How "related posts" plugins reduce bounce rate
January 20, 2012
An quick SEO experiment of mine has come to a very clear, definite conclusion, perhaps surprising only for its extremity – internal linking plugins have a huge effect on bounce rate.
I knew that installing an internal link plugin would drop my bounce rate. My bounce rate had been atrocious for the entire lifespan of my blog, and I just never got around to doing anything about it until January 10. I thought it would drop my bounce rate to 50%, 30%, something reasonable like that. ”Good” bounce rates are said to be below 30%.
The plugins exceeded my expectations, and dropped below 5%, often hovering around 2%. Minuscule.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate, for those that aren’t aware, is the percentage of visitors to a website who exit the site before visiting any other pages. It means visitors hit the landing page and then “bounce” out. A high bounce rate, say, of 99%, means that almost every single visitor to a website left after only seeing the landing page, or the page receiving the link. Maybe they read a few lines of text, or laughed at a picture of cats, but they clicked away immediately, before seeing what else the site had to offer. A low bounce rate, like 4%, means that most of the traffic to a website visited at least one other page on that site. (Here’s an infographic that explains bounce rate in more detail)
If you run a blog, and you don’t link to your own content at the end of posts, I’d highly recommend changing course. Your readers would likely prefer it, too, because they’ll get to more easily click through your content.
Why are related-link plugins so effective?
Related link plugins work so well because they reduce the cost of clicking through a website. Clicks are extremely expensive for websites.
Users understand that clicking is a necessary aspect of using a computer, but people surf the web in a hurry. Users are used to being able to click once for anything. The cost of the second click is enormous, and because most of my content (before January 10, 2012) was hidden behind a second click, it wasn’t being viewed by users.
Simple little SEO fixes like this have a huge effect on your traffic, and they don’t take long to set up.
Linkwithin Vs. YARPP: Which most improves SEO?
Linkwithin does the job, no one denies that. The graph above supports this, too.
Where LinkWithin falls short is that it does a trick with all of your links. When a visitor to a website clicks an internal link, LinkWithin first links to itself, and then redirects to the user’s desired page. It’s a way for them to “parasite” on your traffic, and it benefits them immensely in terms of monetization. Further, LinkWithin has the power to control all of your internal links! Since all of your traffic first flows to them, and then back to you, LinkWithin is literally rerouting the circulatory system of your website to flow through their body.
YARPP is much better plugin, because it lets you keep all your own internal links. YARPP does have weaknesses, because it doesn’t display an image, just the title. Ideal, in my mind, would be to have a thumbnail of any image in the article displayed next to the title. Further, YARPP doesn’t let you alter exactly which related posts will display. Instead, it uses a complex algorithm which searches your text much like a search engine, and using that information, it determines which posts are related. This algorithm is adjustable, which is nice, but only in an indirect way. Finally, YARPP (for me) is stuck on a setting which displays its own “relevancy” rating. In my opinion, this is more of a back-end issue, not something to show users. It’s somewhat like describing to restaurant patrons the appearance of the delivery truck in which their food arrived earlier that day.
The ideal related-posts plugin, which does not exist, to my knowledge, would be YARPP with the following features
1.) allows the author of the post to easily select which image will be used as a thumbnail for the related posts preview
2.) offers suggestions to the author of the post on which related posts to display, but allows the author to change these to any desired post
3.) allows the author to edit the description and title of the related post preview, displayed at the end of an article (for example, the author would be able to remove the relevancy rating which displays next to the title for posts)
Happy blogging everyone, and I wish you all the best!