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Welcome to the very first instalment of a new series here on Amuse Your Bouche – Blog Tips Tuesdays! I’m going to be sharing some of my best blogging tips, from how to set up a food blog, right the way up to more advanced tips aimed at bloggers who are already established. I probably won’t write a post like this every Tuesday because I’d hate for my recipes to become too diluted – don’t worry, Amuse Your Bouche will definitely remain a food blog – and also because, let’s be honest, I’m pretty disorganised, and I probably won’t have a post ready every Tuesday. But perhaps every fortnight or so I’ll have a new tip for you.
In the two-ish years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve learned a ridiculous amount – who knew there was so much to blogging! – and although there are still plenty of things left to learn, I thought I’d share a few tips to help out anyone who’d like to know how to improve their blog.
As I said, I’m no expert, so I’m sure there are people who will disagree with me about certain things – but I must be doing something right, because in the last few months my traffic has looked like this:
That’s a 1200% increase in traffic in just 6 months! And that’s not meaning to brag (though I’ll admit it totally does sound like I am bragging… and maybe I am just a little bit), it’s more just to show that with some hard work, it is completely possible to grow your blog!
Each of my Blog Tips Tuesdays posts will be rated on a scale of 1 to 3 stars – 1 star means that it’s a tip aimed at complete beginners who are still setting up their blogs. Two stars are ‘intermediate’ tips, for those who have a blog set up, and are trying to grow their audience. Three stars means the post is for bloggers who are already established with a good following, who just want to streamline their blogs and give their readers the best experience they can!
So, let’s get right down to it!
How to reduce your bounce rate
This is an ‘intermediate’ blog tip – these are for people who already have a blog set up, and who want to gain readers and grow their blog audience.
What is a blog’s bounce rate?
‘Bounce rate’ refers to the proportion of visitors to a site who leave the site without viewing any other pages. In other words, they land on a page, and then leave before clicking onto any other page of the site. This could be because they close the tab or window, because they click away to a different site, or because they click their browser’s ‘back’ button. If a blog has a bounce rate of 70%, for example, this means that 70% of people who visited the site clicked away before visiting any of the blog’s other pages.
Generally, it is thought that it’s better to have a lower bounce rate – after all, if fewer people are leaving your site straight away, that means that more people are engaging with you and browsing what you have to offer, which can only be a good thing. However, before I go any further, it’s important to remember that bounce rate isn’t everything – for example, if you manage to increase your blog traffic by 200%, chances are some of those new readers aren’t going to become mega fans – and that’s ok! Increased traffic is often associated with a slight increase in bounce rate, so it’s important to think about your stats as a whole, rather than getting hung up on one number.
Having said that, it’s always nice to know that people are engaging with your blog’s content and are sticking around to see what else you have to offer – so how can we reduce bounce rate?
How to reduce your bounce rate
1. Point readers towards other useful information
The key to lowering your blog’s bounce rate is to give your readers a reason to stick around. If you only have one useful thing on each page, people will read it… and then leave. Why would they click around your blog if there’s no indication that they’ll find anything else of use?
The good news is that it’s really easy to give your readers clues to your blog’s useful content. Here are some things that you could consider including on your blog to help lower your bounce rate:
- About page – An about page is one of the first things I look for when I visit a new blog. I like to know whose words I’m reading – I’m far more likely to engage with a blog if I can picture who’s talking to me. Therefore an about page is an absolute must for any blog! My own about page remains a pretty popular page on my blog, and considering it took me about half an hour to create, and I’ve barely touched it since, it gives a lot of pay-off for very little effort. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just a photo and a few words about yourself.
- Popular posts – It’s a really good idea to include links to your most popular posts – the sidebar is a good place for these. You already know that those posts are the most loved by your readers, so they’re also the ones that new visitors to your blog will be most likely to click on. I find that photos are much more eye-catching than text-only links, so create some simple thumbnails with captions to go in your sidebar (you should be able to see mine on the right!)
- Related posts – You can also install a ‘related posts’ widget to appear at the end of each blog post, linking your readers to other posts on a similar topic. At the time of writing, I use the ‘nrelate Related Content’ WordPress plugin, which I have set to link to four related posts. For example, my avocado risotto recipe post links to three other avocado recipes, and one other risotto recipe, as you can see below. If you’re on Blogger, you can use LinkWithin, which is very similar.
- Internal links – Just like I linked to my avocado risotto recipe and my about page above, it’s a great idea to include some internal links (i.e. links to other pages of your blog) in your posts. Not only is this great for SEO, it might also inspire your readers to click across to another post, meaning they’ve not ‘bounced’ from your site.
2. Make sure your blog traffic is targeted
Of course, having a blog full of relevant links to your related content is useless if most of the people coming to your blog don’t find it interesting in the first place. For example, if 80% of the people visiting my site have absolutely no interest in food, all the recipe links in the world aren’t going to excite them. So another way to reduce your bounce rate is to make sure you have the right sort of people coming to your blog in the first place!
As most bloggers know, writing a blog post is just the beginning – I probably spend just as long promoting my posts online as I do actually writing them, if not more. The key is to target the areas of the web that you know your target audience frequent. Obviously my blog is a food blog – so I share my photographs at food sharing websites like FoodGawker and TasteSpotting (and many more, which we’ll talk about another day!). You can absolutely share your posts in places that aren’t food-specific, as long as you make sure you’re posting them in the correct place and adding the relevant tags to ensure that the only people who see your shares will be those that are actually interested. There’s no point in sharing a recipe post on Pinterest if you pin it onto an interior design board, and there’s no point in sharing a recipe on Tumblr unless you add relevant recipe-related tags.
3. Make it easy for people to read your posts
Walls of text are no fun for anyone – there’s nothing that makes me click away from an article quicker than seeing a block of writing with nothing to help me read it. Breaking up your text with subheadings, images and even just page breaks can make a blog post immediately easier to read – which means people will stick around!
Similarly, it should be easy for people to navigate your blog to find other posts – for example, include numbered nativation buttons at the bottom of your homepage, and separate posts into clear categories (such as in the recipes page in my navigation bar).
4. Make sure external links open in a new window
We all like to share the love – we bloggers are a supportive bunch – and it’s great to link to other bloggers and other pages that inspire you. However, if you are going to do so, make sure the link opens in a new window – that means that if someone clicks on it, your blog will still be open in the background for them to look at again later, rather than being lost into the depths of their browsing history. If you don’t do this, you’re sending the other blogger all your traffic, rather than sharing it with them.
To make a link open in a new window, make sure you’re in the ‘text’ section of your blogging platform (wherever you can go to add html to your posts), and add target=”_blank” to the link. For example,
<a href=”http://www.amuse-your-bouche.com”>Amuse Your Bouche</a>
would open in the same window, whereas
<a href=”http://www.amuse-your-bouche.com” target=”_blank”>Amuse Your Bouche</a>
would open in a new window. That’s the one you want to use when linking to an external page such as another blog!
Important note: Don’t overuse this code when adding internal links – if a new window was opened every time someone clicked across to a new page of your blog, they’d get very annoyed very quickly and probably wouldn’t come back again. Think carefully – if I was in the middle of reading this article, and I wanted to click on a link that had been mentioned, would I want it to open in a new tab? If yes, use the code.
So there you have it – some simple ways to reduce your blog’s bounce rate and keep people on your page. More people on your page means more traffic, which means more blog income – so make sure you have all of the above tips implemented on your blog!
I have plenty more blogging tips to share, but if there are any things that you’d specifically like me to talk about, feel free to make suggestions in the comments! I’ll do my best to answer your questions.