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Online Marketing 101: Bounce Rates

I would like to preface this post by saying that there are many many folks out there that know far more than I when it comes to metrics and analytics.  This is another post in the Online Media 101 series that I do where I try to simplify and start with the basics on certain core areas of online marketing.  I wanted to state that early because I can envision the kind of replies that I am going to get from this post.  So now that the disclaimer is out of the way let’s proceed.

When it comes to analyzing what is happening on your web site and how well your marketing is doing there is an incredible amount of information available to you even if you do not have the money to pay for a analytics program.  Google offers what I think is an excellent analytics program and you cannot beat the cost, it’s free and fairly easy to install.

Now depending on what kind of web site you have, you will have different success metrics.  For an e-commerce site, you want users to buy; a lead generation site, you want users to fill out a form and for a content site, you want users to hang out and read your content.  Though no matter what kind of web site you have, I believe there are a couple of key areas that everyone should initially pay attention to when analyzing your web traffic.  I am going to start simply and focus on just one.

Bounce Rates – A bounce rate defined by Google is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page).  Simply put, a bounce rate measures how many users landed on one page of your site (not necessarily your home page) and immediately left your site without clicking on any other link on your web site. They saw and hopefully looked at one page and then left by either clicking back on their browser, clicking on a bookmark, typing in a new URL or closing the browser window.

No matter if your web site is big or small, you want every page of that site to drive users to do that single goal we discussed earlier.  Bounce rates have always shown me whether my web site is accomplishing that single goal I am striving for.  When I come across a web site of my own or a clients with a high bounce rate, it is telling me that I am not doing a good enough job selling the value of this web site.  If I am seeing a bounce rate of over 85%, I immediately want to take a look at which specific pages on the site have the highest bounce rates and find ways on how I can decrease that number.

The first three things that I look at is the web sites look and feel,  navigation and content.  Is my look and feel appealing to my target market?  Do I look credible?  Do I have sound navigation that users can easily find what they are looking for and does my content speak appropriately to the market I am looking to reach?

I would love to hear from you on what you have done to combat high bounce rates and what has worked and not worked for you, let me know.

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