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How to Increase Visitor “Time on Site” by 618% [Traffic & Conversion #2]

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

How to Increase Blog Visitor LengthWelcome to the 2nd update of the traffic and conversion series.

This is a monthly blog post where I discuss specific strategies I use to drive more traffic to my sites and how I convert these web visitors.

(Specifically I detail what I’m currently doing with SteveScottSite.com)

Last time, I discussed 7 ways to increase blog traffic by 25.35%.

Today I’ll talk about a strategy that I’m currently using to increase the amount of time people spend on my site…by as much as 618%.

But first, let’s see what happened in October…

October Traffic Stats

In September, this site had the following stats:

  1. 17,827 Visits 
  2. 77.95% Bounce Rate
  3. 1:43 Time on Site 

So what happened in October?

Here’s a screenshot from last month:

Steve Scott Site October StatsHere’s a breakdown of the three targeted metrics:

  1. 19,517 Visits (9.4% Increase)
  2. 78.43% Bounce Rate (.48% Increase)
  3. 1:35 Time on Site  (8.4% Decrease)

I’m pretty happy with the increase in web traffic.  That means this site is still growing – Even though I didn’t do much to promote it in the last month.

On the flip side, I’m a bit concerned that the bounce rate is increasing and the time on site is decreasingBoth indicate a downward trend.

Yes, you can make the argument that these numbers come from repeat visitors to the blog who only read the newest post.  But I did a quick search and discovered the bounce rate for repeat traffic is actually 15.22%:

Bounce Rate October StatsWhat does this mean? 

Basically, regular blog readers find something new to check out in every blog post.

However I’m not helping new visitors find what they want.

Part of the problem is I get a lot of what I call “junk traffic.”  These are people who use Google Images to find a photo and then immediately leave.

For instance, I rank #1 for the word Spring:

Spring Blog TrafficWhat the heck do you do with this traffic? 

Most of these web visitors spend a few seconds on my site, copy an image, and then immediately leave.  Frankly, it’s hard to increase visitor retention numbers when I rank for dozens of these low quality image search results.

Anyway…another interesting metric from October is I had a few articles produce a dramatic increase on visitor “time on page.”  Some by 618%.  This means some of my articles make people stick around for a long time:

#1 -15 “Google-Proof” Ways to Create a Quality Niche Site

Visitor Length - Google Panda Post#2 – How to Monetize an Affiliate Niche Site

Visitor Time Length - Niche Site Monetization Post#3 – 71 Web Copywriting “Hidden Gems”

Visitor Time Length - 71 Web Copywriting Resources#4 – 7 Actions that Increase Blog Traffic by 25.3%

Visitor Time Length - Increase Blog Traffic#5 – Six Figure Affiliate Marketing Strategies

Visitor Time Length - Affiliate Marketing StrategiesWhat does this mean?  It shows I’m writing relevant content for regular blog visitors.  The trick is to find a way to get new people to stick around once they’ve landed on my site.

This is especially true for the “junk traffic” of people using Google Images.

One thought is to leverage the recent post on 6 Eye-Catching Graphics.  Basically I can link this article to the “junk pages” that get Google Images traffic.  Since these are people looking for photos, I can give them a simple plan for creating their own.

How to Increase YOUR Visitor "Time on Site"

Moving forward I’m following this simple strategy.  I think if you implement this plan, you’ll get a decrease in bounce rates and increase in your average visitor time length.

First everything starts with what you’re writing. 

Yes, we’ve all heard a zillion times that content is king.  So I’m not going to repeat it here.  What I will say is it’s important to have a directory of killer posts and pages.  At least 10 to 20.

The goal of these pages is to supply readers with additional information while they’re reading an article.

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Target ultra-specific topics in your niche
  2. Write each article where you’re providing lots of quality information (at least 1,000 words)
  3. Add graphics, screenshots, and photos
  4. Include a video for any concept you have to demonstrate
  5. Make the text easy to scan

Bottom line is you want to create a dozens of posts (or pages) that provide people with exceptional information.

Next, you’ll interlink these posts to the content on your site. 

This process will take some time…depending on how much content you’ve published.  What you want to do is link to these articles from every “secondary” post on your blog.

(Make sure to have the link open in a new window/tab.)

The amount of links depends on the post.  Some posts will only link to a single article.  While others will have 5 or 6.  Really it depends on your personal preference.

For example, let’s say you have a blog about physical fitness.  When writing a new post, you could link to some of these articles:

Post Plan to Increase Time on Site

Overall, this strategy is a great way to keep people on your site.  You’re giving good information.  And you’re directing them to posts that can expand their knowledge on a specific topic.

My suggestion is to identify (or write) a few dozen high-quality articles.  After that, figure out what pages are producing low-quality traffic from search engines.  Then simply insert a few links to these killer content pieces.

Final Thoughts...

I’m pretty happy with my traffic for October.  But I think I’m not doing a great job of convincing some visitors to stick around.

For November (and beyond) I’m re-optimizing the “junk traffic” web pages.  Basically I’ll be using this plan that I just detailed –> Direct visitors to lots of additional information.

So what do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?

Comment below and let me know your thoughts…

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin | Mazzastick

Hey Steve,
Your traffic is doing awesome. We gotta do what we gotta do when it comes to retaining visitors to our blog. Archives, deep linking and popular posts seems to help with keeping my visitors around.

My bounce rate has stayed at a steady 68% since I have been using Google Analytics. I got stumbled the other day and I got over 3000 visitors and counting from StumbleUpon since that happened. But the downside with StumbleUpon is that most don’t stick around to read more content.

Reply

Steve Scott

Thanks Justin,

You are right about SU traffic. I get about 300+ stumbles (usually) each article. Sometimes it goes up into those thousands. The bounce from these IS horrible, hovering somewhere above 90%. Of course, I am happy with traffic regardless of the source, because even it it is 90% bounce that is still 10% that don’t bounce. Every little bit helps to grow.

Anyhow, not too unhappy. Just wanting to do those little things to make it all better! :)

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Peggy Baron

Hi Steve,

I agree with Justin about StumbleUpon traffic. They tend to skew my stats in a negative direction and they never stick around so we can become best friends.

I never thought about my blog images sending junk traffic from Google Images searches. I try to give them keywords, but I’m going to be more attentive. I like your idea of redirecting that traffic and interlinking posts.

Thanks for your insights, Steve. Always appreciated. :)

Reply

Steve Scott

Peggy,

SU is certainly part of the problem, as I said to Justin above. Some of the dead weight traffic I can live with. I just have to figure out ways to make as much of it convert as I can. It is important to get even a tiny-tiny percentage of these people flying through to stop and take a look.

Don’t get me wrong. I call it “Junk traffic” and it is. But traffic is traffic. I feel it is my job to find a path for a small percentage of that traffic to become fans.

The “spring” one is specifically tough. But some of these photos are a little easier to relate. Not to get sidetracked, but in a way, this also proves that if you are not taking time to SEO your pictures and graphics you could be missing out.

If that photo was of a stack of money with “make money” or some such as a keyword, there would still be a lot of junk traffic, but it would be a lot easier to spin them off into possible leads/readers.

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John Garrett

Hey Steve,

is there any guide or common agreement to what a “good” bounce rate is?

Right now I’ve got a 79% bounce rate going on. By far my most popular articles are two Facebook articles that solve a very specific problem. After people get what they want, they’re gone since I don’t have other “technical” Facebook articles to link to from there.

Man it drives me nuts! I’m going to implement your strategy on my other content, though, but I just wondered is there any “magic” number to shoot for?

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Brankica

Generally they say that blogs because of the format and layout have 75% bounce rates and that is still considered ok, I actually read it somewhere on Google’s blog

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Steve Scott

I can’t say specifically. I think I did here something around what Brankica said. That 75% could be expected.

But it seems so variable based on traffic sources. People who don’t Stumble for instance are likely to have a lower Bounce. (but more traffic)

Unfortunately I can’t say if I have ever read bounce number “officially”

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Ming Jong Tey

Hey Steve,

Love your idea to add links to your killer posts from your mediocre post to reduce the bounce rate. Hopefully, readers will get trapped inside your killer posts, lol.

I think it is essential for this step if you don’t want to waste your effort of creating contents on your blog. I’ve recently thought about how to maximize the content and increase the traffic of the blog. If the old posts are not ranked on Google and it might be hard to be found… In this case, inter-linking to those posts come into place.

Cheers,
Ming

Reply

Steve Scott

You are right. Interlinking is good general practice for SEO as well as helping people find your other stuff.

It is one of those practices that is just good all around!

Reply

Brankica

Let me try and leave a comment from my iPad… Awesome post, Steve. I will tell you how I try to avoid the image search, I make the file name and the alt tag match the content of the post and not the image itself. Of course I will try to find an appropriate image but that way neither the alt nor the file name pull up too much junk traffic. Not sure how your stumble upon traffic is but mine is great and at the same time drags my bounce rate down like crazy… I mean up… Making it bad.

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Steve Scott

Getting all techie and commenting from the IPAD, huh! ;)

IN more recent posts I have been tying picture names/alt tags \closer to keywords that matter. Since if I do get junk traffic at least it is junk that is a little more interested and easier to possibly convert.

Great point!

SU definitely drags down BR, for me too! I love the traffic it brings. After all…some of it has to convert. But it is mostly empty numbers for sure.

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Brankica

Lol, I had to make a comment about iPad, it was the first time I was trying and I was scared it will be a mess.

I commented and then later read that people already mentioned SU here. I think it would convert much better on different kinds of blogs, but for us, it is pretty much useless :(

Reply

David Walker

This is along the lines of what I was thinking. If I write a post about ’4 ways the ice falling outside is increasing business’ and use an image of an ice storm, I would use names-n-tags having to do with business – nothing about ice, winter, etc… :) Great tips for keeping readers on your site! ~ David Walker

Reply

Cristina Ansbjerg

Hi Steve,

I was going to give you a tip to reduce that junk traffic you get from Google Images but Brankica has been faster :D

Thanks for the advice to increase visitors time on site.

Reply

Duy

Wow, I’m impressed with the statistics from your top posts :D And nice strategy to keep visitors engaged with our sites. I think it’s doable as well but will take some times to finish. Thanks for sharing this tip Steve, I will give it a try soon!

Duy.

Reply

Steve Scott

Thanks Duy,

Most of traffic and conversion is just doing these little things again and again. DO enough small positive changes and eventually you have huge results changes. Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Eugene

I know what you mean about that “junk traffic.” I have an image that was ranking #1 for “strategy” in Google Images. I think it’s #2 now.

I did what Brankica suggested and used proper tags for the images so it’s kind of related to the overall topic of my site. But the term is very broad. I may be getting a few people sticking around, but its not a very “sticky” source of traffic. Although I’m pretty sure I did what Brankica suggested and tagged the image

Reply

Steve Scott

Yeah, I have been tagging pics better for a while now. I am torn on the traffic for the older ones. I don’t want to just dump it, because it is sending a good bit of traffic. It will always be bounce heavy, but If I can convert just a small percentage it is worth the time.

But yeah, I agree for “going forward” I always use more “keyword related” terms, for both the SEO Boost and to make sure if it brings traffic it is at least “sort of” targetted.

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Franck

I love the content of your blog. I’ve also found (in the IM niche) that providing case studies dramatically increase the “time spend on page”. Give real several part case studies with results really keep people reading.

Franck Silvestre

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Steve Scott

Thanks Franck since I am currently doing a series of case studies, we shall see if that works for me. :)

Thanks for dropping by and commenting

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Anna

Well, as I can see, you have been doing pretty well in October! It was really easy to understand the terms and your explanation of what is affecting what, for a newbie like me. It was a very interesting read, thanks!

Reply

Steve Scott

Thanks Anna! I am glad you liked it. Hopefully I will have a lot more her that you will find interesting. Hope to see you here again, thanks for the comment.

Reply

Hamish

Hello Steve,

I found your blog quite recently – so I’m a returning reader but still new. Your posts are packed full of information and well written – and they are also lengthy (nothing wrong with that of course).

Is there perhaps, for new readers at least, a stamina issue? Or could it be that you have provided so much information that your reader has what he/she came for and is therefore “free to go”?

Maybe mixing it up with a few shorter posts, complete with links to other posts and pages, might make a difference – if you think that it’s important that is. Your visitor numbers seem to be growing steadily – congrats for that – which is great.

There’s no correct number for bounce rate that I know of. Some of my blogs are around 40%, others are nearer 80%. Depends on the type of blog and what you want the visitors to do I think.

Reply

Steve Scott

First of all, thanks for the comment Hamish, and i hope to see a lot more of you around here! :)

For sure, bounce could be part of a Stamina issue. I am going about that in other ways…by incorporating more graphics and videos. Ultimately the REALLY important metric is blog growth, and that is chugging along nicely. It is important to me to become known for in depth posts. Everyone may not be interested in every post… but I hope that when they are interested I give them all the information they need.

You bring up an interesting point and you probably are right. Years back (way before Panda and Scrapper updates) I did a ton of article marketing. I found that when I did really complete articles it killed my CTR, but if I just gave 1-2 good facts and then linked to a resource, my CTR would kill.

So sure, I can absolutely see how that could be the same for a blog. If that is the bottom line…I might just end up “living with it” because I think the human factor is ultimately more important.

It may end up my bounce is “right” for all the various factors of the blog. But the only way to really know if you can improve is to try new things and see if you can get any effect.

Anyway, thanks for a great comment

Steve

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Kieran Gracie

Don’t know where I read it but I have always thought that a BR less than 80% was OK. I think that it depends on the niche to some extent. Perhaps it is not too important provided that it is not trending up, LOL.

Reply

Steve Scott

Kieran,

I have heard a few different numbers, and yes 80% was one. It is likely very variable. A big piece is spam too, hard to deal with that at all.

It may end up being fine; at the same time, it is a metric that can be great to see if you can lower.

Reply

Nick

Such a simple idea… And I like do this a little bit, but not nearly enough. Great post, thanks for opening up my eyes! Just goes to show that simplicity is important!

Reply

Steve Scott

Thanks Nick!

Yes, simplicity is great! Most of the greatest invetnions in history are the small tweaks to existing designs, often simplifying. Just looking at apple.

(not saying this is great, orginal or apple like….lol)

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Nick

Yeah, good point. I mean originality is awesome. But looking at your product/or blog and simply doing little things to fix or improve it goes a long way!

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James Hussey

Well the way you brought up images – your .alt text may be way off. I’d keep those keywords to site-relevant vs. image-relevant terms, so your “spring” example, could have been named another keyword so people searching would see the image in a blogger or IM-related KW search.

Hope that makes sense.

I was also wondering, since you make your posts into PDF-ready downloads, if people simply download and leave?

It makes sense that your high SU traffic and images that are off-topic would bring in the wrong, bouncy kind of visitors…maybe your PDFs are adding to the mix, who knows really – but I’d also look at other metrics.

Things like conversions vs. bounce rate so much. Bouncy traffic in my mind points to an SEO problem and targeting the wrong people with giving Google the ‘wrong’ keywords (like in your image ALT tags maybe, or colorful titles vs. KW rich titles maybe – just thinking out loud here), or getting traffic from naturally bouncy people (SU)…

But how is business otherwise? Are you converting the traffic you do attract into customers? I know it all goes hand-in-hand with bounce rates, but honestly if you take a look at your bottom line vs. the bounce rate, how are things?

Not asking for a response, just something to think about. I used to have a SUPER high bounce rate, but my site was super-profitable, too, so I didn’t care (a few of my niche sites were this way)…so after a while I just didn’t really care too much about it.

Reply

Steve Scott

James,

Yeah, that specific example was an old post, and for sure I should have done the alt tag differently. I have already been doing a better SEO job on more recent tags.

I hadn’t thought about the print to PDF being a problem. It could be a small issue. Though it would be only a fraction of a percentage. (I get about 3-15 print to PDFs daily, not enough to make a huge difference) That is certainly one of those “acceptable” bounces if it is rated that way.

The Titles could be an issue. But I think I am on the right side of that since I am often not enough too creative with titles and tend to gravitate toward kw’s

As for the bottom line this site is working its way up the profit ladder. Most of my profit still comes from my “main” niche, but my profit here is rising in proportion to the rise in traffic, so that is all good. (and ultimately the whole point…right?)

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Rob Cubbon

I may not be right, but I have always assumed that the more successful you become as a site the less likely the traffic is to stick around. I have a lot of visits everyday that come for an image and leave immediately and I think there’s not a lot you can do about that. I think judging by the stats you’ve shown us here, Steve, I think your bounce rates and time on page rates are respectable.

One thing I did to increase time on site recently was use the Thumbnail Related Posts plug-in which adds thumbnail images to related posts at the end of your posts. Quite nice, but I’m afraid I haven’t noticed it make a huge difference!

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Steve Scott

It may end up that you are right. Bounce is just something that you have to live with. Like many methods I think it is worthwhile to make sure this is really the case, though. Test, test, test is my mantra! :)

I like the Idea of Thumbnailing related posts. I would think it would draw a clicks in that area a lot more. I think i may check that out and see if I like how it looks. (and then of course test after )

Reply

Rob Cubbon

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/related-posts-thumbnails/
Here’s the plug-in. As I say, according to my testing, it didn’t add any stickiness to the site but plenty of people have told me it decreased their bounce rates and increased the time on site. However, I’m leaving them in on my blog because I like the look of them.

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Steve Scott

Hmmm. Well my graphics work in some weird way. This didn’t seem to work very well for me, since most of them are not loaded as thumbnails but re-sized and imported from the original file. I could go and make thumbnails of all pics to get it working. But that is too much like work. Maybe someday. It sounded good anyhow.

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Rob Cubbon

Fair enough, Steve, I wasn’t sure if it made custom thumbnails for you or not as I already had my own ready made and so if it’s taking the images from your posts you will then have page size and load issues. And going back through all your posts to create thumbnails would be a time-consuming process. Sorry about that!

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Steve Scott

No worries. It would have been nice if it had worked. I did like the look if it if it had created thumbnails. But yeah, I don’t think I liked it enough to go make thumbnails on 500 posts ;)

Reply

Rob Cubbon

500? :) Indeed not!

Reply

Satrap

I guess with most of those so called “junk traffic” you can’t really do anything, but I really like your idea about putting a link to a post about creating images in front of them.

That makes absolute sense, you give them what they came for and they will stick around for longer. Fascinating post Steve. Thanks.

Reply

Steve Scott

Thanks Satrap.

IN the end it may be true there is little that can be done (beyond alt tags being more keyword optimized as many have noted) But you never know until you take a shot at making real change.

Reply

Apple

I think your bounce rates and time on page rates are respectable. I have a lot of visits everyday that come for an image and leave immediately and I think there’s not a lot you can do about that. I think judging by the stats you’ve shown us here..

Reply

Extreme John

That’s great Scott. It just shows that you give out very valuable sharing of information to a lot of readers and the readers in turn really do value you content. This also shows how passionate and genuine you are which reflects on you write ups which in the long run have increased your site traffic. Congratulations mate.

Reply

Darren

Some of the ‘bouncers’ like you noticed can’t be fixed. I get plenty of 0 time on site ‘bounces’ that look robotic.

Still, all of your ideas are likely to improve user experience, which should lower bounce rate, increase happiness, and make for a longer stay on site.

Nice post!

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Steve Scott

No doubt. There is nothing you can do about the bounces that are just spammers. They make it hard to figure out where you are failing and what is just… “natural”

Reply

Mark of Success

Hi Steve,

That’s some impressive traffic!

Regarding the increase in bounce rate, I think there is just so much that can be done about it and the number will continue to be up as long as there is more new traffic coming in. But it’s a nice challenge to try and get it down as much as possible.

Instead of letting the increase in bounce rate bother you, I’d like to suggest that you look at the monthly percentage increase in the amount of traffic that didn’t bounce. I’m sure that’s an impressive improvement and growth there :-)

Cheers,
Mark

Reply

Danny

I agree. It is not just good for your bounce rate, more importantly it is offering value to your readers.
I think I can use some interlinking myself.
Looking forward to seeing the results of November Steve.

Reply

Jamal

It is not enough to write a killer post but also to interlink it with other posts is a great job. If a visitor feel interest in one post through link, he can move to another post.In this way bounce rate of the site also reduces.

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Janet Callaway

Steve, aloha. On the images, Brankica had told me how to label them so I have not had a problem with junk traffic because of them.

What is your opinion on the number of links within a post? To me, unless they are truly relevant, I get irritated when I see 5+ links in a post. Since your posts are so packed with information, I would think 3-5 NATURAL links would be quite easy for you.

SU seems to be a good news/bad news for most everyone. You may receive the traffic, however, is it really the traffic that you want? Of course, with more people coming to your site, it increases the odds that some of it will be the “right” traffic.

Thanks for sharing your October stats and your insights on them with us. Until next time, aloha. Janet

Reply

Steve Scott

Pretty much I agree with you. Of course, the size of a post makes a difference, but 3-5 links for an average size post seems to be about right. anything more and you do get into the realm where it starts seeming overly self promotional. Of course, there are always exceptions to this. Like linking outside resources. If your Post was about finding outsourcers and you gave a huge list of links, that is something completely different. I guess I would say the 3-5 rule is a good limit for textual links.

Ya, SU has good and bad sides. IN the long run I would rather get the traffic not get traffic. I am not going to NOT Stumble to avoid it, that’s for sure. Traffic is traffic, and even if most do not stay, some will. But it does play hell with your stats. :)

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Thomas

I am struggling with a bounce rate of about 80% and this strategy is something I intend on implementing. A lot of my content contains quite a bit of medical jargon and I realize this plays a big part in my bounce rate. I am looking at the readability score of my content as well to try and reduce bounce rate.

Reply

Steve Scott

Reducing Jargon is probably a great idea. Chances are you have very few health professionals, and even if you did, would they be “buyers”? you always have to play to those you think are going to be actually buying the stuff you are marketing.

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keith

Love the site and you have great ideas. I get stuck with all the images and extra’s. I can write content, but making it pretty and full of charts and graphs is something I’m not good at. Will try harder to incorporate more images, thanks for the milliionth helpful post.

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Paula

I do the same thing Brankica does — I label the photo so its relevant to the post, not the image. I assume that also helps my SEO for that post.

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AstroGremlin

Interesting news about images. But the basic problem is that photo searchers, searchers and SU users aren’t committed to reading content. They are at the site because . . . well, it’s hard to tell. I try to put out “lures” in the form of photos. I use a plugin LinkWithin that has helped my bounce rate. But ultimately, it’s like that poster, which I paraphrase: “Let them go. If they don’t come back they were never yours in the first place.”

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Web Design London

Terrific article! This is the kind of info that are supposed to be shared across the web. Disgrace on Google for not positioning this put up upper! Come on over and talk over with my web site . Thanks =)

Reply

Daniel

Great post, Steve.

I agree with what some of the other commentors above have stated.

The actual site topic, post structure(Post length, link(s) set up within and around post) and possible a whole bunch of other variants, would in some way contribute to an increased bounce rate.
The thing is, A websites home page would probably always have a lower bounce rate, than internal pages(There is some form of reasoning behind this).
I did read that this is to be expected.
The only downside is that, the HIGH bounce rate of the internal pages will cancel out the(often quite low) bounce rate of the home page, resulting in what we get for our TOTAL website bounce-rate.
So, i guess I can see the point of tweaking our inner pages to bring the bounce rate down a touch(If done on most pages, this would have a cumulative effect for the overall site)
The thumb nail widget that adds text and images for related posts, would offer marginal help.
Just one other point. Could the fact that your posts(very high quality and great length) be tuned to a high bounce rate, due to THAT length and the amount of links appearing in list form?
Jumping from one gargantuan post(with a link list) to a Godzilla sized offering, may scare way visitors , somewhat.
Just my thoughts…..

Daniel….the un–Gravatared one.

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Ruth Sayson

I’ve been visiting your blog blog lately Scot and all I can say is that you really am one of the most talented person who is very passionate with what he is doing. I think google see it too since the information that you shared is very valuable and full of quality content reader always want to read.

Reply

Abhishek

Well I agrre that the first formost important is content of the site. If the contenst are good then others will come in line.

Interlinking,page optimization is the nest thing people should concenetrate. I beleive if a persons done a average SEO of his webiste, and can market a good, he will acheive his targets.

Reply

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