Thursday, May 26, 2011
Last week, we examined the various ways through which a website visitor arrives at your site with our look at Referral Sources. Today, we’re going to focus on a factor which helps to measure traffic quality–the bounce rate. Simply defined, the bounce rate measures the number of single page visits that your site receives. If a visitor lands on your home page and then exits your site without visiting another page, they are seen as “bouncing” out. When you log into your Google Analytics control panel, the bounce rate is measured in percentages. If you had two new visitors to your firm’s site yesterday, one who came to your home page and then hit the back button right away, and another who then proceeded on to your “Attorney Profile” page, your bounce rate for yesterday’s visitors would be 50%.
The bounce rate measures the quality of traffic and helps to determine the effectiveness of entry pages on your website. You may find that visitors who first arrive on your home page have a much greater bounce rate than those who first come to your attorney profile page. This disparity can be telling and should cause you to reassess the copy on both pages. Perhaps you do a better job of selling yourself on your attorney profile page but the information on the home page lacks an effective marketing message.
Many people are alarmed when they look at their bounce rates and see a number like 34%, meaning that about 1/3 of all website visitors are leaving after checking out just one site page, but this number actually falls within the normal range. A bounce rate under 20% is unattainable and the large majority of sites have a bounce rate between of 30%-55%.
You’re probably asking yourself, why are these numbers so high? This has to do largely with the search engines. While they have become excellent at matching search queries with relevant sites, they’re still not perfect. Think about just how many times you hit the back button when checking out Google results because the site does not quite have what you’re looking for.
Another reason that folks might bounce out right away is because they get all of the information they need from visiting that one page within your site. This might be the case for a prospective client looking for your phone number who can easily gather that information from the home page. In another example, you might find that opposing counsel types in your name to view your educational background; if the search engine takes them right to your attorney profile page, they need not look any further.
There may be cause for concern if your site’s bounce rate soars above 55%. Again, be sure to see if this is across the board or just on certain pages within your site. Then do your best to change up the content and watch to see if the bounce rate decreases over time. If not, you may need to call on an expert to help you improve the content, call to action and perhaps even the ease of navigation on the site.