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When popular pages have a high bounce rate

December 1, 2021
📗 Field Note

Your site probably has at least one blog post that drives a substantial percentage of your traffic but also has a really high bounce rate.

So the post is attracting visitors to your site! But with a 70%+ bounce rate, it’s really not converting anyone.

We call these posts PBLs, or “Popular But Lazy”.


One reason may be that your target audience isn’t finding value in the page. This could be for any number of reasons, including…

  • Audience intent is mismatched
  • Writing and paragraph structure are subpar
  • UX and page experience are a drag

For example, let’s say you sell pizza-making robots. (If you really do this, please reach out!)

Your site has a Popular But Lazy post entitled “Where To Buy Pizza Robots.” It’s top-ranked in Google and the search intent is right on, but your site’s UX is miserable: slow, cluttered, loaded with obnoxious pop-ups, and the copy is one endless paragraph of fluff.

You’re attracting bottom-funnel leads but they hate how your site feels. So they bounce.

Or you’ve got another PBL post entitled “History of Tomato Sauce.” It’s the top-ranked page in Google. The problem? Nobody searching ‘history tomato sauce’ is looking to buy a robo-pizzaiolo! This voluminous traffic you’re getting is not your target audience. So they bounce too.


🏄 What you can do

Start by identifying your Popular But Lazy pages. Go to Google Analytics, sort your pages by traffic, highest to lowest, and look for the high-traffic pages that have really high bounce rates.

Next, perform a quick conversion rate optimization inventory.

Assess the page experience:

If the UX fundamentals seem to be strong, take a look at the call-to-action and internal links. Each should provide a clear next step for the visitor. People bounce when they don’t see anything compelling to do next.

  • Are there internal links to other relevant posts on your site? (If not, add some. If you can’t find any, then this might be a sign that the post isn’t a great match for your audience.)
  • Is there a CTA that can match the visitor’s intent? (Top-funnel leads don’t want to schedule a demo of your pizza robot, but they might sign up for your brand newsletter.)

(We could, and probably should, write an entire newsletter on those last two bullet-points.)

Lastly, if the fundamentals are there but the search intent is mismatched (our “History of Tomato Sauce” example), a heavier touch is required. Consider revising the piece to better fit your topic strategy then post it as something new.

Something like “First Androids in Tomato Sauce History” might attract your true audience.

Feel free to schedule office hours to look at this together!

What’s the difference between bounce rate and exit rate?

November 29, 2021
📗 Field Note

Bounce Rate and Exit Rate are two statistics that Google Analytics gives you about the pages on your site.

They both give you important information about your visitor’s journey after they read your content, but they’re calculated differently and you should do different things with the information:

  • Bounce Rate is the percentage of sessions where a visitor visited only that page. (A “session” is, basically, a “visit” to your website.)
  • Exit Rate is the percentage of all pageviews for that page, where the pageview was the last one in the session. Another way to say this is: Where the visitor stopped reading your site after visiting that page.

Typically, people view Bounce Rate as a more important indicator for the quality of content. If someone hits your site, and then leaves right away, that suggests the content wasn’t all that satisfying – whereas if they simply exit, it could mean lots of things.

Strategies to improve Bounce Rate include:

  • Improving the on-page experience (e.g. removing popups, reducing page load speed)
  • Improving the content (e.g. removing fluff, adding more relevant information)

And perhaps most important,

  • Inferring the intent of your visitor and adding calls to action within your content that are also helpful for them

For example, if your visitor lands on a page detailing efficient methods for putting up drywall, you want to link other relevant tutorials within the post, and maybe add a call to action for your Ultimate Guide to Hanging Drywall.

What is direct traffic in Google Analytics, and how can we figure out where it comes from?

November 13, 2021
📓 Article

Direct traffic has an exciting name. Direct! It’s traffic that comes straight to you!

But in Google Analytics, the Direct Traffic label is often a way of saying, “We don’t really know where this traffic is coming from.”

If more than ~20% of your traffic is categorized as Direct, then your overall data analysis is probably suffering. You can fix that.


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🧩 What is Direct Traffic?

The answer to this question has two parts.

First, there is real direct traffic: people typing your URL directly into their address bar. (This is good – it means that your brand team is doing its job!)

Additionally, there’s unidentified traffic from any number of sources (email, social, paid ads, etc.) that Google Analytics is lumping in there too, under the Direct Traffic label.

Why? (This is where it gets technical.) Because the links from those sources don’t have any referrer information.

For example: if the same ercule.co/smoothjazz link is in my Twitter profile and my email signature, there’s no way to tell which clicks came through Twitter and which ones came through email. GA reads them both as having no referrer – the same as typing that URL into an address bar.


🍋 Common causes of Direct Traffic bloat

Some can be remedied on the front end:

  • Email, especially prospecting email from your sellers. If you send a lot of email, or if your sellers do, that can mean a lot of direct traffic.

  • Traffic from social apps. When you link from an app like Instagram to a website, referrer information is generally not sent.

Others are structural and require more back-end attention:

  • Inconsistent Google Analytics implementation. If Google Analytics is on some pages on your site, but not others, a visitor who goes from an untagged page to a tagged page will show up as direct (because the referrer will be your own site!)

  • Insecure sites. Your site should be serving in https, for lots of reasons. If it isn’t, you may also see additional direct traffic, as document referrers generally aren’t sent from https to http sites.


🏄🏼 What you can do to improve Direct Traffic data

One surefire way to improve your data: make sure every link you send has a utm_medium parameter.

For example, in a sales email… Let’s say you’ve been including a product demo link: yoursite.com/demo

When a lead clicks on the link, it counts as direct traffic. Instead, you can include a UTM parameter: yoursite.com/demo?utm_medium=email

You should also use utm_source in links as well. If this sales email was triggered by a webinar invite, that source can be added: yoursite.com/demo?utm_medium=email&utm_source=webinar_invite

You can add UTM parameters to most channels: ads, links on social, referral programs, etc.

This isn’t a silver bullet for all direct traffic issues. If Google Analytics implementation is inconsistent, for example, it requires different solutions. (We recommend looking up suspect pages in GA and seeing if they show).

But UTMs will decrease overall Direct Traffic volume – and give you better data about your key channels right away.

Feel free to schedule office hours to look at this together!

How to track revenue from organic search

November 13, 2021
📓 Article

Is your content driving revenue? Not just traffic, or conversions (though those are also very important). But revenue.

A lot of companies don’t know! Even kinda big ones with lots of writers and millions of dollars being spent on content. You’d be surprised.

So if you feel like you don’t have an answer to the revenue question, be assured that that’s pretty normal. And you can get way ahead of the game by starting to tackle it in your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Here’s one way to get started.


👨‍💻 The CRM has the data you need

The CRM has all the data about your prospects and customers, and it also has all the data about how much money they’re giving you – or will potentially give you.

For example: within Salesforce, revenue info is stored as “Opportunities”. And within each Opportunity, there’s a field called “Lead Source”.

(Note: This isn’t exclusive to Salesforce – every CRM has some version of “Opportunities” and “Lead Source”.)

Lead Source is the field we can use to track organic search revenue.


🔮 Understanding the Lead Source field

In a very, very basic sense, the Lead Source field is saying: ”For this deal, here’s how the person signing the check found us.”

  • Did that person find us through an ad? Then maybe the value of that field is “Paid Search”.
  • Did they talk to us at an event? Then maybe the value of that field is “Event”.
  • Do we not know how they found us? Quelle horreur! Then maybe the value of that field is “Unknown”.

At the very least, your CRM should account for a standard set of Lead Sources – including “Organic Search”.

That’s an easy way to show that search – and therefore content – is working. And once you’ve started tracking this in the CRM, you can build out a more granular approach.


🏄 What you can do

Talk to whoever runs your CRM. Ask them:

  • How do we know if an Opportunity came from organic search?
  • What other information do we have in Salesforce about where Opportunities are coming from?
  • Do we have a field that tells us the first page someone landed on, on our site?

If your CRM administrator says you don’t have Organic Search as an option in that field, you’ll need to work with them (and maybe your web developer) to get things tagged appropriately. Here’s a quick video giving you an outline of how that can work.

It takes time! But it’s really important, so that you get the credit you deserve.

There are other fields you can look at, too, which will help you understand how much content is driving revenue. (For example, Hubspot has a very helpful field called “First Page Seen.”)

There’s one catch, though…

Sometimes, you’ll see that content isn’t driving revenue, at least not directly. But if the results aren’t what you wanted, you can start working on the problem.

How organic search and paid search teams can work together

November 4, 2021
📓 Article

Paid search is organic search plus one additional ranking factor: money.

The ranking algorithm for ads takes into account very similar factors to those used for organic rankings, like

…plus

  • How much you’re willing to bid for a certain keyword

Google rewards quality content by making the price of a click cheaper, and by showing your ads more often.

So paid search still requires great writers and content marketers.


🧉 How paid search can help content marketers

Paid campaigns result in a lot of really useful data about what’s resonating with users, and what isn’t. The paid performance team knows how to extract and parse that data.

For example, Google Ads gives a “search terms report” (literally what it is called) that shows exactly how many impressions, clicks and conversions resulted from each particular search term.

And that’s just the beginning. Paid search provides data such as:

  • Which offers are working, and which aren’t
  • Exactly how competitive you are for various topics
  • Quality of page UX and the conversion experience

And they could share it with you… but you gotta ask.

So it’s time to get friendly with the folks in Paid.


🍹 How content marketers can help the paid team

Useful, engaging content can dramatically improve acquisition costs (lowering click prices, increasing conversion rate). The inverse is also true: poor content requires higher bids.

So there are a lot of opportunities for you to help out the paid team – endearing yourself to them, and expanding the audience for your content in the process!

  • Improving landing pages (for paid ads)
  • Crafting offers for paid acquisitions
  • Generating content for lead capture offers
  • Aligning content (to build brand quality)


🏄 What you can do

Forge an alliance. Start with hello. Talk to the person who is in charge of your team’s paid acquisition campaigns. There’s probably some ways that you two can partner up for mutual benefit.

Here are some questions you might use to nudge the dialogue along:

  • How is Google Ads rating the quality of our landing pages? (Page optimization)

  • What ad headlines and descriptions perform best in paid ad copy? (Conversion)

  • Which audience segments (age, gender, household income, parental status) perform the best? (Persona targeting)

  • Are there new categories that you’re thinking about testing on your roadmap that we should consider exploring on the organic side as well? (Keyword alignment)

  • Where is there misalignment between a user’s search query and our messaging (Ad relevance, Quality score)

  • Are there any holidays or promotions coming up that you need support developing content for? (Content strategy)

Remember: you’ve got a skill set that can make paid search a more efficient channel, and the brand more successful overall. Same goes for their data.

You belong in this conversation.

Feel free to schedule office hours to look at this together!