Getting people to a local news website is the easy part. Once visitors arrive, it’s up to the publisher to keep them engaged enough to stick around for more.
A bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors who navigate away from a website after viewing a single page. For a local news publisher, that might mean that a reader clicks on a link from Google or Facebook, reads an article, and then immediately moves on to another website.
Bounce rates are important because they’re seen as an indication of visit quality. If visitors click onto a local publisher’s site and then leave almost immediately, what does that say about the quality of the content or the “stickiness” of the website?
Industry-wide, content and news websites have an average bounce rate of 40% to 60%. That’s significantly higher than other industries—service websites have an average bounce rate of 10% to 30%, for example—but at least in part, that’s just the nature of news. In web design speak, we call it self-sufficient content. People search for an article on a certain topic, they read it, and they leave.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here at Web Publisher PRO, we have developed a number of web design strategies to keep readers clicking around publishers’ websites for longer. Simple changes to a page’s layout, of the addition of widgets or on-page features, go a long way toward increasing engagement and decreasing bounce rates.
Local publishers experience high bounce rates for a whole host of reasons, but it’s important to find out what’s behind these bounce rates and why people are quickly leaving your website, particularly if you’ve seen your bounce rate increase recently. With better web design strategies, it is possible to decrease bounce rates, which will ultimately lead to an increase in subscribers and advertising revenue.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best web design strategies for decreasing bounce rates.
1. Mega Menus
If you’ve never heard of a mega menu, you’re not alone. Mega menus are a design feature we’ve added to websites like Good Morning Wilton as a way to help readers quickly find the content they’re interested in, before they decide to click away. The mega menu expands to allow readers to preview content from each website section before clicking through.
2. Responsive Design
Websites with responsive web design adapt to any screen size, which means they are optimized for all types of devices. Even if you believe you have a website with responsive design, we recommend checking your website on different browsers and looking at your analytics to see how the performance differs depending on visitors’ browsers. Analytics can also be used to see whether pages are loading slowly, as this can greatly influence bounce rates.
3. Ticker Tape
Over at Street Fight, we added a ticker tape feature at the end of each article that encourages visitors to continue reading, rather than clicking away to a different site. A sticky with the invitation to “Read next” appears as the reader scrolls towards the end of an article. These stickies automatically update with the headline from the next article in the series, offering the secondary advantage of displaying more information in a tight space.
4. Clean Ads
Enormous pop-up ads from sketchy third-party sites can scare readers and cause them to click away from a website. The same goes with auto-play ads with video or audio that starts blaring when the reader clicks onto an article page. We recommend working with ad management platforms like Broadstreet and using ad formats that are attention grabbing without being intrusive.
5. Visual Breaks
When readers click onto an article page and see a dense wall of text, there’s a good chance they’re going to immediately click away. Walls of text are intimidating, and they’re challenging for people to quickly skim. Instead, we recommend designing article pages to include a number of visual elements that break up text, such as sub-headings, bullet points, large images, charts, and even videos.
6. Related Posts
Related posts often appear near the bottom of article pages. Like ticker tape, the related posts module is designed to keep readers clicking around for new articles. At Web Publisher PRO, we use a special algorithm to ensure that readers are being enticed with the right content.