12 Hacks to Keep Visitors on Your Pages Longer

By improving the design and user experience of your website, you can dramatically decrease your bounce rate.

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By Alex Bashinsky

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Conventional wisdom suggests that a "good" bounce rate (aka, the number of visitors who check out a single page on your site and then leave) falls between 30 to 50 percent. But if you ask me, anything over 25 to 30 percent represents an opportunity to reach more potential customers through the implementation of design and user-experience hacks that keep visitors on your pages longer.

Here are 12 to start with today:

1. Declutter your design.

This isn't 1996. Geocities is dead. So if your site is still packed full of animated images, excess design features and other modern no-no's, it's time for a redesign. According to Tony Haile, the CEO of Chartbeat, you have just 15 seconds (or less) to convince new visitors to stay through the power of your site's design alone.

Related: 25 Must-Have Free Fonts for Entrepreneurs and Designers

2. Cut your number of fonts.

One immediate signal to readers that your site -- and, by extension, your company -- is out-of-date? The number of fonts you've used. If you've got more than two or three on your homepage, trim them down to create a more modern look.

3. Try a larger font size.

On a related note, the size of your fonts may also be affecting your site's "stickiness." An article published in Smashing Magazine suggests that anything less than 16 pixels could impair your site's readability.

4. Apply visual breaks to your content.

Font size is important but big blocks of unbroken text are unacceptable in any circumstance. Quickly improve your site's readability by adding headings, sub headings, bulleted lists and numbered lists to break your content into easily-digested segments.

5. Add images of people.

Medelia Art conducted an A/B test that pitted homepage images of artists' paintings against photos of the artists themselves. The result? A conversion rate increase of more than 95 percent when the artists' faces were shown.

The bottom line is this: people like to look at faces and they trust them more than stock graphics. Add them to your site today.

6. Upgrade your images.

Of course, faces aren't appropriate in all places but that doesn't mean the rest of your site has to rely on cheesy stock photography. Tools like Canva and PicMonkey make it easy to customize your images, and the impact can be significant. One Brafton client saw a 14.3 percent decrease in bounce rate just by adding custom visuals to their blog posts.

Related: 5 Secrets for Creating an Award-Winning Website

7. Add statistics.

A funny thing happens when you add statistics to your site's content: people trust it more, regardless of what the data says. And that makes this an easy way to beef up your content quickly in a way that'll reduce your bounce rate at the same time.

8. Use comment-provoking questions.

Encouraging visitors to leave comments is an easy way to improve your bounce rate, as the act of leaving a comment typically causes visitors to be redirected to another page or triggers a page refresh -- both of which count as multiple page views.

Get the conversation flowing by ending every post on your blog with a probing question that prompts comments.

9. Leave two to three internal links in your body content.

Many bounces occur after readers get the information they need from their landing page and then hit the "back" button. Prevent these bounces by including two to three internal links in the body content of all your pages and blog posts to encourage these would-be bouncers to stick around and engage with more of your work.

10. Open external links in new windows.

Having external links open in the same windows takes visitors away from your site -- something that's counterproductive to keeping them on your site longer. Keep their attention on your content by setting all your external links to open in new windows.

11. Use exit intent technology.

If none of the above hacks work to keep readers on your site, consider an exit intent program that'll trigger an offer pop-up as viewers move their mice towards the "back" button. One daily deals website use this type of technology to increase conversion rates by 13 percent.

12. Tell a story.

If all else fails, use the oldest trick in the marketing book - tell a great story. Not only does story-based content differentiate your site from your competitors (giving your visitors something intriguing to hold their attention), it helps break through the mental barriers we all have against being sold to. And in an era where we receive roughly 5,000 marketing messages a day, this is critically important when it comes to reducing your bounce rate.

Related: An Often Overlooked Method for Increasing Conversions

Alex Bashinsky

Co-founder of Picreel

Alex Bashinsky is the co-founder of Picreel, an online marketing software program that converts bounce traffic into revenue. He's passionate about helping businesses improve their conversion rates and, in his down time, enjoys reading and playing the guitar. 

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