What is bounce rate and why is it important?

The Sexy Metric: Bounce Rate

The Sexy Metric: Bounce Rate (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who come to your web site (on any page) and leave without exploring a single other page.

I have known companies with huge bounce rates (not good) and low (excellent!).

You might have terrific content on your web site and still … your bounce rate is high.

You’re lying awake at night wondering … what’s going on? I’m doing everything possible to drive traffic to my web site! Where is everyone?

Honestly, there is a clear answer.

I know a company like this, Company A. Fabulous content. Plenty of blogging and tweeting and Facebook action. Also, mad marketing skills, including writing, newsletters, and social media marketing. Still? This company has a bounce rate of over 80%. Only one in five visitors choose to explore more than one page on Company A’s web site.

I often read search engine optimization (SEO) experts’ blogs, and they say, among other things, developing content is the most important thing. Develop the content, they say, and people will come. Well, yes and no.

For instance, what about my friend, Company A? Company A has fantastic content!

My answer is this. You have three goals to reach on any web site.

  • Your site has to be great looking. Not amateurish. Not on GoDaddy’s “Web Site Tonight.”
  • Your site has to be well SEO’d (search engine optimized) … meaning that you’re bringing in well-qualified visitors.
  • Your site has to help visitors reach what they’re really looking for. THIS IS THE DIFFICULT ONE.

Company A succeeds at #1 and #2.

What’s the problem?

In a word, usability.

Company A has made the mistake of not engaging its customers (#3).

Look, if people have gone to all the trouble of actually reaching your site, and you’re turning them away, something is wrong.

It’s as if you run a hardware store and people reach the parking lot and are disappointed before they even enter. They move on. They don’t like your look. Perhaps they go get an ice cream or a Cuban dinner, and then go to a hardware chain. Or not. Whatever. They’re not buying from you, even though they had every intention to when they first showed up.

The solution?

  • Make your web site about your customers. What are they looking for (not what you’re selling)?
  • Make sure your navigation (tabs) reflect what customers are looking for
  • Make sure every page offers a way to get in touch, buy, or sign up for something special (an ebook, for example)

In short, solve your customers’ problems, and they’ll solve yours. Answer their questions.

Now, your ideal bounce rate might be 1 or 2%. I have two clients with this bounce rate. In other words, 99 people out of a hundred, after reaching their businesses, are engaged enough to leave the parking lot and walk through the front door. In other words, visitors are so excited that they click where you want them to click. And, I hope, get to the information that matters to them most.

I think, for most businesses, a bounce rate of 10 to 20% is a great goal. It may take you a while to attain it, but that’s what help is for. I can help you get there.

I’m fond of saying that a web site is like an employee. If that employee isn’t bringing in money (e.g., earning his or her keep), you need to fire that worker and hire a new one.

Web sites aren’t designed to just sit around. They should work for you.

Again, solve your customers’ problems, and you’ll solve yours.

If you want better results from your web site (and you deserve them), contact Basecamp Productions at 410.404.5559.

SEO 101: On-page SEO

On-page SEOOn-page search engine optimization (SEO) is about words. To wit, the words you use on your web pages. If you choose the right ones for your web site, you can do a lot to reach the top of your customers’ search results.

Even though it may sound complicated, SEO is refreshingly logical (mostly), democratic (available to anyone willing to put in the time), and can be absolutely FREE. And you will almost certainly see results if you work at it.

One of the aspects of SEO I really enjoy is that it’s “pull” marketing. You’re no doubt familiar with “push” marketing, which inserts unrequested ads and e-mails into inboxes and onto results pages (I really dislike the blinking ones). Pull marketing simply helps people find what they’re already looking for.

What on-page search engine optimization is

So one key to helping people is to make sure you’re speaking their language. Quite literally. This means you need to think about what people type into a Google search box when they’re looking for your products or services. These are called key words.

The important thing is that when someone enters key words into a search box, the results will be prioritized by how close they were to the original searched words. Simply put, if someone enters, “How can I find the best personal coach in Baltimore?” theoretically, your link will appear in the search results first if you’re the only one to have those words in that particular order.

So you first need to determine key words that work for your business. And after you’ve made a list (quite possibly by studying the web sites of your competitors), begin putting the key words into question form as well, because it turns out that a lot of people write questions to Google, not just words and phrases.

Once you have a keyword list, you do just about everything possible to use these key words liberally (but not obnoxiously) on your pages.

Notice that I said “just about” everything. Google is not stupid (and yes, Google really is the primary search engine you need to concern yourself with, but not the only one). In fact, millions of dollars every year go into Google’s frequently updated “search algorithm” so that it’s not fooled by shysters. Some people (mostly in the past) have actually stuffed their pages with “invisible” key words (making them the same color as the background so the words are unnoticeable in a browser window). Web pages with this kind of “trick” will be penalized by Google and possibly other search engines. Such techniques are called “black hat” techniques. Honest, hard-working SEO is called “white hat.”

Google rewards you for honest attempts to help your audience find information. Keywords in page titles are weighted more heavily, for instance, than in metatags that are buried in the html of your pages.

What on-page search engine optimization is not

There are other SEO strategies you’ll want to look at:

  • inbound links
  • outbound links
  • local SEO (which literally puts you on your local map)

Top 10 myths about web development

New Website

New Website (Photo credit: J Garrattley)

1. “I can’t afford a website.”

So you have your next-door neighbor’s teenager build you one? Please.

Many people confuse the democracy of the Internet (everyone is there!) with “free.” Many forget that, a decade or two ago, we were all spending a lot more money on ads, printed newsletters, mailings, and brochures. It was important to market professionally, and it still is. (more…)

Can a web site be over-optimized?

Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

As it turns out, yes. Even though it was just in 2010 that Google’s Matt Cutts said otherwise.

The good news is that Google’s recent announcement that a web site can be “overly SEO’d” is all part of a bigger plan to keep the web the democracy that it is. (more…)

What greeking really means?

Lorem ipsum in typeface Gill Sans

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever wondered what the famous ” lorem ipsum” (the so-called “greeking” used by millions of designers who want to show text without actually having any) translates to? Hint: even tho it’s called “greeking” by designers, it’s actually only translated into Latin. Trying “Greek” in Google won’t work. The true meaning of greeking is that it’s not greek at all. (more…)

Web site usability is the new black

Google Analytics' graphical representation of visitor flow

Google Analytics’ graphical representation of visitor flow

Soon, you’re going to hear a lot more about why web site usability is the new black.

Usability enjoyed a bright but brief heyday in the early 2000s as people realized that they could make web sites that looked better than black type with blue links on a white page. Unfortunately, usability was stomped on by the rapid rise of search engine optimization in 2003 or so. (more…)

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