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Categories: Good reviews, How to, Internet, Wordpress. Tags: , ,

How related article lists reduce bounce rates and increase page views

August 20, 2009 6 Comments

Adding a list of other related posts to each blog post really does increase reader engagement if my site is anything to go by:

  • In the two months before I installed the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin my bounce rate was 84.3% (this is the percentage of visits where the visitor looked at just one page).
  • In the two months since then, my bounce rate has improved to an average 81.6% - a drop of 3.25%.

Likewise, the number of pages looked at per visit increased:

  • In the two months before the plugin, visitors looked at an average 1.34 pages per visit.
  • In the two months since then, they've looked at an average 1.43 pages per visit, an increase of 6.93%.

The YARP plugin checks your posts when you publish them and automatically lists up to 5 other posts that it considers relevant at the bottom (to do so, it analyses things like tags, keywords, categories etc).

My bounce rate

The blue line is for the two months since the related-posts plugin, the green line for the previous two months (click the graph to see it bigger). A low number is better - and the blue line is fairly consistently below the green:

Bounce rates before and after installing a related-posts plugin

Bounce rates before and after installing a related-posts plugin

Pages per visit

Again, the blue line is the two most recent months and the green line for the two months before with no plugin (click the graph to see it bigger). A high number is better - and the blue line is fairly consistently above the green:

Page views before and after the related posts plugin

Page views before and after the related posts plugin

What is bounce rate?

The bounce rate is defined by Google as "the percentage of single-page visits (ie visits in which the person left your site from their entrance page).

It adds that "high Bounce Rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren't relevant to your visitors."

While that might be true for some sites, for blogs it's usually because people came, learned what they wanted to know, and left again. There's nothing particularly wrong with a high bounce rate for a blog - it's just kind of annoying for the author that people don't hang around.

Methodology issues

I can't remember enough A-level maths to work out if these differences are statistically significant. Also, the make-up of my traffic has changed over the two periods.

In the two months before I installed the plugin my traffic sources were:

  • Direct: 18%
  • Referring sites: 31.7%
  • Search engines: 50.1%

Since then, the figures are:

  • Direct: 30.0%
  • Referring sites: 29.1%
  • Search engines: 44.0%

These are quite big differences - mainly driven out of my increased Twitter follower count. And different sources of traffic may behave differently when it comes to on-site behaviour.

Oh, and I dislike the whole 'related articles' name. Who ever thinks 'I'd like to read an article or post related to this one'. So I changed the heading to 'You might also like'.

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6 Comments »

  • The figures aren't staggering Malcolm - you could say that your bounce rate has decreased because you have got marginally better at writing blog posts over time (we're all learning, right?)

    I think the best way seems to be to link to your old articles within the body text, without explaining yourself, it forces people to check it out and understand it. Copyblogger is an excellent example of this - everytime I go there I end up reading about 10 different posts!

  • David: I might have got better, but I doubt I've got *that* much better over 2 months. But you're right, the difference wasn't staggering - but just about enough to be interesting I thought. Maybe not ;)

  • Rob says:

    I would normally say 3% is not easy, but you have a bounce rate of over 80% so a change in Google algo sending you more targeted visitors could be reasoning alone.

    One thing you might want to check is the bounce rate for the pages that include the related posts links, and not include your home page or other static pages that don't include it. If related posts did effect it for you those pages probably dropped by more than 3%. I know I'm keeping mine!

    • "One thing you might want to check is the bounce rate for the pages that include the related posts links, and not include your home page"
      Good idea - can you do this in google analytics do you know?

      • Rob says:

        You can. Just pull the stats for Content Drill Down, and at the bottom you will see Filter Page. On my site it's easy because I just type in archive, and it gets stats for posts only. On your site or other sites you may need to be a little creative by finding a popular word you use in many titles like "The". The report will give data for each page, but all you really need to look at is the total results. At last resort it could be left to just looking at your top 10 most popular posts if you are having a hard time filtering.

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