Realizing soon after clicking on an article that I have no interest in finishing reminds me of a line from Ron Burgandy in Anchorman, “I immediately regret this decision.” Although I hope that isn’t what you’re saying after finding your way onto this article, studies show that on average, page visitors only have time to read about 20% of the text or article, which means the majority of you will only make it to the end of this paragraph. This being just the average means even the most dedicated readers aren’t making up for the large number of bounces. For the purpose of this article, we’ll call a bounce a website visit of 30 seconds or less.
Bounces can’t be completely avoided, but they can minimized, which is what we will conclude with in the fourth part of the series.
In the first part of this series, we dug into what makes us click on an ad, article, video, or another form of content. In this section, we’ll focus on the reasons we leave a page or article within the first 30 seconds.
What Makes Us Bounce
- Title/Content Disconnect
Entrepreneur and advisor Chirag KulKarni stated, “The fastest way to get me to click off a piece of content is if the title doesn’t address the content. Many blog posts have juicy titles, but the content is either not in-depth or irrelevant to the title.” Titles are often built to get our attention and are deceptive. These titles may get a lot of web traffic, but they don’t result in satisfied readers.
- Bias Point of View
I’d love to write 10 Reasons You Should Hire Michael Luchies as Your Writer, but no one would read it, nor would I want to put someone through that. Carefully promoted content with disclaimers or an explanation can work, but a writer or source will quickly lose all credibility if trying to pass off sponsored material as an informative and unbiased article.
Size matters to your audience. If 90% of your readers are coming from mobile devices, an article about the 101 ways to land a job probably won’t go over too well. Lili Balfour, Atelier Advisors Founder said, “If it takes too long to get to the point and/or doesn’t offer bullet points, I typically click away.” While long-form articles can be an extremely effective tool, they tend to work better in communities and places where people are willing to buy-in to what you are selling, or visitors who are intensely engaged in the topic.
I have often closed a page one or two sentences into an article due to poor grammar or an uninteresting start. I hate proofreading, but I know the smallest error can affect the reader’s image of the author and the site.
- Outside Influences
Not all content bounces are caused by the fault of the author or publication. Thanks to the survey responses I received, many pointed out that running out of time, being busy, and other unrelated distractions are one of the main reasons they leave an article with no intent to return.
- Slow to Load
Maybe I’m paranoid, but the longer a page takes to load, the more I think that I’m in store for a virus or unwanted download. When in a hurry and just trying to get a small piece of information from a page, it’s often not worth the wait, and the long load allows the reader to quickly change their mind and go somewhere else.
- Unexpected Content
Call me old-fashioned, but I absolutely hate when I’m expecting to read a short article and instead, a video screen pops up and an advertisement begins to play. Another common form of unexpected content are slideshows where the reader is required to click each image and wait for pages to load. Having slideshows are great for pageviews, and for irritating users.
- Unexpected Source
We all occasionally fall victim to clicking on an image of a promoted article on the page of a trusted source. If I’m reading a page on Forbes and I decide to read 20 Reasons your Business Will Fail, only to be redirected to Bizness Bro’s News Outlet, I’m usually not going to even attempt to read the article.
Sex sells, and so does attractive content. Pictures, well-designed user interfaces, and an overall pleasant reading experience helps the visitor easily consume the information. “Distractions and readability are both factors that influence whether an article can be read. Things like font, font size, layout of the page, UI/UX are all factors that influence bounce rate,” said Chirag. A blog post that is unformatted or on a page that looks like it was created in Word 1995, they may be too distracted by the page to care if the article is good or not.