How many visitors come to your homepage only to leave just a few seconds later?
Five, fifty percent… ninety percent?
The percentage of visitors who leave your site from any given page is known as the bounce rate. Keeping track of bounce rate for your homepage is particularly important, especially if most people visit your site for the first time through that page.
You want those visitors to arrive at your homepage and find information that interests them on pages linked from the homepage. Ideally, they'll stay on your site until they've signed up for your newsletter and then leave the site purchase one of the products that you've recommended.
Here are some tips to help you lower the bounce rate on your homepage.
- Speed up your page load times. Slow loads are the main reason people don't stick around a site. If a homepage takes more than a few seconds to load completely, the site is losing potential revenue. Plugins are a common cause of slow page loads. Deactivate those plugins which aren't absolutely necessary. If it still loads slowly investigate ways to hardcode the plugin's functionality.
- Turn off related YouTube videos. After someone watches a YouTube video on your homepage, YouTube presents other relevant video options which all link off your site. Remember — keep links that don't generate revenue to an absolute minimum and NEVER place them on your homepage. If you want your visitors to see a video that you have posted on YouTube, uncheck the box that says “Include related videos”.
- Reduce the number of links on your homepage. Options are good. Too many options can be overwhelming. If you are using a blog theme like StudioPress that allows you to place recent posts under specific categories on your homepage, keep both the number of posts and categories to a minimum. Too, get rid of the ‘monthly archives' links in your sidebar as those lists of links get very long, very quickly.
- Get rid of the popups and page peels. When content on a site is compelling, a blogger doesn't need to annoy his or her visitors with endless in-your-face pop-ups to join their newsletter or ‘page peels' that display advertising in an irritating way.
- Limit or avoid advertising on your homepage. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, especially when you see all those popular blogs with 6 to 10 different banners in the header, sidebar and footers. The key phrase there is ‘popular'. A popular blog can afford a higher bounce rate through advertising. A new blog without much traffic needs to build rank and readership, and placing links out on the homepage is not the way to accomplish that goal. You want to warm your readers up to a product or service before sending them to the merchant's site.
- Place content strategically. Keep your most important content near the top of your homepage. For example, at the top-center of the homepage on my dating service review blog, I have a list of the Top 10 Things to Do on 101Date.com. Have such a list gives readers a quick scan of all the important areas of the site in a very small, obvious area. I found that adding that list lowered the homepage bounce rate on that site by about 20%.
Do you have any other ideas for lowering the bounce rate on your pages? Please share them with us by leaving a comment below.