Ads Blowing Up Your Bounce Rate? Follow These 5 Tips to Get It Down
Bounce rate is a big concern for many publishers.
If your bounce rate is too high, it’s a sign that either you’re attracting the wrong people to your site, or there’s something about your website that is putting off your intended readers.
Either way, you’re losing traffic and probably a lot of revenue along with it.
You might already be trying to reduce yours by speeding up your page, improving readability, keeping your blog fresh or other methods. That’s great, but there’s one aspect you might not have directed enough attention to: your ads.
If ads are getting in the way of your users’ experience, your monetization efforts might actually be driving viewers away!
Fortunately, there’s a way to strike a balance between UX and monetization. These are a few simple actions you can take to make sure the ads on your site are bringing in revenue, not just hurting your bounce rate.
1. Test your site on mobile
Most publishers I know work primarily off their laptops. I don’t see a lot of people writing content and designing sites over a mobile phone.
However, most viewers are accessing those sites via mobile. Mobile traffic has rapidly overtaken desktop and it’s just going up.
Your site should be designed with this in mind. Check everything you do on a phone to see your visitor’s experience.
When it comes to mobile, the most important things are loading speed and how elements work on the smaller screen. Ads directly impact both of these.
2. Make sure ads fit in their allotted space
Just because your site looks ok on desktop doesn’t mean it works on mobile! It seems obvious but still worth saying, considering all the issues I see with this.
If your ads show up as too large on the mobile screen, or just don’t fit right and block important text, you’re going to lose visitors like crazy.
3. Have your ads load asynchronously
This is such a simple and easy way to lower your bounce rate, you’re really missing out if you don’t take advantage of it.
Loading ads asynchronously from content means that the ads load separately, usually after the content is complete.
If you use AdSense, you can set this up very easily with Google’s asynchronous ad code.
Ads come over a different server than your main content. When you try to load all the elements together, the slower ad server is going to hold up the whole process.
Slow-loading pages is a big reason why visitors bounce. Most internet users expect a page to load within two seconds, and after three seconds they’re probably gone. A slow site is throwing traffic (and revenue) out the door.
4. Less intrusive ads
Overly aggressive ads disrupt the viewer’s experience and often lead people to leave the site in frustration.
Popup ads are probably the worst culprit.
Over 70% of Internet users in 2013 reported they found popups annoying, and I doubt they’ve warmed to them since then. They also don’t get great results: only 14% of consumers will respond to them.
In general, less intrusive ads correspond to lower bounce rates.
However, it’s a double-edged sword. Less intrusive ads might mean driving away fewer visitors, but you also might get less response to the ads. In fact, a low bounce rate might reflect visitors clicking on ads that direct them away from your site.
So if your monetization is based on interaction with ads, and you lower your bounce rate by running less aggressive ads, you might see a loss in revenue too.
5. Monetize the right pages
So how do you balance user experience with monetization?
The key is to understand the path that your visitors take as they navigate your site.
Not all your pages are equal. Let’s say you have a home page or reference page that all your traffic lands on, but no-one stays on for too long. It just redirects visitors to your more in-depth content.
In this case, it makes sense to post more aggressive ads on this reference page.
On your content pages, be more conservative. This is where your readers want to pay attention, get into the flow of reading and check out your internal links – not get distracted by ads.
The importance of UX
At the end of the day, user experience is what makes a successful website and therefore successful monetization.
You should always have the long-term strategy in mind when you make changes on your site. Shortcuts usually don’t lead to sustainable growth. Providing great content and relevant ads will do that.