By Jerry Low.
Does your website have a high bounce rate? What is it about your blog that makes them want to press the back button?
The truth is that if your bounce rate is high, then there is something that is causing people to discredit your blog and leave quickly. Bounce rate, at least by Google’s standards, is measured in single page visits and how much time visitors spend on a landing page.
However, there are so many different things that play into whether your bounce rate works for you or not. A lot depends on the goal you’ve set for your website and whether or not you are meeting those goals.
I thought a lot about this and realized that there are many negative factors that could kill your success in blogging. And, like it or not – to succeed, there is a set of rules that bloggers need to follow. Some of those rules will impact bounce rate and some will not. But, the bottom line is that there are some things that will cause a visitor to stay on your site and some that will drive him away.
9 Reasons I Hate Your Blog
You’re probably thinking that “hate” is a big word, but it does reflect part of my feelings. Perhaps “turned off” is the more appropriate term here. And, here are 9 reasons why your blog would turn me off and cause me to bounce away.
1. You do more than one popup
Popups work. I get it.
I use it at times myself, too. In fact, the day I turned on a site-wide popup form on WHSR, our newsletter subscription rate surged more than 400%.
The key here is to not add too many popups. Excessive popups disrupt the reading experience and are seriously annoying.
I have seen bloggers who forgot to turn off their old popups when making new ones. This causes overlapping popups on a single page. It’s horrific and it underlines the importance of always testing your site whenever you do an update.
Based on InsightOne Study, 70% of Americans get most annoyed when popups are irrelevant and would even go ahead and block a site because of such annoying intrusions.
At the same time, however, as proven by my experiment, popups can greatly increase your subscription rates.
There are valid reasons for using popups, so if you choose to do so, you’ll want to keep these three tips in mind:
Tip#1: Use popups in moderation
I lost all my respects to one very popular marketing blog when I saw a Hello Bar, full screen welcome gate, and an exit popup, in one page.
Again, don’t overuse popups. One per page is about all I can take.
Tip #2: Make popups smarter
There are tools that allow you to show popups at a specific time, such as when a visitor is leaving your website or has scrolled down to a certain level on your page. Use these functions to minimize the damage popups can cause to blog user experience.
Tip #3: Only use well-designed and –written popups
If you must interrupt my reading in the middle of the article with a popup, at least do it in a way that is entertaining and visually pleasing.
You also irritate me, a lot, when I recognize a piece of stolen content on your blog.
Copying people’s content is not only unethical, but illegal. There are copyright laws in place that protect people’s written and creative work and violating them can get your site shut down.
However, let’s say you don’t outright copy, but you use your own words and copy the same article making it very similar.
On top of that, you can hurt Google ranking for both your site and the site from which you copied the content. Not cool at all.
I assume people copy other people’s content because they can’t write well or simply don’t have enough time to write.
Step #1- Read and take notes frequently
I believe you should take notes anywhere, anytime. In my opinion, it’s the #1 success habit in blogging.
When inspiration strikes or when you find something useful during your daily reading, jot down your thoughts or a note on the information.
I use Evernote to collect and manage my ideas. You can do the same with something else or with the same program, but the key is to take notes regularly so you don’t lose a brilliant idea.
Step #2 – Pass your ideas / studies / researches to a ghost writer
The key in this is to not outsource everything to the ghost writers. Instead, you should spend more time studying and researching the topic you want to write about. Offer some detailed notes.
Then, hand off the writing of the words and editing to professionals.
3. You call yourself expert when you are not
It bothers me a lot if you try to act like an expert and you’re not.
This can become clear very quickly to readers because if you don’t know much about the topic it is going to show. Someone might ask a question in the comments and you’ll have no clue how to answer it.
Faking as someone you are not sucks on many different levels. Just be honest. If you need to know more about a topic you love and want to write about, and then study that topic until you know it inside and out.
Calling yourself a guru while giving nothing but common knowledge advice on your blog irritates me. I don’t visit your site to learn something I already know – that everyone already knows.
Instead of trying to present yourself as the authority over something you know little about, write about what you do know or can easily learn and learn well.
4. Advertisements everywhere
Advertisements make for a spammy, ugly blog. Some bloggers put ads everywhere you can imagine. They might place an ad between paragraphs, inside popups, in the header, on sidebars, or even sugarcoat an ad as “other relevant resources” at the bottom of a post.
The truth is that, yes, there is tons of money to be made with these kinds of strategies.
Scott DeLong, founder of ViralNova, sold his site for $100 million. His site was similar to BuzzFeed and was chock full of advertising. His success (though big part of it depends on how he grew his site traffic, not jamming ads to his site) has sparked ambitious bloggers to build a similar site/blog and maximize the number of ads they can squeeze onto one page.
Their goal is simply to repeat his success.
Stuffing advertisements everywhere might bring in some extra cash, but it doesn’t bring any value to the readers and honestly, it sucks.
In the long-term, sites like this won’t be successful.
It’s proven that Google finds content mills, advertising mills, and similar sites and tightens up their algorithms to prevent those who come along behind from succeeding.
In fact, Facebook has already cracked down on the use of viral headlines like those used on sites like ViralNova and BuzzFeed and is showing them less on user pages. This means that traffic has fallen dramatically for sites that relied on social media for the majority of their traffic.
There are better, long term monetization strategies. From choosing a sustainable, profitable niche to creating and selling a product and organizing events, bloggers should utilize smarter strategies instead of baiting for ad clicks all day long. Readers are wising up to this tactic, too, and may resent click bait strategies.
5. I can’t read it on my phone
Nothing annoys me more than a site that isn’t mobile responsive. I connect to the Internet and read a lot on my phone. If your blog is not optimized for mobile, high chances are I will just skip your blog and go read somewhere else.
Worldwide, as of 2015, nearly 53% of people could access the Internet online. Like it or not, optimizing for mobile users is no longer an option in web UX design.
We have close to 140,000 unique visitors at WHSR and more than 45% are visiting us via a mobile device. More and more people are reading on their phones. 55% of all Oyster’s activity is now happening on phone. 54% of the 1.65 billion monthly active users access Facebook only on mobile (see report, page 7).
And if that’s not enough, Google announced Mobilegedddon in mid-2015. That essentially means that sites that aren’t mobile friendly are likely to lose out in organic search rankings.
6. I can’t scan your posts quickly before I start reading
I will probably hate your blog if I can’t scan your posts before reading. I want to know in a nutshell what your post is about so I know if it will cover the topics I need to know or not.
Descriptive headlines are vitally important. H2 and H3 headers make for easier reading and help readers quickly understand what your post covers.
You also want your article to be easy to scan. Adding bullet points, short paragraphs and tight writing all go a long way toward increasing readability. Where appropriate, infographics and diagrams can also add a lot of value to an article.
7. The things you are blogging about aren’t worth blogging about
Stop blogging incessantly about your gym session, your cat, the cupcake you just ate, and your mundane daily activities at home. I don’t care and chances are that no one else cares about these things.
We all do them.
They aren’t exciting or unique.
The time I spend on your blog is valuable to me. I don’t have a lot of time to waste. Tell me something interesting, or useful. Make me laugh, impress me, most importantly, help me learn and grow better as a person or at something.
Before you spend time writing about something on your blog, make sure you understand what other articles on that topic are available and try to add some extra value or a unique twist to your article on that topic. If you don’t have anything to add, then that might not be the best topic to write about.
8. Autoplay video/audio
I hate it every time when a video loads automatically on the Fantasy Premier League homepage. They are Premier League officials, hosting the world’s most popular fantasy sports game. Since I’ve been playing two mini leagues with my buddies for years, I put up with it. Some site visitors won’t.
I’m also not fine with your blog if it loads a video or audio automatically instead of giving me a choice in the matter. I enjoy silent browsing. I am not going to find the “stop” button when your blog auto plays your theme song, I will simply go for the “close tab” button.
I dislike video plays without me pressing the “play” key. If you must auto play a video, at least start it with the sound off.
Keep in mind, too, that not everyone has high speed Internet. While most people do, there are some rural users who might even still be on dial up. By automatically starting a video or audio, you essentially freeze the computers of your audience without high speed capacity.
9. Your page made me wait for more than five seconds
Generally speaking, any website that shows a blank page for more than five seconds are bad. Studies have proven repeatedly that page abandonment rate goes up with your site load time increases.
Almost 50% of Internet users expect a website to load in two seconds or less, and if it doesn’t load in three seconds, they will likely abandon that site.
If I am expecting to read a blog post, which typically would consist only of text and images, I expect to be served fast. Any blog page that takes longer than a few seconds to load is unacceptable.
There are a number of ways to improve your site load time:
Ditch the big image slider that takes forever to load
Host your blog on a faster server
Minimize HTTP redirects and pack your CSS and jQuery scripts together to reduce page roundtrip times
Bottom line –
Even if you are currently running a blog that I would hate for all 9 reasons listed above, you can easily rectify these issues. Even minor tweaks can improve your bounce rate and offer you reader a more usable experience.
Take the time to visit your own blog as though you are a first time visitor. Pay attention to how fast the page loads (clear your cache first, so you get an authentic reading on this), pay attention to popups and if they interrupt your reading, and think about anything that might annoy your visitor.
With a little intuitiveness about what readers really want, your site will quickly become an authority that readers turn to time and time again for information and entertainment.