For years and years the Americans have been very clever with phone numbers, using words to make them memorable, 1-800-468 3647* is quite tough to remember, but using the letters on a phone pad it instantly becomes 1-800 Hot Dogs, which is far more memorable. I also reckon that it made for quite a fight between businesses and telephone companies for the best numbers. The best we seemed to manage in the UK was the fight for “special” numbers – such as 0800 123123
And then came the mobile phone explosion, and the numbers you used were the ones handed out by your mobile phone company, there was no choice. Well, there was, but you had to hunt it down and “special” mobile phone numbers were expensive, because the providers knew the value.
For a long time, companies would display both landline and mobile numbers – and quite a few still do. However, for the last 5 years (maybe more) I have noticed that a lot of companies only use their mobile number. This is possibly sole traders and other businesses who work from home, or a home office. It enables them to easily keep business telephony separate from private. I’ve worked with many people who have 2 mobile phones, 1 for business and the other for personal calls.
But there are still people who won’t trust a company that only uses a mobile number simply because it used to shout “rogue trader” or similar, a company lacking any form of physical base.
I’ve also noticed that more and more sign written vans only have a mobile number on them, and in my opinion, this is a missed opportunity.
Why should a mobile only number be a missed opportunity?
Simply put, a mobile phone is harder to remember than a geographic number. Mainly because we are familiar with a range of geographic numbers (020 for London, 0117 for Bristol for example) and this makes them easier to remember – and the pattern is more familiar too. Especially if it’s the geographic descriptor for your local area (01793 in my case).
And this is the next benefit. If I see a tradespersons’ sign written van and it has a landline and mobile number, I’ll instantly know whether they are local to me, or “just visiting” and I’ll be far more likely to contact a local trade than one based elsewhere.
But landlines have their own issues. If you change phone providers, move from one exchange region to another or move from one office to another you may not be able to “take” your landline number with you. This means you’ll have to update websites, your Socials, letter heads, compliment slips, business cards etc. Which is a very good reason for just using a mobile number.
Is there a better way to use phone numbers?
Get an IP (Internet Protocol) phone number. An IP number is a virtual phone number. It’s not associated with any telephone exchange but is based in the Internet. You can have a physical desk phone (but you need one that’s IP Phone capable, not a cheap £10 phone from Amazon). You can use your PC/Laptop/tablet instead. Simply set up an IP Phone App and configure it correctly, have a headset and microphone (Bluetooth is great) and your “good to go”. You can even take IP calls on your mobile phone, yes really.
And, best of all, when you move location you don’t have to do anything at all. Your phone number comes with you, wherever you choose to go.
You could even get an IP phone number for the next town/city that you want to expand in to, giving you a virtual presence there and making it even easier for potential clients to contact you.
If you need help with your telephony then I probably know enough to be able to point you in the right direction and if you need assistance with your SEO, Email Marketing, Social media or any other type of online marketing activities then I can definitely help you so you really should get in touch – even if it’s just for a free consult. You can call me on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146, email email@example.com or book a slot using my calendar and we’ll take it from there
*(1-800 being the US equivalent of a free phone number, known in the States as a Toll Free Number)
Although people seem to use the terms WWW and Internet interchangeably, the two are actually very different beasts
There is a belief that the Internet came about through military research. The US government needed to find a way to send the “launch” message to ICBM silos in the event of the telephone network being disabled.
Although the US military contributed to the formation of the internet it was a lot more than this, and was mainly in the academic domain.
In the early 60s various projects in the US, UK and France had the aim of building, and interconnecting, computer networks, particularly the Super Computers of the day, for data sharing and data transmission.
In the early 80s the American National Science Foundation funded a number of supercomputers at several US universities, provided interconnectivity between them and also built a network that allowed by other academic institutions for research. This marked the beginning of the internet.
The first Internet Service Providers emerged in the USA & Australia in 1989 and in 1990 a small number of commercial entities in the USA were provided with private connections to this network. Connectivity increased rapidly, and the Internet as we know it, was born.
The Internet is the structure along which data travels when going from A to B and can be likened to a road network. And, like a road network, there are some routes that are faster than others and even the fast routes suffer from occasional issues and blockages which slows things down.
The World Wide Web
In 1989-90 research at CERN, in Switzerland, by British computer scientist, Tim Berners Lee (now Sir Tim) saw the development of a technology that linked hypertext documents in to an information system which was then accessible from any node (connection) on the network.
Sir Tim released his research in tot the world and allowed it to be used without any license fees and this allowed it to become the defacto document standard for the world wide web. This is why all web addresses start with HTTP, it defines the protocol to be used to transmit documents, Hypertext Transmission Protocol although we are now more familiar with HTTPS where the S adds Secure.
Basically, the Internet is the structure along which the data travels (the road system mentioned in the previous section) whilst the World Wide Web is the data that travels across that network, like traffic on a road.
If you need any help with your presence on the World Wide Web, from your website through Search Engien Optimisation (SEO), Advertising or anything else I’ll be more than happy to have a free chat to see how/where I can help your business. All you have to do is call me on 01793 238020, email firstname.lastname@example.org or just search Chief SEO Officer.
Back in the early 80s, when I was undertaking quite a bit of management training I became familiar with 7Ps. Proper Preparation & Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance*.
When I moved from IT Support Engineer and Consultant in to Internet Marketing I learned about a different 7Ps, the 7Ps of Marketing:
Sometimes, when I introduce myself as a marketing professional, some conclude that I work with “advertising”. As you’ll see as you read on, you’ll see that advertising is just one part of marketing communications, which is one of the 7 Ps of marketing.
I’ve touched really briefly on the various elements of the marketing mix – but please get in touch if I can help you work through anything in particular, email email@example.com or give me a call on 01793 238020.
This is just a snapshot of the breakdown of marketing. But it is good to sit back from your business and challenge yourself with some of these questions.
Is there a market for what you do? How do you know?
Why should people buy what you offer at all and why should they buy from you?
What makes you different from your competition?
Who is your competition – when did you last do a competitive SWOT?
What are the overall growth trends in your sector?
What is your sales pattern? What area of your sales is strongest and why and can you harness this strength elsewhere?
And what area is weakest? What are you doing about it?
How well do you treat your customers?
Which profitable customers can you win from whom? Who? How? Why? Where? When?
Have you built value into your pricing?
Are you competitive?
Is your cost enough for you to work with profit?
How do you set your price?
Will you discount?
How will you avoid being always known for discounting?
What do your competitors do?
Keep It simple
How easy/convenient is it for your customers to buy from you?
Where and how are you currently selling your products and services?
What are the opportunities to extend these?
If you are selling a service on the web, are you supporting with testimonials and case studies?
Are your people one of your main strengths of your business?
Or are you the bottle neck in your company? Are you better than everyone else and does everything have to come through you first?
What type of leader are you?
What is the path for your team to voice their concerns other than coming through you?
Are your people your best ambassadors or are they whinging about you/the business as soon as they are out of the door?
Are they as well trained as they can possibly be?
Did you involve your team when you last undertook a company SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) –really powerful.
One of the vital Ps but often overlooked and often designed for the company’s benefit rather than the customer’s. Ask yourself:
Can your team deliver a consistent level of service to all customers and at all times?
Customer retention is critical.. how failsafe is your process to ensure you don’t lose any?
How effective is your sales process?
What processes have you in place for telephone answering/billing/communication with your clients/recommendations/operations/
Physical Evidence (Brand)
Your brand is defined as
Signs by which you are known and remembered
A bundle of explicit/implicit promises
A reflection of personality
A statement of position.
Have you thought about/discussed what does your company stand for? What’s its personality and philosophy? What’s your one key brand promise to your customers?
Your brand is so much more than your logo. Think about a new visitor’s journey to your web site – does this reflect the look and feel of any communication they have had from you hitherto? Will they recognise this as being part of the same business? Have you had your website made mobile friendly? Really important.
A few hours spent on this are far from fluffy nonsense.
Just a few from the hundreds of options
Face to face
Word of Mouth referral
Telesales as part of a process
Exhibitions and events
Direct marketing and sales letters with appropriate follow up driving to the web
Events and seminars
Advertising but think carefully before you embark here. One off random ads are a waste of time and money! Is it the right target market? Don’t be dazzled by offers…
Website and how are you pushing your web? Does your copy talk about ‘you’, ie the reader? Are you making regular blog posts and updates? Have you considered more SEO, more PPC, back links, etc
Online videos on YouTube – how to/ about/testimonials – so many options.
Social media – which platforms should you invest time in?
So then, back to the management version: Just think how powerful your marketing strategy will be when you combine the planning from my original 7Ps with the focus provided by the 7Ps of marketing.
Combining your marketing knowledge to create a good strategy/plan using the 7Ps of Marketing coupled with the the 7Ps of Management managing implementation will surely lead to improved business performance.
But there are few quick wins when it comes to marketing, the more you work at it, the better it becomes. So, remember to take time away from working IN your business, (doing the business stuff) to work ON your business, doing the stuff that makes your business better. Set aside time on a weekly basis – little and often on a regular basis.
Remember though, I’m an Internet Marketing specialist although I’ll be more than happy to talk over other elements of your marketing activities and help where I can, Digital Marketing is where my skill set lies. If you have any questions, call me on 01793 238020, email firstname.lastname@example.org or just search Chief SEO Officer
*Oh, and of course we didn’t learn “pretty poor performance” we used a far more pithy term than “pretty”
A lot of the work that I do for my clients is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This involves working on websites to move them higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Most of the time, when talking about SEO, I talk about Google because Google is, by far and away, the most used search engine on the internet. Notice I say “used” rather than “loved” simply because a lot of people use it because it’s Number 1 but they don’t trust Google due to the amount of data it grabs and the huge power it wields.
But enough of the pre-amble, I want to tell you that there are other search engines available and there may be excellent reasons for using them. If you regularly check Google Analytics, or other web analytics applications, you may already be wondering about the traffic sources that appear.
And if you are not regularly checking a web analytics program to understand how your website is performing, the see me after class.
From my perspective, the work that I do on SEO actually works for ALL of the search engines out there so, without further ado, and in strict alphabetical order, here are the world’s top search engines
Ask.com – Founded 1996
Ask.com, started out as Ask Jeeves, a butler style service to help you find the answers to your important questions. Ask Jeeves has quite some history. It was founded in 1996 but in 2006 dropped “Jeeves”. Ask uses a unique algorithm to help you find the answers that you are looking for. It is designed to answer questions (hence the name) and favours expertise on a topic – instead of popularity
Baidu – Founded 2000
Baidu was founded in 2000 and is the dominant search engine in its country of origin, China. They have a market share of 75% in China whilst Google comes in with 3.76% – which is surprisingly high seeing as Google is banned in China. As with most Chinese entities, they are heavily policed which means certain images are censored and pro-democracy websites are blocked. Even so, if you are looking to break in to the Asian market, Baidu is were you have to be.
Like Google, they are investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence and self-driving cars. Sound familiar?
Bing – Launched 2009
Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, it was launched in 2009, which was when it replaced MSN Search. Later that year they also started providing search results to Yahoo, added AOL and Ecosia to the list of sites they support and Bing accounts for around 10% of US searches.
They are competitive in the Ads market too, although their total share of the market is small, compared to Google, so the impact is a lot less
DuckDuckGo – Founded 2008
DuckDuckGo is the search engine that looks after your privacy, touting itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you”. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you, and it doesn’t collect or store any information about you either. You’ll still see Ads (powered by Microsoft) but they won’t be personalised, based on your browsing history.
Ecosia – Founded 2009
Ecosia was launched in 2009 and it’s the first environmentally friendly search engine.
Ecosia is CO2 negative. To achieve this Ecosia donates 80% of profits to tree-planting projects which means that for around every 50 searches carried out on Ecosia, a tree is planted.
Ecosia have also built a solar power generation facility so that it can run its servers on clean, eco-friendly, energy.
Ecosia buys search results in from Bing and tweaks them with their own, unique, algorithms.
Google – Founded 1996
Founded in 1996 Google is the search engine of choice for millions around the world and has over 86% of the search engine market globally. As well as powering Google itself, the company also provides search results to a range of smaller search engines, such as ASK
Google has tremendous computing power but it comes at a cost to the environment.
Huge data centres dotted around the world use huge amounts of electricity and although Google is working hard to mitigate their environmental impact a lot of CO2 is generated by every single search.
Search-Wise – First Seen 2005
If you watch a lot of TV, particularly Dr Who and EastEnders, when actors are using a search engine they’ll use Search-Wise to carry out their internet searches.
Search-Wise is actually non-existent. It has a “home” page that has been mocked up and that’s all you ever see – there’s no technology behind it. Search-Wise is a digital prop, that’s all.
Start Page – Founded 1998
StartPage may just be the perfect search engine. It was launched in 1998 and is based in the Netherlands.
What makes it the almost perfect search engine is that, like others in this list, it buys in its results from elsewhere. StartPage actually buy their results from Google but StartPage’s USP is that it doesn’t track you, doesn’t pass your IP address to Google and doesn’t use trackers to gather data about you.
This means that you get the benefits of access to all of Google’s search nous but none of the privacy threatening downsides. See what I mean when I said that StartPage might just be the perfect search engine
Yahoo – Founded 1994
Once upon a time, Yahoo was the Number One search engine and was a mighty company. How things change. Yahoo now buys results from Bing and has about 3% of the global search market. Although a small percentage, that 3% translates in to 1 billion users, 600m of whom use Yahoo on their phones and tablets.
In a cross business deal, Microsoft makes use of Yahoo’s Ad engine to provide Pay per Click advertising.
Yandex – Founded 1997
Yandex is a Russian search engine, Yandex standing for Yet Another iNDEXer and the domain Yandex.ru was launched in 1997. Yandex is where you need to be if you are targeting Russia for business.
Yandex is also popular in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Belarus. It’s available in both English and Cyrillic.
In 2011 Yandex went public on the New York Stock Exchange and the search engine currently powers 42.35% of Russian searches
What can you learn from this
The reality is that no single search engine covers 100% of the World Wide Web although Google probably has the most comprehensive index. However, it’s a trade off between depth of coverage and the value you place on your privacy.
What I can say, though, is that if you are looking at targeting China or Russia you really need to focus your efforts on the search engines that cover these territories, Yandex and Baidu, for maximum visibility
If you need help with making your website more visible in the search results, increase visits to your website AND increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.
Elmer Wheeler got his start in sales shortly after losing his job at the newspaper that employed him. After his boss told him all they needed was more people in sales, Wheeler decided that he was going to work in sales. It was as a salesman that he coined his now-famous phrase “Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle.” Which is why Wheeler is known around the world as Mr Sizzle. But what does “sell the sizzle” actually mean?
When we buy steak, we buy the sizzle in the pan, the smell as it cooks and the taste as we salivate over the delicious flavour. We don’t “buy the cow”. But how does this translate in to the sales you try to make on a day to day basis. How do you SELL your sizzle, not your steak?
I reckon that at least 7 out of 10 websites that I am asked to evaluate fail on one fundamental content presentation issue. Businesses love to talk about their cow (features) but rarely mention their “sizzle” (benefits). That’s because it is so easy to talk about the things we do, to list the things we love doing, which makes it easy to overlook the benefits that our customers gain from engaging with us.
And yet, if you go through any form of sales training, you’ll learn that people (you and I, customers in other words) buy benefits not features.
As a bit of background, a long time ago I used to sell washing machines for a living. I also used to train new sales staff. When a new model arrived the sales people would give it a once over to understand where the key controls were and then take a deep dive in to the spec list to see what it could do.
Untrained sales people would focus on things like the spin speed, the weight of the load and the number of programs. Staff who had benefitted from sales training would latch on to the facts that a high spin speed meant that it would be better at drying clothes, that a large load meant that it could wash a family’s clothes in one go, saving cost and that it would have enough programs to wash every item of clothing in a wardrobe.
What they were doing was converting features in to benefits and by focussing on what people actually base their decision on, they were the ones making the sales.
It’s easy to convert your own features in to benefits. Simply take a feature, “this washer has a 1,200 RPM spin speed“, and use the phrase “which means that” to convert it in to a benefit. “This washing machine has a 1,200 RPM spin speed which means thatit gets your clothes drier than the competition can manage“.
Soon, salespeople don’t even need to mention the actual spin speed, they go straight in with the benefit – “this machine gets your clothes drier than all the others here“. They keep the feature in reserve in case they’re asked how the benefit is achieved.
Salesperson: “Mr and Mrs customer, this is the machine that will dry your clothes the best”
Customer: “Oh, how does it do that?”
Salesperson: “By having a 1,200 RPM spin speed”
This is how the conversation could go, but in my experience about 85% of the time, the follow-on is not needed – but by having product (or service) knowledge, it’s there, in the sales armoury, to be deployed, but only when required.
I provide a wide range of marketing services*, and they all have features but it’s far simpler to talk about the benefits, and the core benefit is increased profits. [More enquiries lead to more opportunities which lead to more sales which lead to increased profits]. That’s why my sales pitch is based around 2 key benefits, “win more customers, make more profit“.
The “how” is a conversation that can be had, if required, but always with benefits.
I’ll take care of your search engine optimisation. This will make your business easier to find in the search results, drive more people to your website, encourage more enquiries which will lead to more sales – provided your website has been put together with this goal in mind.
If you want to increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.
Call me on 01793 238020 or email email@example.com. We can even schedule an introductory, FREE, 40 min call over Zoom, or Teams or any other platform.
*SEO, PPC, Website evaluation, Social Media Marketing, Blog writing, podcasting, email marketing and more
When I started using the internet to access the world wide web, back in the early 90s I had a 14″ monitor with a 640×480 resolution. That’s 640 pixels (dots) wide and 480 pixels high, smartphones did not exist and connection was made via a modem (US Robotics) and a dial-up (phone line) connection.
Then I started working for an IT company and moved up to a 15″ screen with a 800×600 resolution and could get more on my screen. I was really excited when I moved to a 17″ screen with a 1024×768 resolution. Not only could I be more productive but we moved to an ISDN (digital connection) and the world was a better place.
Although I had been using a smartphone for a while (I am a bit of a geek) the adoption of a phone with a screen really took off in 2007, when after 2 years of development, Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone.
This introduced a problem for web designers and developers. Screen resolution was 420 x 480 and sites developed for traditional monitors tended to not work very well on Smartphone screens. Monitors were wider than they they were taller – SmartPhones were taller than they were wider and so a lot of horizontal scrolling was required. And this was just horrible.
As a consequence, web developers started to design mobile only websites. A bit of code on the home page would identify whether the site was being visited by a desktop (or laptop) PC or by a mobile device and the visitor would be seamlessly forwarded to the relevant site. The mobile site would commonly be identified by an m. so the regular site would be www.website.com and the mobile version would be m.website.com.
However, this meant that web developers had to build two different sites, which took time and money so wasn’t an ideal solution.
By 2008 work was well underway developing a technology that would overcome this and allow a single site to be developed. One that would automatically change its size depending on the device being used to access it. Initially these were called by a variety of names, “flexible”, “fluid”, “elastic” and “liquid” being the main terms used. In May 2010 the word “responsive” was used for the first time, by 2012 “Responsive” was #2 in Top web Design Trends by .Net magazine and 2013 became the Year of Responsive Web Design according to Mashable. In the same year Google announced that it was going to reward responsive designs with improved rankings and the flood gates opened.
By 2014 mobile web access exceeded desktop access for the first time and in 2019 Google switched focus from desktop first when evaluating websites to taking a mobile first approach.
Now, barely a website is built unless it’s “responsive” but this brings it’s own set of problems.
In my experience, most companies who request a Responsive site rarely take a detailed look as to how quickly the responsive site loads, how it looks and how easy it is to use. They quickly check on their phones and, provided the site looks OK, they accept the design they have been given.
And that’s where the problems start. It’s very easy to build a Responsive website, especially in WordPress, and even easier to make it slow to load (remember, you have less than 3 seconds to get your site open and just 2/10ths of a second for the visitor to understand what’s on offer)
Lots of sites still use carousels, those scrolling images that feature at the top of web pages (you can read about my dislike of carousels here). This means that all carousel images have to load first and the worst responsive sites with a carousel simply display all the carousel images, stacked one above the other.
Although people can scroll easily on a phone, they have to understand what they are scrolling for and a lot of people simply won’t bother, especially when faced with 2 or more images.
How good is your website when viewed on a smartphone?
How do you know that people don’t like the Responsive version of your website? It simple, log in to your Google Analytics account and look at the initial “quality” metrics for the three device types, desktop/laptop, mobile and tablet.
Three Quality Metrics
For a quick site performance overview I always look at the average length of each visit to a website, at the average number of pages per visit and the Bounce Rate – the number of visitors who reach your website but leave without clicking on anything. By navigating in Google Analytics to Audience/Mobile/Overview you’ll see a chart, similar to the one below,
Remember my simple Bounce Rate scale 0 – 20% = Excellent (and very rare) 21% – 50% = Average +51% – Investigate
In the above example you can see where the problem lies, Desktop and Tablet Bounce Rates are comfortable, around the 40% mark whereas visits from Mobile devices have a Bounce Rate of nearly 64%. That means that 2/3rds of ALL visits from users using their phones leave without doing anything. Totally wasted opportunity and even if the company increases it’s marketing to attract more visits, this will only continue unless action is taken.
What should the site owner be doing
It’s really simple.
You need to fully understand the goal of your website. I know that sounds simplistic but so many people have a website because they feel they need one but don’t really have any specific goals.
Your site should have clear goals and it should be immediately obvious what those goals are. Do you want visitor to your website to
Place an order
Subscribe to a newsletter
Make contact to ask a question
Now all you have to do is open your site on your phone and take a good look. How fast does the site open? How quickly can it be used? How obvious is the primary goal? How easy is it for a visitor to carry out the primary goal.
Make notes about the performance and have a conversation with your web designer to sort everything out and if you need help, you can always get in touch for a chat (no cost, no obligation) or you can leap straight in and book a website review – Saving £50 in my autumn 2020 Special Offer.
I can provide advice, help, and support. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take it from there
Podcasting is simply the audio equivalent of blogging. It’s where you create an audio recording and share it across the internet
Why should you podcast
There are many reasons to podcast. Let’s start with learning types. We all have differing ways in which we acquire knowledge and information but the three primary ways are through the written word, through pictures and video and through listening. All three are equally valid and have their own, unique, benefits and co-exist comfortably alongside each other.
There’s been a huge increase in the range of podcasts over recent years, both the number of pods that you can find and the wide range of platforms that you can listen to them on. You can find Podcasts on Spotify, Apple platforms, Google and elsewhere – they are a simple way to reach a wider, different audience to those who may not receive your email newsletters, watch your videos or tune in to your social media.
How to podcast
You don’t need a sophisticated recording studio. Just a quiet room, a recording device and a decent microphone.
The easiest way to record a podcast is to simply use your phone with some audio recording software – there’ll be loads to choose from in your App Store.
It’s worth remembering that your phone’s microphone is optimised for phone calls and so may not give you the best quality. To overcome this it’s a good idea to invest in a better quality microphone – even more so if you are planning on including other people in your podcast. Tie clip, also known as lavalier microphones are a good place to start. Just make sure to buy one that has the right connection for your phone.
Although a phone is great for recording when you are out and about it’s not the easiest platform on which to edit your audio and my preferred route is to do the majority of recording on my PC and I use free software that’s called Audacity
If you have a laptop, you have a device with a microphone. If you use a webcam on a PC you have a microphone. However, these may not be the best microphones available simply because your recording quality will be heavily influenced by the room that you record in, and in a lot of cases your recording will sound as though it was recorded in a cave. Have a listen to the following clips to hear the difference a decent microphone makes to recording quality.
Once you have recorded, and edited, your Podcast you need to find a way to make it available on the internet.
There are many sites that you could consider. I use Podomatic – it has a free account that’s a good place to start. It also provides an RSS feed.
Click on the link if you want to understand more about RSS feeds but the reason why one is important is that it makes it relatively easy to get your podcast published on all the major podcasting platforms that include
And best of all, there’s no cost. It’s all FREE so all you have to do is market your podcast through your website, Social Media and every other platform that you use to reach your clients.
If you need help recording your Podcast – just get in touch. I can provide advice, help, support and even have a small Podcast studio. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email email@example.com and we’ll take it from there
I’ve been a fan of Google’s web metrics tool (Google Analytics) since it was introduced in 2005. For most businesses, it’s free to use. The necessary tracking code is easy to add to your website and provides a wealth of information about your site’s performance but the Bounce Rate is one of the most powerful metrics, a powerful insight into the minds of the people who are visiting your website.
And yet all the Bounce Rate does is record the percentage of people who visit your website but leave almost straight away without doing anything more than viewing the page they landed on.
With 15 year’s experience, my view of the Bounce Rate is as follows
0-20% – Phenomenal. In 15 years I think I’ve only come across 4-5 sites with a Bounce Rate in this area and one of those was only because the site hadn’t installed Google Analytics correctly.
21-50% – Most of the sites that I work with fall into this region. One where between 1 in 5 and 1 in 2 visitors leave the site without doing anything
+51% – Any website with a Bounce Rate of 51% and higher really needs the reasons investigating. These sites are hemorrhaging visitors and, more importantly, opportunities but HOW do you go about analysing a high Bounce Rate and turning things around.
Remember, a 51% Bounce Rate (BR) means that over half of the people that you have persuaded to visit your website, whether that’s by SEO, Google Ads, Social Media (And Social Media advertising), e-mail and video marketing or simply word of mouth are just leaving without doing anything meaningful. If your website were a shop, they’d be sticking their head through the door, shrugging their shoulders and moving on. As a consequence, this has to be worth investigating. After all, if you invest in more marketing, all that’s going to continue to happen is that over half of those you attract will just do as the 51%+ have done before – and leave.
Working to reduce the Bounce Rate. Where do you start?
First, ensure that you have a really good understanding of your website because if you don’t know what you want your website to do for your business how do you know whether it’s doing it – or not.
What are the goals of your website? Here are some common ones.
To sell something
To attract newsletter subscriptions
To encourage inquiries
To allow people to download something
If your website has a high Bounce Rate where do you start looking? There are many ways to approach this, but I always like to start by taking a look at the website itself. What message is it sending to visitors?
Let’s say, for example, that you sell widgets and those widgets are used to attach the engines to an airliner.
Having a large photo of an airliner at the top of your home page probably looks good to you. And, because you know that your widgets play an important part then it sends a message – to you, and you alone. To everybody else all it actually says is “here’s a pretty picture of an airliner”. Questions that could come into the visitor’s mind might be “is this a travel company?” “do they make the whole airliner” – not – “aha, these are the guys that make the widgets that hold this airliner’s engines on”.
Remember, although you may have 3 seconds to get your webpage open in front of your visitor that’s an eternity compared to the 2/10ths of a second that a visitor takes to “get” your website……..or not!
Once happy with the website the next place that I’d look would be at marketing activity. Are the messages being broadcast by the marketing actually delivered by your website? For example, it’s no good talking a two-for-the-price-of-one offer if there’s no mention of it on your website, or if the offer is difficult to find. Visitors won’t look around – they’ll leave (bounce) and may never come back
Now that the marketing messages align with your website, and your website is as good as it can be, it’s time to dive into the data provided by Google Analytics.
Using Google Analytics to troubleshoot the Bounce Rate
The first place I look is the source of your web visitors.
Google Analytics/Acquisition/All traffic/Source/Medium will answer this one
Traffic Sources Key
Any entry that’s tagged “/referral” is where a visitor to your site has followed a link published on a 3rd party website. This could be an indicator as to how your online marketing is performing
CPC = Google Ads
Google Organic = Google Free Search Results
Direct = Either Google can’t identify the source or people have entered the URL directly in their browser
Bing Organic = Traffic from Bing (Microsoft search)
UK Search Yahoo Organic = Traffic from Yahoo UK
Yahoo Organic= Traffic from Yahoo
m.Facebook = Traffic from Facebook on a phone or tablet
Google.com = Traffic from Google.com
Traffic from a third party website
Traffic from a third party website
For this particular website, you’ll see that the Bounce Rate is very high for the majority of traffic sources and particularly high for visitors from Google Ads. With the majority of sources having a high Bounce Rate it would appear that the problem either lies with the marketing that is attracting the wrong people to the site, the website is failing to meet expectations or the problem lies elsewhere.
Bearing in mind that one of the earlier exercises was to ensure that marketing was sending the right message it’s obvious that, for this website, the problem with the Bounce Rate lies somewhere else
Geographical Source of traffic
Navigate to Audience/Geo/Location in Analytics
Scroll down past the map to see the countries where the traffic is coming from. You’ll see the Bounce rate for each source country. If you are targeting the UK and your UK Bounce Rate is OK then the next step is to try to understand how your marketing is promoting your traffic outside of the UK.
It’s possible that your website is attracting visitors from markets that you don’t serve. I have seen a number of sites that have attracted a lot of visits from the USA. When American visitors have landed it becomes immediately obvious that the website can’t address their needs so they leave immediately (Bounce).
The reality is that there is probably very little that you can do about this but it’ll be a relief to see that the Bounce Rate for your target locations is OK.
For this site, the Bounce Rate is high for all countries so the answer doesn’t lie here and the hunt continues
Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Age in Google Analytics
Although Google can’t identify all visitors to your website it’s still worth checking the visitor demographics. You can check that your website is reaching the age groups that your business is targeting.
Again, for the website being used in this blog, the Bounce Rate is high across the board so the answer lies elsewhere.
Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Gender in Google Analytics
Some companies target specific genders and this enables you to make sure that your visitors are coming from your target demographic. Once again, with a high Bounce Rate for both genders, the answer isn’t here. The hunt continues.
Web Browser Issues
Navigate to Audience/Technology/Browser & OS in Google Analytics
Web browsers are complicated pieces of software and it’s not unusual for websites to hit problems with some browsers and not others. This screen looks at the browsers used by visitors to your website and the Bounce Rate per browser. If a particular browser has a high Bounce Rate, but only delivers 5% of visitors (or fewer), it’s not worth paying too much attention. The cost to investigate, and resolve, the problem probably outweighs the benefits
This website is performing poorly in all browsers so the problem isn’t here either and the hunt continues.
Navigate to Audience/Mobile/Overview in Google Analytics
We are all used to accessing the web on our phones, but how well does your website work on small screens. It’s possible that this is the cause of the high Bounce Rate.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Desktop visits have a Bounce Rate in the comfort zone (44.50%) whilst phones and tablets are well above 50%.
Take a detailed look at your website, using your phone. Try to act as a customer and see whether you can spot any problems. Is the site slow? Is the navigation poor? Is excessive scrolling required?
Ask friends, colleagues, family to do the same, and feedback their findings and thoughts.
Next, take it up with your web developer.
Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Overview in Google Analytics
I think we have gotten to the nub of the problem. This is a slow website. Although the server is quite slow to respond (0.36 seconds) the technical elements (screenshot above) taken to find the website and start to open it on a device are still under 1 second so the problem lies with the content of the website itself.
Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Page Timings in Google Analytics
This page looks at the performance of every page of your website and details the speed of each page as a + or – when compared to the site average. It helps to identify poor performing pages.
Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Speed Suggestions in Google Analytics and Google will provide information and recommendations as to the actions you should take to improve the speed of your website. This might be a list that you take up with your web developer
Another way to identify issues is to put your website URL into https://www.webpagetest.org . This site runs a speed test three times and then displays the results as a waterfall graph, highlighting the speed of each element of a website, enabling you to identify problem areas.
So, there you have it, a detailed look into the Bounce Rate, and the ways that you can use Google Analytics to identify issues so that you can take corrective action.
Thanks for reading and you need more help with your website’s Bounce Rate or anything else to do with your web marketing all you have to do is get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have.
When I started SEO in 2001 things were a lot simpler than they are now. Back then it was all about keywords. Keywords in the Keyword Meta Tag, keywords in the Meta Title and Meta Description tags and Keywords liberally scattered throughout the content.
Obviously people came up with ways to “game” the system, to effectively cheat the search engines into giving them a better result than they were probably due and Keyword Stuffing was one of the first.
Keyword Stuffing – Level 1, repetition
Based on the knowledge that the search engines looked at the number of times a keyword was featured on a web page, keyword stuffing became the thing to do. This simply involved the multiple repetitions of keywords at the bottom of the content. The problem with this was that it looked ugly.
Keyword Stuffing – Level 2, invisible stuffing
Level two in Keyword Stuffing was to set the font to the same colour as the background, making the stuffing invisible but leaving a great deal of apparently empty space at the bottom of each page. However, you could highlight the text with your mouse, if you were so inclined
Now, the search engines realised they were being gamed so if you were caught using fonts in the same colour as your page background, your site would be penalised. The SEO folk adapted to this by making the font a very similar colour to the background……a visitor would still not see the text but because it wasn’t the same colour the search engines were happy – for a very short time. And they changed the rules so if your keywords were in an identical OR very similar colour to the background you’d be penalised.
And the SEO folk learned from this changed the font size back to a contrasting colour and then set the font size to 0. So, the keywords were there, they were in a colour that stood out from the page background but the typical visitor to the page wouldn’t see them, they took up minimal space and all was good in the world of SEO
Until the search engines cottoned on again and amended their rules to penalise websites that used keywords in the same (or similar colour) as the background AND/OR had the font size set to zero
The above techniques to game the system (a polite way of saying cheating) became known as Black Hat SEO and it’s something that I avoided simply because I didn’t want client sites to be penalised.
Since those early cowboy days of SEO, many things have changed. The profession has cleaned up its game (although Black Hat SEO still exists if you want to cheat the system and eventually get kicked out of the Search Engine Results Pages – SERPs) and the search engines regularly update their algorithms – the software that decided where a website deserves to sit in the Results pages.
If you want any help with your digital marketing please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an informal chat by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) by phone (01793 238020) or ask me on Social Media – Linkedin or Twitter and I’ll be only too happy to talk. Thanks for reading and I hope you stay well
I started providing SEO services in 2001 and things were a lot simpler than they are now. Back then it was all about keywords. Keywords in the keyword Meta Tag, keywords in the Meta Title Tag and Meta Description Tags and keywords liberally scattered throughout the content.
People came up with ways to “game” the system, to effectively cheat the search engines into giving them a better result than they were probably due. Cheating search engines in this way became known as “Black Hat” or “unethical” SEO and if you’d like to learn about one of these Black Hat techniques you should read my post on Keyword Stuffing.
Since those early cowboy days of SEO, many things have changed. The profession has cleaned up its game (although Black Hat SEO still exists if you want to cheat the system and eventually get kicked out of the Search Engine Results Pages – SERPs) and the search engines regularly update their algorithms – the software that decided where a website deserves to sit in the Results pages – to make sure that Black Hat SEO techniques don’t dominate results.
As things have changed, the number of SEO myths has grown and these are the ones that I most frequently encounter
SEO Myth 1 – It’s no longer about keywords
This has been around for a while now. Not only does Google examine more than 200 “signals” when ranking websites it frequently tweaks theses “signals” to ensure that you and I get the most relevant results for our searches. Every time something changes, a crowd of people claims that “Keywords are dead” or “SEO is dead”. Well, I’m here to tell you keywords are NOT dead and neither is SEO.
In fact, keywords are the fundamental rock on which all SEO is based. There’s no magic or mystery about them, they are simply the words you and I enter into our web browser when searching for something and so it’s critical that these words and phrases are embedded in your website, in the places the search engines look. This enables Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, etc to match searches to relevant websites
SEO Myth 2 – it’s ALL about keyword density
If you carry out a web search for “Keyword Density” you’ll find a number of sites telling you that the ideal keyword density is between 4 and 5%. This means that for every 100 words on your web pages, 4-5 of them should be keywords.
Please don’t pay ANY attention to this. If you do, you’ll fall foul of one of the cardinal rules of web development, that your website is for the visitors to your site and search engines are simply a tool to deliver those clients and prospects to your site.
If you focus on keyword density, and other SEO focused metrics, you’ll have switched content focus from creating great content for site visitors to creating content for the search engines and your content will suffer. I have worked with many sites that have fallen down this particular rabbit hole. Their site has ranked really well in the search results, the search results have delivered many visits but those visitors have left the site very quickly (Bounced in Google Analytics terms) because the content wasn’t focused on their needs.
SEO Myth 3 – it’s all about buying backlinks
Back-links, hyperlinks published on third party websites that bring people to your website are the foundations on which Google was built. Originally called “BackRub”, Google originally ONLY ranked sites based on the volume of backlinks. The thinking was pretty simple. If I link from my site to yours then I must believe that something on your site will be of interest/value to visitors to my site and, like any good democracy, the more votes (backlinks) your website has, the more popular and better it must be.
When Google was launched, backlinks remained a fundamental way that it ranked websites (and it remains so today). As a consequence, a whole industry built up around providing backlinks, including “Link Farms”. Web pages that just looked like phone directories, with each page simply featuring hundreds of links to websites. In the early days, this was quite successful and you could buy thousands of links for a few hundred dollars.
That was until Google realised that quality was far more important than quantity and started analysing where the backlinks originated. From then on, purchased backlinks became a major no-no. Backlinks MUST be relevant, so a link from your local butchers to a website providing marketing services is not relevant, for example.
For the butcher’s example above, it’s not likely to attract a direct penalty but will probably just be ignored by Google so the effort expended on acquiring that link will have been wasted.
If you take it to the next level and start purchasing links, Google WILL find out and your website will be penalised by being pushed DOWN in the results pages. This could be critical, with only 50% of search engine users ever going beyond the first page of results and just 10% making it to page 3 and beyond, a demotion to page 5 is almost as bad as being deleted.
Myth 4 – posting the same content on many different sites will boost your ranking
“Back in the day” it was common for a blog article to be posted on a number of websites that claimed to be regularly visited by journalists, and so promised a lot of “eyes on” fresh articles. The publisher’s dream was that they’d be contacted by journalists for more information. The goal being to be mentioned in an article that gets published by the national, mainstream, media amplifying the visibility of the business. The reality was that no journalists visited these sites and the actual goal was to simply build backlinks.
As Google improved its technology it recognised these for what they were, backlink building opportunities, and woe betide your website if you had had the temerity to pay to have your post published.
From here, another myth developed, that multiple placements of identical content will be penalised. Myth 14 explains this one in more details
Myth 5 – You have to write at least 1,200 words on every page for optimum SEO
If you read enough posts about SEO you will ultimately come across one that talks about the number of words contained on pages that come up in Position 1 on Page 1 of Google’s search results pages. (The holy grail of SEO if you like).
Typically they’ll tell you that top pages contain 1,200, 1,600, or even 2,000 words. That’s a LOT of writing, but don’t despair. You don’t have to write so many, or you can write many more. The reality is that there is no magic “ideal” word count that will get you on the first page of the search results. It’s much more about relevance and quality.
Look at it this way. If I tell you, or you read, that your page has to contain 1,200 words, you’re going to write 1,200 words no matter what. And if you only need 600 then your page is going to be so full of padding and filler that even were your page to feature highly in the search results and attract loads of visits, no one is going to read it.
And at the other end of the scale, if you actually need 3,000 words to get your message across and you’ve heard that the ideal page is 1,200 you’re going to edit the heck out of your content and you’ll probably remove most of the value. So, again, even if your page features highly in the results and you get loads of visits, most won’t stay because the content doesn’t make a great read.
What’s the solution? The simple solution is to write as many (or as few) words as you need to communicate your message and sell your idea. My only caveat, if you have to write a lot of words you either need to be a very good and persuasive writer OR hire a copywriter to do the work for you.
Myth 6 – SEO is dead
At least once a year someone pontificates that “SEO is dead” and I worry about my future. Then I relax and realise that SEO has quite a few years to go yet. it’s a long way from being an Ex-SEO, left this mortal coil, kicking up the daisies and every other quote from Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch.
Work is required, and will always be required, to ensure that your website is as #SEOFriendly as possible so that it appears as high in the search listings as possible and drives sufficient traffic to your website
Myth 7 – It’s all about Social Media these days
It’s really easy to believe, that with over 2.3Bn active users, Facebook has removed the need for a website and so SEO is no longer required.
If you follow this path, you’ll be missing out. In the UK about 32m people use Facebook. With about 90% of the UK population using the internet, ( that’s about 58.5m people) you’ll be missing 26.5m people.
And that’s just the people who don’t use Facebook Lots of Facebook users (about 70%) still turn to search engines when looking for the things they want or need. So, it’s not all about Social Media, if you just do Social, then you are missing a huge audience.
Myth 8 – Pictures don’t do anything to help your SEO
Although the search engines are slowly rolling out Artificial Intelligence to help then understand the content of a picture, your images contribute greatly to the optimisation of a web page.
However, you need to optimise your pictures properly. The file size has to be small enough so as not to slow your pages down, need to have SEO optimised image names, AND have optimised Alt Tags. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive my free e-Guide to image optimisation.
Myth 9 – SEO is a secret magic masked by smoke and mirrors
When SEO was growing in awareness, a lot of people delivering the service hid their actions behind smoke and mirrors, making it appear as if it was something mystical, something that could only be implemented by members of some deeply secret inner circle.
I think the main reason for this was to mask their techniques (some of which may have been gaming the system for quick results but which would lead to penalties being applied) AND so that these cowboys could charge more for their services.
The reality is that EVERYTHING you need to know is “out there” on the internet if you know where to look and who to trust. But do you want to spend time learning about SEO, sorting the wheat from the chaff and then learning how to implement it on your website AND keep it up to date or would you rather bring in someone who knows what they are doing, leaving you to do what you’re good at? Running your business, converting leads into sales, and making a profit?
Myth 10 – It’s not a problem if your website is slow to load
It’s a HUGE problem if your website is slow to load. 3 seconds is the goal – why?
The internet has robbed people of their attention span. Most people simply won’t wait any more than 3 seconds for a web page to open. If it’s slow, they’ll simply go elsewhere.
And it’s worse than that. You have about 2/10s of a second for people to “Get” what your site offers and if they don’t “get” it almost straight away, they will head off elsewhere.
Because of this, Google will push slow sites down the results pages. After all, thee’s no point sending people to a website if all they are going to do is come back to their search results to go somewhere else.
A slow website is one of the reasons behind a high Bounce Rate in Google Analytics
Myth 11 – You Must have perfect SEO to rank on Page 1
With Google examining more than 200 “signals” to determine where your site comes up in the search results pages, and the majority of those being known ONLY by Google thee is no way that your SEO can ever be perfect.
And you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be better than your competitors. That’s why I’ll look at your competitors if I am working on your SEO to see what can be done to beat them.
And if you strive for perfection, you might never get anything completed. remember, perfection is the enemy of good
Joke 2 men in the forest were faced by a huge bear charging towards them. One gulps and says to the other “we can’t outrun this bear” and the other one says. “I know, but all I have to do is run faster than you……byeeeee”
Myth 12 – Running a Google Ads campaign will boost your SEO
Google Ads and Google Search are two totally separate parts of Google and there is NO interlinking at all so running a large (or small) Google Ads campaign is NOT going to improve your SEO.
It will, however, give you a quick opportunity to get your business to the top if the first page of search results (In the Ads section) if you need quick traffic to your website
Myth 13 – SEO is a one time thing
No, no, and thrice no. SEO is constantly changing and you (or your search optimiser) should constantly be looking for ways to improve your SEO. After all, if you started out and were better than your competitors (See Myth 11) and they improve their SEO, they will outrank you so you need to stay on top of things.
Myth 14 – Google will penalise your site for duplicate content
Myth 4 looked at the posting of content on a variety of websites with the aim of building backlinks to your website.
From this came conversations that if Google caught you doing this then they would penalise your website. This simply isn’t true. However, a very real danger of having multiple copies of the same thing is that it will dilute your search results because Google won’t know which is the most important page.
So, examine your content, and if you have more than one copy of the same thing then you need to let Google know which is the most important and the Canonical tag is the way to do this.
A canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs
Thanks for reading and remember, if you have any problems with your SEO please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have