3 Scary Numbers in Google Analytics You Can’t Afford to Overlook

Your website may be leaking valuable leads without you knowing it.

Recognizing which data points are screaming for help in a sea of website traffic data is daunting if you don’t know which website performance benchmarks are treats and which are tricks. Google Analytics is the best way to reveal where you’re letting valuable leads slip away and how to fix it.

Here are the three scariest numbers in Google Analytics to quickly identify which data points you simply cannot afford to overlook.

  1. 10+ Seconds Average Page Load Time
  2. 85%+ Bounce Rate on CPC Landing Pages
  3. 5 Seconds or Less Average Session Duration

See where to find these data points in Google Analytics, how they’re affecting your bottom line, and what you can do to transform your online success.

Benchmarking the 3 Scariest Numbers in Google Analytics

1. 10+ Seconds Average Page Load Time

You can find Average Page Load Time in your Google Analytics account in the Site Speed Overview report located under “Behavior” in the left side navigation bar. 

Average Page Load Time is the average amount of time (in seconds) it takes for a page on your website to load. This is calculated starting from the initiation of a pageview (clicking on a page link) to the being fulling loaded in the user’s browser.


If any page on your website is taking longer than 10 seconds to load, be afraid. Be very afraid. Why? A 10+ second average page load speed means you’re losing upwards of 123% of your prospective customers. The horror!

Ultimately, there are 2 non-negotiable reasons why your website’s speed is a major factor influencing your digital success.

Non-Negotiable #1— Your Site’s Speed Influences Its Conversion Rate

On the Internet, seconds cost cold, hard cash. Over 50% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. It’s a hard truth, but you’ll never lose money overestimating how lazy people are on the Internet. They want what they want and they want it fast.

In fact, with every second it takes your page to load, the probability of the user leaving your page increases exponentially.

When users don’t have a satisfactory experience with your website, research proves they’re quick to click the “back” button, conduct a new search, and visit your competitors’ sites until they can find what they need.

In short, if your website is slow, you’re just encouraging prospects to go to your competitors instead.

Non-Negotiable #2— Speed Matters to SEO

The second reason why your website’s speed is a major factor influencing your success is its influence on your ability to rank on search engine results pages. The slower your website, the harder it is for searchers to find your services or products online. How?

Back in 2010, Google made website speed a ranking factor.

“Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs.” – Google

Fast forward to the now post-Google Speed Update era of 2018, your mobile site speed (not your website’s desktop speed anymore) directly influences your website’s ability to rank in Google.

This means the slower your site loads, the more likely you will rank lower on Google search result pages, no matter how much money you pour into SEO efforts or how niche your industry.

Resources for Improving Your Average Page Load Time

  1. Google Page Speed Insights Tool
  2. Google Test My Site Tool
  3. Moz’s Guide to Improving Your Page Speed
  4. Not a Techy? Get Help from Site Speed Experts

Speed equals revenue, so the faster your website loads the more earning potential you steal from your competitors.





2. 85%+ Bounce Rate on CPC Landing Pages

Find which landing pages have a bounce rate over 85% Bounce Rate by navigating to your Landing Page report under Behavior and Site Content. Then, add a source/medium secondary dimension, filter by your PPC platform (in this case we used Google CPC), and add a filter for pages within your campaign with bounce rates over 85%.

Bounce Rate is the percentage of the visitors who land on your page, don’t take any action, and then leave from the same page they landed on.
Landing Pages are the pages on your site that you’re directing users to after they click on an ad in your cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns.


To be fair, not every bounce rate is equal. But, what makes a high average bounce rate for your landing pages so scary is it correlates to the profitability of your paid search advertising campaigns.

Essentially, you’re basically throwing money in the wind if you are paying for significant traffic to your landing pages, but those users are bouncing at a rate of 80% or higher.

You’re paying to get people’s attention with PPC ads, only to have your site scare them away when you should be paying to get their attention and treating them to great content ultimately convincing them to do business with you.

Your landing page’s only job is to convert the lead that clicked on your ad. If your users are leaving the page without interacting with it, that means they’re not doing the thing you want them to do whether that’s making a purchase, calling your business, filling out a contact form, downloading a whitepaper, etc.

Landing page bounce rates over 85% high could be the result of several issues:

  • Users can’t immediately find what they’re looking for
  • You’re missing a call-to-action or it’s lacking urgency
  • Your website takes too long to load
  • Your website is difficult to use
  • Users don’t find your content useful
  • Your content isn’t relevant to your audience
  • Your PPC campaigns are targeting the wrong audience


3. 15 Seconds or Less Average Session Duration

You can compare the Average Session Duration of each of your marketing channels in your Google Analytics account in the “Channels” report located under “Acquisition” and “All Traffic” in the left side navigation bar. 

Average Session Duration is the average amount of time a user has a browser open with your website in one of the active tabs. This is sometimes referred to as time on site. It doesn’t, however, mean a user is actively looking at your site the entire time it’s open in their browser.


Similar to bounce rate, not every session on your website is equal. What makes a 15 second or less average session duration from specific traffic channels (social, display advertising, paid search advertising, organic search, etc.) so scary is it represents how effective your digital marketing strategy is driving leads and revenue to your business.

As shown in the GIF above, discovering a low session duration from users who land on your site from a particular channel (in this case, display advertising) could be an indication of several issues with your digital strategy.

  • You’re reaching the wrong audience within the channel
  • The channel is not a good source of traffic from your niche
  • Your website isn’t relevant to users from that channel
  • Your website isn’t meeting user expectations (like not fulfilling a promise from an ad, etc.)
  • Your website design is unappealing to users coming from this device or channel.

We’re not saying an extremely long session duration is the key to your digital success, but there is a correlation between how long people engage with your website and its overall conversion potential.

Research proves that you only have about 7-15 seconds to capture a person’s attention.

If traffic from one of your channels is only sticking around for less than 15 seconds on average, it’s clear evidence you need to refine your overall digital strategy, including that of your website to better capture the attention of your visitors.

No matter your situation, improving your average session duration past 15 seconds may be easier than you think, especially with the right help.

Why Your Business Needs Website Traffic Analysis and How to Do It

Every Business Needs Website Traffic Analysis

Are you getting what you paid for from your website?

If you can’t answer this question, you’re missing the essential ingredient for gauging your business’s success on the Internet: website traffic analysis. Websites are not something you can set and leave alone. In order to win on the Internet, you need to be consistently seeking out how to best convert website visitors.

Data from your website traffic reports reveal a detailed overview of your online ROI. These reports show exactly how well each page of your site is able to attract and convert visitors. No matter your online goal, with a website traffic tracker installed on your website, you ensure you’re getting the most return and value out of your online investments.

With the best website traffic analysis tool available for free from Google, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be tracking your website performance.

How Is Website Traffic Measured?

Website traffic analysis is the evaluation of Internet users who visit your website and how these users interact with your website.

Website traffic is measured by a variety of metrics including:

  • Bounce rate
  • Pages per session
  • Goal conversion rate
  • Time on site
  • Visits
  • New Visits
  • And more!

Explore the secret language behind these Google Analytics terms in our glossary. Or, keep it simple by learning about the top 3 website traffic metrics every business owner must know.

How to Collect and Check Website Traffic on Google Analytics

Website analytics is the cornerstone to optimizing your business’s online effectiveness, but how do you equip your website so it tracks and collects all that valuable data?

The industry standard for good reason, Google Analytics is known as the best tool to track website traffic available. And not just because it’s free.

More than a web traffic tracker revealing your website’s strengths and weaknesses, Google Analytics also reveals the keywords your visitors use to find you. You can assign revenue to leads and see the dollar value of each page of your website. The platform also shows you the age range, the location, and the type of device used by your most valuable visitors.

If you knew that your most valuable visitors were most likely coming from a particular county, come from your paid search, and are most likely to be Women 35 – 49 using a phone, what would you do? Go get more of those types of visitors!

Think about how much money you could save if you targeted mobile visitors over desktop visitors in your online advertising!

With this data, you can precisely tailor each page on your website to best speak with your audience by referencing the exact verbiage they use, their location, and more. Track the performance of every update to your page and see how your efforts affect conversions and your overall ROI.

Linking Google Analytics

Sign up to get started with Google Analytics and follow the on-screen instructions. Keep in mind, there’s technical work involved in order to implement the provided tracking code on every page of your website. This code is how the platform tracks your data analytics. Improper setup could give you faulty, unreliable data.

You may need technical assistance in order to get your analytics installed. Depending on the size and complexity of your website a professional may need between 30 minutes and two hours to fully install Google Analytics.

Special Note: It is possible to install Google Analytics incompletely. You want all of the data and all of the features (they’re all free). Be to sure ask your vendor if they are setting up conversions and demographics and connecting your Google Search Console account.

Data will start collecting immediately, but it may days or weeks depending on your traffic until you accumulate enough data to be statistically reliable. Soon, you’ll see an influx of data, which can be as powerful as it is extremely complicated. Avoid burdening yourself with charts and graphs with our free data translation tool. Because, at Smylelytics, we believe data doesn’t have to be illegible charts and graphs.

Making Sense of Your Website Data

the smylelytics puppies theme makes website traffic analysis easy by translating Google Analytics data into fun, understandable pictures of happy, sleepy, or nervous dogsOur goal is to make your website data something you enjoy because of how easy it is to understand and extract value from.

That’s why we translate your website traffic data from Google Analytics into fun, clear-cut images. It’s easy to get started, simply provide us safe, secure access to your Google Analytics account and you’ll get the same data you would from your Google Analytics dashboard, but translated into fun reports sent to you via email twice a month.

This will help you start a happy relationship with your website traffic report data and put you on a path to using your website to grow your business.

3 Website Traffic Metrics Every Business Owner Should Know

Don’t judge your website by its cover. Key website traffic metrics and analytics must be the foundation on which you judge the success of your website. While it’s important to have a great website design, you can’t truly know how well your website is supporting your business goals without knowing some portion of your website’s performance data in Google Analytics.

Which website traffic metrics are worth your time? Read on to learn more about the top three directly related to your business’s success.

Website Traffic Metrics You Need to Know

1. Page Speed

From user experience to organic rank, page speed plays so many roles it has become one of the most important metrics to know. While your website may load quickly on your device, your users may be using different browsers, ISPs, and devices which could cause your site to load slowly on their end.

If your users get frustrated and leave your site before understanding what your business can do for them, how will you know the reason why? The first place to look is your page speed from the site speed reports in your Google Analytics account. Simply navigate to the “Behavior” tab on the left of your Google Analytics dashboard and click “Site Speed.”

Site speed tab location in Google Analytics

From here you can:

  • Discover how load speed is affected by your user’s geographic location
  • Measure the impact of each page’s loading speed on that page’s conversion rate
  • Segment load speed by user-type if you have users that login to your site
  • Track each page’s loading speed

Don’t for a second think your users will stick around if your site loads slowly. In fact, a slow page speed could be negatively influencing other metrics as well, including we discuss further in this post. According to Kissmetrics, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Worse, a 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions!

Don’t turn your website visitors away. If you’re going to remember anything from this article, remember to ensure your website’s page speed is not so slow it’s causing your users to leave. Test your website’s speed for free and learn more about fixing slow load times.

2. Homepage Bounce Rate

Your homepage bounce rate is displayed as a percentage and tells you how many visitors leave immediately after landing on your website’s homepage. Also known as “single page sessions,” bounce rate is also rumored to have an effect on how well you rank on Google

A high bounce rate on your homepage reveals the first impression your website makes on visitors. If you have a high bounce rate it could mean visitors don’t see what they’re looking for quickly or you could be attracting the wrong type of visitors – people looking for something other than what you offer. A high bounce rate on your homepage is a sure signal your website visitors are leaving— and fast. If your website traffic metrics reveal a high bounce rate, you’ll need to conduct further analysis to reveal the cause before you lose too many valuable online leads.

While this website traffic metric doesn’t detail exactly why your website visitors are so quick to leave, there are a few common reasons for high bounce rates.

  • Poor Aesthetics— First impressions are everything on the Internet. If your website has a dated look and design, people are going associate their impression of your website with how you do business or the quality of your products/ services.
  • Slow Load Times— Slow load times are a bounce rate magnet. Internet users are extremely impatient and usually won’t wait more than a few seconds for a page to load.
  • Poor Marketing Channel Strategy— Look at your traffic sources to determine where your visitors are coming from on your site and compare each source’s bounce rate.. Focus more on sources that send quality traffic to your site with lower bounce rates and rethink your strategy for sources sending traffic with high bounce rates to your website.

3. Conversion Rate

Arguably the most important website traffic metric of all, your conversion rate has a significant impact on your site’s profitability. For example, increasing your conversion rate from 1% to 2% doubles the impact your website makes on your business!

While the total conversion numbers are significant, focus on your website’s conversion rate to get a dose of reality at how well your website persuades visitors to perform a desired action. The higher the conversion rate, the better your website is performing. A low conversion rate could indicate several wrongdoings. To name a few: you could be attracting the wrong type of traffic, your call to action is too weak, or you have ineffective copy on your website.

Think of your website as a salesperson you are giving leads to. You expect a good salesperson to convert good leads to sales. In the same way, you should expect your website to convert qualified visitors to leads. Your conversion rate is a measure of how successful your website is at doing that.

Because your conversion rate has such a significant impact on your website’s profitability, you should be continually optimizing your website for conversions. Even the smallest tweaks in the right direction create substantial impacts on your bottom line. Check out our free tool that makes it easy and fast to keep track of your website traffic metrics.

When you know to watch your website traffic and monitor these metrics (even at a high level), you’re better able to target your most valuable traffic sources and make the changes needed to squeeze out more results from your existing efforts.

The Fast, Easy Solution for Monitoring Your Website Traffic Metrics

If you’re like the average business owner, then you’re probably not interested in being an analytics genius and are more interested in the “growing your business” part. We get it. But if you don’t know how to comb through miles of analytics data, how will you know if your website is on track for success or for failure? These are the questions that lead us to combine the idea of user experience with the importance of understanding website analytics.

Our free tool simplifies what Google Analytics tracks and reveals about your website. We apply the fundamentals of design so your experience with understanding website data is simple and fun! With Smylelytics, Google Analytics reports are made clear for you so you can spend more time focusing on what’s important— growth!

Smylelytics is completely free. Sign-up today and see it make reaching your business’s online goals simpler.

3 Free Ways to Immediately Boost Your Website Traffic

Your website traffic visitors are extraordinarily impatient— far more than most business owners realize. If they can’t find exactly what they’re looking for, they simply open another tab, do another search— and just like that, you’ve lost a prospect.

Get the most out of your website traffic with these 3 free best practices. After all, with an optimized website, more traffic means more leads and ultimately more sales.

1. Link Your Google Analytics Data

If your prospective customers can’t get what they need from your website, then your site is serving as an expensive slingshot— sending your prospects to your competitors instead of enticing them to make a purchase. Your website traffic data should blatantly tell you whether your site is performing as a valuable marketing tool or if you need to make improvements.

If you’re like the average business owner, then you’re probably not interested in being a Google Analytics genius and more interested in the “growing your business” part. We get it. But if you don’t consistently comb through miles of analytics data, how will you know if your website is on track for success or for failure?

We created Smylelytics to be a fun (yes, we mean fun), free tool that simplifies what Google Analytics tracks and reveals. Smylelytics turns your valuable website traffic data into fun, easy-to-follow photographs, making your website traffic data clear and insightful. With Smylelytics, you can spend more time focusing on what’s important— business growth. Click to learn more about how Smylelytics makes reaching your online business goals easier.

2. Cultivate Online Community

While you can share your blog articles on social media until you’re blue in the face, it may not be enough. You need to actively participate in your audience’s online community, too. Join group discussions under relevant hashtags. Spark new topics by asking questions. If your audience is leaving comments on your Facebook posts, be intentional and consistently engage with them.

Be genuine with your posting. Don’t be one of those businesses that use social media strictly as a commercial broadcast channel. Nothing will discredit your business’s social media page from your audience quicker than one-way content. Use social media channels as they were intended and interact with your audience/ customers in a genuine way rather than pushing salesy content.

The benefit of social engagement? The more you talk with your audience, the more relevant content topics you’ll discover, too. Two birds, one stone. By interacting with your audience, you knock out time normally spent planning your blog topics. Your audience is the best primary source of topic research you’re not utilizing. Their input and requests enable you to create more relevant content pages and articles on your website. When sharing this new content on social, simply link back to your website and encourage your followers to learn more about the particular topic there. Not only are you building loyalty on your social media outlets, but you’re driving traffic to your website. With this strategy, you get the most out of your website and convert leads into, not just sales, but loyal customers.

3. Implement Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Optimizing your website’s content is the foundation of any online strategy. Everything you write and post online should be based on your audience. Do your research and learn your audience’s language such as how, where, and when they discuss your product.

Understanding how your audience searches for your product allows you to implement those terms into your content. The more relevant your website’s pages and articles are to your audience’s keyword searches, the more likely they’ll appear in Google’s search ranks.

There are many things you can do to optimize your on-page SEO. While SEO requirements change over time, follow these tried and true best practices to boost your website’s search rank on Google:

  • Content is King— across industry studies, relevant content significantly outperforms the competition in search rankings. Stick to producing the content your audience is looking for.
  • Keyword Dropping— your keyword should appear frequently, but not excessively, in the first 100 words of your paragraph copy.
  • Use Your Keyword in Your Title Tag— the closer your keyword is to the beginning of your title tag, the better.
  • Build Relevant URLs—modify your URLs to be short and sweet with keyword-rich tails. Industry studies show shorter URLs perform better on Google.
  • Mobile Responsiveness— your website should respond to any size device. Users should be able to view your content as easily on their desktop computer as they can on their mobile devices.

Tired of SEO myths? Learn what practices don’t directly affect your Google ranking in this related article from Moz.

At the end of the day, if you don’t understand how your website’s visitors interact with your website— you’re not going to be able to uncover hidden profits from website optimization. Get familiar with your website traffic patterns with our free analytics tool, Smylelytics.

Unlock Business Growth with Website Data Visualization

Is your website costing you the profits you want? Reviewing your website data is the method experts recommend in order to learn if your website is helping or hurting your business. While that is good advice it leaves you empty-handed when it’s time to take action on a failing website—especially if you’re an on-the-run business owner. So how do you quickly identify where your website is failing in your website data and how do you know which flaws are really worth pursuing for optimal business growth? Smylelytics  may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Website Data From Google Analytics Unlock Business Growth

Website analytics work by tracking every user that comes to your website. This includes their demographic information and all of the actions they take on your site. Tools like Google Analytics take all of that data and compile it into a report. As you can imagine, it is overwhelming, but it’s from this report that the common business can identify their website’s failures to determine how to fix them.

The goal of any website should be to provide an easy customer experience that shortens the time it takes for customers to make a purchase or solve the problem they went to Google to research in the first place. But the reason your site is preventing visitors from reaching their goal is not always obvious from your website analytics data.

According to a Forbes, the most common website issues  driving customers away include:

  1. Confusing navigation
  2. Clumsy “contact us” options
  3. Failing to use a mobile-responsive design
  4. Blurry branding
  5. Poor SEO structure
  6. Too much information at once
  7. Overuse of stock photos
  8. Typos
  9. No credibility elements
  10. Use of old or irrelevant content

Issues like these present themselves in your website analytics data if you know how to look for it. For example, if the bounce rate is extremely high on your “Contact Us” page, your website could be guilty of #1, #6, or #9.

For the best insight into which problems areas to fix for optimal business growth, familiarize yourself with your website’s data. Knowing your common web page stats allows quicker identification of out-of-place disparities.

But who has the time for that?

Website Analytics and Data Visualization

Not using data visualization could be costing you the ability to quickly identify new patterns and unlock clues for business growth. Data visualization is any effort that helps people to understand the significance of a data set by placing it in a visual context. Applying this concept to website analytics data is essential to an on-the-run business owner. It equips decision makers with at-a-glance access to their website analytics in easily digestible visuals.

The Data Visualization Solution to Smile About

The average business owner isn’t interested in being a website data guru or analytics genius. If this is you, then you’re probably just interested in the “growing your business” part. We get it. But how do you identify if your website is on track for business growth if you don’t have time to learn how to identify where your website is failing?

Smylelytics is a fun, at-a-glance free tool that simplifies what Google Analytics tracks about your business website. It reveals business growth clues for you so you can focus on what’s important. Try our free data visualization tool, today, to learn how we can make your website analytics work for you.

With Smylelytics, understanding your website data and reaching your business growth goals is something to smile about.

Google Analytics Goals: Keys to Digital Marketing Success

Setting Your Google Analytics Goals for Website Success

From the moment it’s live, your Google Analytics account displays a lot of data you should track on a regular basis. You’ll have an up-to-the-minute picture of who your visitors are, where they are coming from, the devices they are using—all giving you a clear idea of whether you’re reaching your target market or not.

However, what it won’t do right away is help you understand if your website visitors are going through your intended funnel and doing what you want them to do.

Every website should be designed with a specific purpose or objective. What is the ultimate action you want your website visitors to take? Measuring how often this happens is one of your single most important business metrics.

That’s where your Google Analytics goals come in.

Why do Google Analytics goals matter?

Whether you’ve got an eCommerce site or one where you’re generating leads, you must set up goals in Google Analytics to see if visitors are completing the actions you need. When set up correctly, Google Analytics shows you the final action you want, otherwise known as a macro conversion, and it also keeps track of the micro conversions. Micro conversions are actions that may lead or influence a visitor to take your main desired action, such as watching a video, visiting a location page, or downloading a case study.

It may be that only a few of your visitors on any given day are ready to make that final commitment (your Google Analytics goal):  some are doing research, some are your competitors (also doing research), and some of them are old customers looking to see what’s new that you’re offering. If you ignore the traffic that’s shopping around, and track only the final action, you’re missing out on some very important data that could be helpful in tweaking your website to ultimately get more of your main desired actions.

From a new user simply creating an account, to a returning customer who decides to sign up for your newsletter, to a live lead adding an item to their shopping cart and then abandoning the transaction, these smaller micro conversions are signs of engaged and interested prospects, and can all be defined as goals in Google Analytics.

What are the micro goals most companies track in Google Analytics?

Before you decide which micro goals you should be tracking, you need to know what kind of website you have—and what the macro goal for your site is. Business websites fit into three core categories:

  • Ecommerce Website: Macro goal is for users to buy something.
  • Lead Generation Website: Macro goal is for users to complete a form or make a phone call.
  • Content Website: Macro goal is for users to sign up to receive content (i.e., email lists) or engage with the brand community (i.e., add comments, complete surveys).

Once you’ve identified your website’s category and macro goal, it’s easy to figure out which micro goals are most advantageous to track as Google Analytics goals.

Some common micro goals that companies track are:

  • Destination Goals: Tracking when visitors reach a particular page or quantity of pages. (i.e., for some B2B websites, if a prospect goes to a pricing page or “Meet the Team” page, it’s a sign of an engaged visitor).
  • Engagement Goals: Tracking your site activity (i.e., amount of time spent on site, number of pages visited, actions taken per page).
  • Event Goals: Tracking actions performed on your site (i.e., watching a video, sharing a post on social media).

Defining the Google Analytics goals with the biggest payoff

When it comes to setting your Google Analytics goals, it’s vital the goals you measure bring value to your company. To define the value of a goal, consider the revenue or business impact that results from a visitor completing the desired action.

Let’s say you’re a clothing company and you set a destination goal for users who reach your “Order Submitted” or “Thank You” website pages. The easiest way to determine a value for this goal is by using the average sales price for your online orders. If your average online order value is $200, then that goal completion is worth $200 to your business.

Assigning values for Google Analytics goals is more complicated for actions that are not directly linked to making a purchase. For example, let’s say you run a medical practice. Your website serves a lead generation function, where completion of a “Request an Appointment” form is a high-value conversion. Not everyone who completes this form will turn into a patient, however.

To place a monetary value on this goal completion, simply calculate the value of your average annual revenue generated by a new patient using your practice’s average conversion rates.

For example, if the average new patient is worth $1,000 in a year, but only 40 percent of people who complete this form keep their appointment, then this goal completion is worth $400 on average to your practice.

By using your Google Analytics goals to measure the success of your website by how much financial impact it has on your business, you’ll gain much more clarity on planning its enhancements and revisions.

Your website’s conversion rate is one of the most important business metrics you need to know. If you’re conversion rate isn’t making you Smyle, contact us for help on how to improve it.

Understanding Google Analytics: Taking the Pulse of Your Bounce Rate

Understanding Google Analytics can feel as if you’re a hypochondriac trying to interpret your own medical test results—everything looks bad because you have no knowledge or context to put the data in. I went to the doctor recently, and as a woman of a certain age, I admit it—I was nervous about my cholesterol.

The doctor pulled up my chart on his tablet, and showed me a bunch of intimidating-looking numbers he’d circled in red. “See this? Your HDL is high.”

I gasped. No more bacon. No more French fries. Visions of okra, Wheat Thins, and a lifetime prescription for Crestor swirled in my head. “That’s bad, right?”

He shook his head. “No, that’s good. And your LDL is low.”

I scratched my head, thoroughly confused. “Okay. That’s bad?”

“No, that’s good, too.”

You want a high HDL rate, just as you want a low LDL rate. And, luckily for me, I have both. And, my rude health and love of bacon aside, this type of logic applies to your website’s bounce rate as well. Chances are, when it comes to your website, you have the same kind of luck.

Good Bounces vs. Bad Bounces

Google Analytics defines “bounce rate” as the percentage of single page visits (or web sessions) in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further. Most people think this means that to win the Web, they must lower their bounce rate.

But just like saying all cholesterol is bad, not all website bounces are bad, either.

Having a high bounce rate can mean one of three things:

  1. The quality of the page is low. There’s nothing inviting to engage with. BAD.
  2. Your audience doesn’t match the purpose of the page, so they won’t engage with your page. SORTA BAD.
  3. Visitors have found the information that they were looking for. GOOD!

How high your bounce rate is—and whether that’s a good or a bad thing—depends on the purpose of the page. If the page is to inform, such as a blog post or informational content page (like directions to your office, for example), then a high bounce rate isn’t a bad thing. After all, you want people to read more articles on your website, subscribe to your newsletter, and consider your brand to be a trusted source in your industry they can turn to. But when they’ve only visited a page to read a post or find an address, then they’ll probably close the tab after they’ve found what they’re looking for. However, in this case, there’s no trigger sent to the Google Analytics server, so it’s a bounce—but not a “bad” bounce in the context of what your visitor’s engagement was all about.

This makes well-crafted, SEO optimized informational content that drives these “one-and-done” visitors to your site a lot like “good” cholesterol. It diverts visitors away from competitors and boosts your unique page visit numbers.

3sixty Interactive's Bounce Rate Infographic
(Infographic property of 3Sixty Interactive)

Bouncing Back from Bad Google Analytics Bounce Rate

Now, if the purpose of a page is to actively engage with your site, a high bounce rate is a bad thing. Like bad cholesterol, you want those numbers to be low. Once you’ve played doctor and figured out what’s causing people to bounce, there are steps you can take to actively lower your rate and improve your website’s health.

  • Your website is visually unappealing. Take a good look at your site page by page. How long does your website take to load? Are you using boring stock photos? Dated fonts? Is it designed for desktop, and completely unusable on mobile? Never underestimate the power of a fast-loading, attractive website. Great design creates credibility.
  • Your website is difficult to use. Do users land on your home page, only to bounce off? Check your navigation. Is your site easy to move through and search? Is there too much copy to wade through? Too little? Confusing layout, malfunctioning buttons, and other technical problems are deterrents to users. Remember, once you’ve lost them, you won’t get them back. Matt Weber, the inventor of Smylelytics, is fond of saying, “You’ll never lose money overestimating how lazy people are on the Internet.” Navigation has to be simple, clear, and easy.
  • Your website doesn’t meet user expectations. What if someone visits your website based on a promise it doesn’t keep? Users lack the motivation or time to search a website’s every page, so be sure to remove the obstacles that cause them to give up and look elsewhere.
  • The people coming to your website aren’t the right people. If people are bouncing, it may be because they arrived looking for something your site doesn’t offer. To avoid this, be sure you’re using the right SEO keywords and that your ads accurately represent your product. Just imagine being a company that repairs mobile phone screens and getting a lot of traffic for “screen repair” that is really people with a tear in their window or porch screens.
  • There is no Call to Action (CTA). Do users arrive to your site and aren’t sure where to go next? Is the shopping cart easily found and used? Is there a clear CTA to subscribe to your blog? Have you made your payment structure simple and available? Whatever you’ve designated as conversion points, if users aren’t sure what they need to do, they’ll bounce from your site like a rubber ball.

Smylelytics Makes Your Bounce Rate Data Work For You!

We’ve made the call between “good” and “bad” bounces easier to make and understand with Smylelytics. Your Smylelytics displays the bounce rate for new visitors only. This makes measuring their ability to find what they want much easier to determine. Did your new visitor land on a brand-new blog, stay long enough to read it, and then bounce away? That’s a “good” bounce—but you can make it a better bounce by adding a CTA for the visitor to subscribe to your blog posts. Did the new visitor land on the home page and leave in a matter of seconds? Take a look at your load time, and how well your site works on mobile devices. Chances are, if you’ve got an older website, they may have abandoned because your site took too long to load, or didn’t look correct on their phone or tablet.

It’s up to you to maintain your website’s health, and it’s an ongoing process you can’t afford to ignore. Even if you’re happy with your bounce rate right now, be sure to continue to monitor its ups and downs with Smylelytics.

Analytics 101: Three Misconceptions About Google Analytics

If you really want to know how your website’s doing, you have to dig deep for data. Google Analytics provides valuable, measurable results about your website traffic that can help you shape your marketing strategy moving forward. But in order to use it, you need to understand what all that great data means.

To help you get over some initial “sticker shock” from what at first glance can be some misleading numbers, let’s clear up three very common misconceptions about Google Analytics.

#1 WOW! This new website traffic is awesome… isn’t it?

Well, maybe not. You should see a new traffic spike the first month or two your SEO campaign goes live. However, these new visitors aren’t always potential leads. If your site uses SEO plugins like Yoast for WordPress, you’re going to get a great deal of referral spam, and while it isn’t harmful to your site or rankings, it does skew your Google Analytics numbers.

You can see if referral spam is inflating your Google Analytics numbers by going to “Acquisition.” Then, under “Referrals,” look for website names that don’t look real, like “best-seo-offer.com” or “buttons-for-websites.com.”

To solve the problem—and get a more accurate Google Analytics result—be sure to set up a Spam-Free Filter for your site’s analytics. The numbers might not be as huge afterward, but they will be more accurate, especially when it comes to page view.

Discover Smylelytics, the easiest and most engaging way to understand your website performance!

Speaking of page views, here’s misconception #2…

#2 WAIT! They’re not spending enough time on my pages!

Well, maybe not. Internet visitors are looking for quick answers. Having lots of content on your pages is great for SEO and driving people to the page. However, once they get there, they find want they came for and move on. So be sure your site gives your visitors what they want—fresh, bite-sized content. They want lists. They want infographics. They want short, punchy copy and even shorter videos that load up quick, tell them what they need to know, and then lets them use the information right away in short, optimized forms to contact you.

Also, keep in mind that different pages require different amounts of time from the user. A content page may need three minutes, but your “thank you” conversion tracking page probably only requires less than one second. Your Google Analytics gives you an average from all the pages, so if your times are between 30 seconds and five minutes, don’t panic.

Which brings us to misconception #3…

#3 WHOA! This bounce rate is WAY too high!

Well, maybe not. This is important to learn about Google Analytics: Bounce rates are subjective and unique to your industry and audience. For standard marketing websites, Google defines a healthy bounce rate as between 30% and 70%. For eCommerce websites, they define it as being between 30% and 60%. But keep in mind that, in the grand scheme of things, even a bounce is better than no traffic at all. If the majority of visitors are finding your website, taking in the content, and leaving, you may not have generated a lead today, but you may very well in the future if they liked what they saw.

If you’re outside those healthy bounce rate parameters, you may want to check into some of the common culprits for low bounce rate:

  • Google Analytics are set up incorrectly (we see this a LOT)
  • Super-slow page load speeds
  • Referral spam traffic
  • Autoplay videos/audio and pop-up ads
  • A really bad Adwords campaign that attracts the wrong visitors
  • Unprofessional and untrustworthy website design

To learn more about how Smylelytics can help you understand and use your Google Analytics to take your business to the next level, contact us!