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Perform a Landing Page Analysis on your Blog

A Guest Post by Warren Davies from GenerallyThinking.com.

It’s pretty clear that if we want to be pro bloggers, we can’t rely purely on producing fantastic content. We have to optimise our pages for search engines, build backlinks from relevant sources, as well as putting our heart and soul into our content to make it as valuable as possible for the reader.

But what if the reader gets what they want from the post and then leaves? Well, that’s nice of us to solve their problem, but it’s not going to help us earn the money and freedom we want!

We need to entice first time visitors further into our blogs, expose them to its different areas and articles, make them feel like a kid in a candy store when they see all the information inside!

One way we can do this is through a landing page analysis – to see which pages people are landing on, checking the metrics for these pages, and then optimising them so that they are better placed to convert first time visitors into regular readers. Here’s a 4 step plan.

Step 1 – Identify Problem Pages

This is easy to do with Google Analytics – just go to Content -> Top Landing Pages, and check the chart at the bottom of the page. These are the pages that visitors are most likely to enter your site through. Now check the column to the far right – Bounce Rate. This is the percentage of visitors who leave your site without looking at another page on your blog. They hit the landing page, get what they want (or not) then leave.

If you have any high bounce rates in this section (80%+), you’re missing out on further page views from these first-time visitors. This is vital; pulling readers further into your site is essential to converting visitors to subscribers and/or sales.

Step 2 – Analysis

Before we start optimising the page, we need to do some more research. Here are the two main things you can do:

  • Click on the name of each post, and look at the Time on Page. Is it significantly lower than the time it takes to read the article? If so, it’s likely that the reader is not finding the answer to the question they had when they clicked through.
  • Ask them. Set up a Poll on the page, entitled “Help me improve this article: What information were you asking for?” Give a few options, and don’t forget to add ‘something else’ as an option. Alternatively, a simple “Did you find the information you were looking for?” can be useful. Experiment with putting it at the top and bottom of the post, to see if people are reading the whole article before bouncing.
  • Check the entrance sources for the post on Google Analytics. Are people mostly finding the article through Google images? This might account for the high bounce rate.

Step 3 – Optimise

You should now have some ideas on how you might optimise the article. Perhaps there’s more information you want to add, maybe you want to shorten it, or then again maybe you want to make it more appealing and add more images. Then again, maybe the site design is unattractive, or there are too many ads or other annoying things on the page. Whatever you do, don’t assume; test.

Also, do ensure that there are links and pathways to other content on your site! This is essential. Maybe your related posts plug-in and category list are not effective – you might have to tell/coax your reader into looking deeper.

If you have several ideas on how to optimise the page, you may want to use Google Web Optimiser to run several new versions of the page. Each visitor will be randomly directed to one of your test pages, and you can compare the metrics against each other at the end of the test.

Step 4 – Check Results

One week should be a good enough time frame to compare the before and after effects. Going back to Google Analytics, bring up the Content Detail page for the entrance article you’ve been playing with. Set the date for the week leading up to the day you edited the page (but not including that day). Copy and paste the stats into a text editor or Excel; the main ones you’re interested in are Time on Page, Bounce Rate, and Exit %. Then set the date for the seven days after you optimsed the article. Again, copy and paste the results, and compare.

How did you do? If you were successful, you may have seen an increase in the Time on Page – although maybe not – but certainly a decrease in the Bounce Rate and Exit %. This would indicate that more readers are looking further into your site – congratulations!

What if there was no difference? Then go back to step 2. Conduct further research on how you might improve the page. Ensure you have links to other content on your blog, and that the wording of your article makes these links seem like essential further reading.

What’s a ‘good’ bounce rate?

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give a one-size-fits-all figure to aim for. It depends on many factors. A bounce could mean the visitor literally only wanted one piece of information, and left because they got it. The ambiguity of the keyword you’re targeting will be important. If you’re getting a high bounce rate from an 8-word keyphrase, it’s probably a worse situation than the same bounce rate for a 2-word keyphrase. Your domain name could play a role too – ‘Problogger’ is pretty clear, but would an article on, say, ‘marketingtips’ be specific to blogging, or to offline marketing? Maybe you’d have to read it to find out.

Having said that, bounce rates over 80% generally mean there’s work to be done.

Landing Page Analysis – A Case Study

I performed a landing page analysis analysis on GenerallyThinking.com, my psychology blog. My top landing page by far was my post on personal strengths and weaknesses. This article proved hugely successful with search engines, and accounts for 25% of the overall traffic of the site! However, the bounce rate and time on page were dismal, as you can see below:

  • Time on Page – 00:01:35
  • Bounce Rate – 86.67%
  • Exit % – 82.98%

I ran a WP-Poll asking what people were looking for at the bottom of the page, and got no results. I put it to the top of the page, and got a few replies, but still not many. Clearly, people weren’t reading to the bottom – there was a need unfulfilled. The data I collected from the poll indicated that people wanted more information on strengths than I was offering – the article was too focused on weaknesses.

So, I ripped out the section on how to manage and work around your weaknesses completely, and posted it as a new article. Then I re-wrote the post as a portal, giving a basic overview of personal strengths and weaknesses, including how and why they could be identified – but not giving too much away. I preferred to point to other articles on my site that cover these topics in depth.

I uploaded the new page, waited, and then tested the results as described above. Here they are:

  • Time on Page – 00:02:31
  • Bounce Rate – 66.67%
  • Exit % – 66.20%

Fantastic! Time on Page increased by a minute, bounce rate reduced by 20% and Exit % reduced by nearly the same amount. A little more tweaking and playing with images might improve things further.

(By the way, if Darren will forgive the flagrant self-promotion that article’s worth a read actually – what successful entrepreneur would say personal development is not an important part of their craft?)

How much could you improve your site by performing an entrance analysis? Remember – don’t make assumptions; test and measure everything!

Warren Davies is a positive psychology student at the University of East London, who runs a psychology blog at GenerallyThinking.com.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I actually have a great bounce rate.
    Like 8% or something similiar. Not sure what it is I do good, is it my simplistic design? My ‘top posts’ directly in their face or do my readers just like what they read.

    Perhaps it is about my top posts and recent posts in the sidebar, no Twitter clutter and all that stuff. Just the post. People will instantly click through.

    Well, whatever reason it is, I love my bounce rate now, and I’m afraid to change anything about my blog because it might affect the bounce rate in a bad way!

  2. Darren,

    I haven’t done any major digging on my stats, but there is one thing that’s always stuck out to me…

    My theme has a section in the header (seen on every page/post) for a featured post. I have noticed that any post I put in that section, ends up with way more traffic from people going to it after reading another post, than it did when it was new and at the top of my blog feed.

    This one section has reduced the bounce rate on my posts tremendously and is even more effective than the related posts plugin I also have working for me.

    I wish more designers saw the value in providing bloggers with themes that had very obvious featured content areas like this! (so sad this theme is slow and I have to switch soon!)

  3. This information was extremely helpful especially with a newbie like me. As I get more content I am trying to interlink all the posts. And I think the landing page is a great idea. When I first started out I was so confused by what all the numbers meant. SO thank you for explain it a bit further. I still would like to see an article on when a successful blog looks like number wise (visitors, unique visitors, bounce rate, subscribers, etc.) I know every blog is different but there has to be some kind of number that you would recommend to a blogger just starting out.

  4. Sudeep says:

    That is exactly what is happening with my blog … high bounce rate and less time spending on my one page. I will try to follow and use all this steps to work further.
    Dareen any help on how to work on Website Optimizer would be really greatful .

  5. Dmytro says:

    Lovely post, though I’m not sure I totally agree with your “but not giving too much away. I preferred to point to other articles on my site that cover these topics in depth”. While it’s important to divide a long post into a series or pages, purposely dividing it just so the readers don’t get everything they want right away and *have* to click onto the next article to get the info they were looking for – well, you can certainly expect the bounce rate to lower, but what about the bounce rate on the next article they’re taken to?

  6. Ryan Hanley says:

    I used to just have my five latest blog posts listed on my Homepage. I had a very high bounce rate… Then I created a landing page that helped to better direct traffic to the area they were searching for. Since my bounce rate has gone almost 10%…

    Trial and Error and Error and Error and eventuallly Success!

    Thank you,

    Ryan H.

  7. I think I’ve been doing really well since purchasing Darren’s e-book. In the last month I’ve:

    Increased visitors by over 300% (yes, I can prove that)

    Increased avg time to almost 5 minutes (4:52) to be exact

    Decreased bounce to just under 50% (49.44%) to be exact

    I think your post is timely for me as this is something I’ve been doing recently to make sure I don’t get lazy and keep cranking out great content in the direction that is obvious due to analytics.

  8. Warren,

    The analyses you recommend all underscore the fact that Probloggers should have a goal for plaing just about any and every element on their sites. It’s not just content creation, it’s also in the design.

    It’s fabulous to have the analytics available as well. Bloggers/designers can learn so much from not just studying those metrics, but also by tweaking and testing again, and again – as you recommend here.

    I’m going to reread this post then go check out your site to see your prescriptions in action. If you ever find the time… give my home page a look as well. I need some help on it. Been staring at it so long over so many months, don’t know what I’m looking at any more! Thank you.

  9. Thanks so much! This has helped me understand more about my readers and what they’re doing and I’m definitely going to optimise as you said and will make changes in the future to get my bounce rate lower (it is currently at 44.14%). While I am pretty happy with that, I know that I can definitely do better. My stats are actually really weird in that while my main page has a bounce rate of 44.14%, my other pages are very odd; one of them is at about 36.36%, most of them are at 0%, but a few of them are at 100%. Obviously I will figure out why these stats are and work on them.

    Thanks again!

  10. Warren,

    These are great tips, and I’ll certainly implement them as soon as I get substantial traffic. Although we certainly must focus more on producing and less on tweaking, I can see the value on how a just a little tweaking can do a lot of good.

  11. Keeping bounce rates down is hard work.

  12. Thanks for providing some useful tips

  13. Patrenia says:

    This is great information and gives me more to analyze. My bounce rate is about 46%. I must try to do some testing to figure out what I can do to create more stickability. I know I can add the related posts plug-in. I think I’ll start there. Thanks again.

  14. Great Post. I try do make sure i have some other good things to look at in the sidebar and header to keep people on my webpage for longer periods of time.

  15. Matrix says:

    Awesome tips, I need to optimize my landing page. Getting google analytics will be step one

  16. scheng1 says:

    Never think of it this way. Thanks for the detailed explanation.

  17. Pallav says:

    A good optimized content with a simple design can do wonders for your blog.

    Great Post!

  18. I looks make me feels a bit of confused and reasonable. whatever it is a good stuff into your blog.Thanks you.

  19. I think that a good bounce rate would be between 20%-40%. Anything more than this and you are loosing a large number of visitors very quickly.

    I found on an older blog that placing your most popular articles list near the top of the page encourages users to click through into your site.

    I also found that keeping advertising clear from content helped a lot also.

  20. Oh No. You’re giving me even more stats to play with. And now you’re telling me I have to redo the articles I’ve already posted. Just when am I going to find the time to write fresh new content? Perhaps I need to spend a little less time in google reader reading posts like this! Thanks for posting.

  21. factotron says:

    I find that a lot of visitors from social media cause high bounce rates. Particularly from stumbleupon since it’s kinda random traffic.

  22. Interesting post. Last time I looked I think my bounce rate was at about 60%, but then I have had huge fluctuations in traffic of late. Good idea for a post, and it’s a shame that a few more blogs about blogs can’t do this – identify a problem and show how to fix it. Nice work.

  23. Great ideas! I just worked on two of my top 10 landing pages, both had over 80% bounce rates. The rest are okay, but these two were exactly what the article explains. Thanks for the tips. Added a picture (for interest) along with some links to similar posts, but the main post well within sight of my links. Kind of a, “If you like this, you’ll also be interested in this this and this”

  24. Excellent detailed information on how to use Google Analytics to make your pages better. I use Analytics, but hae to admit I could do better at digging into the information that is there. I know lots of other people are in the same boat as I am. I wrote a blog post on the most rudimentary uses of Google Analytics. I was surprised how much interest I got in that post.

    Thanks for great information!

  25. Jackie says:

    How do you determine what a “good” bounce rate is though? Is there a difference in what’s considered good for regular readers vs. occassional readers vs. those coming to the site from search engines?

  26. BlogTech says:

    Information use full for beginners like me. Thank you.

  27. Shweta says:

    Thanks Warren for this wonderful post and thanks to Darren for posting it. This is one topic I really need to work hard on how to get down on my current bouce rate. I know my content is pretty good and people spend a lot of time reading the posts, but I guess it all boils down to the design.
    Also I had one question, if on your blog you have only a few pages where most visitors land on – is it a good thing or not so good? What else can we do to to have search engine readers stay on and explore more?

  28. BloggerDaily says:

    Something that I’d missed before this.. omg. I just enjoying the statistics but forget to do analysis on it or etc.

    Thanks for the awesome guide!

  29. Having decided not to add any content for 2 weeks and just concentrate on improving conversions and bounce rate on my sites i found your article as part of my research and the best found to date and will certainly be utilising some of your ideas tomorrow.

  30. I do not seem to have a huge bounce issue, but STILL I insist that key to low bounce rate is GREAT content.

    If you have great content, then people will be inclined to look around further at your blog to see what else you have to offer.

    Just make sure that you have an easy way to find your content. Including Archives page would be helpful or having Recent Posts or Popular Posts could do that trick.

    Either way, Content is King!

    Best,
    Tomas

  31. nike dunks says:

    Thanks, I can try on my blog.

  32. One thing for sure … people wants latest happening news on your niche.

    If you able to provide them such details with all your views than they will come back to you to know what do you think about that.

  33. Bibokz says:

    Bounce rate really plays an important stat to Internet Marketing, and I believed that Google also weighed it as a part of their SERP equations.

    Nice information Darren, heard you in Shoemoney Radio Show. :)

  34. jacklyn says:

    i know now what should i do to my LP ts not so easy

  35. 5 stars to you Warren. What a post and what a great content you have written. I have been looking for these kind of information and I have found it.

    I am definitely going to visit your website and sign up to get recent post emails to me.

    I also liked the way you brought out stuffs to compare and provided with results to make it even more comparable.

    Jay

  36. rick says:

    Great post Warren. I, too, closely monitor my bounce rate which has lead to my bounce rate of 1.9% for my most popular landing page (home page). This data is for the past 3 months and 10k page views.

    Easy tips to increase page views and lower bounce rate include…

    *If you don’t have a Popular Posts section, create one.

    *Make sure your Popular Posts section is prominently displayed.

    *Use more than the default 5 posts for the PP section. I created my own PP section, using a widget with html and it contains 25-30 posts.

    *Remove under-performing ads. Most viewers will only click 3-4 links total while visiting. No sense in luring them to click/leave on ads which don’t generate revenue

    *Fill your sidebar with content related to your site, not just ads.

    *Don’t fall in love with your WP template or design. Closely monitor your results and implement the changes mentioned above. If you need to change your design, so be it. It’s just a tool.

  37. Phillip Gibb says:

    Something I really need to do a little more deliberately, I have a great (low) bounce rate but really a low visits number per day (at least I believe so). I try run the url against certain tools offered by website and they offer lots of suggestions, but it just seems like hard work for what seems a low ROI. hmmm, snap out of it eh?

  38. This is definitely something people should do if they want to be successful in keeping visitors for more than a few seconds.

    My blog currently has few visitors so testing isn’t so easy, since I can’t really tell what is pure chance and what was from my design.

    However, I did have one very high volume day (for me), and the bounce rate from that day was about 82%. Even though I can’t really test out a bunch of ways to improve this at the moment, it definitely showed me that there is much to improve.

    Thanks for the post!

  39. turisuna says:

    Wow there’s lots of work to do then. I find out that the time on page in my blog is increased, but the bounce rate is still high. I have tried to put related post and popular post plugin in my blog to make visitors go deeper into the other articles, but I think it needs more hard works and times to make them realize that there are more interesting articles in blog. Maybe I should increase my landing page analysis and pay attention to the progress. Thanks for your tips, it’s a nice article :)

  40. This is one of the few blog posts on this site that I have found useful. It is informative, succinct, well written and engaging. I read the entire piece and actually learned something. Bravo!

  41. Bounce rate has been my first problem since I start running my blog – I really can’t understand. As long as the traffic raises the bounce rate seems to grow too.

    When I check the keywords my readers use to find my blog it really seems they’re totally meaningful and targeted, but I still get a 46% of bounce rate…

  42. Great article and the comments from other readers were very insightful too. You can always tell how good a Blog is by the quality of its readers comments. I hope to pop back soon and share my practical experiences once I do the bounce analysis you have recommended. Nice work Darren.

  43. This is something I definitely need to do for all my sites. I never really understood how to use analytics, so your tips above are very helpful.

  44. Thank you so much for this article. It has been a real inspiration, and has given me new found energy for blogging. Even though my blog, Skylarking, is a technology blog, I have often treated like a journal. I would just write the articles, and leave them as is.

    Thanks to this article I have been looking back, particularly at my popular pages, and finding broken links, too many outbound links at the top of an article, and missing images.

    For the past two days I have been reviewing my articles, beefing up the popular with high bounce rates, and adding more internal links between articles.

    One good technique has been to add my own list of related articles to the bottoms of some of my older posts.

    Anyhow, I’m going to recheck my analytics next Monday and see how the changes have helped.

    Thanks!

  45. vResources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.

  46. Aglo says:

    The problem is, site visitors who often gained never felt comfortable in the blog. They may only read 1-3 pages for 1 minute, I think it’s not a good thing in our performance.

  47. Mary Hunter says:

    Thanks for this article.

    It gave me some good things to think about and some ideas for things to try with my blog.

    I wasn’t aware of Google Web Optimiser, which sounds like it would be pretty helpful. I’d like to hear more about how to use it improve my blog.

    Mary

  48. hokya says:

    thanks for the article

    but, is it better to analyze post quality on comment quantity than bounce time ?

  49. Thanks for all the comments!

    Dmytro,

    ” I’m not sure I totally agree with your “but not giving too much away. I preferred to point to other articles on my site that cover these topics in depth” … well, you can certainly expect the bounce rate to lower, but what about the bounce rate on the next article they’re taken to?”

    Thing is, if they’re genuinely only looking for one piece of information before leaving, there’s nothing you can really do. But by exposing them to as much of what you site has to offer as you can, you have the best fighting chance of enticing the reader to read more.

    Steve Churchill,

    I think your site design is very good, if I were you I’d experiment with:

    a) Having longer posts on your front page
    b) having a “topics” (categories) section on the sidebar
    c) having a recent posts

    …and see what the results are

    Helly,

    I hear you. I’m addicted to stats too…

    factotron,

    Yeah that’s another really good point. Social media traffic exemplifies the ‘only here for one thing’ visitor, but it gives you exposure, and these visitors might also blog or tweet about your post so there might be indirect benefits.

    Jackie,

    It’s impossible to say, unfortunately. Your regular reader might just read your most recent post, for instance. I would say 80% or more and it’s definitely time to do something.

    Shweta,

    In one word: experiment. Try google web optimiser, try different plug ins, links, designs, images – see what works and what doesn’t.

    rick,

    Excellent tips there!

    Alice,

    46% is good!

  50. seo is never something i’m good at, and yet it’s way too expensive for me to hir a seo company.