14 Ways to Increase Visitor On-Page Time and Drop Your Bounce Rate

14 Ways to Increase Visitor On-Page Time and Drop Your Bounce Rate

When was the last time you checked your WordPress website’s analytics? How about your site’s conversion rate? If the two pictures don’t quite sync up (e.g. you’re getting a lot of visitors, but sales are in a slump), then it’s time to figure out what’s going on with your website.

Let me ask you a few questions:

  • What was your website’s bounce rate this month?
  • Which pages experienced the highest exit rate?
  • How long do visitors stay on each page of your site, on average?

Analytics are a tricky thing. You may see a bunch of glowing green indicators telling you that page views are on the up and up or that you’ve got more new visitors than last month, but those numbers don’t mean much if you don’t dig deeper.

If you’ve got a high quantity of visitors coming to your site, but they’re jumping ship within a matter of seconds without engaging, there’s something wrong quality-wise. Today I want to discuss how your website’s content and design may be the source of the problem and offer a number of ways you can go about lifting your visitors’ on-page time and dropping your site’s bounce rate.

Why It’s Time to Revisit Your Site’s Content and Design

Imagine you had a brick-and-mortar shop and people were always walking by the front window, looking in, and then walking on by. Or, even worse, imagine that people were stepping inside your shop, taking a look around, and then immediately leaving. This is exactly what happens on your website every time it registers a bounce.

Visitors to your website should be excited to learn more about you and your business after catching that first glance. However, when they “bounce” off your site without taking any further steps into other pages or engaging with the elements on your site, then you’ve got a big problem.

When it comes to design, there are a lot of factors that may cause visitors to hightail it out of your site:

  • Are the stock photos too cheesy?
  • Is the typography difficult to read?
  • Are there too many pop-ups?
  • Do the colors stir up a negative emotion?
  • Are there too many steps in the conversion process?
  • Is the content irrelevant?
  • Are calls-to-action getting lost?
  • Is the menu too difficult to navigate?
  • Or is it something else?

While I can’t say exactly what may be the cause of your particular site’s pain, I can give you some guidelines to follow when assessing and fixing what’s wrong with it.

Increasing Your Visitors’ On-Page Time

While the time your visitors spend on the pages of your website isn’t the only statistic you need to keep an eye on, it’s a good indicator of their overall interest. And with more time spent on-page, more pages visited, and a lower bounce rate, it’s safe to assume that your visitors will be more likely to convert.

Here are some ways to drive this engagement.

Tell a Story


Every website should tell a story. And by “story,” I mean there should be a clear problem-and-resolution that visitors notice when looking through your site.

If you’re not sure what story your website tells (or if it even has one), it may be time to rethink your website’s design and content for a stronger, more cohesive message that captures your audience’s attention.

Solution: Tell Your Story

Revamp Your Menu


If you find that your visitors commonly deviate from the pre-determined path you’ve established for them, then your navigation may not be as straight-forward as you think.

If there is related content that visitors are missing out on, a redo of your site’s navigation might not be such a bad idea. It would also give you an opportunity to better clearly tell your story by placing pages in a logical order within the menu.

Solution: Give Your Menu a Redo

Remove the Clutter

There’s a tendency in this day and age to overshare – to tweet our thoughts, Instagram our meals, Snapchat our adventures. When it comes to websites, though, think of them like the 140-character restriction on Twitter. Say as much as possible in as little space as you can.

This is why minimalist design is hot right now; it forces visitors to focus on the most important parts of the site and not get distracted by the rest.

Solution: Communicate More Effectively

Optimize Your Imagery


Images are an essential part of web design. They establish a tone, set the pace, and can even tell visitors a lot about a business. When talking about “optimizing” images, the first thing that comes to mind for developers is photo compression. Optimization can also pertain to making the most of the images used. High-resolution imagery is a must. Unique stock photography is good, too. Even better would be using your own photography.

Solution: Optimize Your Photos

Give Your Fonts a Facelift

A lot of consideration goes into the images, colors, and placement of a website, but what about the font? If you’ve ever relied on the default font selection of a theme, you know that those choices aren’t always ideal.

While there may be other issues giving visitors a difficult time reading your content, a quick switcheroo may be enough to hold their attention.

Solution: Upgrade Your Font

Break Up Content

The key to appealing to the masses is to go with a simple and classic solution. In terms of content, consider breaking it up in the following ways:

  • Use shorter sentences.
  • Keep paragraphs brief.
  • Add bulleted lists.
  • Create numbered points.
  • Use a larger font and header tags for easier scanning of content.
  • Rely on simple words and avoid industry jargon.

Solution: Simply Revise Your Content

Personalize Your CTAs

You may not realize it, but your calls-to-action (CTAs) may be standing in your way. It might be because the wording seems too much like a robotic command (like “Read More” or “Click Here”). Or it might be due to the colors, placement, or size of the button. Regardless, if you’re not getting as many clicks as you’d like, you need a way to better manipulate an urgent, emotional need to click.

Solution: Improve Those Clicks

Write Relevant Content

Websites go stale very easily if left alone for too long. That’s why it’s important to blog, blog, blog—and make sure that the ongoing push of new content through the pipeline is relevant and useful for visitors.

The goal then is to create regular blog content that drives readers to stay on the page until they get to the very end. That’s where they’ll find your helpful suggestions to take an action or read other related content.

Solution: Share Related Content with Ease

Employ Interactivity

Flat, minimal design is good… but that doesn’t mean that animations and other forms of entertainment or interactivity are bad. In fact, they may do a better job at holding your visitors’ attention and propelling them through your site.

Sliding animations, creative calculators, and infographics can break up page-after-page of copy and give visitors a reason to stay engaged.

Solution: Make It Interactive

Check Out Your Pop-Up Usage

Our Hustle email opt-in plugin makes setting up effective and intelligent pop-ups super easy.
Our Hustle email opt-in plugin makes setting up effective and intelligent pop-ups super easy.

Luckily for us, exit-intent technology is alive and thriving and can save many a visitor from abandoning a site without at least giving up an email. That being said, some websites have gone a little overboard with their pop-up messaging, rendering the exit-prompted pop-up useless.

So if you choose to go the route of pop-ups, ensure that they’re used in the right place and the right time.

Solution: Make Your Pop-Ups Count

Simplify Your Conversion Process

For those of you who aren’t experiencing issues with bounce rate, but are still dealing with a lack of conversions, your shopping cart or intake forms may be the problem.

If there’s anything to learn from the tips above, it’s that your visitors expect a simplified experience. This may mean you need to cut down on the number of fields in a form or break your shopping cart out into multiple pages to make it more easily digestible.

Solution: Start with Your Forms

Add a Live Chat

For some visitors, the reason they leave is due to pure frustration. They can’t find the answer to their question. They can’t get a form to work. Or they’re experiencing some other issue that they want a real-time resolution for.

By putting a live chat module on your site, you can make sure you’ve got someone there to answer questions and keep visitors from unnecessarily jumping ship.

Solution: Have a Chat

Fix Broken Links


This might seem like a silly suggestion, but broken links are really disruptive to the visitor experience (and are bad for SEO, to boot). Rather than run the risk of annoying a visitor with one too many broken links, keep them moving through the endless chain of pages with intact links.

Solution: Fix Your Links

Find a New Theme

Spirit is just one of our stunning WordPress themes. Hit "Themes" in the navigation at the top of the page to check out our other themes.
Spirit is just one of our stunning WordPress themes. Hit “Themes” in the navigation at the top of the page to check out our other themes.

If it’s been over two years since you last touched your site’s design, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s in need of a change. It also may be the case that the theme originally chosen just doesn’t work for your particular audience. People these days expect businesses to stay in tune with modern trends—and this includes design. So if you’ve tested everything else and are still struggling with getting that time on-page up or bounce rate down, it may be time to consider a new theme.

Solution: Discover a New Look

Wrapping Up

Before making any changes to your site’s content or design, make sure you have the following tools set up and ready to go. They’ll help you diagnose any initial issues and give you a decent place to start from.

  1. Google Analytics: This is the best tool to have on your side when trying to figure out what’s going on in the minds of your visitors.
  2. Responsive Check: Mobile usage has overtaken desktop, so it’s no longer a question as to whether your site needs to be responsive. If anything is amiss, you can use any number of responsive or mobile-friendly checkers to verify that your site is in good standing.
  3. SmartCrawl: While search engine-optimized content helps search engines point people to your site in the first place, tools like our SmartCrawl plugin also help optimize the content on your site for improved readability.
  4. Readability Assessment: If people are having a hard time reading the content on your site, the Hemingway App will give you a gentle nudge in the right direction.
  5. A/B Testing: Hold onto A/B testing until you have some likely theories about what’s going on with your site. You’ll then be able to present some alternate versions of your site’s content to verify whether those theories are valid.

Remember: you want to drop that bounce rate and get that on-page time up. That doesn’t mean you need to completely redo your website in order for visitors to be more likely to convert. Your goal should be to identify those smaller areas that, when fixed, will make a huge difference in the reception of your site.

Now over to you: What small changes have you made to your website that resulted in a big difference in your site’s performance?

Brenda Barron

Brenda Barron Brenda is a freelance writer from Southern California. She specializes in WordPress, tech, and business and founded WP Theme Roundups. When not writing about all things, she's spending time with her family.