June 26, 2015

How good is your content really?

When you check your Google Analytics, what’s the one number you care about above all else?

– Traffic?

– Conversions?

I definitely look at these, but the one metric that I care most about is . . .

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate tells you if it’s all working for you.

In a nutshell, bounce rate tells you whether your site visitors (as an average) found a page engaging enough to click elsewhere. If someone arrives on your site and then leaves without clicking elsewhere – it’s a bounce. A bounce rate of 100% means that everyone left immediately. A bounce rate of 0% means that every single person who landed on your page clicked elsewhere within your site.  In reality, your bounce rate lies somewhere between 0% and 100%, but the rule is – the lower the number, the more people had a root around your site.

Why bounce rate matters so much

As a copywriter, it’s my job to get people’s attention. Usually I want them to delve deeper into a website, clicking through a well defined pathway until they are so convinced of what I’m offering that they’ll call or send an email. So, for me, a high bounce rate indicates that a page is failing to engage my audience. Reasons for this could include:

  • Poor copy – headline and intro paragraph in particular.
  • Wrong / poor quality traffic that’s a poor fit for my offering.
  • Slow site – people just aren’t going to hang around waiting for my page to load.
  • All information on one page (in this case, bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing).

I also like to take a look at time spent on the page as well – as this really does tell me if people are reading the copy or not.

A couple of caveats

Interpreting Google Analytics data incorrectly can lead to the wrong conclusion, so it’s worth understanding how data is gathered. Time on page is only recorded when your site visitor clicks on another page on your site. Consider this:

You have a single page site and therefore bounce rate doesn’t really apply to you. Instead, you focus on time on page to guestimate how engaged your visitors are. You check your analytics data and are horrified to find that time spent on the only page on your site is 0 seconds. For everyone.

This is a false reading.

Google Analytics can only measure someone’s time on a page if their next action is to click on another link within the site. If they click on another website or close their browser, time on page is always recorded as 0 seconds, even if they spent ages on the page. 

The second thing you need to be careful of is where your traffic is coming from. Only take the numbers to heart if the people who are ‘bouncing’ are the ones you want on your site. For example, I get a lot of referral traffic from my Linkedin profile and from Freelance UK. I’m fairly confident that people who look me up from there need a copywriter. If my bounce rate is high for that traffic source, then I need to do something about it.

For more information on bounce rate, check out this fantastic video by the awesome Avinash Kaushik.