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Obey This One Weird Rule to Lower Bounce Rates

Earlier this week, we discussed the importance of bounce rates. At the end, I teased at how I lowered this site’s bounce rates.

Before we get into the code I used, I want to stress the importance of lowering bounce rates by creating content your visitors want to read. Your statistics are only as valuable as the story they tell and with this coding tweak, any visit beyond 15 seconds won’t be considered a bounce. I only want my analytics to record a bad bounce, which is a visit of under 15 seconds, and let the good bounces go. If that gels with your understanding of your readership, it’s safe to do the same.

Let’s get into how we lower your bounce rates:

The One Weird Rule

This suggestion comes straight from Google herself. The basic idea is that you add a line of code that records an event 15 seconds after the page is loaded. It does so by using the setTimeout function to execute an event.

Add this line to your tracking code (after the _trackPageview event):

setTimeout(“_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ’15_seconds’, ‘read’])”,15000);

This sets a Timeout that will log an event after 15 seconds. The 15000 at the end is for the time out, 15000 milliseconds, and the stuff inside records an Event Category of “15_seconds” and an Event Action of “read.” If you want to get more involved, here is the Event Tracking documentation.

I made this one change and my bounce rate dropped from 60% to 20%. So now, any visit under 15 seconds is considered a bounce. Everything else will not be recorded as a bounce.

Yes, the title is a bit of a joke, it’s for those of you who spend a lot of time on the internet. You have probably seen all those “obey this one weird trick to… lose 213094820394 lbs of fat, get 24 pack abs, and ripped in 2 seconds flat” ads. I thought I’d have a little fun with this title. 🙂

That’s it! I told you it was simple. 🙂

How To Legitimately Lower Bounce Rates

OK, now that we’re past the technological way, the better way to reduce bounce rates is to get your visitors to hit a second page. The most effective way I’ve discovered is to give visitors more options through a related posts plugin. A related posts plugin will add a list of links at the bottom of each of your posts for other stories you’ve written that they might be interested in. Here’s a list of related posts for a Bargaineering article about saving money on movie tickets:
related-posts

In the above example, it’s just a bulleted list. On some sites, you might see images that link to other posts on their site. These are all designed to get you to visit more of the site, which will lower bounce rates.

You can use related posts and other similar techniques to get people to visit more of your site – that’s the better, and slightly harder, way to lower bounce rates.

Do you have any tips on lowering bounce rates?

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Jim

In 2005, I founded a personal finance blog (Bargaineering.com) that became successful enough that I quit my career as a software developer in the defense industry. It is my goal to share everything I learned so that you can do the same - build an online business that let's you pursue your passion.

14 responses to “Obey This One Weird Rule to Lower Bounce Rates”

  1. Glen Craig says:

    Similar to Related Posts at the end of the article you can also put in a “Related: Article Title” in between paragraphs.

  2. Michael says:

    You can lower your bounce rate even further by reducing 15000 to a lower number in the code provided above. 😉

  3. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for sharing this method for lowering bounce rates, Jim. I came here this morning to read this post (because you promised it and I knew it would be here), and now I am about to leave to go edit my analytics code. Google would have inaccurately counted that as a bounce – in reality it’s a huge win for both of us. You provided useful, actionable content.

    I hope Google is paying attention because I didn’t find this via their search engine. I followed the link from your newsletter. (And initially, I found your website because a coworker shared the link with me.)

    “…I want to stress the importance of lowering bounce rates by creating content your visitors want to read.”

    Your content was exactly what I wanted to read. It’s a good thing it won’t count as a bounce in your analytics!

    • Jim Wang says:

      This is a lot like life. Sometimes we act a certain way because someone important is watching. In this case, it’s Google and they’re watching bounce rates. But if we live a good life and behave as we’re supposed to 100% of the time, then we won’t have to worry about who is watching us!

  4. Martin says:

    I try to add tools to my site (calculators, graphics, and so on) so that a reader will want to stick around and check out another post. I also have 3-4 internal links in every post. I never want a post to be a dead end. I always want the reader to stick around and get lost in the site for hours.

    • Jim Wang says:

      Yes, this is another way to get people to stick around. I wonder how effective internal links are in keeping people around, but I doubt one could argue against resources.

  5. Spencer says:

    A very interesting discussion of bounce rates you have here. For the past year my bounce rate has averaged 1.05% The highest it ever spiked in one day was 20%. I’ve added the Outbrain plugin at the bottom of my posts for related posts and also makes sure that all of my posts are connected by links in the articles. I have a 30 day most popular posts and all time most popular posts widget as well on the sidebar. I think these three steps definitely help my visitors navigate and get to the content they want.

    • Jim says:

      1.05% is a stunningly low bounce rate, congratulations. What’s the average pageviews per visitor and how do most visitors come to your site?

      I find that, generally, search traffic will bounce more often (they are looking for something specific) and social traffic will not (they were just on Facebook so they have time to kill), so those generally lead to lower bounce rates and higher engagement.

  6. I saw this somewhere else and tried it and while it did significantly lower my bounce rate, it also skewed my other stats. The one that shows the % of new visitors went up like crazy so it looked like I had no recurring visitors. So I put it back.

  7. Atinder says:

    Bounce rate is very big factor, In my thinking, but many just don’t look towards factors like this, which can hugely effect a website. A very high Bounce rate means, Visitors are not getting what they want (not always, but in most cases) and are leaving website to find more content, which also be called as Pogo sticking, if those visitors click on other search results in Google. Indirectly, We may lose our authority as Google will consider our content as worthless and will take down rankings. So, Bounce rate has lot do, no matter, which niche we are working on, from Blogging to eCommerce, this factors needs to be focused on, if we are really looking to provide good user experience.

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