There's a goldmine of information about the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of your website right in Google Analytics. Learn about the two key data points that can indicate some serious problems with your site design.
Marketers and small business owners alike are facing one big, fat challenge: dwindling attention spans. In a world where people make decisions in less than 7 seconds, or where 60 second videos are considered “lengthy” — is it nearly impossible to capture your audience’s attention, love, and hard-earned dollars? No. But you’ve got to do it right.
In our last article, we briefly touched on some data that Google Analytics offers up, which can lend some pretty big insights to your business’ operations and marketing as a whole. Particularly, looking at the session duration, bounce rate, and number of pages visited will help you understand how long people are staying on your website, how many pages they visit before exiting, and where they exit from. Ultimately, this data can help identify the pain points in your website’s design and functions — but how?
The key data you’ll be analyzing when optimizing your site are exit rates and bounce rates. Many people confuse the two, but there’s an important distinction. The difference is that a bounce visitor enters you site and leaves from the same page without further navigation. Exit rates, on the other hand, measure the number and percentage of times a page is the last page in a series your visitor views before exiting your site.
High bounce pages may or may not be problematic. Google’s Analytics Help page explains: “Users might leave your site from the entrance page if there are site design or usability issues. Alternatively, users might also leave the site after viewing a single page if they’ve found the information they need on that one page, and had no need or interest in going to other pages.”
To determine whether high bounce pages require changes, you first need to identify them, and then analyze them to see if you can spot problems.
In Google Analytics, navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. Click the Bounce Rate column to sort the data appropriately. From the Sort Type drop menu, choose Weighted, so that you aren’t just looking at a series of pages that received only one hit and have 100 percent bounce rates.
Make a list of high traffic or important pages with high bounce rates. Next, take the following steps:
High exit rate pages, like bounce pages, may or may not indicate a problem. However, you should assess the high exit pages carefully for features that might be driving your visitors away.
To find the metric in Google Analytics, navigate to Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages. There you will find the total number of exits, exit percentages, and the number of page views.
Bounce pages can be found in Google Analytics by clicking on Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. From there, you’re able to make a list of which important pages are the final pages users visit before exiting.
Once you have determined which pages are causing visitors to exit, you can make a list of them, and start taking action.
However, as Nicole Kohler at WooThemes warns: “Before doing anything else, you may want to eliminate any pages from this list that should be sending customers away. For example, a ‘thank you’ or order confirmation page may have a high exit rate, but you’d expect most customers who finish a purchase to leave your site. And a low time on page on a FAQ page could indicate that your visitors are finding answers to their questions immediately, and that’s a good thing!”
That being said, if you find something on a drop off page that is clearly out of whack, you can start making changes at once.
However, if you are uncertain whether your new copy or new set of images will improve or worsen your results, Kohler suggests the following: “You can always run an A/B test. This will compare the existing version of your page or website against a test version to see which…keeps more of them on your website.”
This way, you can be relatively certain whether a potential change will help or hurt performance.
Don’t just shoot in the dark when A/B testing your website’s pages! Gaining a deeper understanding of what your users are looking for is a great opportunity to identify your website’s core features and functions.