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fairdoes 21st August 2006 08:41 AM

Google Analytics, Bounce Rates and Search Results

Google Analytics, Bounce Rates and Search Results

It sometimes happens that a search engine sends many visitors to a minor (even inappropriate) page. This recently happened to me, and a check of the 'referals' pages on sitemeter revealed it wasn't really the best page for their search phrase (by a big margin), hence 60% of those visitors bounced (left without viewing other pages).

Imagine a similar occurence in a supermarket. Lots of people have heard there's terrific bargains on smoked ham - at the cheese counter! They complain loudly to the poor member of staff with the cheesy grin, then leave. What do you do?

I'd put up a sign saying SMOKED HAM THIS WAY.:welcome2:

I tried this on the top of the 'minor page', the oodles of visitors still come, and the bounce rate is now 5% rather than 60%. Out of every 20 visitors, 19 stay for a while.

Without Google Analytics and detailed sitestats (referal url and entry page) I may never have known.

Moral: Make the most of the visitors Search Engines freely provide, by making life easier for your visitors. Check the bounce rates of top entry pages – some visitors are sent to the wrong page!

dhundee 21st August 2006 10:36 AM

nice experiment, I never thought of that hehe... let me check my analytics... hmmm

vangogh 21st August 2006 11:52 AM

Good advice. I get similar search traffic that isn't really looking for me, but could possibly be directed to another page on my site or to a new page I create just for that search.

I also seem to get higher bounce rates on pages where I think searchers actually found what they were looking for. I have several articles that seem to consistently have high bounce rates, but those same pages always have a very high average time spent on them. Is it possible to provide exatly what someone wants to the point where they don't need to look for anything else?

fairdoes 23rd August 2006 08:58 AM


Is it possible to provide exatly what someone wants to the point where they don't need to look for anything else?
Absolutely! That's where the refering url comes in handy - In my case Yahoo was mistaking a HowTo about applying background images, for the actual images.;)

vangogh 29th August 2006 12:53 PM

Yeah I guess I was being a bit rhetorical in my question since I do think you can do a really good job of giving someone exactly what they are looking for. In some ways it might seem like wasted effort since the pages in question on my site aren't really monetized and people will come spend a half hour digesting the info on the page and leave.

I would imagine though that if they do they might also bookmark the site or at least make a note to come back. I would also think if they happen to land on my site a few times through search engines and generally find what they are looking for I've at least created a loyal visitor who may later turn to me for services or make a purchase (if I ever add some products to my site)

cdsadmin 29th August 2006 07:18 PM

I manage a variety of SEO campaigns over multiple and varied market segments and page retention rates differ depending on the offering I find. We spend a fair amount of time looking for weak spots and tightening them up…

As far as making the most out of odd search referrers, I am with the ‘build a page’ if I see related non-targeted terms often.. it usually pays off.

My 1.90 cents CDN

fairdoes 31st August 2006 10:08 AM

We seem to be of one mind - which is reassuring! :thumbsup:

VanGogh - i do like your blog. Don't your happy visitors sign up for hosting? That looks like your best earner.

cdsadmin - your thoughts/experience on 'weak spots' would be helpful.

cdsadmin 1st September 2006 12:44 AM


Originally Posted by fairdoes (Post 26091)
cdsadmin - your thoughts/experience on 'weak spots' would be helpful.

Ok sure. As an example we had a page that was underperforming. For this we generally look at a retention rate through visits and exits (not including BOTs of course). While it depends on the TYPE of site, a general RR for this market segment was around 66%. The page in question was in the 45%RR in this case.
I sat down with my web design folks and we came up with a new approach to the page.
In the last 2 months since it has a stunning 80% retention rate.

It’s a simpler form of split testing that I like to play with. Ultimately we aim to keep people on the site, directing them to a conversion. Looking for ‘weak spots’ as far as underperforming pages goes can help in the over-all scheme of things.

That help any as to THIS bit? There is a cr_p load of things involved in conversion work. Fun stuff though.

vangogh 1st September 2006 02:31 PM

Good points David. I think in my own case I sometimes don't do a good enough job directing people to other parts of my site on many pages. The menu us always there sure, but I haven't provided enough calls to action throughout to get people further along in the site.

I admit I've been a bit lazy about making some fixes since I'm working behind the scenes on a redesign and would rather not have to do essentially the same work twice.

fairdoes I actually earn the most through web design or managing existing sites. Most of my hosting accounts generally come through sites I've designed. I also think my current hosting offering isn't as competitive as it could be due to contstraints on the servers I use. I'm actually thinking of de-emphasizing the hosting in the planned redesign some until I can switch servers.

Oh and glad you like the blog. I try to make it helpful and hope that it is. Always nice to hear when someone likes it.

cdsadmin 1st September 2006 02:49 PM

Same here on the hosting VG. We have a hosting company but we don’t actively market it and it is more a support mechanism for my Bz Development and Web development companies.

I merely OWN my web design company these days, I spend most of my time in the Bz development/marketing world. I love getting into the analytics/metrics and playing with design elements for better retentions/conversions. It shows a more marked value for a web design…

A friend published a short rant of mine on the value of a web design today;

I believe there are some ‘limitations’ to designers and clients alike within the web design process. You can have the greatest looking site in the world, but if there is no traffic (marketing) what's the point? Also clients make major mistakes in decision making for the sake of beauty too often. People want an easy to use interface, get in, get out. They want art, they'll go to the gallery.


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