B is for Bounce Rate

B is for Bounce Rate, one of the key indicators of your site’s engagement. A bounce is a single page, non-interaction visit. In other words, it measures visitors that comes to your site without seemingly doing anything.

But how little did they read? How much did they scroll? How much of the page video did they watch? How long did they stay? All we really know from a Bounce is that they didn’t click on to another page, or otherwise ‘interact’. They might have been happy with what they saw; they might have avidly digested the whole 2000-word article, or watched the entire 20 minute video. Or maybe they called the phone number they were looking for. In other words, unless you can measure other aspects of single-page engagement, you’re not getting the whole picture.

So capture any interaction. Track video views, phone number click-to-call clicks, even page scrolls, as Events. An event is an interaction, and once an event is fired, the visit is no longer a bounce. It’s still only a single page visit, but you’ve got far more insight into the user’s behaviour. And of course, entice them interact with a clear Call-To-Action (that is of course tracked as an Event).

And yet, at the highest level, Bounce Rate should be take with a grain of salt. It’s when you Segment it that you get far better and actionable insights. To get meaningful insights into Bounce Rate, drill-down to something more specific. For example, look at the Bounce Rate for Mobile vs Desktop traffic; it’s always going to be different, that’s the nature of the beast, but if there’s a massive difference, make it a priority to do something about it. Likewise, if your PPC traffic has a ridiculous BR, examine page relevancy and Quality Score.

Equally, if your site Bounce Rate is low (and we’re talking about <10%) the chances are you’ve got a Analytics code mis-configuration problem. I’m shocked at the number of WordPress sites I’ve seen with multiple Analytics code blocks. This deflates BR, so if you see single-digit BR you’ve either got the most sticky site there is (well done!) or something is wrong.

And don’t forget, we know Bounce Rate is an SEO ranking factor so a focus on reducing it will help both your audience and your rankings!

In this example, there’s one page that stands out with a massive Bounce Rate. This page is losing nearly 90% of those who land on it (good job it’s low traffic). Looking at the page, all the links are off site. Think about how you could better retain this traffic, with more in-site links and CTAs.

To get these A-to-Zs in bite-size form, follow me @AnalyticsAtoZ on Twitter. Or sign-up to get notified when a new one is out or when my forthcoming ‘A-to-Z of Google Analytics’ book is published.

A is for Attribution: The A-to-Z of Google Analytics

Welcome to the first of my A-to-Z of Google Analytics. Or rather, the A-Z of Google Analytics For The Small Business Owner. Because every business owner who depends on their website for success should know the difference between a Source and a Medium, an Event and a Goal, and a Metric and a Dimension. This series of short articles & bite-sized insights aims to help them better understand analytics.

It’s been hard to just pick one relevant analytics topic for each letter (sometimes I’ve not even tried). But given some obvious omissions, I’ll be fleshing this guide out over time. And a link to the complete A-to-Z Guide will follow. Feel free to comment and critique. And follow me @AnalyticsAtoZ on Twitter to get the A-to-Zs in even more digestible form. Let’s get the ball rolling with…

A is for Attribution

Attribution is giving credit to the traffic source or channel that’s the origin of your conversions.; attribution models are the rules which do this. So often, it’s the ‘last click’ traffic source that gets the credit or attribution for an online sale or conversion. A customer came from Organic and made a purchase? Organic’s great!

But what if your visitor was first introduced to your brand by clicking a Paid ad? Then down the line, and knowing your brand, they did an organic search and then made a purchase – shouldn’t PPC get some credit? In fact you could give it all the credit, and that would be a ‘first click’ attribution model. Which leads to the obvious conclusion, and that is to consider all ‘touch points’ and give them equal weight – that’s what’s known as the Linear attribution model.

There are other attribution models, but for the small business owner, the most important thing is to be aware of attribution – don’t let the default (last click) attribution model hide other valuable sources of traffic that drives conversions. This is especially useful if you want to assign a value to your marketing efforts.

Tip: To see your paths to conversion, try the Top Conversion Paths report in the Multi-channel Funnels options of the Conversions reports section.

7 Essential WordPress Plugins

‘There’s a plug-in for that’ is so often the call when developing a website with WordPress, and that of course is one of the great things about WordPress. But what are the essential plug-ins any new site needs? Here’s a look at my favourites.

  1. Contact Form 7
  2. WP Cerber Security
  3. MetaSlide
  4. Updraft Backup
  5. All in One SEO pack
  6. Google Analytics
  7. GWT
Not just a Stranglers song, Golden Brown is a cool Contact Form 7 Skin
Not just a Stranglers song, Golden Brown is a cool Contact Form 7 Skin

Contact Form 7 lets you easily set-up a simple – or more complex – form to capture and process enquiries. As to be expected from a long-standing plug-in, there are other add-ons to it, so you can also skin the form using something like Contact Form 7 Skins.

You’d be surprised at the level of attempts to hack into even a newly launched site. So I always install Cerber Security to ‘harden’ a new site. It lets you track and block multiple failed attempts to log-in to your site. You can set all types of conditions for blocking; a good start of course is never have a user of ‘admin’ or ‘administrator’.

Looking for a simple slider for a photo gallery? Look no further than Metaslide. It has the added benefit to being very SEO-friendly.

You’ve probably never ‘lost’ your WordPress installation, but one day you’ll need to restore, migrate or backup, and Updraft Backup will save the day. Think of it as insurance.

Every site needs SEO, and while there are a host of SEO plugins out there, All in One SEO Pack is the one I prefer. Does the essentials without distraction.

These next two plugins address the unseen side of SEO – the need to collect and analyse website visits. The GA Google Analytics plug-in does one thing – implement GA tracking – and does it well. The Google Webmaster Tools plugin implements GWT (now called Google Search Console). Don’t forget to link the two from within the GA admin section so that you can see GWT data in GA.

The Google Analytics Data Retention Clock is ticking

You, or the agency handling your analytics, should recently have received an email from Google Analytics about an update to their Data Retention policy. Specifically, and effective from May 25th, the default data retention period is for 26 months. But it can be changed to anything from 14 months to well, never. The default retention period is 26 months.

To change your Data Retention settings, go into Admin –> Tracking Info for the Property in question.

Before you panic, note that the data retention period is for user and event data (such as cookies), not broader ‘aggregated’ data. But still, if you’re a data squirrel like myself, you’ll want to hang on to that juicy data for as long as possible. Except that strictly speaking, with Google Analytics Standard, your data is only guaranteed to be retained for a mere 25 months anyway!

Whatever you do, don’t forget your Error Handling

One of the most basic of elements of overall user experience is the one that’s most often forgotten and that is: handling website errors, especially the two classics ‘page not found’ (404 errors), and server errors (500 errors).

There are so many sites with great examples of 404 error pages.  But any kind of meaningful error page is essential.

Think back to the BA IT system meltdown in May 2017. This was the page the user got at the height of the issue:

Screenshot_BA-IT-meltdown-500page9

Now I understand this was an almost unprecedented situation: someone had turned off the power switch (happens to me all the time), but a little 404 or 500 page would have gone a long way… If nothing else, reassure your visitors in the case of a server error: something along the lines of ‘sorry, we’re working feverishly in the background and we’ll be back soon!’

In the case of a 404 error –  point the user back to the home page, or a search page, or a site map. Anywhere – just don’t leave them hanging. Give them another chance to be drawn into your site; don’t make the only option the back button. Better still, do all you can to help the user let you know a page hasn’t been found – it’s to your advantage to know you’ve got a problem with your site, after all. Error Handling is part of the user experience.