Beyond the Bounce

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool for those looking to understand how their website is performing (or not). There’s so much valuable information and quite a lot of info that’s less than useful, screen resolution, operating systems, Flash version etc.

However, one metric seems to cause more confusion and fear than all the others combined, it’s called the Bounce Rate (BR).

It’s displayed front and centre when you access Analytics, shouting a percentage at you but what’s good, what’s bad and what does it all mean?

Google Analytics Bounce Rate

First off, the Bounce itself – it’s simply a record of visitors to your site who left from the page they landed on, without doing anything else. If your BR is below 20% then your website is performing exceptionally well and if it’s around 45% or more then it needs investigating because your website could be leaking a lot of potential customers.

Bounces occur for a variety of reasons;

Site Speed

Research demonstrates that you have about 3 seconds to get your web pages open in front of your visitors. Any slower and they’ll head back to their search engine. Google Analytics provides a lot of information and help if your site is slow.

Setting Expectations

If someone visits your website after seeing or hearing something, and they have an expectation, then if your website fails to meet that expectation, then they’ll leave – hearing about a special offer that’s not plainly displayed on the home page, for example, will increase your BR.

Arriving from an international location and finding the site isn’t in the visitors language increases your BR as does coming from a mobile phone to a non-responsive site, for example.

What to do if you have a high Bounce Rate

If you have a high BR you need to understand why, you should look at the following areas:Graphs

  • Analytics Site Speed Checker to help you to understand how quickly your site opens and give hints and tips to ways to improve performance.
  • Audience to help you to see whether visits come from countries you trade in
  • Mobile to see whether mobile users are having a good experience
  • Acquisition to show you how your visitors found you

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do, getting a lot of visitors from countries that you don’t trade with, for example. You can’t stop them visiting your site although it might be worth exploring whether this could be a business opportunity.

Then there’s Referrer Spam which can also be called “reverse marketing”. Companies actually target Google Analytics in the hope that they’ll appear high up in your Acquisition/All Traffic stats, pique your interest and encourage you to visit their website in the hope of enticing you into parting with money to buy their services. Treat these with extreme caution as most of the services on offer are poor and may even result in the fraudulent use of credit/debit card data.

You might see names such as “semalt”, “buttons-for-websites”, “rankings-analytics” appearing in quite high numbers and they’ll all have 100% bounce rates and 1 Page per Session.

The solution is to set a filter so that Analytics stops counting them and you can do this in the Admin section, under “Filters”. You’ll probably need to set new filters on a monthly basis, so fast do these companies adapt, and a filter only works from the day you implemented it which means that it won’t act on historical data, but at least the data more accurately reflects reality going forwards.

If you are not using Analytics, you should be and if you don’t understand Analytics, you should and if you need any help installing Analytics or want to understand more then get in touch, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020

 

We all need more visits to our websites…..

It’s true isn’t it – we all need more visits to our website because more visits = more opportunities which equate to more inquiries which lead to more sales – right?

Wrong
Before looking to bring in more visitors to your website, take a long, hard look at your website, if it’s not generating inquiries for you today, bringing in more visitors does not mean that they’ll increase tomorrow, they’ll just do what every other visitor does.

You need to….

  • …make sure that your content focuses on your visitors – that’s less “me” and more “you”
  • …stop talking about the things you do – you should be talking about the benefits a client will gain from engaging with you (tip – it’s the latter that people use when making their buying decisions)
  • …make sure your website is easy to navigate
  • …ensure that your site is easy to read – copy and paste key content in to read-able.com to make sure that the average reading age is no higher than 13
  • …have clear calls-to-action on every page so that visitors know what is expected of them. “Buy Now” and “Browse for More” work really well on e-commerce sites whilst “Call“, “Email“, Subscribe Now” work for more serviced focused businesses.
  • …make sure that your pages open quickly – you only have about 3 seconds to capture a visitors interest so you have to be on the ball. Google Analytics and Pingdom are valuable tools to help assess the speed of your site.
  • …make good use of your USP – that special magic that you do that sets you apart from your competition?

If you’ve nailed all of the above – then it’s time to start looking for more web traffic and I’ll be looking at this in a later post although you can get ahead of the game by exploring my website or attending one of my workshops –

The Google “Red screen of Doom”

I had a telephone call from a former client  a month or so ago. He was in a bit of a panic because we was suffering from the Google “red screen of doom”. Having been in IT for a while, I’ve been familiar with Microsoft’s “blue screen of death” but this was something that was new to me, or so I thought and so I asked for more information.

He asked me to do a search for his company on Google – which I did – and his company came top of the search results, which was good. What was less good – much less good – was the stark warning, inserted by Google, that “This site may harm your computer” .

This site may harm your computerAha, Google was warning that the website had been hacked and was now serving malware to visitors.

I switched to my Chromebook – which is impervious to all known computer malware – and clicked through to the website – only to be blocked by the “Google red screen of doom”

Google's red screen of doomAlthough there was nothing to buy on my client’s site, it did host a range of technical papers and specification sheets that were vital for his clients’ and this attack was already having an impact on his business. Action was desperately needed.

The site was originally built 7 years ago and nothing much had changed, including the access data required to log-in to the host. So, I logged in and saw that a number of .js files had newer dates on them than the rest of the content, confirming that the site had been hacked and a small number of files altered so that they could be used to force malware downloads on to the computers of unsuspecting visitors.

The next step was to delete all of the website files, just to be on the safe side, and create a new, simple, home page with contact details and links to the most popular PDFs so that clients would be able to access the information they required.

Next was to see what Google had found by logging in to the Google Webmaster Toolkit account for the website- www.google.com/webmaster.

There were a number of warnings  relating to suspicious activity on the site that had gone unread, simply because my client had changed email addresses, was unable to access the original email account and had not updated his Webmaster Tools account with the new address.

Webmaster Tools advised of the type of threat that had been set up on the site and provided other, valuable, information along with a reporting tool that enabled me to advise Google of the actions taken to remove the threat.

Clicking “Send” was quickly followed by a confirmation message from Google that they would look at my message within 18 hours – a time frame that I thought was commendably fast. They were as good as their word and within 18 hours had checked the website to make sure it was clean and had removed all warnings and “red screens of doom” – my client was back up and running.

However, we didn’t leave it there. The original site was old, used old code and the web hosts weren’t the most responsive – telephone calls to their support line either went unanswered or, when answered, were as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot and so the decision was made to move the hosting to a more secure provider and to work on a plan to develop a new website.

The moral of this tale is simple. Make sure that you use the Google Webmaster Toolkit!

It’s the only way to let Google know what you’ve done should your site fall victim to an attack, keep your Toolkit account up to date and only use a web host that you know provides good security and a decent level of support.

And please don’t think that you’re immune – small businesses are the most targeted, the presumption being that their security is weaker than measures put in place by larger organisations and there are a number of websites that I keep an eye on that are attacked many times a day. However, being hosted on a secure platform with monitoring in place means that I am kept aware of the threats and can take remedial action, if required, very quickly.

To date, none has been required.

If you are worried by the security of your website, or your IT systems, please give me a call on 01793 238020 or email me, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a confidential, impartial, and free chat about your security concerns

How ready is your business for marketing online?

I recently read a post on www.SmallBusinessNewz.com that says many small businesses do nothing to enhance their on-line presence and 90% have not even considered paid web marketing such as Pay per Click [aka Google Ads, PPC] or sponsored updates on Social Media sites.

£20 notesPersonally, I think that this is good news even though I may disagree with the one of the main reasons they give – they believe that it may be too expensive and not deliver results.

I know that a properly constructed and managed campaign WILL most certainly deliver results and does not have to be expensive. However, campaigns that are rushed in to place and ineffectively managed will simply feed the money hungry machines that are Google, Facebook etc.

What’s even worse is that even a well set up and managed campaign may not deliver the wished for results because the website at the end of the click may not be up to the task.

It would be like advertising the opening of a new supermarket, building demand and expectation and then throwing open the doors only to have the shelves half stocked and no one around to help or take your money. A wasted opportunity! Not only a wasted opportunity but a wasted future because people who have had their expectations dashed will never return and (and this is just as bad) spread the word.

So, a business with a website that is unsatisfactory from a visitors perspective should NOT embark on any new marketing activity until –

  • the destination website is up to scratch.
  • they are sure they have the resources to deal with an uplift in enquiries and / or sales

What do I mean by having a website that it “up to scratch”? Watch this space for my next post.

Domain Name Nightmares

Domain Name Nightmares

Web Browser iconsI’ve just started listening to the phone-in shows on London Broadcasting Company [LBC] on DAB, many of which make for interesting listening.

Of course, this means that I have to listen to the adverts, by far the majority of which are targeted specifically at LBC’s London audience. Although I tend to tune-out, two in particular caught my attention – although not for the reasons that the advertisers would like. They reminded me of issues associated with the importance of choosing the right domain name for your business, issues that I thought had been put to bed years ago.

In my experience, most organisations choose their domain name based on their business name – bbc.co.uk – the sector they trade in – diy.com – and/or based on a product they sell or a service they deliver – windows.com, for example.

The choice of name would be either discussed or shared by email, very rarely were domain names discussed and shared in print and this must be why some absolute howlers were registered. The problem being that something that looks good or “cool” in print can be a nightmare to communicate verbally and a domain name that sounds good could send totally the wrong message when viewed in print.

Take phones4you – as a company name it “does what it says on the tin” – sells mobile phones for you, although the “for” was replaced by ”4” to shorten the domain and imitate “text speak”. Phones4You were lucky to be backed by an expensive TV and print campaign. Imagine, as a small business with a small marketing budget trying to convey the web address in a phone call, “its phones4you.com,”that’s’ phones 4 – the digit 4 not the word – you dot com”.

There were others too – such as Speedofart.com – a London based video production agency, the domain name sounds fine when spoken but has an issue when written down.

Then there’s the Italian power generating company, PowerGen Italia, sounds fine when spoken but looks less good in writing, imagine receiving an email from powergenitalia.com [although this was later proven to be a spoof], unlike pen supplier Pen Island whose domain – penisland.net is more “Carry On” than they probably would like.

It’s OK having a giggle at some of these but the reality is that many of these websites may not be visible to their target audience, especially where  the businesses they are targeting use web-filtering devices to ensure that their personal can only access appropriate websites.

Domain names like this also cause SEO confusion because the search engines have to guess the words from the alphabet-soup of letters and yet the solution is simple, use a hyphen or two, and the intention is immediately visible, speed-of-art.com and pen-island.net for example.

So, back to LBC and the two adverts that set me thinking, one is for a London based Cloud Service  provider called Xara Cloud. The voiceover had to enunciate each letter – X, A, R, A Cloud to make sure that potential clients did not confuse the X with Z and the second was for Buy2let cars – where the voiceover tried to emphasize the 2 but totally failed to communicate whether it was Buy2LetCars, BuyToLetCars or BuyTooLetCars.

The moral of this is simple – when thinking of a domain name, make sure that it looks good in print and is easy to communicate verbally – if it’s not, then go back to the drawing board.

I might not be able to undo any domain names that you have registered but I can certainly help with the majority of internet marketing issues that you have, so why not give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me a line, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for an informal and free chat about your issues and how I may be able to help.

The SMOG* Test – and it is nothing to do with clear air

How much thought have you given to the readability of your website?

Did you know that the average reading age in the UK is 12-13 years and that a significant number of visitors to your website may have English as their second language?

If you haven’t given this any thought then you are probably losing visitors and business because your words could act as an impenetrable barrier and you could be losing custom.

There is a simple tool that you can use to calculate the reading age of your site – you really should apply this RIGHT NOW.

Simply paste the web address for your pages in to www.read-able.com and click the “Calculate Readability” button

Readability Test

 

 

 

 

Your pages will be parsed through 6 different tests [including the SMOG* test] and the individual results will be displayed together with an average. Thankfully mine came back with an average grade level of 7 which is just about OK.

Readability-Results

The results are provided in relation to Grade Levels as measured by the American education system and you can find a simple Grade to Age comparison here. 

Alternatively you could also try the “Drayton Bird” test by reading your content out loud. If it sounds like one side of a conversation the you are probably on the right track – if it sounds stilted and disjointed you need to go back to the drawing board!

*SMOG – Simple Measure of Gobbledygook

New Domain Name Dilemas

Are new domains worth it for businesses?

Domain name dilemasMore than 1,000 new domain names could soon be available.

I was watching TV the other night when up popped an advert for a large and well know web hosting company advertising the forthcoming availability of more than 700 new domain name extensions, known as gTLDs or global Top Level Domains.

Most of us are familiar with the likes of .com, and .co.uk, you’re probably familiar with .info, .net and .eu but ICAAN, the association charged with managing domain names, is currently evaluating over 1,000 new options - how does .accountant, .book or even .zip strike you? They are just 3 under consideration – have a look at the complete list over on my website.

When visiting websites it will mean that we will all have to pay more attention to domain extensions to make sure we get to the sites we want, the search engines will face a challenge to deal with this potential explosion in domain extensions whilst domain registration agencies, ruthless marketing companies, consultancies and cybersquatters may feel that their .ship is about to sail in because it’s unlikely that these new gTLDs will be policed.

Very few are – for example .org was always meant to be used by charities and not-for-profit organisations but was quickly hijacked by businesses when the more common .com and .co.uk options had already been registered although .ltd or .gov can only be registered if you are a Limited company or a genuine government department but these controlled domains are in the minority.

Businesses may be sold more domains than they actually need by being told they need to protect their brand and to prevent cybersquatting whilst cybersquatters may jump on the opportunity to make a quick buck by registering the domain names of well-known companies in the hope of holding them to ransom, expecting a large payoff to sell the domains on to them.

Although legislation was passed to outlaw some of the more ruthless scams it’s not actively policed and this explosion in new domains may make Cybersquatting too tempting to resist and could bring the Cybersquatters back in droves as they look to capitalise on these new opportunities and confusion.

To protect your business against cybersquatting you need to make sure your company name is properly registered and trademarked. This will mean that you can use the law to claim what is yours should you fall victim to cybersquatting but it still leaves one question unanswered – which domain names should you register?

Simply put .co.uk and .com are the ones uppermost in people minds so you should always register these and then choose carefully from the new ones and only register those that are really relevant to your business and sector that you trade in.

If you want to talk more help with domain names, websites and online marketing in more detail please email me, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020