UPDATE: Given that I am a technically challenged guy who just reads our reports and strategically looks at how we get more engagement on our site, I am more than willing to admit that sometimes when talking about things I am dead wrong. It has been brought to our attention that a bounce rate this low may be due to having two lines of Google Analytics code running on our site. I have instructed our tech people to look into this and remove one if that is the case. This will fix things up and give us an accurate bounce rate for the site which I will report here. I will note though that everything talked about in this article has increased pageviews and engagement for our site, it would just be the 2% value that may be out of whack. I have confirmed with DFP and our Media Agency that our impressions are accurate as per my reporting.
UPDATE 2: Since identifying and removing a second Google Analytics code we were not aware of, as well running a detailed report working out what our true bounce rate was (thanks analytics people on twitter) we have based on the last few days since this article, worked out we have a bounce rate of around 15 – 19% for the last month and MTD Feb. A big thanks to those guys that pointed out our analytics issue. The user engagement stuff in this article is still important and we hope you can take something away from it.
Just to give some context before we dive into this one: Every business is different, we are a media business – bounce rates are a critical stat that is looked at by us and our clients, our business IS content so keep that in mind as you are reading through this article, as page views for us are what sales are for you.
This is what I like to call a “let me get naked in front of you” type of post. As most readers would be aware I do this from time to time, because I feel that if I am doing something that works within my business well, that it should be shared across the Australian startup scene so we can all prosper and strengthen the space.
When it comes to our business here at Shoe String Media, there are a couple of very important statistics that we look at, the most important being engagement. Across our publications one of the key ways to do this is look at two aspects of our analytics 1) Pages per visit and 2) Bounce Rate. The latter is something we have been monitoring for a long time, in fact it has been a determining factor in the overall layout and design of our whole entire publication. I will delve into the specifics around this in a minute, first let’s demystify the term “bounce rate”.
Bounce Rate Explained
Google explains the term bounce rate as:
The percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).There are a number of factors that contribute to your bounce rate. For example, visitors might leave your site from the entrance page if there are site design or usability issues. Alternatively, visitors might also leave the site after viewing a single page if they’ve found the information they need on that one page, and had no need or interest in visiting other pages.
As stated in my opening lines, bounce rate is going to be different depending on the industry that you are in. We are in the content industry, and on average the bounce rate is generally 40% – 60% for content based / news or information sites according to research published by Kiss Metrics last year.
As a product shoestring.com.au needs to be able to provide the sales side of the business with inventory to sell, and that means impressions or pageviews need to grow in order for core revenue to grow:
And this is WHY for our type of business – the page depth in which people venture into our site is critical. We have worked really hard since 2012 to get our bounce rate to a low number, in the beginning we were up around the 80% mark and have constantly gone back and forth and re-evaluted and tested our product to get it to where it is right now. Let’s have a closer look. Time to get naked…
Stats for our last 30 days on shoestring.com.au:
There are plenty of things that we still need to work on looking at these stats, but for this post we will concentrate on the 1.29% bounce rate for the last month. As our traffic continues to grow month to month this year and reach our goals of 100,000 monthly readers, I expect the bounce rates to be a little higher – the more unique visitors the harder we will be needing to work to control it. And this is how we have learnt to control it.
We have developed a very systemised approach to our content strategy for the website. We know in advance the types of features, news articles, trends etc that we will be talking about at the beginning of each week, breaking news will always be reported, but it’s the considered pieces that draw our readers in and secure the engagement. I am not giving away any secrets here, just read some of our recent profiles and it will be very clear to you. If you are not a content creator as your core business like us, creating content is still a great way to get people engaged and prolong the time they’re browsing on your site, through your products etc. The big issue people have with “blogging” for business is they think about it all wrong – we don’t blog, we don’t write articles here – we tell stories that we are passionate about sharing, that is the key to making sure people read and share your stuff. This also means they will be keen to explore more of what your business does further.
Our homepage has been tested, redesigned, tested again, and redesigned again many times over – the tweaks from time to time may have been small and not noticed by the vast majority of people, but each time we went through a redesign the goal was to make the content as clickable as possible, in 2012 we thought the way to do this and gain more clicks was to have as much content available on the homepage as we could, it looked like this:
There was too much that people had to think about when they arrived at the home page, they had a choice of so many stories and articles to choose from that around 60% of them would just opt to leave the site altogether. Our original hypothesis was wrong – more content in front of them upon entry to the site would result in more pageviews.
This is what our site looks like now:
The clean design now has everything in the position it is in for a reason, likewise we also have changed the types of images we use for articles and spend a great deal of time testing our story titles.
One of the big mistakes a lot of other sites make is they upsell in a way that is invasive and desperate “others bought this too” type situations – these things only work if they are integrated well into the site. We missed the mark for a very long time with this type of stuff, including subscribing to plugins that could supposedly increase our page views by targeting people with content they want to read. Until we made a few simple changes and relocated the Author Box and (just because it looked good) placed a “related posts” column underneath.
This fluke saw a significant increase in our ability to upsell our older content to new readers to the site for the first time and is one of the strongest contributing factors in growing our inventory and keeping the bounce rate consistently under the 2% mark.
Brilliant Daily Content. Look at what the stats tell you about your homepage. Upsell targeted product.
You’ll be bouncing lower than ever before.