Does your WordPress theme affect your bounce rate?

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UPDATE: Just when you think things are going well, things are too good to be true, they turn out to be wrong.  That is what happened to my bounce rate.  Back in December 2012, it was about 78%.  Once I moved to the Standard theme, it dropped to 10% or so.  I was so happy I wrote a post.

Fast forward to the end of March 2013.  While trying to get more info out of Google Analytics, I made a few changes that caused my bounce rate to shoot up to about 75%.  Days passed and hours spent looking online lead to the conclusion that I had my Google Analytics key on my pages twice (once from the theme and once from a plugin).  Apparently, that is a great way to have a very low but very wrong bounce rate.

The lesson here is to realize that drastic changes in your traffic, bounce rate, and other metrics should be investigated.  It doesn’t matter how much those metrics make you look good, help you meet your goals, or all that other stuff.  I lost about 3 months worth of bounce rate data because I took a drastic change in results at face value.  

On the plus side, it looks like my bounce rate has dropped about 5% in the past 3 months.  Always look on the bright side of life…..

How bouncy is your website?  I mean, what is your bounce rate?

The bounce rate of a website is a ratio of the number of visitors who only view one page to the number of visitors that view multiple pages.  A high bounce rate means that visitors are reaching your site on a specific page and leaving without exploring further.  This can be for several reasons:

  • Your content is not compelling or just plain bad
  • The visitor did not like the content or find what they were hoping to find
  • The visitor liked the content but was not pointed toward your other great content
  • The visitor stayed on your page for too long before going to another one of your pages
  • Other technical problems

Most of these problems are under your control (writing better and more relevant content, describing your posts better, deep linking to your other content, etc) but there are a few behind the scenes things that can help.  If you are using WordPress, one of those things is your theme.

Helping your bounce rate behind the scenes

As most WordPress users know, the theme of your website controls how it looks and acts when visitors come knocking.  A good theme loads quickly, helps you with SEO, provides a framework for widgets, and much, much more.  A bad theme will make you want to scream and throw your computer off the top of a very tall building, watching the evil device explode is an instant of triump over technology.  But, what was I saying…

A well designed theme is a great asset to have for your WordPress site.  There are a bunch of free themes that look great and work well but if you really want a great site, you have to pony up a little cash and go for a Premium theme.  When I decided to go the Premium route, I decided to give the Standard Theme from 8Bit a try.  Boy, was I in for a shock.

Besides all the great stuff that Standard does well, how much do you think it affects bounce rate specifically?  My guess would be maybe a little, but not much.  Here comes the shocker…

Bounce rate for BlueCapra - Nov 1, 2012 to Jan 29, 2013

What does this mean?

Without more experiments and testing, it’s hard to say for sure if the Standard Theme was the only thing that helped or if there were other factors that helped the bounce rate.  Doesn’t really matter to me; going from a bounce rate of 77.46% (Nov 1, 2012 to Dec 29, 2012) to a bounce rate of 10.99% (from Dec 30, 2012 to Jan 29, 2013) is enough to make me even happier for the switch.

How about you? Do you have any experience with a WordPress theme helping or hurting your bounce rate?  Leave me a comment

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Alan Reeves

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Alan Reeves is an entrepreneur and IT professional. In his free time, you can find him here or working on his business, Book Worm Laser & Design. You can connect with him on Google+, Facebook, or through BlueCapra.com