With Thanksgiving right around the corner, how about taking the time to think about which aspects of your website and online marketing initiatives you are thankful for. From this list, you can determine what might be missing or lacking from your online efforts and expand and/or improve your efforts from there.
Be thankful if…
Your website is professional and polished looking and represents your company well.
Some components you should ensure are present on your website: Clear calls to action that are prominently displayed throughout the site; examples include but are not limited to: call us now, click here for more information, fill out this request form and download this whitepaper) easy and seamless navigation for both the search engines and the user and a Blog with new, up-to-date and relevant content.
Your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Efforts are producing qualified leads and/or sales.
This is imperative. Do not waste precious advertising dollars on an ineffective advertising campaign. You should be able to track and monitor campaign performance, which brings me to my next item….
You have implemented an Analytics Tool that is providing ample data with respect to your website traffic. This is a mission critical piece of the puzzle, especially if you are paying to drive visitors to your website. Which keywords/engines are driving the most revenue? Which have a high bounce rate and should be eliminated from your keyword menu?
You have an effective (effective being the key word here) Social Media Strategy in place.
Having a Facebook page is simply not enough. How are you going to leverage your page to reach prospective clients, shoppers, etc? What are you posting on your Twitter page that is of interest to your consumers and ultimately driving more visitors to your website?
I am hopeful that this exercise can shed some light on any components that might be missing from your overall marketing strategy. If any of the above is not a component you can be thankful for, you ought to get to work and make it happen!
Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes, fewer words can speak at a higher volume than lots of words. Sometimes, a simple, neat, and easy to read report can have a greater effect than a report filled with endless columns and rows of data. This is the case with the Top Landing Pages report in Google Analytics.
Tucked away quietly in the middle of the Content section of your Google Analytics profile, the Top Landing Pages report won’t dazzle you with an AJAX-based, “do-it-yourself” module like the Custom Advanced Segments area or fancy click-data on top of your web site like the Site Overlay report. In fact, the Top Landing Pages report has only three quantitative columns – most reports start out with at least five or six.
The report even has an evil twin – the Top Exit Pages report, which for the few folks who discover Top Landing Pages, can confound the two reports and even go as far as thinking that one is the continuation of the other (ouch!).
So what is it about Top Landing Pages that is so valuable, and such a hidden gem? Two words: Bounce Rate. The sole purpose of the Top Landing Pages report is to compare Bounce Rates against the entry pages that your visitors used to reach your web site. And, as we all know, Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits to your web site. High bounce rates are bad, because they suggest that your Landing Pages are either broken, unattractive, or did not meet visitor expectations. Low bounce rates are very good, because they suggest that your Landing Page content was interesting and persuasive enough to entice a visitor to go to another one of your site pages.
When you bring up the Top Landing Pages report, you’ll immediately see your top 10 Landing Pages (or, entry points) of your web site, and three metrics for each Landing Page: Entrances, Bounces, and Bounce Rate. You can use the “Rows” drop-down at the bottom-right of your report table to see more Landing Pages if you choose, and the “Filter” tool on the bottom-left of your report table to include or exclude certain pages from the report.
I mentioned two paragraphs ago that a high bounce rate is bad, and a low bounce rate is good. However, I won’t give you a percentage and say whether or not that figure is good or bad. A Bounce Rate of 35% may be very high for your web site, or it may be very low, which depends on several factors, such as visitor demographics and your web site’s industry vertical. Comparing your Bounce Rate against a static number will not give you an accurate measure of performance. However, Comparing your Bounce Rate against your site’s average will allow you to provide a backdrop of context for each individual Landing Page, as shown in the following image, with the Comparison to Site Average view enabled:
After you’ve used Top Landing Pages for your own web site, determine which pages are in need of some optimization work. Is a Landing Page that you’re using for your pay per click campaigns suffering from a really high bounce rate? Now would be the time to possibly re-write that page’s content, make it more conversion-oriented, or fix any technical errors that may be present. Is one of your category-level pages a rock-star with a minuscule bounce rate? You may want to give Kudos to your SEO team, as their copywriting and keyword-matching optimization work is paying off.
Now that the best-kept Google Analytics secret has been exposed, add this report to your dashboard, or set-up a scheduled email report so that you can stay ahead of the curve and begin lowering those Bounce Rates!
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a solid landing page to direct website visitors to. This is especially true when you are running a Cost Per Click (CPC) Campaign. If you are going to pay to drive a visitor to your site, you ought to make sure the visitor is sent to a page that clearly and concisely represents not only your offerings, but more importantly the offering that this particular visitor was searching for. In other words, it is rather frustrating for a searcher to click on an ad for a pair of Nike shoes and instead be sent to a page for Nike shirts. If you’re lucky, your visitor will be patient enough to go through your navigation and locate the Nike shoes page they should have been sent to in the first place. More than likely, however, the searcher you already paid for will just click on the back browser and find another ad. So how can online retailers prevent bounces like this from occurring? Although there is no way to guarantee a low bounce rate, there are steps you can take to improve it and your landing pages are a great place to start.
A good landing page will possess a clear cut call to action. What do you want your visitors to do? Examples: Click here to receive your coupon, Fill out this form to generate your free report, Enter your email address to be added to our monthly newsletter, etc.
In addition and beyond just the importance of user experience, Google very specifically factors in landing page quality and relevance as part of their algorithm. This algorithm determines where your ads will appear and how much you will have to bid. Therefore, having an effective landing page will not only improve the experience for your searchers, but also afford you the ability to garner better online real estate and at a lower CPC.
What are you waiting for? Get busy and start to improve your landing pages!