How related article lists reduce bounce rates and increase page views
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:
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:
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.
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'.