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One of the services I offer to clients is blogging. I have a professional writer that does an amazing job creating super high quality content for my clients' blogs. And while all this blogging has generated a ton of traffic for my clients, the bounce rates are through the roof - we're talking 90%!

How the heck is that possible? If we write an indepth article on "how to install a ceiling fan" (as an example blog topic), complete with an embedded video, how could the bounce rates to such an article be so high?

My understanding of bounce rates is that it means someone comes to your page and immediately leaves. If they are searching for "how to install a ceiling fan" and they see our article in the search results and click on it, why would they leave immediately?

Seeing such high bounce rates across the majority of my clients' blogs makes me wonder what the value of blogging really is. It's great it increases traffic but what good is the traffic if they are bouncing so much?

Travis
 

Keenan Glass

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Travis - a bounce is recorded if they only visit one page and then leave. There is no time factor.
 
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Thanks for the clarification. So it's possible that the content we're producing is doing exactly what it's supposed to do - provide value, answers, etc. They get what they want and then they leave.

It's still a little frustrating because that means they don't see anything else on the site worth checking out. This needs to be looked into I think.

Travis
 

Keenan Glass

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Why yes it does.
icon3.png
 

21Development

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Keenan is spot on. Travis, can you give us a sample page or link to look at? What are folks advised to do before, during, and after viewing an article?
 

Greg Schueler

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Google Analytics factors bounces as when a visitor lands on a page and leaves before clicking a second page, which is very common with blog posts.

There are a few options to adjust this data. You can set up "events" that occur when a visitor has been on a site for "x" amount of time, say 1 minute. That event becomes an action and prevents a "bounce".

There are a few plugins out there (for Wordpress users) that help integrate these "events" automatically, like this one: WordPress › Reduce Bounce Rate ? WordPress Plugins

For thos of you who dislike Google Analytics, I just starting testing Clicky - Why Clicky's new bounce rate is the best in the biz | Clicky Blog which claims to have the best bounce rate analytics out there. There data is pretty awesome as of what I am seeing so far.

Hope that helps!
 
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Nothing:p I have been thinking about putting up a "Related Posts" deal at the end of every post. Keep in mind, the blog is fully integrated in the site so in the side bar there are things like, "Get a free quote form," and links to other parts of the site we feel are important. Also, at the end of every post we slip in a short advertisement/author bio. Something like, "We've been in the roofing business for over 20 years. Call us today to have your roof looked at." Of course, we only put that if the blog post was actually about a roofing issue.

I think I understand why the blog content has such a high bounce rate. We're getting traffic to these pages from all over the country. These are people who have no intent on hiring my client. They just came because they saw the content.

I was talking to a SEO guy today who's been in the business for over 12 years and has an amazing track record. He HATES blogs and said they are a waste of time - for the reasons I mentioned. They rarely attract someone who is actually looking to hire the client. It's almost always broad, nation-wide traffic.

I found his perspective on the subject very interesting. I had to sort of agree with him. After looking at the analytics for all my clients, they don't do much but generate traffic. At the end of the day, who cares about traffic. Clients want their phones ringing! It's making me rethink this whole, "you MUST blog" to be successful stuff that all the SEO gurus clamor about.

Travis

Keenan is spot on. Travis, can you give us a sample page or link to look at? What are folks advised to do before, during, and after viewing an article?
 

Eric Rohrback

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Interesting point Travis. I think the blogs posts are doing more to lend credibility that your client knows what they're talking about, or knows what they're doing when the post generates traffic. Blog posts could be used to generate traffic and make your clients site rank better (with good content). I see the point about getting broad, nationwide traffic that could be looking for answers on "do it yourself" fixes rather than hiring him, but did you do any testing on how the site performed pre-blog posts compared to the current situation?

I'm curious about the strategy the SEO guy is using since he said not to put time into blogs. My thought about blogs is that they don't necessarily lead directly to phone calls, its more of a way to get new, fresh, and relevant content to the site. It shows potential customers that your client knows that they're doing (even if they didn't write it, customers don't know that), they care about their business (they update the website), and have new content for Google to index. I've really never thought a blog post would necessarily lead directly to a phone call.
 
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I agree with you 100%. This guy I was talking to said a blog doesn't hurt, but in his opinion they are a waste of time for the most part. He said at the end of the day all a client cares about is their phone ringing. He claims he does that without blogging. What does he do then? I have no idea. He wouldn't give me the details.

I just find it interesting how all of us in this business go about doing what we do. Most of us are all about blogging but then this guy comes along and says blogging is a waste of time - and seems to have success to back up that statement.

Travis

My thought about blogs is that they don't necessarily lead directly to phone calls, its more of a way to get new, fresh, and relevant content to the site. It shows potential customers that your client knows that they're doing (even if they didn't write it, customers don't know that), they care about their business (they update the website), and have new content for Google to index. I've really never thought a blog post would necessarily lead directly to a phone call.
 

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Travis, I've seen exactly what you are referring to as well. For the particular case this happened with, we had a ton of traffic, and they were getting calls, but the calls were low quality, general questions asking for services the client doesn't really provide. (We were doing the same type of high quality, informative articles (i.e. how to...etc.) as you mentioned.

Since this strategy wasn't bringing in the type of leads our client wanted, we switched up emphasis from blog posts to creating a bunch of local landing pages for their main service and now they have more business than they know what to do with!

In my experience, I've seen it work both ways. We have some clients who we blog for and others who we don't - and don't need to because they have all the right local pieces in the right place.

Those clients who we are doing a blogging package for, we are publishing content focused on updates within the business, location or local updates within the industry - not general "how to xyz" like you would submit to an article directory back in the day.

One of our clients is an IT company and we often focus content on updates within their business. We make sure to integrate keywords related to the subject and tie those in with the city or cities they want to rank in. As a result, they are positioned well for a variety of long tail keywords that may not get a ton of searches, but 6 months to a year from now, they'll have some great positioning for a wide variety of searches, eventually positioning them as an industry leader in their area.

So in your example, your article could transition from how to install a ceiling fan to "The top 5 lighting trends in Detroit, Michigan"

And then integrate related keywords like "electrician in Detroit", call your "Detroit electrician", etc. - assuming your client was an electrician.

Hope this helps, it's what's been working well for all our clients.
 
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Kristen:

Thanks so much for your reply. You gave me a bunch of great ideas. I have some follow up questions if you don't mind...

1. When you do the city landing pages, how many do you limit yourself to? If they service a large area, will you do 20 landing pages, for example, or do you have an upper limit? And do you link to these landing pages from the home page?

2. I'm assuming your landing pages are unique from each other. Can you shed some light on how you construct these landing pages to make them unique and compelling to a visitor?

One thing I've been doing with our blogs is making them more community driven. So instead of posting a typical blog post on a given subject, we'll talk about some community event going on and how we support it, etc. etc. The idea there being someone will Google the event and maybe find our post. While they may not be looking to hire my client, they might make a mental note of the business for future reference. I don't know. It might be a complete waste of time...lol. I just need to figure out how to make blogging work for local business owners. You've given me some great ideas to incorporate. Thanks!

Travis
 

johncrenshaw

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Hey Travis, while everyone's correct about the technical definition of bounce rate, I'd argue that, even so, a high bounce rate could be bad depending on your goals.

If the purpose of the blog is to brand the client as experts in the field (just generally, not necessarily leading to conversions) then I'd say a high bounce rate isn't as much of a big deal.

If, however, the purpose of the blog is to drive leads then a high bounce rate could be a big deal if the conversion action is on a different page.

I can share an experience with a large home improvement client. We were blogging like crazy for these guys with a lot of relevant, useful info. The blog posts were ranking well and it was driving a solid amount of traffic. But when I really dug into what was driving conversions, however, I realized not a single lead ever visited any page on the blog. In other words...not one single lead we generated through the website ever even looked at a blog post before or after they converted.

However, I did find that they viewed a lot of the other content pages we created. Sales pages basically. Pages that talked about how great we were at x and y and showed examples and testimonials, etc. Those pages helped drive quite a few conversions.

One key detail I'm missing is phone leads...I have no way of knowing what pages people visited before and after they called us, so this is far from scientific, but we made the decision to stop blogging immediately and started focusing on adding / improving the more salesy pages.

That experience got me looking into other clients...I had just assumed blogging was valuable for local clients because it's worked very well for national clients in the past, and, while I still think it is to a certain extent, I think resources might better be spent creating other types of content and optimizing the site.
 

Eric Rohrback

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Agreed, it really depends on the goals for the site but you really shouldn't go into blogging expecting it to generate direct leads. That's just not going to happen. You should blog to have original content to share online (via rss or social media), which then builds credibility for the business, and then will lead people to look at the sales pages for services over time.

Blogging in my opinion is just a small piece in creating the entire sales cycle. You need original content in the blog, and use that to drive traffic. All too many times I see businesses talk about another article or blog piece, but not don't take the time to share their thoughts on the subject - "hey look at this great article from xyz..."

The same reason you don't just do onsite tag changes or only focus on organic rankings to drive sales, you need to use blogging as a part of an entire marketing effort. Have clients blogging a couple times a month, make tag changes, run adwords, etc, and use it for a more complete and well rounded marketing effort. Blogging is a longer sales cycle than an AW ad, but it's still effective if you put the work in, and it's done correctly.
 

Kristen

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Hi Travis, no problem, to answer your questions...

1. When you do the city landing pages, how many do you limit yourself to? If they service a large area, will you do 20 landing pages, for example, or do you have an upper limit? And do you link to these landing pages from the home page?

We generally do between 10-12 landing pages, depending on the competitive landscape of the area. These pages are then linked from the bottom of the homepage or as a second tier in the navigation. 20 may be a bit much to link from the homepage or navigation, so we keep it under 15. When selecting cities for the landing pages, we don't just go for the most popular cities, but also account for what Google Trend data says.

2. I'm assuming your landing pages are unique from each other. Can you shed some light on how you construct these landing pages to make them unique and compelling to a visitor?

Yes, all landing pages are completely unique from one another. For the landing pages, we try to highlight different unique positioning with each one. For example, if the client was a plumber, one page might highlight 24 hour emergency service, incorporate testimonials and how long they have been in business. Another landing page might spotlight industry recognition and trust symbols.

The on-page SEO InsideLocal webinar had a lot of great tips on landing pages, so if you didn't have a chance to listen to it, I highly suggest it.

We usually make the pages about 500 words or so in length, depending on the market. There is only so much you can say about a plumbing business, whereas in an accounting firm, potential customers want to know what services they offer, what experience they have in these areas - in addition to the trust and social proof we try to incorporate with all clients.
 
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Thanks for all the responses - and thanks Kristen for the more detailed information. I'll have to take a look at that webinar. I haven't gotten to that one yet:eek:

This thread and other resources I've looked at has me totally rethinking my blogging strategy for clients. Thanks!

Travis
 
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We generally do between 10-12 landing pages, depending on the competitive landscape of the area. These pages are then linked from the bottom of the homepage or as a second tier in the navigation. 20 may be a bit much to link from the homepage or navigation, so we keep it under 15. When selecting cities for the landing pages, we don't just go for the most popular cities, but also account for what Google Trend data says.

This is some excellent advice, thanks.
 

Chris Ratchford

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Sorry- late to the game.

But yes- for my ongoing SEO clients I have writers that publish original content to the clients' websites (have to use WordPress).

My clients are dentists. 95% of the time, the clients don't make suggestions or approve the content before we publish.

As for bounce rates- I don't even look at the blog pages in GA.

As I tell my dentists, we develop blog content for the sole purpose of growing the website and keeping it fresh. As much as we'd love for REAL people participate and comment, the real goal is to help w/ SEO.
 
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In GA have you set up goals(with values) for your macro conversions ( such as contact forms)? If so then could actually pull economic value of those blog posts either individually or as a content set. Maybe besides just improving the site's "freshness" they are actually assisting in your primary goals and contributing to economic value of the site as it relates to revenue for the business.


Great post by Avinash here on identifying goals.
http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/web-analytics-tips-identify-website-goal-values/

Also in the case of the blog posts you need to identify what the primary goal of those is and what stage in the buying cycle the viewers are in.

Great framework here

http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/see-think-do-content-marketing-measurement-business-framework/




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