If you have been using Google Analytics for any length of time to measure your photography website’s performance, then first of all, congratulations. Google Analytics is a free metrics tool and the industry standard for measuring how visitors use your website including how many people come, how often, and to what pages. You may have noticed a data point called bounce rate, and gently ignored it (no offense bounce rate).
The main dashboard of Google Analytics shows the average bounce rate for your whole site.
Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).
Should Bounce Rate Be High or Low?
Bounce rate should be as low as possible, indicating potential customers are viewing multiple pages of your site and therefore more likely to hire you.
It’s hard to quantify what is a high bounce rate since that depends on many factors including the type of page, how users came to that page, and what is on the page. If you’re only sharing your page with family and friends, you may have a low 25% bounce rate but are not really growing your business. You may have a high 90% bounce rate, but are getting nationwide press and converting a lot of sales from those visitors. Thus, it boils down to relative bounce rate. How does the bounce rate of your homepage compare to that of your pricing page or an individual blog post? What actions can you take to improve one page to increase the click through that your other pages are getting?
Bounce Rate for Individual Pages
Google Analytics displays bounce rate data for every page of your site. Find this report in the left navigation under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
The Pages report in Google Analytics shows bounce rate data.
In the above report for my business articles blog we see that the homepage has a 53.44% bounce rate. That means over half of my audience reaches my homepage but does not click on an article. This bounce rate is lower that the site average of 68.21% bounce.
Item #2 in the above list is a product page and has a higher bounce rate than Item #3, an article containing lots of links. I may conclude that adding more links to my product page can help retain customers.
What Influences Bounce Rate?
Traffic comes to your website in three ways:
• Direct – 99% of direct traffic is from email, 1% is from bookmarks
• Referral – links from other sites on the Internet including social media
• Search Engines
Each of these ways can influence how visitors use your site, and if they will view multiple pages. If you have a large percentage of traffic from an email newsletter, then your bounce rate may be high. This is because people click on a link in your email, they see what they expected (like a recent photo session), then leave the page without clicking anything. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Sites with a lot of traffic from Pinterest may have a high bounce rate since the user is simply browsing (perhaps for newborn poses) and might not even be in your target market or geographic location. I would not expect those people to click around to other pages of your site. Sites with a lot of blog posts ranking in search engines, the average visitor may check out the article they were searching for (like backyard wedding photo ideas) and then leave right away. Again, your webpage served its purpose.
How to Reduce Bounce Rate
Here’s the key to getting people to stick around your website, and click across multiple pages without bouncing off your site:
Give visitors additional links to click on every webpage
Here’s a little experiment to help you figure out what links to place across your site. Write down the top 3 pages of your site you want users to visit most. It may be a blog post you wrote exceptionally well, perhaps an important photo gallery that showcases your work wonderfully, and certainly it will be your contact and/or pricing page.
Now pick a random page from your website. How easy is it for users to get from that random page to one of your top 3 pages? Place links to these hot spots from the top, middle and bottom of the page.
Homepage – Many photography homepages have almost no text, and a single link to a gallery site or a blog site. That simply dumps users into a bunch of content, often times your most recent work and not necessarily your best work. Instead, display individual links to your most important blog posts right on the homepage. With this approach, users have a clear path to the best pages and are more likely to click.
Blog Post – Visitors find blog posts through many sources, especially search engines and social media. Since these potential clients didn’t navigate through the homepage, photographers need to reiterate important information like contact information and links to relevant pages. Orchard Cove Photography hired me to create a SEO-friendly blog post and you’ll see how I included tons of links at the end (and at the beginning) in order to keep interested customers from bouncing.
Does Bounce Rate Matter?
The very important question that comes out of all this is whether or not photographers should measure, monitor, and care about reducing bounce rate. I don’t ever look at my bounce rate.
The goal is to define clear customer paths from each and every page of your site. Start with your five top traffic pages. Pretend each page is the starting point for your potential customer because they came from Google or Facebook. Figure out what you want them to do next and make that a clear navigation point on the page. If you want them to hire you then add a big graphic that says “Book a Session Now” and link it to your contact page.
After making changes to your five top traffic pages, wait a week and see if the bounce rate declined. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised.