We have all seen high bounce rates, particularly since the explosion of the Internet and myriad search engines all straining to give “quality results”. A bounce is (as I am sure you know) a key figure to monitor on your statistics. It’s when a visitor goes to your home page, or any page they may have landed on from elsewhere, and then they click back or off without clicking on any other link on the page.
Clearly bounces are indicators of problems, those problems could be;
1) A poor search engine result due to bad database construction/programming within the search engine which results in a lack of knowledge of the target websites’ content and therefore relevance to the search.
Or (and more likely)
2) Poor search term used. I have found that generally search engine users are mostly lazy (I know I am!) and we often give the search engine little to go on. For example if you type in “shoes” in Google UK you are offered ?….. Potential Results. By potential results I mean the large number that is reported just under the search box.
This number has no real relevance to be honest as it just shows how many times that specific word or phrase is recorded in the search engines’ database and not the amount of websites that are relevant to the subject matter. The top three positions on the results are paid for adverts, so for the purposes of this discussion I will ignore any paid for advertising or sponsorship. If for example we then add another word to our original search term, such as “men’s” so that we now have “men’s shoes” as the term, the potential results drop down significantly to ?…… (Women buy more shoes than men? Who knew?)
Still it could be argued that the search has been a waste of time as I actually know that I want a pair of Barker brown brogues size 10. Now should I expect to see good numbers from this search, i.e. lots of choice? No, I don’t want choice yet, I want to find my shoes! So the search term has changed from generic to specific. Guess what, the results go down to ?…. Potential websites and the page is full of websites that CLAIM (more on that later) to have these shoes available.
The point I am making here is that it is usually human error or rather human laziness that results in poor bounce results.
How can you expect a dumb search engine to know what’s in your mind? You can’t, so give it plenty of detail and it should help you.
I recently needed some new bulbs for my kitchen. The fitment came from Homebase and uses specific low energy bulbs. The usual unfortunate law applied, in that Homebase still sell the light fitting, but don’t stock the bulbs. As it was quite specific and as I am not an expert in low voltage lighting I thought I had better get a direct replacement. So, lazy as I am I typed into Google “low energy light bulbs”; massive numbers, all seems promising, but of course I made the mistake of not realising that the market for these type of bulbs has exploded (got bigger rather than combusted) and every light bulb that you’re offered now is apparently doing it’s best to save the planet. So thousands of bulbs were provided on the various websites. I did bounce back out of the website from the first page but tried their internal search engines to try and find the bulb.
So, minutes later, which of course felt like days when you are searching, having visited some clearly large websites, I could not find a picture of a bulb that matched the one I sought. Oh No! I was going to have to buy a new unit! “No way” I resolved, I would offer the Internet the chance of helping me.
So if anyone has a low energy light bulb in their kitchen fitment, get one out and see if you can read the manufacturer’s code or any distinguishing mark with the naked eye. I defy anyone to be able to read them!
I wear glasses for reading, but even my fairly new prescription could not make the letters and numbers out having been clearly (in fact not so clearly) printed in Lilliputian by the smallest print head in that whole kingdom. I was stuck.
However my job sometime calls for photographic skills of our clients products, for this I use my trusty Canon D30. Not the latest kit I agree, but combined with some L series lenses gives excellent results. My lenses can do pretty good macro so I stood 5 feet away from the bulb, took my 70-300 mm zoom lens and snapped away. The results of course were nothing to shout about, but by zooming in on the preview on the camera I was able to make out the actual code. Eureka!
So almost shouting with joy, I think I definitely (or should that be defiantly?) punched the air a couple of times in a most un-British like display of exuberance, I grabbed my iPad and typed the code into Google. Lo and behold! There they were waiting for me all this time. And in a Google base listing?……. You know, the little shopping results about half way down the search results as well. The actual bulbs and generic versions to boot, A veritable cornucopia of bulbs (what is the collective noun for bulbs? an illumination perhaps?. Worth thinking about if you have nothing better to do)
So debit card in hand I was off, ok so the website looked awful, the registration process was a nightmare and the cost of shipping was ridiculous. I didn’t care. I had done what they said could never be done; found what I was looking for in a search engine first time. Well, ahem, not the actual first time but it did remind me about bounce rates.
Bounce rates in my experience usually hover around 50% for most business to business websites. Pretty rubbish really if you think that half of all the websites we go to for business are the wrong ones. Business to consumer are usually a fair bit lower at around 30%. Websites that have very specific content, for example an estate agent or a charity that deals with something unusual, will come in at around 20%.
If you’re a website owner, look at your bounce rate. It is an important indicator to how well your website is indexed in search engines. It is also an indicator of how well your home page (usually) is designed and organised. Can folks see very clearly what you offer? You have about 10 seconds to tell them what you do or what you’re selling. Make sure your message gets across quickly.
So back to bounce. (not the Stephen Sondheim musical of the, originally same name.. Renamed as “Road Show” Zzzzz)
Remember bounces are bad, work on lowering the figure whatever it is. Ensure your website is SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY. I wrote that in caps because it is one of the main reasons businesses choose Clickingmad. Our websites are all built to allow search engines to record their content. Without that, you’re nowhere.
Not so secret tip…. Google uses bounce rates as one of it’s algorithm criteria when ranking websites. The higher the bounce rate, the lower your website will be because it feels that if visitors think it’s not the right one for the search term they must not show it as often. I guess that’s logical.
If anyone has any interesting stories about search, let me know.
Cheers. Shaun Carvill. MD Clickingmad Ltd.
Clickingmad Ltd is a West Midlands based Website Design Agency. Started in 2000 we now have 11 dedicated full time staff based in Shropshire and Birmingham offering a wide range of website design, website promotion, ecommerce advice, hosting, search engine optimisation and related services to our business clients. All with a consultative approach. We never sell you something that you don’t need, only what your business needs. Our advice is often as important as any service we provide you. Our principal Shaun Carvill is an acknowledged expert in the Internet, having been involved right at the start of the commercialisation of the web in the UK some 20 odd years ago. If you mix traditional Marketing experience with technical development and programming then you get the Internet.
Our services are taken up by companies large and small and in nearly all sectors. From Estate Agents to Schools, Charities to Engineering companies. Manufacturing and Service sectors alike all receive the same quality Clickingmad treatment. As quality mark holders and members of the UK IT Association (our Principal; Shaun Carvill is also on the board of UKITA) ISO9001 accredited and rigorously tested by many Government and Public Sector purchasing consortiums, we have been accredited to be able to create, build and supply a comprehensive suite of Internet related marketing products and services for our clients.
We welcome all enquiries as we bring our method to a business near you. Give us a call on 01746 769612 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your query. Join the growing Clickingmad family. You will be made very welcome.