Pogo sticking on GoogleThe more news articles and blog posts you publish on your website, the higher your average bounce rate is likely to go. That’s a fact of life for web publishers. On the one hand it’s great to keep adding new articles to your website; on the other, it creates a statistical problem you then have to solve.

A website that has only product information will generally have a bounce rate somewhere between 25% and 50%. On such a site, visitors will often read two or three pages – not least because the journey often starts on the home page, from where they visit another page or two. Or they land on a second tier page and then go clicking to the home page to find out more about the business.

News articles and blog articles tend to have a higher bounce rate because people often arrive to just read the article, having been referred there from somewhere else (a search engine or a social link). They are there for the story, not to read about you, so there is a higher propensity to read and leave.

A few weeks ago I wrote about bounce rates in my article How to use Analytics to identify your strongest content.

The long click is good, the short click is bad

This is particularly important when it comes to search engine optimisation. The bounce rate and the average length of a visit are important statistics that search engines use to judge the quality of your site.

Google, for example, wants to show results that people appreciate. The better its results are, the more people will keep using Google.

If your site appears to be one that people don’t spend time on, that could be a bad signal. In other words, if people click on one of your links in a search result and then they only spend a few seconds on your site before bouncing back to Google, that is bad. It sends a message to Google that the visitor didn’t find what they were looking for. If that happens a lot, Google may decide to push your page down.

If it happens a lot across a lot of your pages for a lot of keywords, that’s where it really counts against you, because your site is then generally not serving the needs of Google’s customers.

This quick visit (where they come from search result to you and back again) is known as a short click. What you want to achieve is a long click – where the visitor comes to your site and spends some time before either bouncing back to the search engine or (ideally) looking at another page on your site.

To read more about long clicks, have a look at these articles:

Bouncing traffic

What does this have to do with blog and news articles?

As I mentioned earlier, blog and news articles tend to have a higher bounce rate, but they also tend to have a shorter average time on the page. If a higher proportion of your visitors land on your articles before bouncing back to the search engine, the two things you need to think about are:

  • How can I make them stay on the page for longer?
  • How can I get them to look at another page of the site?

As you grow the content of your site, the proportion of content changes – the product pages occupy a smaller proportion of the total pages, while the news and feature content grows. That also changes the average bounce rate.

Here are some tips to help you achieve long clicks

  • Don’t write short articles with no images. A meaty article with lots of information and some graphics to illustrate it will encourage readers to stay on the page for longer
  • Include external references to other relevant and useful articles – ensuring these open in a new window. This will mean that while they are clicking on those links to read those additional pages, your page will still be open in the browser
  • Include additional links to other relevant articles on your own website. You may also find my article How to construct, not write a blog post useful
  • Make sure the article delivers on its promise. If Google shows your article entitled ‘How to bleed a radiator’ when someone searches for ‘bleed radiators’, your article had better be a step by step and detailed instruction on how to do it, not just a half-arsed attempt to gain a click