Did you know that your Google Analytics Bounce Rate can have a huge impact on your Google Rankings?
Find out how we reduced our Google Analytics Bounce Rate from a whopping 89% to just 3% in 5 months – and how you can too!
Back in May 2015, Google released an update to their search engine algorithm which was to be dubbed the Google “Phantom” Update. It was given the “phantom” name because it was obvious Google had updated something, but nobody could quite figure out what it was! As the weeks went on, Google finally admitted that the update was to do with “site quality”
I’ve seen many sites impacted by this “site quality” update and it can mean the difference between a site sticking firmly on page 2 and refusing to move to page 1 despite all the best SEO efforts we can throw at it.
So how do you help improve Google’s interpretation of the quality of your website?
Well one obvious thing to improve is your Google Analytics Bounce Rate.
Firstly, what is the “Google Analytics Bounce Rate”
A “bounce” is what is triggered by Google when someone visits a page on your website, but then doesn’t visit any other pages of your site. This measurement is reported within your Google Analytics control panel.
This can happen if they visit your site and then simply type a new website address in the URL bar OR most likely they click a link on your page which actually takes them to someone else’s website. (An obvious example I see quite often is where photographers will have a large logo of a Photography Society that they are members off on their home page – if you click that logo it’s take you to the photography society’s webpage).
Now the percentage of people that don’t visit any other page on your site before leaving, is regarded as your Google Analytics bounce rate. So a bounce rate of 57% means that for every 100 site visits, 57 leave your site without visiting any other page.
Now the average bounce rate for websites varies by industry, but generally a bounce rate anywhere between 25% and 40% is regarded as excellent, 40% to 60% is average and anything above 60% is poor.
Now sadly the average photography industry bounce rate lies squarely in that POOR area, at a whopping 79%*
So how can you lower your Photography Website’s Bounce rate?
Well it’s actually relatively easy if your think about it. All you need to do is ensure that you engage your site visitors to click on another page of your website.
It’s amazing how many of us forget to do this.
Well earlier this year I was looking at the Google Analytics results for PhotoProSEO.com and I was very quickly starting to get depressed with what I was seeing.
Our own bounce rate had slowly been rising and was peaking at 89% – that was 89 out of 100 visitors who never visited another page of my site!
Something had to be done.
So what did we do?
Well the first thing I did was look at our home page. Looking back it seems obvious at the time, but you often don’t notice these things when it is your own website. You need to step back and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.
It was obvious – our home page was almost totally lacking in any “Calls to Action” to engage the site visitor to do something else.
Yes – THERE WAS JUST ONE OBVIOUS CALL TO ACTION ON THAT PAGE – Looking back I’m embarrassed by it. I was so wrapped up in other design and marketing elements of the site, I was ignoring what my home page was there to do.
We needed a home page re-think!
Coincidentally at that time I was also considering a new site platform – my existing WordPress site was becoming more and more complicated to manage and had over 28 plugins which was slowing it down, despite being on one of the fastest WordPress hosts around WPEngine.com. (Remember if your site is slow that can also cause high bounce rates as visitors get frustrated with the slow loading speed and just leave.)
The platform I was looking at was Rainmaker Pro, which is effectively a customised version of WordPress but designed from the ground up for Marketing and eCommerce, so things like Membership management and Shopping carts were all built in, as well as the nice-to-have’s like custom landing pages etc. Within a few hours of researching the product I decided this is where I needed to move PhotoProSEO to in order to achieve our growth targets and reduce the complexity of the site.
Now fortunately, Rainmaker Pro is owned by the guys behind StudioPress who created the wonderful Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress which I was already using. So I could, if I had wished, converted to Rainmaker and kept the exact same WordPress theme. But looking at those Bounce stats I knew I needed a redesign, so I took the opportunity to switch themes and today our site is based on the Altitude Pro Theme.
We went live on the new Rainmaker platform at the end of June and we saw instant improvements in our analytics – this was for three reasons: One, the platform itself was much faster and responsive; two, no badly behaved plugins slowing the site down; and three, we focused the design of the home page on clear calls to action.
Here’s the comparison:-
Obvious Calls to Action on old page = 1
Obvious Calls to Action on new page = 7
So that’s a 600% increase in Calls to Action on the page – clearly we should see improvements and we did. Our Bounce rate started to drop from its 89% high and quickly settled to float between 25% to 35% which was a major improvement.
But we didn’t finish there
Last month we installed the wonderful Welcome Mat application from Sumome.com – this can be installed on ANY website FREE of Charge – it doesn’t have to be a WordPress site – Smugmug, Zenfolio, Squarespace etc can all use this.
What this tool does is present “first time” visitors with a HUGE call to action – basically saying, “Hey welcome to the site, do you want to sign up for our free course”? They can either say Yes and then get taken to our registration page, or “No Thanks” and the home page scrolls into view.
Next, we installed another app from Sumome.com called the Scroll Box – this is a “slide in” lead capture form which can be customised easily depending on the page it sits on.
As you scroll down the page reading the content, it pops up from the bottom corner asking if you would like to subscribe to our mailing list. The message that the box contains can even be customised to match the blog post the site visitor is reading, thereby increasing engagement.
The devil is in the detail.
Lastly we looked at the content we were writing.
It was quite simple.
Every single piece of content we write has to lead to something else – there can be no dead ends.
We have to include links to other relevant articles from each blog post, and at the end of each post we have to clearly state what we would like the reader to do next.
The results were fantastic.
Our Bounce rate has since dropped from an October high of 28% to below 3%.
Will that continue? – I don’t expect it to, I think things will eventually settle around 10% going forward – that’s going to be our target – But so far so good.
These Five Simple Steps reduced our Google Analytics Bounce rate from 89% to below 3%
So in 5 months we’ve went from a Bounce rate peak of 89.9% to below 3% with just 5 key steps:-
- Improved the general speed performance of our site (Fast website host and reducing plugins)
- Increased our calls to action on the home page
- Installed Sumome.com’s Welcome Mat and Scroll Box App
- Modified our writing style to ensure we always reference relevant internal articles
- Finished every post with a clear call to action – no dead ends!
So there you have it, how to reduce your google analytics bounce rate in 5 relatively easy steps.
Now it’s your turn!
Should you do all of them?
Well Step 1 was obviously the most technical and may not be necessary depending on your site.
Step 2 should be easy to do – just sit back and look at your home page with a fresh pair of eyes.
Step 3 is highly recommended – I love the Sumome.com apps.
Step 4 – this is an easy change to make.
Step 5 – again easy to do and the one that will probably have the greatest initial impact.
Want some tips on what plugins you should be using and what plugins can actually improve site performance and help with step 1? Take a look at our list of recommended WordPress plugs that help with SEO.
Want Google Analytics installed on your WordPress site but don’t know how to? Want someone to install Sumome.com?
For the very clever chaps at WP Curve this kind of work is a breeze – WP Curve offer a range of different support contracts starting from just $69 per month. We reckon the best value is their Professional Plan which works out at just $79 per month (if paid on an annual contract) and for that they take care of all your backups, your security and plugin updates – if WordPress can get a little too technical for you at times, then this service is ideal.
All contracts include an unlimited number of small little 30 minute jobs as well! So want Google Analytics installed? Done. Want a Facebook marketing pixel installed? Done. Want a little CSS tweak to get your site looking perfect? Done.
Want to know more? Check out WP Curve here.