5 Reasons I Bounce

Blue bouncing balls
Image by Mr. C90

Mark Schaefer wrote a great piece about how headlines make or break reads in this attention economy. In that vein, I leave many posts within the first minute creating a website bounce.

The dreaded bounce occurs when someone who visits your site and leaves after viewing a singular page. Usually they leave because the site lacked value or any obvious next action.

A high bounce rate indicates your site experience — which also means your business and content — doesn’t successfully cultivate prospects.

Headlines drive people into your site, but the writing job continues after someone clicks through.

Here are the top reasons I bounce off blog posts:

1) Rambling

The headline promised a topic, but the author seems to think a long set up is justified, recounting some relatively insignificant reason why they decided to write the post. By the third paragraph, I’m wondering where this is going. I’m gone by the fifth. Ramble on!

Tip: You don’t have to write in a journalistic news style, but you should get to the point quickly.

2) Bait and Switch

Worse than long winded posts, some writers use a headline to grab you, then write on a completely different topic. They may even admit it with some cheeky remark about wanting to grab your attention. Ummm… That’s just wrong.

Tip: Write authentic headlines that accurately describe your post.

3) Cult of Personality

Some blogs are really about the person and their journey. That’s cool, but if I’m reading business stuff, give me value and intelligence as opposed to hero worship.

A blend is fine, but all blogger and no insights equals water cooler gossip or reality TV as far as I am concerned. Frankly, I’d rather read a novel.

Tip: Balance infusing personality with real world value and intelligence.

4) Rubbernecking Adventures

We’ve all seen the posts; dramatic mass unfollowing, calling out a brand or person, a ridiculous “X is Dead” post, or some vain attempt at newsjacking. These colorful pieces drive attention and momentary readership.

More than most I understand why these posts are a complete waste of time, not only for me as the reader, but also for the writer. At least from a qualitative standpoint.

I’m the guy that quit smoking who hates the stench of cigarettes. Meaning, been there, done that (as a writer), and I hate myself for it. So when I see someone else doing it, I have twice the negative reaction and split. Progress and journeys. Maybe it’s just my personal path.

Tip: Don’t abuse readers for massive click through moments. Focus on consistent value over time.

5) Too Many Affiliate Ads

The more credible the brand, the more ads we tolerate. In the case of independent bloggers or small businesses, I’m trying to trust you. Loading a site full of affiliate links and ads makes me think you’re in the nickel and dime game.

That means you want me to click through ads as part of an aggregate to make a few bucks a week. Overdone, that causes distrust. I see your content as click bait, and don’t want to come back.

Tip: Limit the amount of calls-to-action on your site so they don’t diminish your trust.

Clearly some of these are nitpicks, but they are the reasons why I bounce. Why do you leave blog posts?


  • It’s funny you mention this today, Geoff. Since publishing my comment here yesterday as a blog post on my own site – something I tend to do since retiring my TWICs initiative – it’s crossed my mind a couple times, creating inner turmoil each time it does.

    Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt. That’s the first thing they teach you. Which is why I think I’m going to go back and trash that post. It just didn’t feel right, ya know? There’s something to be said about conscience and going with your gut when publishing.

  • Great post, and definitely not a bait and switch (the worst of all, closely followed by headline hijacking)! I would add:
    – Posts that consist of long blocks of unbroken text: if it’s not easy on the eye, you’re less likely to take the time to read it
    – Posts without any images: it’s amazing the difference a little picture makes – especially if it backs up your headline / key message
    – Disagreeing with something only in order to be sensational: You can tell when someone actually has a point to make
    – Blogging for blogging’s sake: yes, you need to communicate regularly, but keeping the quality high is crucial
    – Going off topic too often: once in a while is fine, but in all probability people read your blog because they like what you talk about. This is unlikely to be ‘anything and everything’…

    I’m excited to see other thoughts – it’s a great topic! People spend a lot of time writing ‘What to do’ blogs – ‘What not to do’ is also crucial

    • This is a great five of blog no-nos. I think it’s also interesting for people to here what doesn’t work for readers, and why. Very useful. Cheers, Gifford!

    • I guess I will bring up the images thing because I read the Economist and it has almost no pictures. And there are some economic data blogs that have no pics either (though often they have charts). So I think it more is relative to the content and what I expect there to be.

      Great additions Gifford!

  • I’d add pop-up ads that immediate ask me to sign up for a newsletter before even having a chance to read the post.

  • Most common reason I leave is pure boredom. I also hate when I spend a few minutes to read something and wonder what the heck I just read.

  • Hi Geoff, fully agree. Businesses shouldn’t attract buyers with that kind of low level tactics, because that’s bound to backfire sooner than later.

    Non business related bloggers do indeed fail sometimes indeed, and also they will get that backfire sooner than later.

    Thx for this post.


    • It always backfires, usually with quality of leads, clients and contacts. But some folks have to learn the hard way (if at all).

      We all fail, though. Something to remind myself of, not better than, just mindful today.

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  • Ah, number five is so true! Some of my favorite bloggers I no longer read because their site has become one big ad.

  • I tend to do too much build up in the beginning but I am getting better at that. I think all of these speak to the bigger issue which is to always focus on providing value to the reader, both with the content and the user experience. Great post as always!

    • Yeah, I have a rule when I write and edit: Is the thesis stated in the first paragraph? If not, then it needs a rewrite. Just what I do.

  • I almost bounced on this post because I thought it was going to be about jumping on a trampoline. OK, dumb joke aside, I bounce a TON. there is a LOT of boring content out there. It’s all in the first paragraph. I have too much to consume in a short amount of time – it’s easy to move on to the next one.

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