We’re back with another blogging guide and today we’re going to dive into google analytics and dive into a few key terms: bounce rate, session duration and time on-page.
Put simply, the bounce rate is simply the % of people who jump on to your page, read a post, and bounce off it again. For example, if the bounce rate of your blog was 50% that would mean that 50% of people exit your blog after reading one blog post or page-either because they’ve clicked on a link to a different site or they’ve taken what they need and closed the site down. The other 50% hang around for a little while longer!
The bounce rate is affected by so many different things and a bounce rate that’s good for your site might be terrible for another. On average, 50% is suggested as an optimum bounce rate but lots of bloggers tend to find there’s is much higher: A Balanced Belly is around the 80% mark and The Bloglancer is around 60%
But why are these higher than average and should you worry if you have a high bounce rate? The answer is usually no. Firstly, bounce rate is influenced by traffic: as both of my blogs have grown from a small loyal readership to a wider audience, their bounce rates have gone up.
As your traffic goes up, chances are people are finding your sites in all kinds of different ways: whilst you’ll have those loyal readers who spend half hour on your blog, you’ll also have people who find you by googling a recipe or clicking a Pin on their Pinterest feed. All of these behaviours are likely to increase your bounce rate as readers just don’t stick around that long from those methods. Pinterest is a great source of traffic but not great at all for your bounce rate.
Another reason why a high bounce rate isn’t a bad thing is you might have a blog that solves problems: if people are googling for a brownie recipe, they’ll find the recipe and you’ve solved their problem. If people are googling for a review of a gadget, they’ll read the review and head off to purchase. The days of people sitting with a cup of tea and devouring a blog are largely gone with more people consuming blogs via Pinterest and google search. Most food bloggers I know have about 80% bounce rate because most people are just looking for a specific recipe. In turn, if your traffic largely comes from google and pinterest (which mine often does) that will also influence your bounce rate.
However, if your bounce rate is even higher than 80% and into the 90s it’s certainly worth considering strategies to keep readers on the page: could you interlink in your blog posts or showcase some more posts at the bottom of each one?
Although it might sound good, having a really low bounce rate isn’t always a good thing. Those who realise their bounce rate is only around 10-20% should be cautious. Whilst it could be down to having a smaller, loyal audience, the main cause for an extremely low bounce rate is due to accidentally installing google analytics twice. A really short session duration is also another sign of this (more on session duration in a moment). This is a good guide to read if you think you’ve inadvertently installed google analytics twice.
Personally, I think the average time on page is a better metric for understanding your blog. If someone reads your blog for ten minutes but only reads one page/post, that will affect your bounce rate but not your average time on page metric.
Average time on page is slightly different to session duration, which tells you the time someone has spent on your blog in one ‘session'(for example one session is one visitor spending a time period on your blog but if they read 4 posts, it’ll be 1 session and four-page views). However, the problem with session duration is that if you have a high bounce rate, it’s likely to make your session duration lower. That’s because, for some reason, those people who come to your blog and don’t click on another post before bouncing off have their session time recorded as ‘0’ even if they spent 10 minutes reading that one blog post.
Average time on page is, therefore much clearer since it tells you how long has spent on your blog as an average or a specific post (you can find an average for your whole blog or for specific posts) and isn’t influenced necessarily influenced by a high bounce rate.
The average time on page for a blog is around 2-3 minutes, which doesn’t sound very long but given reduced concentration span lots of us have it makes sense. I find my duration is always at the higher end of this and 3 minutes+ which given my bounce rate is so high, I’m pretty pleased with.
It’s really interesting to look at the average time on page for specific posts if you can: for example, my opportunities boards cover a mere 20 seconds, which tells me people just want the information and there’s little point making it super wordy. However, my blog to job webinar page (there’s still 10 tickets left as I type by the way) is a huge seven minutes since I guess people want to read in length before committing to buy.
There’s lots of things that influence session duration and time on page: I personally write quite long blog posts with images so chances are you’ll spend a few minutes reading it (just like this guide). But some bloggers have very short posts: making your posts longer will not only help with session duration/time on the page but will also give the reader everything they need. If an average time on the post for a particular blog post is quite short, could you make it more in-depth?
They’re also influenced by the type of content too. How often do you find a recipe and leave the page open while you make it? That would increase the time on page (and session time if it was more than one post you looked at) However, if I was googling a quick fact or enticed by clickbait on social media; I might only scan and click off. Bloggers who run competitions a lot might find this affects their session duration/average time on page since the reader might click to enter and log off. If your bounce rate is high, that can affect session duration as sometimes google does not calculator
A higher bounce rate would usually mean a lower session duration and vice versa; so a low bounce rate AND low session duration is a sign you’ve got google analytics installed twice.
Let me know your thoughts; do you regularly track your bounce rate and average time on page? Do you think they’re important?
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