If your site gets a lot of search visitors (like The College Investor does), you may be feeling two things:
- Yay! Look at all the traffic! Hopefully they click on my links!
- Boo! They only stick around and read the search article and nothing else (i.e. high bounce rate)
Luckily, the first thing has been happening, which I will share in my next income report. But sadly, #2 has also been a common theme on my most popular articles as well. As you can see from the right, search engine traffic accounts for almost 70% of all traffic to The College Investor. I’ve also had an almost 85% bounce rate from search traffic for the month of July, which I consider to be very high. Some of that is attributed to one-time events (like the Debt Ceiling), but my top article is consistently my top article, regardless of the time.
When it comes to maximizing traffic on your site, Google Analytics is a great tool to use. The first thing I looked at when trying to increase my page views is to identify my top content. On the right, you can see a content menu, and below that you can click “Top Content”. This will provide you a list of your top articles by page views. You can also sort by bounce rate, exit %, and time on page.
What I really care about is my top content page by page views: FedLoan Servicing. This page also has one of my highest bounce rates: 84.81%. However, the average time on page is 2:36, so I think readers are reading my story, but then just leaving. Since they aren’t regular readers (i.e. most found me through search), they don’t know I have other stories related to this same topic. I do place some content on my sidebar, such as “Popular Posts” and “New Here? Start Here”, but it looks like most readers of this article aren’t going towards those links.
Linking Directly To Relevant Articles
My strategy to address this was pretty straightforward. For my FedLoan Servicing post, I was going to add links to the rest of the story. You see, I wrote three more posts directly related to FedLoan Servicing, and if readers knew about them, I’m sure they would click them. I currently use the plugin “Related Posts” to display similar posts at the bottom of my articles, but, for whatever reason, readers were still not following them.
At the bottom of the post, right before the end, I place the following text: “Read the rest of the story in three parts:” with links to each of the three parts. I did this almost 30 days ago in July, and here are the clicks. As you can see, now 13% of all page views to the page click on the first link!
You can get this cool overlay view in Google Analytics by looking at “In-Page Analytics”. This will give you a breakdown of exactly where visitors to your pages are clicking.
Since there were three more pages in the saga, I included a similar page on each of the articles, and each one is seeing similar results!
So, the real question is has my bouncerate dropped? YES! So far in Month-To-Date August, my bounce rate for my FedLoan Servicing page is down to 76.84% (Over 8% decrease in bounce rate!).
Another strategy I have been using on posts that don’t really have follow-up content is to “sell” my visitors on subscribing to my site. One of these articles was about the Debt Ceiling Crisis. As that debate raged on in July, my article made its way to Page 1 of Google! As a result, I was getting a ton of search engine traffic to this article, but many readers weren’t sticking around.
Since I didn’t have any immediately relevant content, I decided to add a direct subscriber box to my email subscription feed. Near the end of the article, this is what I added:
This strategy helped my increase my subscriber count by about 10%, adding over 20 subscribers in about a week (which is great for my site). The other great thing is that now, a few weeks later, I’m seeing much more traffic from readers – Google Reader, and various email programs. My “Reach” metric from Feedburner has increased over 20% over the past month as well.
Part of developing a community is not just getting people to your site through Search Engine Optimization and the like. It is just as important to get people to stick around and come back for more content.
If your site has been around for a while (The College Investor has been around for over 2 years), there are a lot of articles and they may not be easy to find for new readers. Use these strategies to keep readers coming back and helping them find what they want to read.
Readers, do you have any other strategies for increasing your page views?