Ok, so I won’t pretend that I can solve all of your content problems in one easy step. But I do have one really simple piece of advice on how to reduce the bounce rate on your blog.
Kissmetrics defines the bounce rate as, “the percentage of visitors who come to your website and leave without viewing any other pages on your website”. There are a lot of reasons that readers might be leaving your site, but I just want to focus on a specific scenario:
You already have great CTAs. You use internal links. Your sidebars are works of magic and wonder for bounce rate.
So, why aren’t readers hanging around to read your content?
If you’ve already worked hard to optimize your page, and you know you’re producing quality content, chances are that it could be related to your formatting.
Here’s One Simple Step You Can Take:
Add more Blank Space.
Why Blank Space?
According to Merriam-Webster, writers have used paragraphs since 1764. That’s a lot of information made orderly and readable by paragraphs. Today, most readers view your content on a screen — sometimes a very small screen — which makes it even more imperative that your text is easy to consume.
A paragraph that seems perfectly readable on paper morphs into an intimidating block of text on a mobile device. Blank (white) space can help with that. According to Human Factors International, “Use of whitespace between paragraphs and in the left and right margins increased comprehension by almost 20%.” (Lin, 2004)
When you’re thinking about how to reduce the bounce rate on your blog, creating content that’s easier to consume might help encourage readers to hang around longer. And when readers stay longer, they’re more likely to engage.
Here are 6 ways to use blank space:
1. Make your writing easy to scan
Most internet users scan rather than read. If your writing isn’t easy to scan, they’ll move on without giving your content a chance. Short paragraphs and plenty of whitespace make it attractive to ‘scanners’.
2. Break it up
Don’t make your reader work for what they want. Use subheadings and bullet points; these automatically break up large blocks of text. Bold and italics keep it interesting.
3. Keep ’em short
Each paragraph should consist of one to three sentences. Decreased attention spans online mean your paragraphs should take less than eight seconds to read. Shorter is better.
4. Write a cliffhanger
Just like the cliffhanger serial movies that were all the rage in the ’30s and ’40s, multiple short paragraphs encourage your readers to keep going to see what’s coming next. Of course, this only works if each new paragraph offers something new.
5. Offer your readers more ‘meat’
Keeping your paragraphs short forces you to keep your writing on point. Readers have caught onto that fact, too. They realize that shorter paragraphs have more meat and less fat. That makes your writing easier for them to ‘digest’.
6. Add visual interest
Judicious use of photos, animated GIFs, and icons can add visual interest to all of that blank space without decreasing readability. One way to do it without making the page seem cluttered is to allow viewers to click on an icon and expand it on request.
This lets you have plenty of blank space while still giving readers the option of seeing more. Just don’t use too many icons or you’ll create the kind of visual clutter that causes viewers to move on instead of staying to read.
Takeaway of bounce rate
See how easy it was to get here when the paragraphs were short and there was plenty of blank space?
If you are looking to improve your content, why not check out some samples of the work we do here at Verblio (formerly BlogMutt)? We’ll help you produce fun, readable content that will keep readers coming back to your site. Oh, and help reduce bounce rate.