How To Reduce Your Bounce Rate With These Critical Mistakes

Stuart Walker is an absolutely fantastic blogger that puts out awesome content.

But despite creating epic content he is having serious engagement problems and wants to know how to reduce bounce rate on his website.

As mine is pretty low he has asked me to help him out by creating a plan of action to reduce his bounce rate.

So that is exactly what I have done…

I went through his site with a fine tooth comb to show him and the rest of my audience some quick tricks to reduce your website’s bounce rate.

Why Bounce Rate Is A Critical Metric

Bounce rate is a crital metric because it tells you how engaged your visitors are!

To put it simply a websites bounce rate is the percentage of people that visit a page and then leave without visiting another page.

So if you have a bounce rate of 70%…

 That means 70% of all traffic that arrives then leaves immediately.
A 70% bounce rate means you made a terrible first impression 70 times out of every 100 visitors. Stop and think about what that actually means for a second.

It is easy to emotionally detach from metrics but what that boils down to is if 100 people visited your site, spent time looking at it, absorbed it into their minds and passed judgement – 70 of them had a bad experience.

That not only damages the bottom line profits of your business but can also hurt you over the long term as people click back to search results and click on a competitor.

Your bounce rate plays a critical role in your search rankings along with other user engagement signals as we move into 2015.

Introducing NicheHacks

Not so long ago Stuart Walker from NicheHacks sent me this email-


Given that he helped me increase my email conversion rate by 469% I decided to take the challenge and help him reduce his bounce rate.

Stuart granted me access to his Analytics and I can see his blog has an average bounce rate of 66% over the past 3 months.

how to reduce bounce rate in Google Analytics

It is important to say that Stuart Walker does provide exceptional content on his blog that is truly engaging with a range of lead magnets as he advised me to do here.

How To Reduce Bounce Rate On Any Website

The first thing you need to do when you are trying to figure out how to reduce bounce rate on any website…  is to put yourself in the users shoes.

Open a new browser window, visit the website and just sit back and make observations about your experience as a user.

When I did this with NicheHacks, the problem was immediately apparent. Trying to read the awesome content that Stuart has published was a nightmare experience.

Watch this video to get an idea of the typical new user experience NicheHacks currently delivers-

I think we can all agree that is an absolutely crazy amount of hurdles to jump over just to do something as simple as read an article.

I’m also betting that even Stuart is surprised by this user experience when put in front of him like this. That makes me think I need to do the same for this blog as well!

So let’s break down each problem & how to improve bounce rate step by step.

Put Those Optin Forms On A Leash

One of the biggest problems I see with NicheHacks is the complete onslaught of popups that make it nearly impossible to read a post.

I don’t get any opportunity to learn who Stuart is, what the site is about or even what it offers without getting repeatedly clubbed with optin popups.

How many optin forms can you see in this screenshot below?

optin city

There are 5 in total!

Now I know Stuart has spent a lot of time optimising his email optin conversion rate but I believe there is a line where it does more damage than good and that line is crossed.

I think he has optimised for conversion so hard that he is now left with the question of…

Why is my bounce rate so high?

Optin Popups

There are far too many optin popups and when you close one, you get slammed again.

Stuart needs to take control of this and make it so that you only ever see 1 exit popup per visit, this will immediately reduce bounce rate for him.

The problem with exit popups is many of us work in tabs or arrive on a site in a new tab which automatically triggers the exit popup.

In the video you can see when I try to load a blog post I get hit with a popup instantly, then I close it and instantly another popup.

That is a hugely damaging user experience.

If you also want to use a random popup have it popup after 80 seconds so people have had time to engage with the site properly. Google Analytics shows an average visit time of 2 minutes 54 seconds so it shouldn’t impact impressions.

It’s easy to tweak these settings in OptinMonster.

Header & Footer Optins

Stuart also makes use of the header and footer optins on the site.

Personally I found these to have a terrible conversion rate, when I ran a footer bar it converted at 0.09%

footer popup reduces bounce rate

Now Stuarts might convert better however you have to consider the header and footer bars consume a huge amount of screen real estate on every single page.

Do the conversion rates they offer really warrant committing that level of screen real estate compared to other optin methods?

That is only a question Stuart could answer but I believe that permanent use of screen real estate is better served building a great first impression in my opinion.

Stuart does a great job of weaving optin opportunities throughout his content which is where the readers eye balls should be rather than being distracted with things that reduce bounce rate across the board.

Feature Boxes

At the top of every page & post there is a huge feature box asking for your email address.

This pushes all of the other content down which is important when we are trying to make a good first impression to new visitors.

feature boxes

We are essentially trying to f**k on the first date over and over and over and over again.

The problem is these feature boxes do convert well however placement of them does damage the overall user experience for both new and returning visitors.

So it is important to find a balance here and Stuart should not display them on posts and pages. They should only be used on the home page and archive pages like tags/categories.

Be More Personal

Even if Stuart didn’t have all of the crazy distractions above, it is still very hard to build any kind of bond or relationship with him subconsciously.

It is important to make that connection with new visitors as quickly as possible which will help to reduce bounce rate on a website. Luckily -it’s pretty easy to do.

Sidebar Introduction

At the moment Stuart has favored an optin box rather than introducing himself.

reduce bounce rate by improving the sidebar

He should change the order of that and introduce himself first and then place the optin box beneath it.

Ideally you want to lead users to your about page that is often one of the highest converting pages on any blog but this also decreases bounce rate.

Show Yourself

One of the other problems Stuart has is he relys on a cartoon portrayal of himself throughout the site.

At no time can you see the real Stuart Walker and it is important that people can see you are a real person.

cartoon picture

Our eyes are naturally drawn to faces which not only helps build a much stronger connection but it also helps to keep our attention for longer.

Stuart should update all of his cartoon images to be real pictures of himself.

As Seen On

In my header I display the logos of the awards the blog has picked up to build instant credibility with new visitors.

Not everyone has this advantage so if you don’t have any awards to show off instead you can lend credibility from other websites that have mentioned you.

So if Stuart has being published or mentioned on any authoritative sites in the industry he can introduce an ‘As Seen On’ section into the header using their logos.

Then update his about page with more details and links to those to further build his credibility.

Remove Clutter

The overall user experience is very cluttered, it is hard to know where to click some times or what to do next.

Removing the clutter should also help fine tune conversion rates while engaging more people.

Change Social Buttons

Stuart is currently using the KingSumo sharing buttons which is something I deployed on this blog.

However I quickly noticed how they overlapped on content and took up valuable screen real estate – they were a user experience nightmare and I removed them.

Instead I opted for the floating social bar which is a much more user friendly integration.

Stuart should also make that change.

Clean Up The Sidebar

The sidebar currently has a total of 3 optin forms – 1 of which follows you down the page.

Stuart should clean up the sidebar to have the following order-

  1. About me
  2. Optin form
  3. Best posts (from that posts category)
  4. Optin form that follows you down the page

Category Specific Sidebars

If Stuart really wanted to take his sidebars to the next level he could create category specific sidebars that would have different about text, optin forms, lead magnets, best posts relevant to that posts category.

So all of his niche research posts/tutorials would all display the niche research specific sidebar with the niche research specific about text, optin forms, other posts and so forth.

This is a change I’m going to make to this blog shortly that will both improve conversion and engagement rates.

Stuart should beat me to the punch with this one.

Improve The User Experience

There are other things that can be done to improve the user experience of the site.

Some of these problems are easier to fix than others though!

Pagespeed Insights

Although NicheHacks loads lightning quick, it doesn’t pass a lot of the pagespeed rules.

page speed insights

It is important to pay attention to those metrics and they are broken down into desktop & mobile.

Stuart has a couple of problems to pay attention to in both the mobile & desktop areas, but fixing render blocking java/css will go a long way to remedying that.

Where this throws us a red herring though is the tool believes Stuarts mobile experience is 99/100.

Improve Mobile User Experience

What Google’s tool says about mobile user experience vs what actually happens are 2 different worlds.

First of all its important to note that 26.17% of Stuarts traffic is using a mobile phone or a tablet to access his site which in turn makes for a high mobile bounce rate.

high mobile bounce rate

It is also important to note that Stuarts theme is fully responsive – but how does it actually look?

Well we have a few problems checking things out from my phone-

mobile sharing

It is actually 100% impossible to read any content on the site due to how the social share buttons overlap.

Even if you could read the content you still need to get around these popups-

mobile optin

You can’t optin and it’s very difficult to close them.

That all boils down to the fact that:

 The site is entirely unusable for 1 in 4 people that visits NicheHacks.
I also have these kind of problems on the blog right now and am less than 1 week away from introducing a highly upgraded theme to deal with these exact problems.

Keeping People Engaged

When you are creating content is important to keep hold of peoples attention so they are engaged throughout.

Stuart has some excellent content that is very practical however with a few tweaks it can be transformed into an attention grabbing machine.

Don’t Lead With An Image

The majority of Stuarts blog posts start with a big image that aren’t usually that engaging-

image headline

This is kind of a pet hate for me because those images take up one of the most critical areas of a blog – the point where you need to hook people in.

I will never use an image at the start of a post and that isn’t to say it’s not a good tactic, but if you are going to do it the image needs to be engaging.

You need to add some kind of hook to it so people stick around, even just adding a variation of the title of the post would be great.

Add A What You Will Learn Section

In favour of an image I always open my posts with a very brief introduction and a bullet pointed list of what people will learn.

Not only do I do that in blog posts, I also do it in videos.

This is because I understand that we are all very busy people living in a crazy content filled world. It is so much harder to capture someones attention now than it was 3 years ago.

The what you will learn section is designed purely to hook people in and stick around. It very clearly lays out what they will learn and how it benefits them personally.

Stuart should integrate this approach across all of his blog posts.

Make Headers More Visible & Set Standards

It seems that there isn’t a standard content format used across the blog which means sometimes you find posts that are broken down nicely and easy to read.

But then you find others that aren’t so well formatted and easy to read.

Take a look at how easily this flows compared to this post.

Don’t actually read anything just scroll down casually and you will see what I mean. You can also see the same thing in this post.

Add More Internal Links

It is important that your articles are scattered with internal links to your other content.

Not only does this keep people where you want them (on your site) but those metrics are also part of the Google algorithm now.

I can find a handful of examples where Stuart does a good job of internal linking (although the intro section should be reserved to hook people not distract) but most of them don’t bother.

Look at this monster post that doesn’t feature a single internal link throughout.

We have the exact same problem here.

All posts should be updated with internal links, the main focus of the posts is to either get people to optin or to keep engaging with your content/visiting more pages to be exposed to more optin opportunities.

Clickable Images

A lot of images in the blog posts are pointlessly clickable. By that I mean you click on the image and it just takes you to the image directly in the same tab.

This damages engagement rates as it takes people off your blog to a file which has no analytics tracking at all.

Click on any of the images in this post for example and you will see how it completely dead ends the user experience for no benefit.

Open External & Internal Links In New Tabs

I’m going to pick on this article again but what you will notice is all external links open in the same window.

That takes you away from the site, ending your session and distracting your attention from what you were just reading.

 Instead all internal & external links should open in a new tab so people stay engaged with you and also improve your engagement metrics in analytics like time on site.

Headline Split Tests

Stuart is very good at writing some pretty sensation headlines and I would encourage him to take full advantage of that skill by split testing them.

He should add the free title experiments plugin to begin split testing headlines on the site.

It’s pretty awesome and I actually deployed it on the blog a few days ago – now every single post/page has 3 headlines assigned. It really sucked setting it all up for 230+ posts.

how to improve bounce rate with title split tests

However once you have created new titles for every post it automatically optimises for you increasing user engagement metrics over time.

I also tried the KingSumo Headlines plugin for this which is pretty expensive. Let me tell you it sucked, doesn’t working with caching systems and adds an annoying query string on your URL’s.

How it tracked the metrics was pretty cool though but I prefer the approach of the 100% free title experiments plugin.

Wrapping It Up

So there we have it – those are the precise steps Stuart Walker should apply to NicheHacks to not only improve his bounce rate but also pages per visit and time on site.

Although some of these changes might reduce his conversion rate upfront, over time they will pay for themselves as people can be much more engaged with him as a person and his epic content.

None of these changes will cost any money to implement – it is just a matter of time.

 However once complete the improvements will pay dividends every single day.
Let me tell you making changes like this on a big site is soul sucking.

Content audits are nothing but very boring, manual, repetitive work.

You won’t have noticed this yet but the past couple of weeks I’ve been tweaking things behind the scenes of the blog to bring it up to modern standards (responsive at last) and to improve engagement rates.

When you have to write 2 new titles for 230 posts and swap out optin forms for other things it really does suck a lot of time & creative energy.

These are tough changes to make – but they are worth the blood, sweat & tears.

So it’s time to challenge Stuart to take this advice & improve his bounce rate once!

Want to join in with the challenge? Let me know if your site suffers from any of the problems here and if you manage to improve your bounce rate by fixing them. I’ll feature you on the blog!

96 Responses

  1. Priya Hansh

    A Great Post ! Excellent Information

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 6th, 2019 at 10:24 am

      Thanks Priya!

  2. varun k riat

    Great article!

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 26th, 2018 at 8:21 am

      Thanks a lot!

  3. Charanjit Singh

    You are sharing very useful posts.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 1st, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Thanks very much

  4. James

    Great post!! got a ton of ideas for my own blog as well!

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 4th, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      No problem James!

  5. javier

    Great stuff. You are on the main bloggers I follow to learn more an more.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 6th, 2015 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Javier!

  6. Paschalis

    Waiting for your mobile optimization post, I have a feeling you’re working on it since I’ve seen some improvements mobile-wise :D Thanks again for your hard work keep up the good work!

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 24th, 2015 at 7:37 am

      Haha yeah I deployed a new theme at the weekend :)

  7. Nick Loper

    Super super important to check how your site and all the light boxes and hellobars and two-step forms and scroll boxes and social sharing widgets render on mobile.

    I found this out the hard way after having a post do surprising well on FB, only to find that the sumome scrollbox rendered the entire thing unreadable and was impossible to close on a phone. No bueno.

    Thanks Matt.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 20th, 2015 at 8:31 am

      It’s an easy mistake to make :) But one you won’t make again =D

      • Stuart Walker
        February 21st, 2015 at 11:41 pm

        One that subject. It totally depends on the individual device you use.

        On my phone and tablet the content on my site isn’t covered or blocked. No pop ups appear.

        On yours they do.

        I checked online using a mobile test site that shows you what your site looks like on all the different phone and tablet types.

        On most the site looks fine, nothing is blocked, no pop ups etc, all content can be seen.

        I don’t think there’s a way to have it work perfectly on everyone’s device.

        I disabled OptinMonsters mobile pop ups as many people were just getting a black screen (myself included) where as with other people they worked no problem.

        I don’t know any way round it really.

  8. wilfred abicoco

    Hello Matthew you such an eye opener i never knew bounce rate is a bad thing,now i know but my website is 45% that show is good right ?

    thanks,hope to see more of your articles

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 21st, 2015 at 7:57 am

      That is better than most, but it can always be improved :)

  9. Ben Sibley

    These are great tips for decreasing bounce rate and improving the general usability of your site. Popups and social buttons can completely destroy the usability of a site on mobile, and yet it happens all the time.

    I would say however, that a bounce rate between 60-70% is quite average. A bounce rate of 8% is almost certainly a sign of failure with the data collection.

    • Stuart Walker
      February 21st, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      Matt, your thoughts on this? Could data failure be an issue here for you?

      • Matthew Woodward
        February 22nd, 2015 at 10:34 am

        I investigated it but couldn’t find a duplicate issue

  10. chris

    Hi Matthew. I have been following your blog for a while. However I must admit I do get annoyed with the pop ups for whatever link I click on. I only put up with it, because I do enjoy the articles.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 21st, 2015 at 8:00 am

      How do you mean? You mean when links open in a new window?

  11. LuckyOne

    I have to agree with Matt as there’re too many pop-ups.
    And I just fed up with them and left the website as it’s too much to ask user to keep clinking on ‘x’ all the time to get rid of pop-ups so eventually they give up and leave.

  12. Liudas Butkus

    Great post, got a ton of ideas for my own blog as well :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 16th, 2015 at 7:39 am

      Then please come back and tell us how you get on :)

      • Liudas
        March 1st, 2015 at 12:02 pm

        Finally took the time and made some changes to my blog. Added the author box at the top, added some logos “ass seen on” to boost my authority.

        Also, started paying more attention to formatting of my blog posts. Implemented the “what you will learn paragraph” and started adding more links to my other blog posts.

        Still, thinking about making my blog mobile friendly, will probably look fo a mobile friendly theme.

        • Matthew Woodward
          March 2nd, 2015 at 8:56 am

          Please feedback on how that effects engagement metrics over the next few days :)

          Wouldn’t mind featuring you on the blog ;)

  13. Richard Martin

    Hi Matthew.

    A terrific, detailed, and well thought out case study.

    Strategies that will work for 100% of your readers ;-)

    I’m particularly keen on ‘showing yourself’. Not too many people do this, but I am a firm believer that people are just as invested in the person behind the blog as they are in the content they put out. So showing yourself is a real engaging way of people connecting with you and visualising the person behind the content.

    I actually use this 2 ways on my blog posts. First, an ‘action’ picture of me in my ‘under’ header image, and second, a picture of me that stays in focus once a user has scrolled a certain distance down a post.

    That way, my image no matter how ugly, is there for the majority of the post, rather than scrolling past it within the first couple of sentences of the post.

    Off to check out that headline plugin now.


    • Matthew Woodward
      February 16th, 2015 at 7:42 am

      I agree – having a picture is very improtant and really does help sink in a relationship

  14. Kevin Pflock

    Hi Matt,

    do you already know which plugin you will use to create individual sidebars?

    Thank you.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 13th, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      It’s built into WordPress now

      • Stuart Walker
        February 21st, 2015 at 11:44 pm

        He probably means custom sidebars. After a lot of searching I’ve yet to find a plugin that does what I need it to.

        Some of them flat out don’t work or are restricted to what you can show in your custom sidebars. Most don’t allow multiple widgets so you can have your about me section, opt in box, AND custom content in the sidebar.

        There must be one out there that does what I want but I can’t find it.

  15. Howie

    This is a great and thorough breakdown that you provided. I have been following Stuart for a little while now and he provides some absolute killer content and resources that I refer back to often. However, the mention of too many opt-in forms and pop ups is a very valid point. I always stay on board because I know the value of content he provides. However, if it were my first time visiting the site, by the second pop up, I can see some people jumping ship. These tips should allow him to really take things to the next level. His quality is on point so a little improvement to user experience can go a long way and you bring up some excellent points that I need to make myself.

    One thing regarding bounce rate that I wonder about though is when someone visits one page, even if they spend ten mins on a long article or review and then leave, I don’t think it always means that they had a “bad experience.” It’s one of the reasons I don’t us underatand why bounce rate is weighed so heavily. For example, if someone is searching for a review about a specific product, they find my review on that product, They feel they were provided with excellent information and decide to purchase that product, therefore taking them off the page in some cases (like for an affiliate sale or sign up) I don’t necessarily think it was due to a bad experience. In fact, quite the opposite. They found the information they were looking for and found themselves on a landing page specifically addressing their needs. Of course you hope to capture that lead before they leave, but sometimes I wonder why this type of “bounce” is viewed as negative or a “bad user experience.” Any thoughts about that?

    Btw, I am definitely going to check out that free headline split testing plug in. I love App Sumo, but have been a little disappointed by their giveaway plugin, which is not updated anywhere NEAR a enough, considering the price and has what I believe are VERY obvious limitations. This includes not having an option to allow people to earn entries by completing a social action such as, “liking” a FB page, following Twitter or Pinterest, etc. instead, only share option are available Bd therefore limits the user’s ability to actually sharing on one of the networks. Personally I’d like to have both options and quite a few others.

    Thanks for reading my novel and for any feedback on the questions i presented. EXCELLENT article again! I have no doubt that many others beyond Stuart can benefit from this info. And anyone who hasn’t should definitely check out Stuart’s site, too. He’s a very down to earth, personable guy who provides loads of great unique content that has helped me along the way and he is ALWAYS great at responding personally to any questions or feedback via email.

    All the best!

  16. Mohammad Umair

    Hey Matt coming to your “Don’t lead with an image” suggestion, wouldn’t it be correct to use an infographic rather than a plain image at the beginning of the write-up?

    Or do you think putting an image at the beginning is completely wrong idea to begin with?

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 13th, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Well actually I hate infographics so perhaps im the wrong person to ask :P

      • Mohammad Umair
        February 13th, 2015 at 10:50 pm


  17. alex

    Great post Matty,

    You never disappoint.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      No problem :)

  18. David Arrington

    You recommend not including a featured image. This is often the image that people include when sharing a post on social media.

    I’ve read some case studies that conclude that shares that include an image receive more clicks on social. Do you have another way of including a shareable image? Or is that not something you are concerned about at the moment?

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      I said not to include an image at the top of the post

      • David Arrington
        February 12th, 2015 at 6:10 pm

        Got you, when someone is sharing on social with your sharing plugin will it just grab the first image from the post then?

        • Matthew Woodward
          February 12th, 2015 at 6:16 pm

          It uses whatever image is defined in the og:image tag

          • David Arrington
            February 12th, 2015 at 6:53 pm

            Oh perfect, so you set an image specifically for social but don’t need to include it within the post itself.

            I really like that approach as it allows a lot of flexibility.

            Thanks for sharing!

  19. David Arrington

    Hey Matthew,

    Great article!

    Your bounce rate is truly incredible. That’s really low for a blog, definitely going to be putting some of these tips to use on my site.

    One thing I noticed is that you changed your About Me sidebar box to take up less vertical space. That way your form is still above the fold. That’s a great balance.

    Have you tested using a “content upgrade” in your floating sidebar form? That would likely perform well on post pages.

    The use of a homepage feature box, rather than using one on each post makes a lot of sense and strikes a good balance.

    One thing I will be testing is using a smaller feature box on post pages (taking up minimal vertical height), so that the content is still easily visible and doesn’t get pushed down much.

    I’ll test some of these out and let you know what I find.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Not yet but when the new version of my theme is ready I’m going to experiment with some cool stuff :)

    • Stuart Walker
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      The content upgrade in the floating sidebar is a good one. I’ve been meaning to add post / page specific sidebars using OptinMonster for ages now.

      Will try that too and report back.

  20. Tim Felmingham

    Great post Matthew. I particularly like your suggestion to avoid leading with an image, I’m going to implement that at once.

    Finding the right good-quality image often takes me as long as writing the article, and now you point it out that’s just ridiculous! Does it really make that much difference? I think not. Thank you for releasing me from this chore!

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      I still have a good image attached to the post for social reasons

  21. PurelyCoffeeBeans


    This is exactly what I had started writing to you about. You read my mind. My monthly report shows that I’ve had about 70% bounce rates for ages… I’m going to go through this article with a toothcomb and apply the relevant lessons to my site. See if I can’t push the number closer to yours. Nothing I did before really helped fix the problem, … but moving my site from HTML to WordPress helped somewhat, I’m not sure exactly about the reasons why. It was the same content as before, just posted as WP page. Anecdotal evidence, only I’m afraid.


    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Awesome let me know the changes you make and the results and I will happily feature you in the follow up!

  22. Pau

    Great post Matthew, I believe bounce rate is a somehow misleading concept. If somebody finds the exact info he is looking for in a blog post, he may spend 5 minutes reading it and leave the blog with his information thirst satisfied. That would count as a bounce, while the reality is that user experience was great as he found exactly what he was looking for.

    On the other side, if readers are leaving the blog post due to all the problems you mentioned in your list, that is a different problem.

    With this I mean you may have high bounce rate but that doesn’t always mean user experience is bad. However when you have high bounce rate in your homepage, that is usually a bad sign.

    In any case, this is a really impressive and practical post for those bloggers suffering from poor user experience, and very well written and engaging, congratulations!

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:45 am


      Yes that is correct however it is our job to make users take action.

      • Stuart Walker
        February 12th, 2015 at 10:11 pm

        Agreed with Matt, someone coming, reading, bouncing even if they did find what they want is useless to us as marketers if they never come back.

        We’ve failed to convert them into a fan. It may be that the particular post / info they found should never have been on our blog in the first place as it’s not relevant enough to our site as a whole.

        I have one post like that that people land on read and bounce right off again as most people landing on it aren’t looking for the other topics I’ve got on my site.

  23. Sourav Saha

    Great post Matt, I really like posts when it’s detailed, not by length but breaking down every steps taken.

    BTW I have faced same problem on our blog, one of the biggest was site speed, WordPress P3 Plugin Performance Profiler it was easy to figure out which plugins are slowing the site down the site, also it’s good to have social sharing buttons hard coded in a website, because with plugins it has to load additional JavaScript from plugin author source.

    We are also revamping the blog, to test few things such as no sidebar and no floating sharing button to test if anyway it acts similar to banner blindness, will share the results with you when we finish.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Good extra tip although social plugins are ok – but some of them are coded badly I agree

  24. Steven Lucas Internet Marketer

    Hi Matthew,

    You’ve certainly given me something to think about. So many people are saying ‘above the fold’ for the optin box in the sidebar but you have given a very good reason for changing my layout. It will be very interesting to see if it has any effect.
    Thank you for this valuable insight. And I’ll visit a few more of your pages to lower your bounce rate too {grin}.

    Steven Lucas

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:48 am

      I think its much better to blend the optins into the user experience as a whole – really our job is to keep people on our site/engaged with our brand for as long as possible. Obviously collecting an email address is the ultimate way to do that, but you got to earn that right.

      • Stuart Walker
        February 12th, 2015 at 10:08 pm

        You say you “have to earn it” but people can be engaged with your content and miss your sidebar opt in form easily. Especially yours as it doesn’t stand out.

        Sure so only those who go looking for it find it but as we’ve discussed if we keep making it “difficult” for people to opt in we end up with stupidly low conversion rates regardless of how good our content is.

        You need to get those opt in forms in peoples faces sometimes.

  25. Loz James

    Great tutorial Matthew

    You and Brian Dean at Backlinko are now my ‘go-to’ resources for the best instructional info in this industry.

    Your point about not using a large image at the start of the post in the key position to hook people in – was a bit of a kick in the nuts to be honest – because this is what I’ve been doing for a while.

    Now I’ve read this I’m going to try your approach with a text intro and a ‘what you’ll learn’ section – followed by a content upgrade/locker of some description.

    Excellent stuff!



    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:49 am

      Thanks Loz :)

      Yes I used to build my sites like that as well but I have changed tactic now. My posts do not feature the ‘featured image’ anywhere except when its listed on an archive page or shared on social media.

      • Stuart Walker
        February 12th, 2015 at 10:06 pm

        Yeah I hadn’t even considered this factor. Always used a big image. But you makes sense and most of my images are pretty shitty tbh. No consistency. I just grab a $1 image from Photodune quickly and I’m done with it.

    • Ze Pipo
      February 13th, 2015 at 4:08 am

      I agree with Matt on that, but I feel you can start with an image depending on the niche, image type, quality, messaging, etc.

      In your case James, I really like the way you approach images. It’s not a generic boring or out of context stock. And for me it adds value to the user, specially when your site becomes responsive it’s a nice visual feature adding context to the article.

      If I were you, the suggestion I would take is to move your about sidebar widget to the top.

  26. Stefan

    Amazing post Matt! I always thought Stuart was really overdoing the popups, but I thought it was on purpose. I mean, I understand that it’s hard to see your own mistakes, but when you overdo something, you usually notice it.
    And I 100% agree about his avatar. When you see so many popups + a cartoon representation, you don’t tend to believe the blogger.

    Also, another thing I think Stuart should now: I registered for his AMA Suite webinar, thinking Stuart would be doing the webinar, but that wasn’t the case. Later on, I noticed I was getting some spam. When I clicked unsubscribe, it offered to unsubscribe me from amasuite list. I gave my email to Stuart Walker, not to Dave Whateverhisnameis. Whether Stuart sold that email list or what he did, I don’t know, but it’s not cool.

    Stuart focuses more on results, than on user experience.

    Btw, Matt, what you did in the video is called usability testing. There are websites where you can recruit people for $20 a person to go to your website and do a task and comment every stage of the process. It’s insanely valuable.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:50 am

      Well Stuart has been focused on optimising his conversion rate and its important to note the introduction of the popups did not effect it

      I know a lot about usability testing I spent some time in usability labs with all the eye tracking hardware – I’m a bit of a sad act when it comes to that kind of stuff :)

      • Stefan
        February 12th, 2015 at 1:53 pm

        Usability tests are underutilized, but they are an awesome thing :D though, there’s no need for eye-tracking stuff, you can do it even without that.

    • Stuart Walker
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      Hey Stefan,

      Sorry that you feel you were things weren’t cool but let me explain…

      I had invited Chris Guthrie (and Dave Guidon is his partner) along to do a webinar for us on how he was making profit from Amazon.

      AmaSuites isn’t my tool it’s Chris’ so of course Chris would be doing the presentation.

      All was clearly laid out in the emails I sent you. I never said I’d be doing the presentation.

      You weren’t getting “spam” you registered for a webinar with Chris & Dave and they were following up with you about the webinar / tool they showed you.

      No one sold your email address.

      You willingly entered it into the webinar registration page hence ending up on their list

      You entered your email to get something for FREE ( the training, which was very in-depth and left NOTHING out) and in return you were added to a mailing list. I think that’s a fair compromise tbh.

  27. Michael Bely

    Thanks for the post. Yes, bounce rate is important, and not only from ranking point of view, but also from a readership engagement’s perspective too.

    Just a quick note: bounce rate does not mean that people leave you immediately. It means, as you said it correct, that they do not see more than one page during their session (and so, they may stay on your page for tens of minutes if it is worth it).

    Anyway, of course, the lower bounce rate, the better.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:50 am

      That is right, but if they leave without taking an action – we have failed as marketers/bloggers/influencers

      • Michael Bely
        February 12th, 2015 at 12:05 pm

        Yes, Matt, I agree with you in general.

        At the same time high bounce rate may be kind of normal sometimes. It depends. For example, it depends on the kind of audience.

        For instance, this current post on your blog.
        As I’m subscribed to your blog, I have already taken several actions:
        1. Subscribed to your updates in the past
        2. Opened your email
        3. Followed the link to read your post.
        4. Read the post
        5. Left a comment
        6. Returned to your blog to respond to your reply.
        7. Will likely to do it again and again with your new posts.
        BUT note, that I have visited just one page of your blog this time (thus, increasing your bounce rate, sorry! :) )

        And you say, you failed as a blogger/influencer? I don’t think so)

        Of course, if a new visitor reads only one page and spends seconds on it, it’s not good.

        • Matthew Woodward
          February 12th, 2015 at 6:02 pm


          Yes and subscribing to the updates, leaving a comment and returning to the blog all have a positive effect on bounce rate

  28. Jafeer


    Have you looked at those plugins which reduces bounce rates. for eg: One that ‘Deki’ provides at BHW

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 10:51 am

      They don’t actually reduce bounce rate

  29. Simon

    Did you look at/was he affected by bot traffic too?

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 7:45 am

      I didn’t – all of the traffic is from search/referral

      • Stuart Walker
        February 12th, 2015 at 7:49 am

        Don’t forget email. ;)

        But I don’t have it set up to show when traffic comes from Aweber which I believe you have talked about how to do before. Would be a good idea to do it.

        How would I check for bot traffic?

        • Ze Pipo
          February 13th, 2015 at 3:49 am

          The only bots you want to be concerned are referral spammers.

          Those will always bounce 100%.

          But if you have a decent amount of traffic, those shouldn’t represent more than 2%, making it not worrisome.

  30. Dave Madnani

    Excellent post Matt. I’ve been subscribed to Stuart for a while now and his content hooks are great but I agree the opt-ins are a little overkill.

    I’m sure just the pop-up delay (or reduction) alone will bring down his bounce rate significantly.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Well there is only one way to find out :)

  31. Yordi van Dijk

    What a great post !

    I never thought about the importance of showing your about the author widget before your Optin widget. But this example makes things very clear!

    Thanks Matthew

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 7:38 am

      No worrys :)

  32. Lakshman

    Hey Matthew Amazing post but recent I came across a analytics code which reduces the bounce rate enormously after some digging I found that the code is tweaked that if the users scroll the page it sends the data and the bounce rate is damn low :P Is it a safe method to use tweaked analytics code ??

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 12th, 2015 at 7:30 am

      I don’t see any benefit to doing that

      • Lakshman
        February 12th, 2015 at 7:33 am

        Thanks for the Immediate reply man :) thanks a lot I have been using it from months :) will remove it

        • Matthew Woodward
          February 12th, 2015 at 7:38 am

          No problem

      • Ricky
        February 12th, 2015 at 7:40 am

        I can see how it would help if you had a 1 page site and wanted to measure the actual bounce rate. But the Google algorithm would still see it as a bounce since they wont be using Analytics data to determine if you went directly back to the search results.

      • Stuart Walker
        February 12th, 2015 at 7:48 am

        If I’m understanding Lakshman correctly neither do I. Lowering bounce rate isn’t about tricking Google Analytics into reducing the number when nothing is actually happening

        It’s about increasing user engagement otherwise it’s pointless. The goal is to get your visitors interacting on your site for longer.

        Thanks for your help Matt, awesome post. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

        Started implementing some of it today removed the footer bars, reduced the plugmatter headline boxes and a few other bits and pieces.

        I’m trying a few different things. Read an interesting post on Traffic Planet Forums about how at the start of posts putting an “estimated read time” helped drop bounce rate by a decent number. Will need to try that.


        What length of cookies do you have OptinMonster set as to stop the entry and exit pop ups popping up on every post even after you’ve closed them on another?

        I have 1 day cookies set but seems like it doesn’t translate to different categories. So if you close the pop up offering a “niche” lead magnet then go to a “SEO” post you’ll still see the SEO entry / exit pops.


        I checked what my bounce rate was before I installed OptinMonster / other optin plugins – it was 63%. Adding OM has only pushed it up by around 3-4% which is big enough but I still think there’s something else that’s fundamentally causing it other than just pop ups.

        • Matthew Woodward
          February 12th, 2015 at 10:53 am

          I hope all goes well for you :) Make all the changes ASAP and then report back =D

          I have read the same about the estimated reading time and is certainly worth trying. I thought about it but decided against it because sometimes my articles are long and the reading time might become off putting.

          I have the optinnmonster cookies set to 7 days – might be worth asking support about that?

          How did adding the popups affect pages per visit and time on site?

          • Stuart Walker
            February 12th, 2015 at 10:15 pm

            Pages per session dropped by 8.33%
            Avg Session by 13.95%

            Yeah I’ll need to contact support and ask them. 7 day cookies might be a good idea. I went from 0 to 1 recently and it made little difference.

          • Matthew Woodward
            February 13th, 2015 at 10:04 am

            Ahh those are areas of concern that hopefully we can fix up :)

        • Ruth
          February 14th, 2015 at 9:12 pm

          Told you Stuart, I was one of them who told you that. I asked you if you were going to take those optins off your website. Everytime I went there, it would pop up and on my phone is was impossible to remove it. I actually went 75% less because of that reason. Also, I noticed you are trying to sell more, but the awesome content has lowered. Or is it just me I see emails about products every day? And not posts like I went there a lot more because of that type of content. You are great at it :)

    • Paschalis Iliopoulos
      February 12th, 2015 at 7:37 am

      Why would you do that? I mean even that if it worked with google, you would ‘ve gotten yourself false assumptions and your income would be the same.

      Maybe you could help increase some rankings, if bounce rate is a ranking factor (is it?), but still sooner or late google will find out and you’re [email protected] :D

      • Matthew Woodward
        February 12th, 2015 at 7:38 am

        Exactly – you just cheat yourself

      • Lakshman Teja
        February 12th, 2015 at 7:50 am

        That’s the reason i commented so that I get clear idea and Now I removed it :)

    • Raghavender Rao Jitta
      February 12th, 2015 at 7:47 am

      Hey Lakshman, I don’t understand why you would want to do that? When you tamper the Analytics the way you intend to, you are just fooling yourself. The visitors would still bounce as they are now but the tracking code would just ignore those bounces.

      • Patrick Hathaway
        February 19th, 2015 at 4:21 am

        No offence but you guys are all missing the point. What you are talking about is Adjusted Bounce Rate. It alters the bounce rate so that it only tracks a ‘bounce’ if the user has not been on the page for very long.

        If you think about it that is what a bounce really is – someone lands on your page and thinks ‘this is not for me, I’m off’. If they hang around on your page and read it, they have engaged with your content. They could spend 5 minutes reading a post, but if they don’t click to visit elsewhere on your site then that would also class as a bounce. But that is crazy! They are clearly engaged, and bounce rate is supposed to be an engagement metric.

        You aren’t tricking Google at all, you are just making it easier for you to see how well engaged your users are. In terms of search experience, Google don’t give a shit about bounce rate – they care about user satisfaction. If someone clicks to visit your site and then doesn’t return back to the SERPs for a while, they are an engaged user and they have been satisfied by the result Google served them.

        I wrote a bit more about this and how to implement it here –

        • Matthew Woodward
          February 20th, 2015 at 8:55 am

          Hi Patrick,

          Adjustbed bounce rate isn’t bounce rate at all – it’s an entirely new metric by definition.

          I agree with your outlook on it I think we do need to have a metric for when someone visits a page and is engaged for a certain time but I think we also need to keep bounce rate to measure when someone visits a page and doesn’t take action/stay engaged by clicking through.

          Those are 2 different types of visitor and I would rather measure by the traditional meaning of bounce rate (visit page and click something) than the proposed adjust bounce rate as the user that takes action/clicks something is much more engaged and holds much more value over the adjust bounce rate user.

          So while I agree it’s a metric we need/should measure – I don’t agree that you can just change the definition of an age old metric.

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