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How Your Content’s Formatting Can Make or Break Your Bounce Rate

How Your Content’s Formatting Can Make or Break Your Bounce Rate

Break through barriers and increase reader engagement.

Bounce rate: one of the most dreaded metrics to analyze as a content marketer. 

Your bounce rate measures engagement — a reader arrives at a page on your website and “bounces” right off without visiting any other pages. Although this isn’t the most fun metric to look at if your numbers are high, it’s an important one to track.

Blogs that publish dense content — in large paragraphs, lacking headers, with low-quality images and ads squeezed into every crevice of the page — are driving readers away and, in turn, increasing their bounce rate.

Brands are already fighting for exposure in the noisy marketing world, so there’s no time for rookie mistakes like formatting issues. Your company has to publish high-quality, easy-to-read content in an appealing format or risk disappearing into the noise.

Users Are Skimming, Not Reading 

According to a Nielsen Norman Group study, on average, users only have time to read 28 percent of the words on a webpage per visit.

So if you produce a high-quality, engaging article that’s 800 words, your consumers are only reading 224 of them and moving on.

You need to format for user readability. 

Blogs such as Medium, for example, do a great job of offering content using a simple, clean format. Your eyes aren’t distracted by any advertisements or bulky paragraphs, and at the top of each article page, there’s an estimate of how long it will take to read it. I personally love its design and read new posts out of appreciation (and because it has comics about corgis).

Is Your Content Scaled for Readability? 

If your bounce rates are flying through the roof, formatting is probably an issue. Lucky for you, it’s a pretty easy fix. Ask yourself these five questions while reading your content, and tweak as needed:

  1. Does the headline draw the reader in? Your content’s headline can determine whether the user clicks through to your article. Use numbers, questions, and phrases like “how to” to give your readers a better idea of what they’re getting themselves into.
  2. Are my paragraphs too long? If you publish 10-sentence paragraphs without breaks, your audience will be gone before they read the first sentence. Bulk paragraphs are intimidating. For those who don’t have time to read (i.e., everyone), you have to make your content appear easy to digest so they’ll actually read it.
  3. Do I have a high-quality image? I recently wrote a blog post about how images fuel engagement, which goes more in-depth about the importance of images. The bottom line is that visuals increase engagement and social shares because they help illustrate the overall message. Don’t skip this major detail in your content.
  4. Are advertisements clogging my content? Incorporating ads in your content is OK if you distribute them appropriately. Nothing raises red flags like a webpage that has 10 banner ads above the fold screaming at the user. Clean up your ads with a minimum of two above the fold (even two is a stretch), and make sure they aren’t distracting from the article.
  5. Is there a call to action at the end? Every piece of content should have some sort of action item. Whether you list concrete moves you want your readers to make, invite them to start a conversation in the comments, or simply ask them to check out other posts you think they’d find valuable, provide a “next step” for readers. 

High-quality content will cease to reach readers if poor formatting gets in the way. Go through your blog posts and any other published articles, and make sure your layout entices the reader to keep reading, not exit before you get a chance to deliver your message. If you format with solid headlines, paragraph breaks, high-quality images, and calls to action, your bounce rate just might start showing you some love.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

How Adding an Image to Your Content Ignites Engagement

Why Scaring Your Audience Makes for Good Content

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Post by Maya Szydlowski

Picture of Maya Szydlowski Luke

About Maya Szydlowski Luke

Social media is my happy place. My best days are spent discovering trends about coffee, health, content strategy, and fashion, 140 characters at a time. Let's connect! @MayaSLuke

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