A common mistake people make with their web marketing is to launch a new website that looks great and then forget all about it.
That’s a mistake, because little or no attention is given to how well the website’s performing on an ongoing basis.
If you ever became a private client of mine, one of the first things we’d do is implement a system to optimizes how well your website converts visitors into customers and clients.
It’s a simple three step system…
- Analyse your stats (looking for biggest leverage points)
- Fix your website (using the stats to inform what needs fixing)
- Drive traffic to your website (using both paid and organic tactics)
These steps are repeated as many times as necessary until a site is converting visitors efficiently.
Unfortunately too many website owners obsess over driving traffic to their site, and pay little or no attention to how well their website converts visitors.
And one of the most common ‘traffic obsessions’ is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
Yes, when done effectively SEO can be a highly profitable source of traffic, but in most cases it’s the wrong thing to initially focus on.
The reason I say this is that far too many business websites are either badly designed and look amateurish. Or, they look fantastic, but are nothing more than online brochures which don’t have a hope in hell of generating enquiries!
Optimise Your Bounce
In the first case, a badly designed website will cause a high percentage of visitors to ‘bounce’ off them.
Bounce is a web industry term that means a visitor only looks at a single page of the website before they click the Back button on their browser to return to Google or wherever they came from.
If most of the pages on your website have a high bounce rate—where most visitors never view more than one page of your website before leaving—then this is one of the first things you should try and fix.
At the risk of stating the obvious… obsessing about sending more traffic to a website with a very high bounce rate is a rather pointless and wasteful exercise!
If you have a decent website analytics service, it should only take a minute or two to find out what your website’s average bounce rate is.
If you don’t currently have the ability to check your website analytics, there are a lot of services which you can install on your site, both free and paid versions, which will give you insights into all sorts of opportunities to fix your site.
One of the World’s most popular services is Google Analytics which is completely free, and it’ll tell you a lot more than just your average bounce rate.
If after checking you discover most pages have a crazy high bounce rate, then the next question of course is…
How Do I Reduce My Bounce Rate?
So the first thing you need to do is make sure you have a fast loading website, because having a slow loading website is one of the biggest reasons visitors hit the Back button on their browser.
And two of the biggest culprits for slow loading websites?
- Badly optimised pages
- Slow web hosting
Optimising pages to load fast is a whole other topic, because there are a myriad of reasons why your pages may be slow loading.
However two of the main culprits are if it contains large and irrelevant graphics that take ages to load, and also if your site has loads of bloated plugins (especially if it runs on WordPress.)
Then if after making sure your site is well optimised it still loads pages slowly, you may need to check if your web hosting is fast or slow. (Again, a massive topic but the least you can do is ask your web designer if your hosting company is fast compared with others. They should be able to tell you how they benchmark against their competitors.)
And finally, do you have a professionally designed website?
That’s important because if a new visitor gets a bad first impression, they will hit the back button, and you’ve instantly lost them.
So the question is, what constitutes professional website design?
Well it’s highly subjective of course, but the easiest way is to ask other people their opinion… what do they like and dislike about your site?
What’s their gut feeling the moment they land on your site? Good or bad?
The caveat is that it can be a challenge to get genuine feedback from anyone who doesn’t want to offend your feelings, so the best opinions are those from people who don’t know or care about you.
You could also install a small unobtrusive ‘On Exit Survey‘ on your website, so that when people leave it, they’re politely asked for their opinion about your website. That’s very inexpensive to do these days… even free if you know where to look.
One more thing you can do to reduce your bounce rate — and this does so much more than just reduce your bounce rate — is to make your website useful.
In other words don’t just have a website that’s little more than a corporate brochure.
Instead have a website that contains interesting and useful content, articles, editorials, and perhaps even audio and video content.
Yes, a percentage of people who arrive on your site article will always bounce. You can’t stop it completely. But a far greater percentage should stay on your pages long enough to read what’s there if it’s actually useful.
As a case in point — the fact you’ve read this article to this point without bouncing means you’ve (hopefully!) found it useful. I wrote it to help you.
These type of “How To” articles are one of the best kinds of content you can add to your site.
Because not only do they make visitors stay longer, they also reduce the bounce rate, as many of the people who read these articles use the form at the top right of this page to sign up for more information… and in doing so see more than one page on the website. (In other words… they don’t bounce off the first page they arrive on.)
Something else that’s really important to know about having ‘useful content’ on your website… ‘How to’ articles also make the reader (website visitor) realise that you’re an expert.
As a result they will want to use your firm instead of your competitors… and your website will generate more enquiries.
So if you do one thing today to work ‘on’ your business, review your website statistics, find out which pages are getting the most traffic.
Of those, identify any that have high bounce rates, and then tweak those page to try and reduce bounce.
And if you don’t actually have access to any statistical data for your website, then installing Google Analytics (or similar) should be your number one priority… before you obsess over traffic or SEO.