hard to understand reports.
  • Misattribution in Google Analytics.
  • Increased bandwidth costs that you pay for.
  • Other nuisances.

There are good bots and bad bots.

Good bots run in the background, seldom attacking another user or website.

Bad bots break the security behind a website or are used as a wide, large-scale botnet to deliver DDOS attacks against a large organization (something that a single machine cannot take down).

Here’s what you should know about bots and how to prevent the bad ones from crawling your site.

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What Is A Bot?

Looking at exactly what a bot is can help identify why we need to block it and keep it from crawling our site.

A bot, short for “robot,” is a software application designed to repeat a specific task repeatedly.

For many SEO professionals, utilizing bots goes along with scaling an SEO campaign.

“Scaling” means you automate as much work as possible to get better results faster.

Common Misconceptions About Bots

You may have run into the misconception that all bots are evil and must be banned unequivocally from your site.

But this could not be further from the truth.

Google is a bot.

If you block Google, can you guess what will happen to your search engine rankings?

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Some bots can be malicious, designed to create fake content or posing as legit websites to steal your data.

However, bots are not always malicious scripts run by bad actors.

Some can be great tools that help make work easier for SEO professionals, such as automating common repetitive tasks or scraping useful information from search engines.

Some common bots SEO professionals use are Semrush and Ahrefs.

These bots scrape useful data from the search engines, help SEO pros automate and complete tasks, and can help make your job easier when it comes to SEO tasks.

Why Would You Need to Block Bots From Crawling Your Site?

While there are many good bots, there are also bad bots.

Bad bots can help steal your private data or take down an otherwise operating website.

We want to block any bad bots we can uncover.

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It’s not easy to discover every bot that may crawl your site but with a little bit of digging, you can find malicious ones that you don’t want to visit your site anymore.

So why would you need to block bots from crawling your website?

Some common reasons why you may want to block bots from crawling your site could include:

Protecting Your Valuable Data

Perhaps you found that a plugin is attracting a number of malicious bots who want to steal your valuable consumer data.

Or, you found that a bot took advantage of a security vulnerability to add bad links all over your site.

Or, someone keeps trying to spam your contact form with a bot.

This is where you need to take certain steps to protect your valuable data from getting compromised by a bot.

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Bandwidth Overages

If you get an influx of bot traffic, chances are your bandwidth will skyrocket as well, leading to unforeseen overages and charges you would rather not have.

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You absolutely want to block the offending bots from crawling your site in these cases.

You don’t want a situation where you’re paying thousands of dollars for bandwidth you don’t deserve to be charged for.

What’s bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the transfer of data from your server to the client-side (web browser).

Every time data is sent over a connection attempt you use bandwidth.

When bots access your site and you waste bandwidth, you could incur overage charges from exceeding your monthly allotted bandwidth.

You should have been given at least some detailed information from your host when you signed up for your hosting package.

Limiting Bad Behavior

If a malicious bot somehow started targeting your site, it would be appropriate to take steps to control this.

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For example, you would want to ensure that this bot would not be able to access your contact forms. You want to make sure the bot can’t access your site.

Do this before the bot can compromise your most critical files.

By ensuring your site is properly locked down and secure, it is possible to block these bots so they don’t cause too much damage.

How To Block Bots From Your Site Effectively

You can use two methods to block bots from your site effectively.

The first is through robots.txt.

This is a file that sits at the root of your web server. Usually, you may not have one by default, and you would have to create one.

These are a few highly useful robots.txt codes that you can use to block most spiders and bots from your site:

Disallow Googlebot From Your Server

If, for some reason, you want to stop Googlebot from crawling your server at all, the following code is the code you would use:

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User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /

You only want to use this code to keep your site from being indexed at all.

Don’t use this on a whim!

Have a specific reason for making sure you don’t want bots crawling your site at all.

For example, a common issue is wanting to keep your staging site out of the index.

You don’t want Google crawling the staging site and your real site because you are doubling up on your content and creating duplicate content issues as a result.

Disallowing All Bots From Your Server

If you want to keep all bots from crawling your site at all, the following code is the one you will want to use:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

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This is the code to disallow all bots. Remember our staging site example from above?

Perhaps you want to exclude the staging site from all bots before fully deploying your site to all of them.

Or perhaps you want to keep your site private for a time before launching it to the world.

Either way, this will keep your site hidden from prying eyes.

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Keeping Bots From Crawling a Specific Folder

If for some reason, you want to keep bots from crawling a specific folder that you want to designate, you can do that too.

The following is the code you would use:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /folder-name/

There are many reasons someone would want to exclude bots from a folder. Perhaps you want to ensure that certain content on your site isn’t indexed.

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Or maybe that particular folder will cause certain types of duplicate content issues, and you want to exclude it from crawling entirely.

Either way, this will help you do that.

Common Mistakes With Robots.txt

There are several mistakes that SEO professionals make with robots.txt. The top common mistakes include:

  • Using both disallow in robots.txt and noindex.
  • Using the forward slash / (all folders down from root), when you really mean a specific URL.
  • Not including the correct path.
  • Not testing your robots.txt file.
  • Not knowing the correct name of the user-agent you want to block.

Using Both Disallow In Robots.txt And Noindex On The Page

Google’s John Mueller has stated you should not be using both disallow in robots.txt and noindex on the page itself.

If you do both, Google cannot crawl the page to see the noindex, so it could potentially still index the page anyway.

This is why you should only use one or the other, and not both.

Using The Forward Slash When You Really Mean A Specific URL

The forward slash after Disallow means “from this root folder on down, completely and entirely for eternity.”

Every page on your site will be blocked forever until you change it.

One of the most common issues I find in website audits is that someone accidentally added a forward slash to “Disallow:” and blocked Google from crawling their entire site.

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Not Including The Correct Path

We understand. Sometimes coding robots.txt can be a tough job.

You couldn’t remember the exact correct path initially, so you went through the file and winging it.

The problem is that these similar paths all result in 404s because they are one character off.

This is why it’s important always to double-check the paths you use on specific URLs.

You don’t want to run the risk of adding a URL to robots.txt that isn’t going to work in robots.txt.

Not Knowing The Correct Name Of The User-Agent

If you want to block a particular user-agent but you don’t know the name of that user-agent, that’s a problem.

Rather than using the name you think you remember, do some research and figure out the exact name of the user-agent that you need.

If you are trying to block specific bots, then that name becomes extremely important in your efforts.

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Why Else Would You Block Bots And Spiders?

There are other reasons SEO pros would want to block bots from crawling their site.

Perhaps they are deep into gray hat (or black hat) PBNs, and they want to hide their private blog network from prying eyes (especially their competitors).

They can do this by utilizing robots.txt to block common bots that SEO professionals use to assess their competition.

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For example Semrush and Ahrefs.

If you wanted to block Ahrefs, this is the code to do so:

User-agent: AhrefsBot
Disallow: /

This will block AhrefsBot from crawling your entire site.

If you want to block Semrush, this is the code to do so.

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There are also other instructions here.

There are a lot of lines of code to add, so be careful when adding these:

To block SemrushBot from crawling your site for different SEO and technical issues:

User-agent: SiteAuditBot
Disallow: /

To block SemrushBot from crawling your site for Backlink Audit tool:

User-agent: SemrushBot-BA
Disallow: /

To block SemrushBot from crawling your site for On Page SEO Checker tool and similar tools:

User-agent: SemrushBot-SI
Disallow: /

To block SemrushBot from checking URLs on your site for SWA tool:

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User-agent: SemrushBot-SWA
Disallow: /

To block SemrushBot from crawling your site for Content Analyzer and Post Tracking tools:

User-agent: SemrushBot-CT
Disallow: /

To block SemrushBot from crawling your site for Brand Monitoring:

User-agent: SemrushBot-BM
Disallow: /

To block SplitSignalBot from crawling your site for SplitSignal tool:

User-agent: SplitSignalBot
Disallow: /

To block SemrushBot-COUB from crawling your site for Content Outline Builder tool:

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User-agent: SemrushBot-COUB
Disallow: /

Using Your HTACCESS File To Block Bots

If you are on an APACHE web server, you can utilize your site’s htaccess file to block specific bots.

For example, here is how you would use code in htaccess to block ahrefsbot.

Please note: be careful with this code.

If you don’t know what you are doing, you could bring down your server.

We only provide this code here for example purposes.

Make sure you do your research and practice on your own before adding it to a production server.

Order Allow,Deny
Deny from 51.222.152.133
Deny from 54.36.148.1
Deny from 195.154.122
Allow from all

For this to work properly, make sure you block all the IP ranges listed in this article on the Ahrefs blog.

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If you want a comprehensive introduction to .htaccess, look no further than this tutorial on Apache.org.

If you need help using your htaccess file to block specific types of bots, you can follow the tutorial here.

Blocking Bots and Spiders Can Require Some Work

But it’s well worth it in the end.

By making sure you block bots and spiders from crawling your site, you don’t fall into the same trap as others.

You can rest easy knowing your site is immune to certain automated processes.

When you can control these particular bots, it makes things that much better for you, the SEO professional.

If you have to, always make sure that block the required bots and spiders from crawling your site.

This will result in enhanced security, a better overall online reputation, and a much better site that will be there in the years to come.

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Featured Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

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