Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Bounce Rate 101

 Bounce Rate is one of those Analytics stats that is easy to dismiss.  But it's an important one that, if you work on it, will lead to improved readership and more dedicated readers who return again and again.

Bounce rate is shown as a percentage in Google Analytics. It is shown in other ways in other analysis programs. Although I talk about Analytics here, the same information is relevant for whichever program you use to analyse your stats. If you are interested in how the rate is worked out, you can read the wikipedia page here.

It's basically a show of how many people came to the page and then left within a certain time (usually 30 mins) without exploring your site further. The average is around 50% for a regular, article bearing website or blog. Bear in mind that if your site is a one-stop-shop, like a dictionary, this will probably be higher because the visitor will find what they want on that one page they visited and not really need anything else from you!

As a blog owner, you want your articles to draw people in, but for them also to explore your other content, and find it relevant and interesting. You want a low bounce rate because you don't want people taking one look and fleeing because they don't find your blog interesting enough *sadface*

Here are three ways that you can improve your Bounce Rate.

1. Focus on just a few areas.

Chances are, if someone has come to your blog through a link to a DIY on Pinterest, they might quite possibly have an interest in other DIY's that you have written. If the rest of your blog is about collecting antique doorknobs, that traffic is likely to move on elsewhere. I have focused my blog on Social Media articles, craft DIY's and nail tutorials. I enjoy writing about these three areas and find it quite easy to think up posts relating to them. Focusing on just one thing would get a little boring, let's be honest. I like to rotate my topics over a week. However, I know that if people are coming in from pinned DIY's, like my Christmas Bauble DIY which brings in around 200 visitors a day, they will probably like some of my other DIY's and posts about crafty stuff. I hope they will stay and explore what else I have to offer along those lines.

2. Make other content easily accessible

It's all very well having the kind of content that people are coming to your blog for, but if they can't find it, it's utterly pointless. If you have a glance around my blog right now, you'll see there are at least 4 places that you can click through to other articles that might be of interest to you. At the top of my sidebar on the right you'll see a little section of four thumbnails. This is my four most popular (based on pageviews) articles. I haven't chosen them, I installed a blogger widget to chose the top four. Since they are the most popular, I assume they will be of interest to the most people. It kind of annoys me that two of the spaces are filled with Ombre French Manicure posts! And look, there is that Christmas Bauble DIY again! I actually put the widget there  there because I redirected my old blog where the tutorial was originally posted and I was worried people wouldn't be able to find it. I knew it would show up as it remains by far my most viewed post. I think it's contributing heavily to my current low bounce rate! Other ways that readers can find interesting content is my LinkWithin widget, see below the post where it suggests other articles you might like? Good idea huh? You can get your own for pretty much any blogging platform from here. Then I have a list of recent posts with my thumbnails (I talk about the importance of a relevant thumbnail image for your regular posts here). Plus I think I have a pretty easy navigation bar there at the top, find out how to make your own image map here. Of course, I also link previous posts a lot, which I hope draws readers deeper into my blog. Common sense right?

3.Target the right audience.

So now you have all your great content and you have it easily accessible from the very first page that traffic lands on. All you need is to get the right people over to your blog! This is a much bigger subject than I can cover in a few short paragraphs but here's a quick idea that I like to recommend to my brand awareness clients.

Dream up your ideal 'customer'. Start with the obvious demographic stuff, age, sex, background. Where do they shop? What kind of friends do they have? What websites do they visit daily? What are their hobbies? Build a complete picture of the type of person you imagine that you are aiming at. Do you know anyone like that, or who has many of their characteristics? Really go into detail once you have the basic picture. Who do they follow on twitter? What do they do on Friday night? What kind of boards do they have on Pinterest? How would you imagine they would stumble upon YOU?

It's important to remember that even though you have the idea of who your target market is, not many people are going to fulfil all of these characteristics. But it should give you a strong idea of the right places to look to find potential blog readers. Don't pigeonhole people! Even just one of your 'ideal' customers charastistics might be enough to make them a good match for your blog. The kind of information you can gather from this is:
  • Forums and blog rolls that might prove to be a good Return On Investment for you
  • Other areas that you might not have thought to focus on
  • People/companies to follow on twitter and Pinterest and engage with in the future
The other key point to this is that you can see whether you are being too specific. You want your potential audience to be as wide as possible. Think about how many people realistically you are aiming at. If you are writing only about motorcycle games for the Nintendo 64, your target demographic is people who have and still play a Nintendo 64, and who also like motorcycle games. I think that's quite a small market. If you want a big audience, you need to be appealing to a big audience.

Once the right people find your blog, they will be interested in what you have to offer. This will lead to a lower Bounce Rate. Stats are not everything, that's important to remember. But keeping people reading will ultimately increase the success of your blog and your online profile.

I love feedback on my articles! If you have found this interesting or useful, please do leave a comment or click the +1 for Google+. You can also add me on LinkedIn and I'm greatful for endorsements on there, as I use my profile to obtain freelance Social Media work :-)

Katy x

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