It’s the new year. Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Was one of them to go to the gym to get fitter and lose that Christmas podge?
Well, your website is not dissimilar. Over the years that you’ve had it, it’s hopefully been updated, edited, had new content added and irrelevant content removed. But is it still contiguous?
When was the last time you went through it,
Page by page,
Link by link to make sure that everything is still working,
Word by Word to ensure all the words still send the right message,
Image by Image to make sure your pictures are fresh, relevant and up to date,
To check that the navigation doesn’t take the visitor to the wrong page – or even worse a 404 error page,
To ensure that everything loads in under 3 seconds,
Checking that your shopping cart (if you have one) still works,
That your shopping cart is easy and logical to use (make a trial process or better still ask somebody unrelated to your business to make a trial purchase)
That the whole transaction process still functions as designed
And it’s really easy to use on a small screen (mobile)?
Oh, and the SEO is still top-notch, you’re using the right keywords, your Header Tags are using relevant Key Words, your Meta Title and Meta Descriptions are the right length and not duplicated, that your images have SEO relevant file names, all images have Alt-Tags and all images are of an appropriate size. That your content has keywords featured in the top one or two paragraphs but that keywords are not overly repeated. That nothing’s been missed, no stone left unturned, and your links to your Social Media profiles still work.
It’s so easy to take these things for granted, to trust that your developer has done their job but such complacency could lead to a decline in your business because you’ll never find out until it’s too late. Nobody will tell you if they encounter a problem, they’ll just go to their search engine of choice, probably Google, and look for somebody else to service their need.
Unlike a lot of website SEO evaluations, mine will be carried out by me, not by a machine, so I’ll come back with a far better evaluation and detailed list of recommendations that you can carry out, that you can pass to your developer or you can ask me to implement. And if you book your *Website Workoutby the end of January 2023 you’ll get 100% of the cost back if you choose to let me take on your SEO.
Carry out the in-depth Website Workout yourself (but you might slip up if you are overly familiar with your site so getting a third party to do it for you is always the best option
Get in touch to talk about other options. I can help with your website, your SEO, your Social Media, Email Marketing and much more and I even offer a free consultancy session, or you can just drop me an email or just give me a call on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146.
I’ve been a fan of Google’s web metrics tool (Google Analytics) since it was introduced in 2005. For most businesses, it’s free to use. The necessary tracking code is easy to add to your website and provides a wealth of information about your site’s performance but the Bounce Rate is one of the most powerful metrics, a powerful insight into the minds of the people who are visiting your website.
And yet all the Bounce Rate does is record the percentage of people who visit your website but leave almost straight away without doing anything more than viewing the page they landed on.
With 15 year’s experience, my view of the Bounce Rate is as follows
0-20% – Phenomenal. In 15 years I think I’ve only come across 4-5 sites with a Bounce Rate in this area and one of those was only because the site hadn’t installed Google Analytics correctly.
21-50% – Most of the sites that I work with fall into this region. One where between 1 in 5 and 1 in 2 visitors leave the site without doing anything
+51% – Any website with a Bounce Rate of 51% and higher really needs the reasons investigating. These sites are hemorrhaging visitors and, more importantly, opportunities but HOW do you go about analysing a high Bounce Rate and turning things around.
Remember, a 51% Bounce Rate (BR) means that over half of the people that you have persuaded to visit your website, whether that’s by SEO, Google Ads, Social Media (And Social Media advertising), e-mail and video marketing or simply word of mouth are just leaving without doing anything meaningful. If your website were a shop, they’d be sticking their head through the door, shrugging their shoulders and moving on. As a consequence, this has to be worth investigating. After all, if you invest in more marketing, all that’s going to continue to happen is that over half of those you attract will just do as the 51%+ have done before – and leave.
Working to reduce the Bounce Rate. Where do you start?
First, ensure that you have a really good understanding of your website because if you don’t know what you want your website to do for your business how do you know whether it’s doing it – or not.
What are the goals of your website? Here are some common ones.
To sell something
To attract newsletter subscriptions
To encourage inquiries
To allow people to download something
If your website has a high Bounce Rate where do you start looking? There are many ways to approach this, but I always like to start by taking a look at the website itself. What message is it sending to visitors?
Let’s say, for example, that you sell widgets and those widgets are used to attach the engines to an airliner.
Having a large photo of an airliner at the top of your home page probably looks good to you. And, because you know that your widgets play an important part then it sends a message – to you, and you alone. To everybody else all it actually says is “here’s a pretty picture of an airliner”. Questions that could come into the visitor’s mind might be “is this a travel company?” “do they make the whole airliner” – not – “aha, these are the guys that make the widgets that hold this airliner’s engines on”.
Remember, although you may have 3 seconds to get your webpage open in front of your visitor that’s an eternity compared to the 2/10ths of a second that a visitor takes to “get” your website……..or not!
Once happy with the website the next place that I’d look would be at marketing activity. Are the messages being broadcast by the marketing actually delivered by your website? For example, it’s no good talking a two-for-the-price-of-one offer if there’s no mention of it on your website, or if the offer is difficult to find. Visitors won’t look around – they’ll leave (bounce) and may never come back
Now that the marketing messages align with your website, and your website is as good as it can be, it’s time to dive into the data provided by Google Analytics.
Using Google Analytics to troubleshoot the Bounce Rate
The first place I look is the source of your web visitors.
Google Analytics/Acquisition/All traffic/Source/Medium will answer this one
Traffic Sources Key
Any entry that’s tagged “/referral” is where a visitor to your site has followed a link published on a 3rd party website. This could be an indicator as to how your online marketing is performing
CPC = Google Ads
Google Organic = Google Free Search Results
Direct = Either Google can’t identify the source or people have entered the URL directly in their browser
Bing Organic = Traffic from Bing (Microsoft search)
UK Search Yahoo Organic = Traffic from Yahoo UK
Yahoo Organic= Traffic from Yahoo
m.Facebook = Traffic from Facebook on a phone or tablet
Google.com = Traffic from Google.com
Traffic from a third party website
Traffic from a third party website
For this particular website, you’ll see that the Bounce Rate is very high for the majority of traffic sources and particularly high for visitors from Google Ads. With the majority of sources having a high Bounce Rate it would appear that the problem either lies with the marketing that is attracting the wrong people to the site, the website is failing to meet expectations or the problem lies elsewhere.
Bearing in mind that one of the earlier exercises was to ensure that marketing was sending the right message it’s obvious that, for this website, the problem with the Bounce Rate lies somewhere else
Geographical Source of traffic
Navigate to Audience/Geo/Location in Analytics
Scroll down past the map to see the countries where the traffic is coming from. You’ll see the Bounce rate for each source country. If you are targeting the UK and your UK Bounce Rate is OK then the next step is to try to understand how your marketing is promoting your traffic outside of the UK.
It’s possible that your website is attracting visitors from markets that you don’t serve. I have seen a number of sites that have attracted a lot of visits from the USA. When American visitors have landed it becomes immediately obvious that the website can’t address their needs so they leave immediately (Bounce).
The reality is that there is probably very little that you can do about this but it’ll be a relief to see that the Bounce Rate for your target locations is OK.
For this site, the Bounce Rate is high for all countries so the answer doesn’t lie here and the hunt continues
Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Age in Google Analytics
Although Google can’t identify all visitors to your website it’s still worth checking the visitor demographics. You can check that your website is reaching the age groups that your business is targeting.
Again, for the website being used in this blog, the Bounce Rate is high across the board so the answer lies elsewhere.
Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Gender in Google Analytics
Some companies target specific genders and this enables you to make sure that your visitors are coming from your target demographic. Once again, with a high Bounce Rate for both genders, the answer isn’t here. The hunt continues.
Web Browser Issues
Navigate to Audience/Technology/Browser & OS in Google Analytics
Web browsers are complicated pieces of software and it’s not unusual for websites to hit problems with some browsers and not others. This screen looks at the browsers used by visitors to your website and the Bounce Rate per browser. If a particular browser has a high Bounce Rate, but only delivers 5% of visitors (or fewer), it’s not worth paying too much attention. The cost to investigate, and resolve, the problem probably outweighs the benefits
This website is performing poorly in all browsers so the problem isn’t here either and the hunt continues.
Navigate to Audience/Mobile/Overview in Google Analytics
We are all used to accessing the web on our phones, but how well does your website work on small screens. It’s possible that this is the cause of the high Bounce Rate.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Desktop visits have a Bounce Rate in the comfort zone (44.50%) whilst phones and tablets are well above 50%.
Take a detailed look at your website, using your phone. Try to act as a customer and see whether you can spot any problems. Is the site slow? Is the navigation poor? Is excessive scrolling required?
Ask friends, colleagues, family to do the same, and feedback their findings and thoughts.
Next, take it up with your web developer.
Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Overview in Google Analytics
I think we have gotten to the nub of the problem. This is a slow website. Although the server is quite slow to respond (0.36 seconds) the technical elements (screenshot above) taken to find the website and start to open it on a device are still under 1 second so the problem lies with the content of the website itself.
Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Page Timings in Google Analytics
This page looks at the performance of every page of your website and details the speed of each page as a + or – when compared to the site average. It helps to identify poor performing pages.
Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Speed Suggestions in Google Analytics and Google will provide information and recommendations as to the actions you should take to improve the speed of your website. This might be a list that you take up with your web developer
Another way to identify issues is to put your website URL into https://www.webpagetest.org . This site runs a speed test three times and then displays the results as a waterfall graph, highlighting the speed of each element of a website, enabling you to identify problem areas.
So, there you have it, a detailed look into the Bounce Rate, and the ways that you can use Google Analytics to identify issues so that you can take corrective action.
Thanks for reading and you need more help with your website’s Bounce Rate or anything else to do with your web marketing all you have to do is get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have.
Carousels, (aka Image Sliders) the name given to those annoying sliding images that seem to feature on most websites these days. As you might have gathered, I’m not a fan but is my dislike subjective (taste) or objective (they don’t add anything).
It’s objective and here’s why
1/ the human eye doesn’t respond well to movement – or maybe it responds too well. We may not live in the jungle any more, but we did once. Our brains are wired to react to sudden movement, and this movement is called a saccade. It’s our retina’s uncontrollable response to movement, and the speed of movement during each saccade can’t be controlled. The eyes move as fast as they are able.
This might have been great when hunting prey in prehistoric times whilst trying to make sure the odd sabre toothed tiger can’t creep up on us, but today, it’s your slider fighting for your attention.
2/ They take control away from the visitor Visitors like to be in control when they arrive on your website. They don’t want to see something they have no use for, and frankly, the whole point of your website should be to give your visitor what they came for.
When you put an auto-rotating image slider on your homepage you take control out of your user’s hands and give it to the slider. You know what follows? Disaster. Image sliders keep rotating, attention keeps being grabbed and web visitors loose patience. This is not only frustrating, but is terrible for usability according to UX Movement.
3/ They take up Space and hardly get clicked? How many times have you watched a slider waiting for something useful to appear? If it’s more than once then you’re in the minority.
You already know image sliders are so fast and distracting, visitors tend to ignore them. Erik Runyon ran a study at Notre Dame University to test and measure the number of clicks made on the sliders in comparison to homepage visits and you know what?
The study revealed a mere 1% of visitors clicked on a feature on the slider. That’s like the unicorn of bad conversions.
4/ They reduce visibility The Neilson Norman group (founded by Jakob Nielsen, “the Guru of website usability” New York Times) group ran a usability study, where a user was attempting to search special deals on Siemens washing machines. The user arrived on the Siemens homepage that looked like this with a deal on a washing machine at the top of the page.
The user didn’t spot the deal
She ignored the offer placed in a small box in the left-hand corner.
Then she ignored the big banner splattered on the page, even though it had an image of a washing machine on it.
Because the image slider looked so much like an ad, she left the website without buying the machine, costing Siemens an easy sale.
Jakob Nielson also pointed out that international users and users with low literacy get easily distracted and frustrated by the image sliders, as they are unable to read through one offer before another slides into place.
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