I noticed that after the redesign of my site, my bounce rate increased. I somewhat expected it since I had significantly changed the look of the site to be more minimalistic. One glaring omission was that I removed my sidebar from the blog posts. I decided this for several reasons, the major one being that I felt that it wasn’t adding much value to the readers of the post in my mind. Then how was I going to decrease bounce rate of my blog posts without totally destroying the look of my website? I decided to make the default Recent Posts Widget in WordPress much smarter.
Why did my bounce rate increase
After the launch of the new design for several months I saw the bounce rate above 82%. This shocked me because I was around 65% on the old design. I immediately wanted to decrease bounce rate to have people stay on my site longer and go to other pages and explore further.
How to decrease Bounce Rate without destroying the design
Instead of throwing in the standard list of categories on the sidebar or a list of recent posts I wanted to bring something of value that was specific to the post that they were already reading.
[Tweet "Bring something of value that is specific to the post they are reading"]
This lead me to Related Posts. Personally I’ve had nightmare issues with these sorts of things on client posts before. Mainly due to caching. So I didn’t want to dive down that rabbit hole and install a Related Post plugin to stick at the bottom of the current post.
I did want to put back a sidebar, I thought that with a sidebar, it would not only frame the content slightly better (approved by Megan), but also it was prime real estate.
Use Recent Posts Widget, but let's make it smart
I looked at the default Recent Posts widget and leveraging what I was already doing in the backend by categorizing the posts. I wanted to get the recent posts, but only from those categories of the current post.
So the idea is that if you are viewing a post about Business, chances are you aren’t interested in a post that has is about configuring your code editor.
I also wanted to still be able to use the settings provided in the widget. As well as exclude the current post from the list.
So my requirements to filter the Recent Posts Widget were:
Only display posts that are within the current post's category(ies).
Use existing settings within the widget.
Exclude the current post from the list
With this simple piece of code added to the
functions.php file I was able to use the Recent Posts.
Success! Bounce Rate down 5% in just one month
From this simple tweak, I was able to decrease bounce rate by over 5% in a month. What also makes perfect sense is that my Exit Percentage also went down, by almost 8%. These are both wins for me and more importantly wins for my readers.