It’s all very good and well getting people to read your blog one time, but wouldn’t it be bloody awesome to keep those readers coming back for more, time and time again? I’d love that, and I know most other bloggers would too. It’s actually an easier process than you think. You just need to learn how to get people to stay on your blog for longer, and I’ve got a few tips n’ tricks that will help you out with that.
⏱ 20-minute read
HOW LONG READERS STICK AROUND – BOUNCE RATE
If you’ve ever seen bloggers talk about something called a “bounce rate”, or PR people have asked you about yours, this is what they mean: how long people stick around on your blog.
✴️ Bounce rate is the percentage of readers that land on your website and then leave without doing anything else. They bounce in … and then bounce out again. ✴️
You want a LOW bounce rate — a lower percentage of people who land on your website and then leave, rather than clicking through to read other posts or pages. Visitors like what they see when they land on one of your posts or pages, and a high number of them are reading other posts or pages afterwards. The number of people bouncing-in and then bouncing-out is low.
A HIGH bounce rate is generally considered a bad thing. It means that a high percentage of your readers are landing on one of your pages and then leaving. They don’t want to stick around to see what else you have to say.
Helpful blog post on understanding and calculation bounce rate: Understanding bounce rate in Google Analytics — by Yoast
IS BOUNCE RATE IMPORTANT TO SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION?
SEO experts don’t really know the answer to that question, but it certainly helps — and looks good — when people like your blog so much that they want to click on one page after another after another.
Imagine you’re a pub landlord/lady. When patrons come in for a drink, you want them to have more than one drink, right? A couple of drinks is good. Three or four is better. You want them to drink responsibly, obviously, but at the same time, you want them to spend their money on more drinks in your establishment. Maybe buy a few snacks. Throw some money in the jukebox.
Photo source: Viktor Hanacek | PicJumbo
That’s what blogging is like.
When you have a low bounce rate, you’re a good pub landlord or landlady. Visitors like what you have to offer, so they’re staying for one, two, three or more blog posts — one, two, three or more drinks.
When you have a high bounce rate, you’re doing something wrong*. A lot of your visitors are coming in, having one drink and then leaving. No second or third drink, no bar snacks, nothing.
*A high bounce rate doesn’t always indicate you’re doing something wrong. Certain pages are expected to be clicked-on and then clicked-off.
HOW TO GET PEOPLE TO STAY ON YOUR BLOG FOR LONGER
These tips have been proven to reduce your bounce rate — increase the number of people who land on one page or post, and then go on to take other internal action. This could be signing up to your email newsletter, finding more by clicking on one of the links in your menu, opening up a ‘read more’ link, or browsing other pages and posts on your blog.
Let’s kick things off with the obvious one …
GIVE THEM A REASON TO STICK AROUND
I know, I know, it seems so obvious, but creating amazing content that gives your visitors what they want will go a really long way. It’s the very first thing you need to do when trying to get people to stay on your blog for just that little bit longer.
People won’t just read one of your posts; they’ll start with one, and then they’ll read another one, and then another one, and then another one after that. At that point, they’ll probably follow you on social media to keep up with everything else you’ve got to offer. They might even subscribe to your email newsletter so they never miss a new post.
If you create poo-poo content, though, they won’t want to stick around. They’ll know they can find what they’re looking for somewhere else, and those other blog posts will [probably] have much more information. Someone else — the creator of that ‘better’ content — will get the views that you should be getting.
That’s one of the biggest benefits of creating super awesome, in-depth content, and longer pieces of content. The average “successful” blog post has 1,000+ words, and it seems to be the case that search engines — and visitors — prefer longer, more in-depth pieces of content, rich with information.
How many words do your blog posts usually have?
Helpful blog post: How Long Should A Blog Post Be?
MAKE IT EASIER FOR THEM TO STICK AROUND
This blog post is all about learning how to keep people on your blog for longer. (But you know that already, right?) Inside it, you’ll notice that I have linked to other relevant posts too — making your blog posts longer, the ideal post length, SEO-related stuff, etc.
Why do I do this?
To make everything nice and easy for my readers.
If I want them to stick around and read more of my blog posts, I’m going to make sure I give them every opportunity to do just that. I’ll put links to my other posts right in the reader’s path.
These blog links are called internal links — they link to other posts on your blog, not taking the reader away from it; and it’s something I talk about in a lot more detail in one of my recently published posts >>> The Easy-Peasy Guide to Using Internal Links in a Blog Post For SEO.
They’re fab for search engine optimisation, making it easier for Google and other search engine spiders to crawl through and index all of the pages on your blog.
In short, using internal links is vital for boosting search engine optimisation on your blog AND will keep get people to stay on your blog for longer.
TELL YOUR READERS HOW LONG THE BLOG POST IS
I’ve started doing something new with the longer posts on my blog. I’ll read them out loud, time myself doing it, and then share how long it took with my readers, right at the beginning. I’ve done the same thing for this post.
*Scrolls up to check*
Why do I do this? Because there was one time on the bus, on the way home from work, that I started reading a post I found on Pinterest. My bus journey was eight minutes long, give or take. The blog post was about 4,000 words long. As you can imagine, I didn’t get to the end of the post by the time my journey was up and I had to depart. I locked my phone, threw it in my bag, and then didn’t think about it until later on, once I’d had my obligatory (and much-needed) cup of caffeine.
That’s when I couldn’t find the blog post to finish reading it.
When I opened Pinterest again, butt parked firmly on the couch and cup of tea in hand, the app didn’t take me right back to the blog post I was smack bang in the middle of. Instead, it took me to the home screen and I never found that post again. I couldn’t even remember what the title of it was, but I knew I wanted to finish reading it. Waaaaaah.
The moral of this story?
If I’d have known that the blog post was 4,000 words long — or about 20-25 minutes worth of reading time — I’d have pinned the post to Pinterest or bookmarked it before I started reading. There’s no way I’d have managed a full 4,000-word post in my eight-minute bus ride, but had I known it was that long, I’d have prepared.
I won’t always have the time to read an epic post, but that doesn’t mean I won’t find the time to read it later on.
Let your audience know that your post is a long one, right at the beginning, and remind them to Pin it for later or bookmark it. You’d be amazed by how many people actually do what you ask if you ask them nicely enough.
UPDATE OLDER BLOG POSTS
Have you ever looked back over the first few posts you published on the blog? Don’t worry if you cringe. I did too when I looked back over the older stuff on some of my own sites. Don’t waste too much of your time being embarrassed, though; there’s work to be done here.
You can update older blog posts and make them appear brand new. You can even share them like they’re a brand new piece of content. If you’ve added a considerable amount of information to the post or updated a whole bunch/all of the images, it basically is a brand new blog post … isn’t it?
There’s very little point in busting your brain trying to find brand new content when you could just spend a few moments updating some of your older stuff. And by updating older posts, you’ll remember they exist. Do you know how many posts I’ve totally forgotten about? I’ve written a seriously huge amount of words in the years that I’ve been blogging/copywriting. I can’t be expected to remember everything.
But when you remember them, you can link to them. Search engines love all of that!
You can also add to them — include newer and/or updated information, prices, images, etc. And you can SEO as you go.
How about throwing in a few ads or affiliates, if you use them now but weren’t using them when the post was first published? While you’re there, you can also ensure that all of your blog posts have the appropriate disclaimers. You know — affiliates, gifted items, etc.
There are plenty of other things you can do, but most importantly, once you’re done updating the old blog posts, you can link to them from your newer content.
TURN ON RELATED POSTS
When you get to the bottom of this blog post (on a phone), take a peek at what’s down there. There’s a ‘Related Posts’ widget. A series of three posts are shown to my readers that are related to the one they just read, usually by tag or category or something like that.
On a desktop, the related posts appear on the left-hand side of my post’s content.
There are various options when it comes to related posts. Jetpack for WordPress gives you the opportunity to add them at the bottom of a post, and my blog’s theme actually had a specific section for them. It might be worth playing around with the Appearance > Customise settings to see if your theme has a spot for them.
Doesn’t it make sense to offer your reader something related once they’re done with that particular post? What else are they going to do otherwise? Read someone else’s blog?
Keep their attention — give them something else to have a look at.
I sometimes include a little section at the bottom of my posts called “Further resources + reading”. These are links to other posts that I think might offer additional information to my readers, following on from the current one.
TOP 10/MOST POPULAR
Your most popular posts are popular for a reason, so why not shout about them? I downloaded a free WordPress plugin called Top 10 to show off mine, but there are many plugins to choose from. The most obvious place to insert this widget is in the sidebar, but different plugins give you the option to play around with placement. Why not get adventurous and start playing around with one on your blog?
I also used the Top 10 plugin on my new Instagram landing page. Take a peek and let me know what you think of it!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TAGS AND CATEGORIES
Tags and categories are there for a reason — to categorise your content. And that categorising doesn’t just help your readers out; it also helps you out. You can direct someone to everything they need to know about something by sharing the tag or category link.
I use the actual categories of my blog to help put the menu together. The drop-down sections that you can see correspond to a different category on the blog, but that’s just one way of organising things. That’s what tags and categories are good for — organising your content and making it easier for readers to find exactly what they’re looking for.
This is how tags come up on my vaping review and information website — best-ecig.co.uk:
Someone reading an eliquid review that discusses tobacco flavours might want to read more reviews on other tobacco-flavoured eliquids. They can find exactly what they’re looking for by clicking on the “Tobacco Eliquid” tag. If they want to find reviews for other eliquids in the same brand, they can do so by clicking on the brand’s tag.
It’s all a matter of making it EASIER for readers to stay on your blog once they have arrived. Give them one more post to read. And then another one. And then another one. Eventually, they’ll realise that your blog is amazing and will follow you everywhere.
That’s the hope, anyway …
INCREASE READABILITY OF YOUR BLOG POSTS
The easier your blog posts are to read, the more people are going to want to read them. Making a blog post easier to read is actually much easier than you’d think — and a lot of it comes down to just basic common sense.
Use bright and eye-catching images or other forms of media to break up long chunks of text. Long paragraphs and text-heavy posts can be intimidating to a reader, but the same information can be displayed in a slightly more broken-down way to make it seem less so.
Headings and subheadings are also vitally important. These help the readers that skim-read through a post. The headings help people to ignore the information they don’t want and skip directly to the information they do want.
There are various steps you can take to make your blog posts more readable, but there’s a WordPress plugin that makes the process much simpler and easier to remember.
You’ll find these blog posts useful if you’d like more information on all of that —
MAKE SURE YOUR MENU MAKES SENSE
Do you even have a menu on your blog? If you do, is it set up correctly?
P.S. You SHOULD have a menu on your blog.
A menu enables readers to easily find whatever they’re looking for. My menu isn’t perfect and still needs tweaking, but things are easy enough to understand. Everything is broken down into categories — social media, blogging advice, my life stuff, etc. Each of those categories also has a dropdown list. Social Media drops down to reveal Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest sections; and Blogging 101 features an SEO section.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a blog’s menu. It can massively help to get people to stay on your blog for longer.
DOES YOUR BLOG HAVE A SEARCH BAR?
How are readers meant to find exactly what they’re looking for if you don’t give them a way to search for it? Expect people to want to use your blog in the same way that they can use Google or other search engines — by typing something into a search bar, clicking search, and waiting for all of the awesome results to spring back.
Just yesterday, I came across a blog post about summer dresses on a blog I’d never encountered before. It was a great post, discussing the good and bad points of the summer dresses the blogger was trying on, and even included save/spend/splurge options to get the look on every budget.
I was *impressed*.
At the end of the blog post, I used the ‘Related Posts’ section at the bottom to find another one — how to wear gladiator sandals for every occasion. Another great post. I wondered if the blogger would have discussed black jeans in a post somewhere, as I’d just bought a couple of new pairs and was looking for some outfit inspiration. Noticing a search bar at the top AND bottom of the page, I tapped in “black jeans” and … BOOM! Like magic, there were three different posts on wearing black jeans in a variety of ways.
👍🏻 That blog gave me everything I was looking for.
👍🏻 That blogger offered me the content I needed.
📲 And that’s why I followed the blogger on Instagram and Twitter AND signed up for her email newsletter.
💥 That’s exactly what your search bar could do for another reader … if your blog had one.
FINISH WITH AN ACTUAL REQUEST
And by this, I mean a call-to-action. This is something that you want your readers to do once they’re done reading your blog. At the bottom of most of my posts, I include an image + link to sign up to my Blogging 101 email list. Other blog posts might have a request to follow me on Instagram or another social media platform. It’s usually whichever one I’m talking about in the post itself.
But you know how the saying goes: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
So … ask.
Ask your readers to sign up to your email newsletter. If they loved your blog post enough to make it all the way to the bottom, there’s a chance you captured their attention for that long. Think about it — asking for one more moment of their time AND a way for them to keep up to date with all the juicy information you have to offer is not going to harm your chances, is it?
Don’t have an email newsletter? No worries. Try these instead ⬇️
✴️ Ask your readers to follow you on one or all of your social media platforms and put the links *right there* to make it easy for them.
✴️ Ask for comments. In fact, ask questions throughout your blog posts. If people think they can answer the questions or throw an opinion your way, they’ll be tapping away in that comments box before you know it.
✴️ Ask for something. Again, the reader already made their way to the bottom of your post. It’s likely they appreciate your content.
How many of these things do you already do on your blog? Have you found a few new tips n’ tricks that you can implement to lower your bounce rate and get people to stay on your blog? I’d love to know which changes you’re thinking of making — feel free to let me know on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or by leaving your comments in the box below.
I appreciate the time you took to read my blog post today. Why not share your newest content links with me so I can repay the favour?
Have a fabulous day!
FURTHER RESOURCES + READING: