Is Your Blog Design Negatively Affecting Your Bounce Rate?

by Steven · 47 comments

This is a guest post by Steven from

Offline companies spend millions each year perfecting the packaging of their products, because they realize the color schemes and the outward design of the packaging can affect the products bottom-line.

Visual stimuli can attract an individual to a particular product or it can have the exact opposite affect if the stimuli isn’t appealing to the eye.

These facts are critical to bloggers and webmasters because the visual appeal of your blog can affect how a visitor responds to your website. A poorly designed blog can have a repellent affect which will cause visitors to hit the back button. This will inevitably lead to a higher bounce rate and recent signals suggest that Google is taking a sites bounce rate into consideration when ranking a site or webpage.

According to Google: Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.

What this basically means is that a visitor lands on your page from the search engines or another source and after landing on your page they exit your site without visiting any other pages.

In this post I will discuss certain on-site variables that need to be evaluated when designing and structuring your blog to help reduce your bounce rate and increase the time spent on your blog:

Color Scheme

Colors can impact a person directly and it can even evoke emotion within an individual. Colors have the power to place a person at ease, to make them feel happy and even angry. For this very reason your choice of colors for your blog should be determined with consideration to the image you will like to present.

Bright pink or neon yellow is certainly not suitable for a corporate blog, just as grey, black and any darker color would not be suitable for a blog that wants to induce a relaxed atmosphere. The blend and mixture of colors you choose should reflect the nature of the message you intend communicating to your audience.

Blog Layout

The most pertinent aspect of any blog is its content, and as such you will want your content to receive the most exposure. A two-column theme will ensure your content is not squeezed into a corner and a light background with a dark font will enliven your content.

There are a number of high quality three-column themes but when selecting a three-column theme: the combined length of the 2 smaller columns must not be greater than the larger column width. If it is, your content will be suffocated and it will not stand out.

On-site navigation is another critical element to keep in mind when structuring your layout or choosing a theme. Are the important parts of your site easily accessible? Will your visitor be able to find every page of your site with relative ease?

Internal linking within each article using relevant anchor text will result in a larger number of pageviews and it will help lower your bounce rate. Another great addition to each post is the inclusion of relevant site specific links below each article.

Browser Compatibility

Many themes have not been updated by the developers and as a result they are not compatible with certain browser versions. Your site might be perfectly viewable using your browser of choice, but to another person who utilizes a different browser the site may be completely jumbled.

It is critical for you to examine your site’s compatibility with all the latest browsers to ensure every person who visits your sites is met with a neatly structured layout.

Website Load Time

The load time of a website has now been incorporated as a ranking signal into Google’s algorithm. This means that a site that takes too long to load will effectively experience lower rankings in the SERP’s. To avoid delayed load times on you site you should:

  • Select a reliable hosting company
  • Utilize plug-ins that are vital and delete unnecessary plugins
  • Stick with one reliable statistics counter
  • Avoid uploading too many videos and large images on an individual page

Attractive Headlines

If the titles of your post do not offer an instant solution or if it does not represent exactly what the reader is going to receive from the article then you will lose visitors at a rapid rate. Invest a little extra time devising catchy headlines as this is usually the first portion of text a visitor will read.

I personally have assessed one of my blogs and made the necessary changes and this helped reduce my bounce rate by 25%. I was completely amazed by the positive affect a few aesthetic changes could make.

You should also assess these elements and improve your blog on a continuous basis because your visitors are your target market and as a blogger your duty is to satisfy the needs of your market in all areas.

About Steven

Steven is an avid internet marketer and freelance marketing writer. He currently writes for Criminal Justice Degree Schools, who provide information on computer forensics degrees and cybersecurity degrees

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Cheolsu June 6, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I wasn’t aware that website load times can affect search engine rankings. Picking a reliable website with little/no downtime, a neat blog layout, limiting the content within a single page are the key. Nice article!

Chris June 7, 2011 at 2:44 am

I like to try and keep it as simple as possbile aswell, nice clear navigation is a must and then with some classy bits and bobs added just take for example i think that site is great.

Steven June 23, 2011 at 10:01 am

Hi Chris, a clean design does wonders. I know I personally hate clutter in the real world and when I see a website design that is just completely cluttered I truly frown about it. I like your skype example, it just shows that people remember a well designed website.

Ray@dolphin tutorials June 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

Load time is a biggy for me. Whether the site or page just loads slow, or if the host server is just slow or offline at the moment. I usually don’t stick around long if that is the case. Sometimes just resizing and optimizing some images can speed things up a lot. And the web browsers who can keep up with all of them and the different versions these days. I used to make sure sites looked decent in most of them, but it’s almost too much work now. I would assume if there are a lot of ads and someone visits one it would also be considered a bounce. I guess depending on the site that might be a good thing where high bounce rate would be acceptable.

Steven@Criminal Justice Degree Schools June 8, 2011 at 12:49 am

Thanks fro the comment Ray! There seems to be conflicting theories as to whether a click on an outbound link is counted as a bounce. I’ve done alot of reading on the subject and I can’t seem to find a clear answer.

The internet is all about instant gratification and if people are stalled because of a slow site, you can bet they will be hitting the back button.

Charlotte June 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Often too much emphasis is put on driving traffic to a website rather than converting that traffic. Split testing is often overlooked and overrated. June 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm

opening external links in new window can help reducing bounce rate a bit; just my two cent 🙂

Steven@Criminal Justice Degree Schools June 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm

This is actually a fantastic tip Zohan… definitely worth more than 2 cents 😉

Thanks for sharing!

Felicia @ No Deposit Poker June 9, 2011 at 9:33 am

Hi Steven,
This is a very helpful post for those who would like to know how to reduce their bounce rate. I agree with you that it is very important to have our websites load within a few seconds from opening up, as it will drive away visitors if it takes too long to load.
Thanks for sharing!

Steven June 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

Hi Felicia, thanks for your comment and apologies for the late reply. Yes, load time is an integral factor that too many people ignore. The internet is about instant gratification and anything that wastes a persons time ends up becoming a bad user experience.

Danielle June 11, 2011 at 1:14 am

I, like some other posters have already said, really like the minimalist look. I only have one column on my current blogs because I just like the clean, easy to read, style of it. Will this really be detrimental if I do not have two columns? I just think blogs can get really cluttered really quickly, especially when it is all ads. I don’t know I guess I will have to split test this and see how it works for me.

Steven June 23, 2011 at 9:55 am

Hi Danielle, my apologies for the late reply! I visited your site and it seems to be more of a sales page and certainly not a blog. I think in your case the layout will work since your main goal is for your user to carry out a specific action on that page.

Jerrick June 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

when the first time i face high bounce rate is because of long loading page .
And i get the advice from others that a good website should not load more than 3 seconds.
May use this to track the speed of loading page ,
i always worry of bounce rate because google will assume that your content is not quality and your traffic is not quality as well and that why you get high bounce rate.
website and blog layout do need to design base carefully, where to put the content, where to put the banner, where to place the adsense banner and where the call to action come in . All design and layout do influence the quality of content.

Steven June 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

Thanks for the comment Jerrick and that awesome tool that you have shared! You advice certainly provides value to the discussion and I appreciate it. There is no better place to learn than from personal experience and your experience speaks volumes. Thanks!

mattscradle July 21, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I am using 3 columns template (content on the left and 2 widget column on the right). I have bounce rate of 70% and a total loading time of .9 seconds. Should I be satisfied with that or I still have to improve it. May I ask what should be the ideal bounce rate for a blog. Thanks.

Sushant Risodkar July 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Try to keep it around 50%. If you can bring it even more down then it’s better.

Cary August 31, 2011 at 12:34 am

A reduction in bounce rate by 25% is very good. After some recent testing, we reduced client’s blogs bounce rate often in half with some changes. Sometimes it was drastic – we’re talking total overhaul – but sometimes it was just good old fashioned split testing with a multivariate package. The multivariate approach to design is a nice hybrid of beauty and math – and increased conversions 🙂

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