I thought I’d cover a few ideas that I’ve been kicking around on search engine targeting. As those of you who’ve been regular readers of OpTempo for a while recognize I’ve been doing a lot of product review and niche overview posts here over the past two months. I’ve also been doing some experimenting on some other blogs. Plus I’ve read some articles about bounce rate that caught my attention. So, I’m combining these two trains of thought into a long rambling post.
Every Page a Landing Page
First, it is important to consider every page a potential landing page when designing your blog, whether it’s a niche blog or a social blog or a combination of the two. Why is this the case?
User patterns have changed considerably over the past 5 years with the rise of Google and a general increase in the way people use it to search the Internet. The way it was back in the early days, circa 1998-1999, was that you would expect a visitor to arrive at your home page and explore your site from there.
But today, people are increasingly impatient with exploring a site. They’ve become very task oriented which means they want to find what they want quickly. They want to either complete their task on your site or move on to the next step as fast as possible. Task oriented visitors will be on a mission to find the answer to what they’re searching for.
In a niche marketing blog or post, that means having your selling proposition front and center. You want them to click away to a site where you’ll get paid as quickly as possible. This is why ‘ugly’ blogs, like the Blogger Minima template or my Boring Memo WordPress theme, that have dull content work so well. They simply serve as a sign pointing the way to the answer and, with any luck and good planning, 10 to 20 percent of the visitors will follow the path you’ve laid before them.
For a social flagship blog, you aren’t looking so much for search visitors as much as you’re looking for referral and direct visitors but search visitors can help build a loyal audience over time. If your blog consistently provides the answers that searchers are looking for then you have a good chance to convert them. For this to happen you should avoid annoying distractions, such as advertising before the article, ’subscribe to my feed’ plugins, jumbo headers and RSS graphics, an overly busy theme, excessive animations and widgets and so forth. The writing should be scanable and easily digestible if you’re targeting search visitors to any degree.
The bottom line is to get to the point quickly when you’re targeting Google search visitors. The point may be a well placed compelling advertising block or intriguing opening paragraphs or graphics but you have to grab their attention quickly without being annoying or unfocused about it.
Bounce Rate - Good, Bad and Ugly
Some people, particularly certain A-List social bloggers, preach about how a low bounce rate, the percentage of visitors who leave a site after a single page view, is of utmost important to a blog. Not surprisingly, they often try to link this to you buying a premium WordPress theme from them or through an affiliate link of theirs. Wonder why? What do they leave out in their proposition about bounce rates?
The thing is that there are good bounces, bad bounces and, well, ugly bounces.
Good bounces are bounces that result in an affiliate sale or a PPC advertising click. These are the bread and butter for a niche blog and can help make even a social flagship blog more profitable. If a bounce means you make money it’s a good bounce. If a bounce is to subscribe to FeedBurner on your social flagship blog it’s a good bounce. Any exit that produces a result that you want is a good bounce.
Bad bounces are bounces out that you don’t want. This means that you aren’t answering the visitor’s question or making it too difficult or annoying to find. For example, a bad bounce is one where the visitor came from Google search or a referring site and hit the back button quickly. Your site failed to convert them into either a buyer or a reader, depending on which you wanted.
Ugly bounces come from social networks like StumbleUpon, Digg, EntreCard or others like them. These visits are useless almost all of the time so far as converting to sales or readers and a very high bounce rate from this kind of visitor should be expected. You shouldn’t be concerned about bounce rates from this traffic nor should you try to actively seek it. It simply doesn’t do you much good in terms of reaching your goals.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t take a high bounce rate to be a problem with your blog nor should a low bounce rate indicate that your blog is successful. What you should consider is the results you’re getting in terms of sales, in terms of readers, in terms of your goals for your blog.
Anyway, I hope you’ve found landing on this article helpful and interesting and that you didn’t bounce away too quick. If you have any thoughts or questions about it please leave a comment.