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2008-07-29 18:17:00

Is Your 'Bounce Rate' More Important Than Page Views?

Many web site hosts like to brag about how many "page views" their members receive. It’s a lot like the blogger who once bragged that he had 27,000 page views when he exposed a prominent company’s internal troubles; he sold no homes, but he had lots of page views! The reality is that your number of "page views" is often a meaningless statistic because a high percentage of them are not real ‘page views’ at all, but “bounces” from your web site. The fact is that many agents receive over 1000 ‘"age views" monthly on their web site but do not sell one home from doing so. This often makes the agent buy into that line of horse puckey that “the Internet doesn’t work” spread around by folks who tell you classified advertising is the most important thing you can do.

If you are receiving a seemingly adequate number of "page views," why aren’t you selling homes from the Internet? It’s usually because of one of two possible reasons:

  1. You have no lead capture on your homepage.
  2. Your bounce rate is high.

This column has recently addressed the subject of lead capture (if you would like a copy of that explanation, please write explain@compassinternetsystems.com  and include “lead capture” in the title line to have a free copy of that article emailed back to you. No one will call you.), this article will explain why you need to be aware of bounce rate in order to make your site better and to enable you to sell homes to internet buyers. You need to know about bounce rate.

 What is "bounce rate?"
 A "bounce" is when someone enters and exits your site on the same page without clicking anywhere else in your site. Think of it like playing basketball: when you take a shot and the ball hits the rim and bounces off, it doesn't count. The ball must go through the hoop to count. So it goes with web site visit bounces. A bounce touches your site briefly and it's gone; it does not count in any way other than as a bounce. Just as a shot that bounces off the basketball rim doesn’t add to the score, so too a bounce off your web site doesn’t add to your marketing effectiveness. Therefore, a single page view that goes nowhere is reported as a bounce. Knowing your ‘bounce rate’ can be a very valuable piece of information to help you evaluate your web site’s performance (or lack thereof). Bounce rate refers to the percentage of bounces your site receives for any given time period, as a percentage of overall number of visits. A high bounce rate is bad, a low bounce rate is good. Average performance is usually equated to be a 50% or less bounce rate.
 What causes a high bounce rate?
 A high bounce rate is often an indication of a problem with one of the following:
·         Your web site (either its content fails to attract or you could have a technical problem);
An example of the first would be when a visitor lands on a page cluttered with too much information or on a page with not enough information (either is of equal negative impact). Any web site with only pictures and minimal text on the homepage is likely to have a high bounce rate. Any homepage where the text cannot be read by the search engine (if the text is written in FLASH, for example) won’t get found because the computers can’t read it, but a page where there is no text won’t be read by humans, either! An example of the second would be if your web site host’s servers are so slow as to bring back memories of dial-up and your page takes more than a few seconds to load onto the visitor’s computer screen.
·         The Interest level of the visitors that arrive is low; either because your site isn’t what they thought it was or because your site covers an area that the visitor wasn’t looking for.
An example of the former would be where your site specializes in New York Homes for Sale, but the visitor was looking for Buffalo New York Homes for Sale, not homes in the big city. That is common in poorly optimized sites, although it is more common that Internet buyers searching for homes never find such sites in the first place. (Always let folks know that they are in the right place: “Welcome to Buffalo Homes for Sale”, for example, lets them know they are where they started out trying to go and they are more likely to stay there when they know that to be so.) An example of the latter would be when a homebuyer looking to purchase a home in Virginia lands on a web site of a realty company in Maryland that advertises that they service Virginia: buyers want local experts, not carpetbaggers, and they view realty companies outside the market area they serve as carpetbaggers.
 Why is a high bounce rate a bad thing?
 It’s a bad thing for your online marketing because you can’t convert visitors to money when they bounce off your site without going into it; just like the basketball that bounces off the rim instead of going through it, there’s no chance for you to “score” if the visitor bounces off your site. Lest we forget, the purpose of your web site is to convert visitors interested in what you sell into clients who purchase from you.
How do I find out my web site’s bounce rate?
Most analytic programs out there overlook this vital statistic. Two programs include it: www.WebReporterTool.com and www.Visistat.com provide you with a bounce rate report in a daily email, along with access to data that can only be described as “empowering.” Here’s what that report looks like in a simple-to-read graph (like all other data in these analytics):

Visitor Totals
Page Views
Unique Visitors
Bounce Rate

91,310



40,624


10%
Bounces: 4,063
Avg. Visit Duration
Return Visitors
New Visitors
5 minutes 10 seconds
31.3%
68.7%

 
This is the actual bounce rate for the Blackwater web site (www.theblackwatercg.com) and for the period reviewed, it had 40,624 unique visitors, 91,310 page views and about 4000 bounces; that is a very good bounce rate and it shows that this minimalist site is doing its job attracting buyers. (This is but one piece of data that appears on the “web site summary” report that you choose to receive.)
How to get this and other data, completely FREE
I have made arrangements for the first 500 requesters to receive the WebReporterTool and a phone call to review the findings COMPLETELY FREE for one month; however, please DO NOT ask for this if you won’t invest 15 or 20 minutes in the training to understand the results. Also, please DO NOT request this tool if your web site host will not allow or will not cooperate in the installation of the harmless snippet that needs to be inserted in your code for the reports to be compiled. Certain kinds of sites can’t participate. We’re sorry. This reporter is 100% accurate, extremely detailed, places no visible signs on your site and will not interfere with any facet of your site. We are offering this to people truly interested in bettering their web site’s performance; if you would prefer not to speak to anyone about how to interpret that performance, simply go to https://www.visistat.com/subscribe.php?sPromo=bounce where you can subscribe for $19.95 monthly, or less, and you can receive the information without ever talking to a single person.
If you fit that description; e.g. “truly interested in bettering their web site’s performance”, please write WRT@compassinternetsystems.com and the WRT will show you what is going on at your web site like you’ve never seen it before, FREE for 30 days. When you write, please include: your name, your web site address URL, the City and State where you reside, your web site user name and Password (none of this information will ever be shared with anyone!) for your site and your telephone number.
Once you do so, here’s the timetable: 1) your WebReporterTool will be installed within a week and data will begin to accrue; 2) about 14 days later, those who joined the program first will begin receiving calls training them how to best utilize the tool, and that process will take anytime from that 14 days to about 30 days; 3) By September 1, 2008, we will turn off the snippets of all non-subscribers. It’s that simple.
Bounce rate is a simple indicator of the effectiveness of your web site
If you are getting the traffic to your site but not the sales from it that you should be getting, there are always one or more reasons, but it is difficult to zero in on the reasons without the knowledge of your bounce rate. Because bounces happen for such simple reasons, it is very easy to lower the bounce rate by fixing the reason and thereby gain more real prospects. If you are truly serious about your site’s performance, try focusing on lead capture and bounce rate instead of meaningless “statistics” about “where you rank among other sites,” “page views,” “page rank” and all those other misapplied data. Bounce rate is the simplest way to know if your site is a winner. If your bounce rate is too high, you are throwing away more visitors than are looking at what you have to sell.
 ******************************************************************
(Mike Parker is a principal at the Blackwater Consulting Group and specializes in online marketing for real estate professionals. You can reach him by e-mail at mparker@theblackwatercg.com. To request a free review of your web site to determine if it can be found by Internet buyers and if it is search engine friendly, click here and it will be evaluated for free.)

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