30 Sep Website Bounce Rates: Diagnosis and Cures
If you’re talking about the cup holders in your car, stickiness isn’t a good thing. If you’re talking about your website, you’ve probably heard the term used in a more positive manner. Stickiness, when it comes to your website, measures how likely someone is to spend more time on your site. Google Analytics doesn’t have a sticky website metric, but it does measure your bounce rate, which is the opposite of a stickiness factor.
Google describes your bounce rate as a comparison of the number of people who view only one page on your website to the total number of people who visit your website. Google neither confirms nor denies that this rate affects your ranking. SEO “experts” offer various opinions over whether or not it really matters and how it’s actually calculated.
People often leave a site after visiting just one page for two reasons: either they found all the information they needed (like your phone number) or they realized this wasn’t the site they wanted.
How do you determine which of these scenarios you’re dealing with? If you think people are finding your phone number and not moving any further because that’s what they need, you can change the phone number on your website to a tracking phone number. Here you can compare the number of calls to that particular number to your number of site visitors and website bounce rate. If you are indeed generating additional calls to your business through your site congratulations on a job well done!
If instead of looking for a phone number, your clients or customers are looking for your address, you might test moving that information from your front page to your contact page. The one click could be enough to decrease bounces without creating frustration for site visitors.
Most websites aren’t so lucky as to be driving a lot of phone calls every day. So if you’re struggling with “stickiness” because people are leaving your site like my kids brush their teeth (fast), then it’s time to go through the diagnostic check-list.
- Site design. Often people take one look at a busy or outdated website and move on. Maybe they think the site isn’t active anymore or maybe with just one glance they couldn’t find what they wanted. Either way, if your site design needs an update your bounce is probably not the only symptom. Often outdated sites discourage sales people from using the site as a resource, and it can reflect badly on your company’s image. If you’re spending a lot of money on pay-per-click (PPC) ads through Google, Facebook or other sites, you could be wasting a lot of money sending people to a site that doesn’t represent you well. Would you hire a salesperson who underperformed due to personal appearance? No, you wouldn’t. Don’t allow your website to get away with it either.
- Keywords. SEO used to be considered backend magic. You hired a company to fill in a bunch of powerful words into field called meta-something-or-other and voila, you had great website traffic. Today’s SEO is more about providing information on your website geared toward your customer which should include the words your customers use to search for your product or service. It’s possible your site isn’t ranking for the right keywords, which means the people coming to your site may be looking for something else. For instance, if you are a body shop but talk a lot about the training your body shop techs have, you may be receiving traffic for people looking for a career in auto body repair rather than drivers with auto body damage.
- Landing pages. Go deeper into your analytics and make a note of which pages seem to have the highest bounce rates. If your landing page has a form on it, where is the form located? If your reader has to scroll too far to find it, they may give up before filling it out. It’s also possible your form asks for too much information or your page isn’t clear on what the reader will receive in return for filling out the form. If your page isn’t focused on a form, do you have links on your page to other content within your site (other than on the navigation menu)? Are all your links to outside websites (think vendor sites)? If you are only linking to outside sites, make sure those links open in a new window or tab so your reader always comes back to your page. Also think through the most logical next step in your reader’s journey through your site. Insert a call to action to contact you or to download a valuable piece of information or to move to a more in-depth page on your site.
- Navigation buttons. Renaming your navigation items with creative titles is a great idea…unless it means your site visitors have no idea where to go to find what they want. Does your navigation need to be more intuitive? Do you have drop down menus to expand your options? Consider your website design as part of your stickiness solution.
Your website should be one of your hardest working employees. If you’re having a lot of drop in and leave traffic, the problem is less about SEO and more about having a quality site. Your site visitors will spend more time on your site, visit more pages and be more likely to take action if your site is easy to use and answers the questions they are asking. If you aren’t sure your site is passing the test, let’s talk about a website analysis (which comes complete with a list of action items to make your site better).