How to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your WordPress Site

Post synopsis: Worried about high bounce rate on your website? You can reduce the rate by making your readers check out more content on your website. This post explores some simple tips to improve your bounce rate.


You have a lot to share on your blog. Perhaps you want to share professional tips or nuggets of personal growth. Perhaps you want to share about your travels or your beauty hacks. Perhaps, you want to share your family recipes.

And you work very hard at not only creating solid content that is SEO-friendly but also promoting it social media platforms. Your page views are going up but somehow so is your bounce rate. This worries you. You

Well, here’s the good news. High bounce rate does not necessarily mean readers are not finding your content useful. It’s possible that

Or, perhaps you have fallen prey to the Facebook promotion thread guidelines where most people are visiting your site with no intention to engage.

Wanna find out? Read on to understand the concept of bounce rate, what a high bounce rate means for your website, and how you can reduce the bounce rate.

How to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your WordPress Blog

Worried about high bounce rate on your website? You can reduce the rate by making your website check out more content on your website. This post explores some simple tips to improve your bounce rate.

What is bounce rate?

Bounce refers to an event when a visitor lands on your website/webpage and exits without clicking a link (to another post or page) or commenting. Bounce rate is the percentage of events when a bounce occurs on your website.

You can find out the average bounce rate of your website in your Google Analytics account.

Why should you care about high bounce rate?

Turns out, bounce rate is one of the million (!!) determining ranking criterions when it comes to search engines, especially Google Search.

It is, however, not known how influential it is because Google doesn’t share that data.

But more importantly, a high bounce rate could be indicative of unengaging or unhelpful posts. That goes completely against the objective of most blogs–to help other people.

If people are not finding good content to engage with on your website, it is unlikely you will earn followers, subscribers, and high rankings.

What does it mean to have a high bounce rate on your website?

When I started blogging a year ago, my bounce rate was through the roof. I think I was averaging around 97%. With time, I worked on my content and marketing to bring it down to high 20s. For good part of the year, the average bounce rate of my website hovered around 30-32%. I put all my learnings in an email series and created the 7-Day Sticky Blog Workout (have you signed up yet?)

However, in the last month or two, I have kinda, sorta gone slow on content creation and even slower on promotion. My traffic has dropped and my overall average bounce rate is creeping up again. Law of average, you’ll! At the time of writing this post, my bounce rate is somewhere in 80s :-O There! I said it.

I am determined to bring it back down to 30s in a month or so. The 7-Day Sticky Blog Workout works! I want people to engage with my content more.

Anyway, back to the reasons for high bounce rate.

There are two ways of looking at this. Your bounce rate is high because your content is:

  • Very helpful and super focussed
  • Not helpful and all over the place

Let’s consider the first scenario: a visitor lands on your website looking for something super specific. And you, being the keyword champ, have in-depth information on that subject. The visitor comes and reads the content, finds all the answers she was looking for, and leaves.

You’re good!

But remember, the key to the first scenario is that you are retaining the visitor on your website/page for the duration of the post. Even if they do not interact with your page in any other way, such as click an internal link or check your About page. For example, if your in-depth post is a 5-minute long read, the visitor should be spending a minimum of 2-3 minutes on that page. If you see the average screen time for this page is just a few seconds, you need to work harder on your retention strategy (we will discuss how to do this in a bit)!

Let’s take my example: even though my bounce rate is high, take a look at my “time on page” number:

5+ minutes!

That means people are reading what I have to say and it’s probably enough to answer all their queries at that time.

Now, consider the second scenario: readers do not find your content useful or your content is not focussed. This is a more deep-seated problem because this requires attention. In a moment, you will learn about some practical ways to increase reader engagement on your website, and consequently, reduce your bounce rate.

Related:

But before we get to that, here comes a curve ball: given that most of us are promoting our blog posts on Facebook promotion threads, it is very likely that your bounce rate is high for no fault of yours. You could write great content that is on point and compelling. But, because of the promotion threads, a majority of participants visit your blog post with the sole intention of fulfilling the promotion thread guidelines. Most of them won’t take even a second to look what your post is about. They just want to hit the share button, exit, and move onto the next promotion thread. Not ideal but it’s the reality.

That’s why working on your SEO is so important. You want the majority of your audience to be interested in what you have to say. Check out this SEO-boosting cheat sheet to improve your Google rankings and increase organic traffic to your website.

How to reduce the bounce rate?

It is not difficult to bring down a bounce rate floating away into the far skies.

Deliver content that your audience wants

Pretty basic, right?

If your target audience does not find what they are looking for on your website, they are going to exit pronto! So, be very intentional about what you put in your post.

First of all, do your research. Find out what your target audience is looking for. Scan the search engines to see if there are other posts about this topic and whether there is a gap you can fill.

Related:

Once you have a topic, decide on the type of post you want to create. There are many styles of blog posts. Choose the one that best serves your intentions and do justice to it.

Readers appreciate posts that focus on one topic comprehensively. Write it in an interesting manner. Make your readers stay and automatically your bounce rate will reduce.

Related:

Also, here’s a cheat sheet to boost your SEO ranking. After all, you first have to get people on your website.

Related:

Optimize your website to load super quick

Let’s take a look at my page load time:

Holy moly! 14.7s is terrible! But I know what’s going on. I haven’t compressed my images in a while. I also have a ton of plugins and themes installed–I need to delete those.

Think about the last time you tried to open a website and it just wouldn’t load. Remember how frustrating it was? Now, check your own website’s speed on GTMetrix.

How long does it take?

Visitors abandon sites that take more than 5 seconds to load. In fact, a good page load time is less than 1 second. It’s true!

So, how do reduce page load time? There are some technical and some non-technical aspects to it:

  • Choose a good hosting partner and the best plan for your needs. I recommend SiteGround for their reasonable packages and spectacular customer/technical service team.
  • Compress your images because these take up a lot of space. Believe it or not, when you upload one image on your WordPress media library, WordPress saves up to 8 copies of that in different sizes. I use the EWWW image compression plugin.
  • Delete images that you don’t need. Why fill space with unnecessary junk?
  • Delete plugins and themes that you don’t use. Themes and plugins use a lot of backend files to create a seamless user experience. However, those files add up and slow down your load time.
  • Install caching plugins. For example, W3 Total Cache save parts of your website so that it doesn’t need to contact the server each time a repeat visitor lands on your website.
  • Use CDN services. These services distribute the load across various servers across the globe. This means if your host is based in the US but someone from India is trying to access your site, their ping will be sent to the US server and back. This takes time, even though it’s a matter of seconds. Instead, with CDN installed, the India visitor will ping a destination closer to her (such as India or Singapore) instead of pinging the US-based server.

Here’s an article with even more ways to speed up your website.

Update your content regularly

Okay, so you got someone interested in visiting your website by researching keywords and writing stellar content. Google can take a long time to show any movement in your posts ranking. But that day has come. A long time has passed since you created this piece of content–it has become outdated. And someone has landed on your website to read this post. Yikes!

Always make sure your content is up-to-date.

  • Revisit old posts and check if content is still relevant. If not, update it to reflect the latest information.
  • Remove the date display from your blog posts
  • Sort comments from newest to oldest

Related:

How to Reuse Old Blog Posts

Use simple language

In most cases, your blog is not your creative writing canvas; it’s an instructional content platform. Unless you are an author, poet, painter, actor…and your website is your portfolio.

Readers come to your website to find information and/or learn something. Make it easy for them to learn.

When you create content that is not only interesting but also easy to understand, readers will stay and check out your other content.

Related:

How to Grab Your Readers’ Attention

Build a web of your posts

Now that your reader wants to read more of your content, guide her to your best content.

How will she know what she should read next? Where can she find more content on the topic you have written about?

Use internal linking.

The idea is to not only guide the reader to appropriate reading material but also to be a one-stop-shop for her.

Be generous with linking to your existing content. Create a storyline that demands that you add the links to related content. Do not force-fit though.

An additional advantage of internal linking is creating backlinks. More backlinks = high Google ranking.

When appropriate, do not be afraid to add a few external links as well.

Make your site mobile-friendly

With the advent of smartphone technology, more and more people now access the web on their smartphone or tablet.

Now, you may think if you have a website, it should load and be accessible from all platforms. Well, that used to be the case.

But now, it’s just the minimum threshold of any website. Your website has to load in a prescribed manner on a smart device. Factors such as page load speed, resize responsiveness, pop-ups, etc. determine whether someone will continue on your website.

When selecting a theme for your website, make sure it is mobile responsive, or AMP compliant. Non-compliance means poor user experience on mobile device and results in users navigating away quickly.

Here’s a post that explains how to make your website AMP compliant.

So, there you have it. Those are some of the most common ways to reduce the bounce rate on your website.

For even more tips on reducing your website’s bounce rate, join the

FREE 7 Day Sticky Blog Workout

This is an email series designed to share not only tips but actionable items at the end of each day.

Alright, let’s wrap up…

Do you track your bounce rate? What changes have you seen over time?

Pin for later.

Worried about high bounce rate on your website? You can reduce the rate by making your website check out more content on your website. This post explores some simple tips to improve your bounce rate.

How to Promote Your Content (and Not Just on Social Media)

You have created an awesome piece of content–be it a blog post, a video, or a podcast episode–but no one knows about it. Not until you put it out for others to see it. For a new blogger, getting organic traffic is mostly unheard of. That’s because ranking on search engine result pages takes a lot of hard work and time. While you improve your SEO skills, you need to find other places to promote your content and attract blog traffic.

For those of you who downloaded the Boost Your SEO Cheat Sheet, you would have noticed that promoting your content on social media platform plays a huge role in getting your brand name out there.

But, blog promotion is hard work. You are competing with hundreds of, if not thousands, other bloggers who are equally keen on getting their voice out there.

In this post, I am listing five ways to promote your content (and not just using social media marketing).

9 Ways to Promote Your Blog Content

You have created an awesome piece of content--be it a blog post, a video, or a podcast episode--but no one knows about it. Not until you put it out for others to see it. Explore some practical tips for your next blog promotion.

Note: What I am listing are IDEAS for promoting your content. You DO NOT need to do ALL OF THESE. In fact, it will burn you out. Pick 3 ideas that work best for you and test them out.

Disclaimer: All links prefixed with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. Any purchase you make by clicking these links will earn me a small commission but will not cost you anything extra. For more details, please read my Disclosure Policy.

Social Media Platforms

I am willing to bet my last dollar that you found me or this post on a social media platform. That’s where the majority of my traffic comes from. Sure, I am working on my SEO skills, but it takes a while for your posts to show up on search engine result pages.

Have you downloaded the Boost Your SEO Cheat Sheet yet?


But knowing that you should promote your content on social media platforms is the easy part. Figuring out how to promote on these platforms is what will make the difference. Here are a few ideas:

Facebook

  • Facebook Groups: These are my #1 source of traffic. That’s right! It isn’t Pinterest, but FB groups. Here’s how I look at the whole FB vs. Pinterest debate: 99% of the time, I only share or comment on blog posts that are either in my niche or I am truly interested in. I don’t click on any random post in a promotion thread. As I shared earlier, I also don’t participate in “all or nothing” type of promotion threads. I am assuming you work the same way too. This means the traffic coming to my blog is more or less targeted. Yes, it takes a little more time than just pinning because you want to reciprocate the shares or comply with the rules of sharing in each group. That you can network with other content creators and potential clients is an added bonus.
  • Your own Facebook business page: If you are or wish to be a business entity, create a Facebook business page for sure. Set up your blog settings to automatically publish your new posts to your business page. During the week of publish (but not on the day of), host a Facebook Live session (if you are not ready to go live, record a video and publish) based on the blog post you published earlier.
  • Post to your personal profile: Okay, this one is a little tricky and completely up to your comfort factor. Personally, I don’t post anything related to my work life on my personal profile. No one, except my husband and a few close friends, knows about my blog. But if you are okay with sharing your journey with your personal social circle, go right ahead. You never know, it might earn you a new endorser.

Pinterest

While Facebook works great for me, for many Pinterest does the trick. Whether you sign up for all popular social media platforms or not, I suggest sharing your content on Facebook and Pinterest without fail.

Again, set up your blog to auto-publish all new blog posts to Pinterest. In addition to the original pin, create 5-7 pins for each blog post with different headline variations. You can either include these pin images in your blog post but hide them, or you can manually upload a new pin image to Pinterest every day. The objective is to add ONE new pin of your own content every day. Try to pin these images during your peak traffic hours. Another advantage of creating multiple images is to provide more options and opportunities to your readers.

Twitter

This platform needs a little more work than any other social media platform. Luckily, you have the option to retweet other people’s tweets with just two clicks. But we’ll come to that later.

Before anything else, set up your blog to auto-publish new blog posts to Twitter. (I know I have repeated this thrice already, so let’s just say set up your blog to auto-publish to all platforms you wish to be on and that WordPress supports.)

Identify or create a list of at least 10-15 tweets per post and tweet them out during your peak hours. All these tweets need not be direct quotes from your blog post–they just need to be related and you could even use an image+quote to draw attention (Instagramish).

Ideally, try to send out a tweet every hour or two hours so that you are covering global time zones and reaching out to maximum people.

Optional: Install plugins such as Click to Tweet on your website, which will not only enable you to highlight tweet-worthy sentences in your post but also enable your readers to simply double-click other sentences and tweet those out.

Instagram

Once or twice a day, during your peak hour, post an image related to your blog post. It could be a quote or a peek into your personal life yet speaks to the post you are promoting.

Additionally, if you want a more personal approach, consider posting a couple (or more) “stories.” That’s a great way to connect with your audience and give them a glimpse of your personal life. They will be interested/intrigued about you and would want to check out more about you. Personally, I LOVE watching Instagram stories, especially of bloggers, though I am still very camera shy and not ready to post my own yet.

YouTube

Video posting is becoming very popular. This is apparent from how social media platforms are pushing for video stories–Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and of course YouTube.

While most of your audience is likely hanging out on non-video platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest, some may even be on YouTube. Because that’s just how people learn–visually. Additionally, YouTube is owned by Google, which means Google search queries will list YouTube videos as well. And we all know that means more traffic to your website.

Now, you could either create and post fresh videos on your YouTube channel (say, once a week or month, depending on your schedule) or you could repurpose your FB Live videos on YouTube. The only downside to this type of repurposing is the interaction element, i.e. when you call out viewer names in an FB Live video, your YouTube audience might be confused. Nonetheless, it’s a great way to start building your YouTube presence.

Industry News Sites and Forums

You’ll be surprised how many people visit industry news sites or forums, such as LinkedIn, Reddit, and Quora to get their queries resolved. These sites also host several influencers answering questions and thereby building another fan base.

If you are knowledgeable about a topic, consider joining these news sites and forums to answer questions. While answering questions, you may link back to relevant blog posts on your website. Additionally, include your blog link on your profile page.

These sites may not drive explosive traffic to your blog, but you can rest assured that 99% of the traffic will be your niche audience.

Aggregation/Curation Sites

Another popular option to promote your blog posts is sharing your content on aggregator or curation sites, such as StumbleUpon, Tumbler, Flipboard, etc.

These sites are positioned as “discovery” sites while also allowing you to create your own list of favorite content pieces.

Again, these sites may not be your primary traffic driver but this is a great way of putting your content out there with the click of just one button.

Promote Other Bloggers

I am sure you have heard from many blogging gurus that you should promote other people’s content more than your own. It helps you get noticed by your fellow content creators.

If you create good content, your work will be promoted by those who you promote. A simple case of gratefulness and reciprocation.

I know this works because I have noticed that certain people are more likely to share my content than others every time I include my link in the FB promotion threads. Likewise, I always share the content of these creators and some others because I know they write useful content that my audience will benefit from.

While it’s natural to follow and promote industry influencers (read: big bloggers), be sure to identify content creators who are in a similar position as you in their blogging journey. This will not only allow you to build a professional network but may also help you find some wonderful, like-minded friends.

Comment on Blogs

Similar to promoting other creators’ content, be sure to comment on their blogs. This allows you to not only build a relationship with the blog owner but also gives you the opportunity to put your own blog’s name and link out there.

One word of caution though: do not leave your link in the comment box. Some bloggers may mark you as spam. Leave your link in the URL box provided above or below the comment box.

Additionally, when someone leaves a comment on your blog, try and respond to their comment. This may not always be possible but do the best you can. Replying to comments shows that you care about your readers. People love to engage and if you offer them an engagement opportunity, they will likely return to read more on your blog.

Another unverified benefit of commenting on blogs is that it creates backlinks to your own blog. Now, I say this claim is unverified because I have read posts that say this isn’t correct. According to these sources, most blog platforms are built to mark any and all links in the comment section as “nofollow” by default.

Related Post: What are “Nofollow” Links and When to Use Them

Contribute to Other Blogs/Guest Post

Another very popular way of promoting content is by contributing to other blogs and publications. By becoming a guest blogger.

Guest blogging allows you to put forth your content in front of a potentially new audience.

It may be your natural desire to create content for big and known blogs or media houses. If you can manage to grab their attention, great! But focus your efforts towards landing guest blogging opportunities with bloggers who are in somewhat the same position or slightly ahead of you in the blogging journey.

Of course, whether you pitch to a big brand or a new brand (or blogger), choose one in or close to your own niche.

Email Subscribers

Do you have an email list? If not, please start today.

If you do, email them. If you are not visible to your subscribers, they will forget about you. As they say, out of sight out of mind.

It might be the scariest thing to email strangers who happened to stop by your blog and signed up to receive a free resource or updates from you. But do it anyway.

As you start writing to your subscribers, you will slowly find it easy to pour your thoughts into the digital paper.

There’s a lot you can share with your subscribers. One such thing you can and should share are your latest blog posts. Now, you could activate an RSS feed email to go out every time you publish a new blog post but this strategy is not the most popular among readers today. So, to err on the side of caution, avoid it.

Instead, in your emails, include your latest blog post in some form–excerpt, pretext, post link, etc. Make it contextual…draft your email based on that context with additional value that is exclusive to your email subscribers. It could be a simple sentence of upliftment or it could be a full-fledged passage. That is up to you.

Remember, it is very likely that your email subscribers do not even follow your blog. So, unless you promote it to them, your blog remains invisible.

Paid Promotion

I am sure you have seen sponsored posts on most social media platforms, most notably, Facebook Ads, Sponsored Twitter and Instagram posts as well as on Twitter. Of late, Pinterest has also jumped into the party and offering paid promotion opportunities to its users.

I think it’s a fantastic way to reaching your target audience. There are so many webinars I have signed up for because I saw a paid promotion of them.

Paid promotion is not for everyone when they are just starting out but may become a necessity as your business grows and so does your need to reach a wider audience group.

However, it is equally possible that you never end up paying for promotion. In the end, it’s your decision alone.

General Tips

On your website

  • Use plugins like Jetpack to auto-publish your latest blog posts to multiple social media platforms.
  • Install social media sharing plugins, such as *Social warfare or Sumo, that allow visitors to share your content.

On your social media accounts

  • Include your website URL in the bio section of all social media platforms.
  • Post your own content 1-2 times a day on each social media platform you get your traffic from (not YouTube though…unless you have a LOT of free time)
  • Post other people’s content 2-5 times a day (definitely not YouTube!) on each social media platform you get your traffic from.

There are even more ways of promoting your blog. I will be sure to share those with you in another post.

How do you promote your blog?

Pin for later.

You have created an awesome piece of content--be it a blog post, a video, or a podcast episode--but no one knows about it. Not until you put it out for others to see it. Explore some practical tips for your next blog promotion.

Free Resource: Boost Your SEO Cheat Sheet

If you have been around in the blogosphere for even a month, you would have surely heard about the term “search engine optimization,” or SEO. That is for a reason. In the long run, your SEO is what will carry your blog.

Look, there is no denying the popularity of social media platforms in promoting your website. My highest traffic comes from Facebook. But with every week, I am starting to notice an increase in the number of organic searches. That’s my SEO tree bearing fruits.

I want to help you grow your blog as I grow my own.

Rank higher on Google search engine. Free cheat sheet to boost your SEO.

SEO requires a rather broad skill set to master. I, obviously, am no master. Nonetheless, whatever little I do so far, I am sharing those strategies with you in the cheat sheet.

The cheat sheet is divided into two major sections–on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

  • On-page SEO refers to the strategies you should implement at an individual blog post or page level. The objective of these strategies is to facilitate search engines to understand your content.
  • Off-page SEO refers to the strategies you should implement at the website level as well as on external platforms, such as social media. The objective of these strategies is to get more page views and engagement on your website.

Together, and over time, these strategies will help you rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs). And that’s an important thing to know about SEO ranking. With the exception of super-specific and exact keyword search, ranking on SERPs takes a bit of time. That’s because the search engines will first crawl your site for information and then study the level of relevance and engagement with the information.

If you start today, you will rank tomorrow.

Sign up below to download a super-handy SEO Juice Booster Cheat Sheet.

How to Increase Your Blog’s Readability Score

Have you heard of the term ‘readability score’? Perhaps back in school, you were asked to write an essay or a report with a certain readability score.

Well, what you learn in school doesn’t stay in school.

As a blogger, you must ensure that your content is on par with your audience’s level of experience and literacy. Your content should NOT be too easy for your readers to understand because they will then undervalue your expertise. At the same time, it should NOT be too challenging because it will turn off your readers and add no value to their lives.

If you have never heard about the term ‘readability,’ it is a measurement system for your content. Based on several parameters, the system assigns a score. 

The Flesch–Kincaid readability measuring system is one of the most popular readability measurement systems. It assigns a different range of scores for various age groups and literacy level. Assuming your blog content is targetted at young moms who have a college degree, your readability score should be between 60.0 and 70.0. 

If you have the Yoast plugin installed on your WordPress (as you should), you will find the “Readability” tab built right into the system (screenshot below).

Here’s how my Readability summary of this post looks on Yoast. As you can see my writing is not perfect and does not meet all the criteria of the measuring system. The conditions my post doesn’t fulfill, it’s my writing choice to let those be. For example, I am okay with having one section in the entire post that’s more than 300 words. These are subjective decisions you will have to make before publishing your content. But be honest with yourself about things you can let go of.

Make it easy for your readers to understand your content. Click to read the post for some tips to improve your blog's readability score.

 

Why should you care about your content’s readability score?

Well, first of all, there’s no point slaving to create content that nobody can understand. Make it easy for your readers to understand your content.

It may not be obvious but most results that rank high on search engine result pages are easy to read and carry a high readability score. This means that your content’s readability score affects your ranking on search engines too.

Once you have visitors to your blog via the search engines, you want them to stay on your website for as long as possible and ideally, convert them into subscribers. However, if your blog’s content is not up to the standard they expect, they will neither subscribe nor return.

 

10 Tips to Improve Your Blog’s Readability
Make it easy for your readers to understand your content. Click to read the post for some tips to improve your blog's readability score.

 

Alright, let’s get to the tips.

Restrict your posts to one idea

In an earlier post, I have already written about the importance of focusing on only one key idea in your blog posts and courses. It deserves repetition because this one thing can make or break your blog post/course.

Navigating more than one key idea confuses the readers (and search engines!) and they do not understand what to focus on. That is a surefire way to dunk your readability score into deep water.

You may choose to deep-dive into a topic or create a list of actions, but ensure that the content still funnels up to the one central idea.

To help you keep the focus, begin by identifying the ONE primary goal of your blog post (or course)–what is it that you want your readers to accomplish?

Then, create a content outline before you start writing the content. Ensure that each subheading in the outline (or lessons in a course) align with the primary goal of the post (or course).

After you finish writing the post (or lesson), review the content to ensure that you are meeting the end goal.

Organize your thoughts

As a content creator, your mind is full of ideas. But as an educator, you need to present your ideas in a sequence that is most beneficial to your audience.

Your audience comprises of people who are at different levels of experience and knowledge. To ensure your content is meaningful to all levels of audience, your content has to flow from general to specific. Sometimes, it may even become necessary to create different posts or courses for different levels.

Within a post or a lesson, cover the big concept first and then filter down to smaller concepts. Or, present a generic example that is relatable to a larger audience before using specific examples.

Additionally, use subheadings, bullets, and numbered lists to help your readers follow the intended structure.

Again, creating a content outline before writing the content will help you see the structure and flow of the post from the beginning.

Write in the active voice

One tip that is common to all books on writing practices is to write in the active voice.

Active voice helps trim unnecessary words, thus making it easier to read. More importantly, sentences written in the active voice are more impactful and appealing.

Conversely, most sentences written in passive voice are difficult to understand (especially for non-native English speakers—they too may be your audience!). The difficulty arises because passive sentences contain more words and shift the focus from the subject.

This is not to say that you can never use the passive voice—the truth is some sentences sound better in the passive voice. But as far as possible, try to write the majority of your content in the active voice.

Related Posts:

Avoid wordiness

Fun fact: my first job was in a call center. One of the first things we learned and were constantly monitored for was the use of filler words and dead air. You see, in spoken language, it is very common for filler words to seep in. They should not, but they do.

But in written content, there is no excuse for using filler words.

When I say filler words, you may think of words such as “umm…,” “you know…,” “like…,” and you are right. These words indeed must be avoided in written content as much as possible (trust me, there are plenty of these in this post!). Sure, they help your writing sound more conversational but be very intentional about using these words. It’s OKAY to use fillers at times…it can add some interest when used intentionally. Just don’t go overboard.

But there is a second class of words that you must identify and eliminate from your work. Let’s call these ‘inconsequential words.’

When creative juices flow, we tend to embellish our sentences with words that are inconsequential to the sentence. These words do nothing but fill pages…but hey, blogging is no writing competition…unless you write about writing or storytelling  

I am not a writing coach but I can tell you this: avoid words that are redundant and add no value to your content.

Here’s a fun exercise. Listed below are six examples of sentences, which are wordier than they need to be. Can you edit these and come up with appropriate replacements? The first one is solved.

Original: In order to write a new email, you need to click the Compose button.
Revised: In order to write a new email, you need to click the Compose button.

Your turn.
Make use of Google doc to save your first drafts.
I am wanting to start a blog.
I can definitely see where you are heading with your blog.
Given the fact we are living in the digital age, it is very important to be on social media platforms.
I am planning to launch a new course in the month of March.

Note: Editing is subjective. There is no right or wrong answer. But there is always something you can do to make your sentences concise.

Write short and simple sentences

If you write in active voice, your sentences will naturally be short and simple. However, be intentional about making your content easy-to-understand for your audience.

Restrict your paragraphs to 3-5 sentences.

Within each paragraph, construct sentences that are no more than 18-20 words.

In a paragraph, if you write a long sentence, make the other sentences short.

More importantly, know where to end your paragraph. This is where your editing skills will come into play. If you find more than one concept or idea in a paragraph, stop and start a new paragraph.

Use transition words and phrases

Transition words—such as, firstly, but, additionally, meanwhile, etc.—are used to link ideas between sentences and paragraphs. These words help steer your readers in the right direction and their absence makes your content sound disjointed.

Think of transition words and phrases as a bridge to help your reader move from one thought to another. They create the flow needed for easy comprehension and retention of information, which is one of the goals of every instructional content you write.

Vary the length

Reading large chunks of text not only leads to fatigue but also introduces monotony. This is dangerous because your readers may leave your website without spending enough time getting to know you.

Make it easier for your readers to stay on your website longer.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs. This creates an interesting rhythm and then breaks the rhythm before it gets monotonous. You may think, “Mala, isn’t that bad? Breaking their rhythm?”

The answer is a resounding “NO.”

Think about it: a rhythm is made up of different notes, not the same note over and over again (that’s called hypnosis!!)

Let’s take another example: think of a poor movie or a play you watched. Or, even a music piece. What made it poor for you? Often, the answer is a flat script or note. The different pitches, tones, emphasis, length of a scene, etc. make the movie or the music piece interesting.

Similarly, for written content, mix it up. Write one long paragraph followed by a couple of short ones. Within a paragraph, write no more than one long sentence.

Use these tips not only for your future posts, but revisit your old post and determine if you need to update their readability.

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Make it easy for your readers to understand your content. Click to read the post for some tips to improve your blog's readability score.

How to Make Your Blog Images Rank Higher on Search Engine Result Pages

All links prefixed with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. Any purchase you make by clicking these links will earn me a small commission but will not cost you anything extra. For more details, please read my Disclosure Policy.

Let’s begin with a fun fact about me: *I LOVE PLANNERS! I am somewhat obsessed with them. My latest obsession is the *bullet journal system. I mentioned in an earlier post that I am a new entrant in the bujo world. So, every other night, after I am done with all my chores, I sit and browse bullet journal inspirations. I type in “What’s in my bullet journal?” or something similar in the Google search bar.

But I don’t search for text posts. I search for images (click the “Images” tab on Google for this). And then for the next 15 minutes or so, I scan the image results page for the prettiest bullet journals (if you think, “Mala, that’s just sad,” or “get a life, girl!”… well, maybe …but this is what brings me joy).

Anyway, coming back to the point. The searches are becoming increasingly visual nowadays (hello, Pinterest!). It is, therefore, pertinent to optimize not only the text on your website but also the images. Maybe your posts don’t rank on the text tab but you can certainly do your bit to help your images rank. Not most people do this, so you can be an early adopter and get a head start.

In today’s post, let’s discuss how to optimize your images for the web (i.e. the big bad world of search engines).

Anatomy of an Awesome Web-optimized Image

How to Make Your Blog Images Rank Higher on Search Engine Result Pages

Use relevant images

This is really about common sense but you will be surprised how often bloggers mess this up. I have mentioned this example before but I will mention this again because there is just no excuse for this: an image about an online course in today’s time cannot show a typewriter as its featured image.

Please be sure the image you choose is relevant to your content. The purpose of using images is not to decorate your post—use images to complement the content.

Select only copyright-free images or use your own

The blogging world is full of horror stories about unsuspecting and ignorant bloggers being sued for using copyrighted images. Please be careful when you search for free stock images. I am listing five popular websites that offer royalty-free, copyright-free stock images.

Please be advised the websites are free to change their terms and conditions. Therefore, always exercise caution.

When possible, consider purchasing stock images. This will ensure the image on your post is not as widely circulated as a free stock image.

While there is no denying the ease of using stock photos, the fact remains that copyright claims aside, most stock photos look super staged and fake. For this reason, you may want to shoot your own photos to make your images personal. But be aware that shooting personal photos requires significant investment of time (if you shoot your own) and/or money (if you hire a professional).

Use the correct file format

Images are stored in various formats depending on how it will be used. The three most common formats that bloggers use are JPEG, GIF, and PNG.

GIF images are usually used to include an animation or a meme. A regular image loses quality when saved in a GIF format. So, avoid it as much as you can. If you must use GIF, consider using GIFs created by professionals.

JPEG and PNG are the standards when it comes to blog images. Both give excellent quality but PNG files are heavier than JPEG files. It’s okay to choose JPEG images unless you want a transparent background. For that, always go with the PNG format.

Use high-quality images, not pixelated poor quality ones

This one is related to the previous point. Sometimes in your search for free stock photos, you may select a photo that is not up to the web standard. It may look perfect when seen in smaller dimensions, but as soon as you enlarge the image or try to zoom in for cropping purposes, individual pixels begin to show.

Another example could be if you choose to take your own photos using your phone or camera. Often, in the absence of enough lighting or poor camera quality, photos are of poor quality.

So, ensure the photos you are using as of the best quality.

Compress images to reduce the file size

The loading time and speed of your website is a very important factor in ranking high on search engine results page.

Among other factors, file sizes affect the loading time significantly. So, remember to compress your images so they load faster. But often, compressing images can also result in the loss of image quality.

Luckily, there are websites that enable you to compress without compromising on the quality. The websites that I personally use are Short Pixel and Tinyjpg.

Another option is to install the WP Smush on your website and the plugin will automatically compress all images on the website. The reason I don’t use the plugin is that I like to keep the number of plugins to the minimum—again, the number of assets on your website affects the website’s load time.

Make your file names descriptive and use keywords

Search engines depend on you to tell them what your image is about. The way you can tell them about it is via the various text fields available in the image properties.

Even before you get to the properties, the first thing you can do to save your image file with a specific name that describes what the image is about. For example, instead of using the default file names, such as DSC006 or IMG05, use a description such as “laptop on a table.”

Also, when writing the file name, try to include the keyword for which you are trying to rank.

Update “Alt Text” using keywords

After you have decided on a file name, it’s time to add even more information about the image. Your next stop is the Alt text (or Alt Tag) field.

Alt text is the rollover text that one sees when they point to an image. This is also essential for cases where an image fails to load, or when a visually impaired person is consuming your content.

The Alt text is nothing but the exact description of the image. Think of Alt text as a label for each image. It tells the user what image they would have seen had it loaded or if they were able to see it. Similarly, it tells the search engines what the content of the image is.

The Alt text may or may not be the same as the file name. For example, “laptop on a table” could be both the file name and the Alt text. However, to take full advantage of the available opportunities, experts recommend writing “similar” text but not the “same.”

Keep the Alt text short—say, 5-7 words—and using a sentence format is appreciated but is not mandatory.

Update “Description” using keywords and use sentence format

The Description box is yet another opportunity to tell the search engines about your images. The “description” that you write in this field is what is typically picked by the social media platforms when you publish your posts. That said, some platforms may have a preference of displaying the Alt text over the Description text. To err on the side of caution, populate both fields with as much descriptive text as allowed.

A word of caution regarding File Name, Alt Text, and Description

While it is important to use keywords in the aforementioned sections, please don’t overdo it. I mean, forget doing so, don’t even think about it! Using too many keywords without any context is considered as “keyword stuffing” by search engines. Keyword stuffing is not an experience for your readers. It’s a strict no-no and such websites are penalized by the search engines by pushing the website way down in the search results, or not showing them at all. This is where using the sentence format helps. Draft the sentence is a manner that offers useful information to your readers while still incorporating the keywords appropriately and in context.

Don’t embed important text inside images

Do not use images as supplementary material for your content; use them as complementary material.

As explained before, search engines do not yet have the ability to “read” your images. Therefore, if you add any key (or new) information as part of the image (that is, text on image), the search engine will not be able to scan and pick it. This will result in loss of data for you.

Create custom images for each social media platform

Your blog posts and image not only show up on search engines but also on social media platforms, which have their own search ecosystem. Therefore, it is important to cater to these platforms.

Each social media platform requires specific dimensions of images on their website. These guidelines are based on how they want their website to appear.

These platforms are your hosts; you are a guest. Respect the hosts’ guidelines.

In most cases, the platforms will reject images that do not match their guidelines. Frustratingly, the platforms also keep updating their guidelines often. Be on the lookout for any changes and update your images accordingly.

Bonus Tip

Pay attention to the placement of your image within your blog post.

Make sure that you place the relevant images near the relevant and corresponding chunk of text. The search engines may not be able to read your images, but with the help of the text fields (Alt, Description, File Name, Caption, etc.) as well as the body text around the image, the search engines tend to “guess” the context of the image and types of results they should appear for.

Help the search engines help you.

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Want to make your blog images rank higher on Search Engine Result Pages? Read the post to learn about 10 tips that will help you understand the anatomy of an awesome blog image that ranks high.

What are “Nofollow” Links and When to Use Them

Disclaimer: The information about nofollow links in this post is true as of October 31, 2017. The information may change in the future and may even differ for various search engines. So, please take the article with a pinch of salt and always be on the lookout for any algorithm updates in the future.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO—a term most of us are familiar with. But SEO isn’t just about researching and using keywords in your posts. There’s much, much more to it.

The trouble is no one really has the complete list of guidelines that will help you rank your posts on the first page of search results. As a result, most of us spend hours agonizing about keyword research and usage. This is not to say it isn’t important or necessary—it sure is, but there are a few other smaller things you must do to get in the good books of search engines, especially Google.

Did you know Google can penalize your website (i.e. affect your ranking) if you do not follow their guidelines pertaining to link listings?

For example, while writing a sponsored post, you will create a backlink to your sponsor’s website at some point in your post. Any backlink to a certain website adds to the website’s trustworthiness. But the problem is you are being paid to create this “trust factor”—a big no-no! So, for such link listings, you must apply what is known as a “nofollow” attribute.

The What, When, and How of Nofollow LinksThe What, When, and How of Nofollow Links

Dofollow Links Vs. Nofollow Links

Most links, by default, have the “dofollow” attribute enabled. Which is why SEO experts consider guest posting and commenting so important in driving organic traffic to your website.

When you guest post on another person’s website, they will typically allow you to add one or two backlinks to your website in your post. One way to look at it is the exposure you are gaining by posting your content and backlinks. That aside, every backlink to your website adds more credibility to you being a domain authority, and thereby, your ranking.

Similarly, by commenting on other people’s blogs and leaving your website URL behind, you create more and more backlinks for yourself. Nowadays platforms such as WordPress and Blogger have set links in comments as “nofollow” by default.

When it comes to big companies, the stakes are exponentially higher. Imagine how many people must be linking to their website and/or product listings. A high percentage of these listings is paid and therefore, segregated from genuine backlinks. This is where the “nofollow” attribute comes into the picture.

When search engines find “nofollow” links, they know these must be excluded from their influence-building algorithm (don’t know what else to call it :-)). In other words, these links do not influence the page ranking of the website.

How to Create Nofollow Links

There are two ways of doing this—using plugins or manually.

Plugin Method

There are several plugins available for WordPress that will allow you to mark select or all external links as “nofollow” links. One plugin I have used in the past and liked is the “Ultimate Nofollow” plugin. It’s easy to use.

Alternatively, just search in the WordPress directory for the one you want to try out (keyword: nofollow).

Manual Method

I find the manual method more reliable compared to using a plugin. Additionally, every new plugin takes up web space and slows down your website. So, choose your plugins carefully.

When you create a link, it looks like this in the HTML view:

<a href=”http://www.YourLink.com”>YourLink</a>

This is an example of a “dofollow” link even though the words “dofollow” are not spelled out.

Search engines will consider http://www.YourLink.com as an endorsement of quality content. This will push the link higher in the search results.

Conversely, if you are endorsing a website because they paid you for it, you have to enable the “nofollow” attribute. This is how it will look in the HTML view:

<a href=”http://www.YourLink.com” rel=“nofollow”>YourLink</a>

This link will not count towards link building for the website.

When Should You Use “Nofollow” Links

Affiliate or Sponsored Links

First and foremost, any time you are being paid to write about a brand, all backlinks to the brand’s website must be set to “nofollow”.

Display Advertisements

Embedding third-party display advertisements, such as via Google AdSense and Media.net, on your website is a very common method of earning revenue. Make sure the HTML codes of these advertisements have the “nofollow” attribute included.

Non-example or Offensive Website

It’s possible you want to mention a certain website as a non-example. For instance, maybe you are listing websites that are not safe for the work environment or for children. You want your readers to know about these websites, so you link them. But you do not want to endorse these websites by creating legit backlinks.

General Non-endorsement

This is similar to the previous point. Often, you will cite another website to make a point but are not necessarily endorse them. For example, you may embed someone else’s YouTube video to illustrate something. But that doesn’t mean you want to specifically endorse that channel. Make the link “nofollow”.

I hope you found this post useful and will keep the pointers in mind. For more information, please read this detailed article about “nofollow” links (I have set the link to “nofollow” :-))

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The What, When, and How of Nofollow Links