Bouncing, Bouncing, Bouncing Along Without Site Navigation

Yesterday I started to worry about the complete lack of any site navigation on The Hobby Blogger. Besides scrolling down my long homepage, there’s no other way for readers to easily discover THB’s content.

This obstacle to exploring site content is probably not helping my bounce rate—the number of single-page visits. Of course, how would I know for sure? I haven’t been measuring my bounce rate, so I have no idea how bad it really is.

I’ll get back to that issue in a minute.

Links to popular posts

To address the lack of navigation, I added a Links widget to my sidebar containing links to the blog’s most popular articles. I’m not doing anything fancy. I’m just listing the four posts with the most page views this month as reported by my AWStats logs.

Alternatively, I could have assessed popularity based on the number of post comments, but I don’t get enough comments yet for that metric to be an accurate measure of post popularity.

If I wanted to look into it more thoroughly, I could install a plugin like WordPress Popular Posts to do this automatically. But, the Popular Posts links are only a stopgap measure until I update the blog with more comprehensive site navigation. I don’t want to spend too much time perfecting Popular Posts until I’m certain it’ll be a permanent feature.

At this point, it’s more important to just get something up so that visitors will hopefully dig a little deeper into my content.

Back to bounce rate

Because I have no idea what my bounce rate is, I used this as an opportunity to install Google Analytics to start tracking bounce rate, as well as getting familiar with the rest of GA. This is where I’ll start.

It’s too bad I didn’t already have Google Analytics running before adding the Popular Posts section. It would have been easier to tell if the Popular Posts links were improving bounce rates.

Lessons learned:

  • Make sure readers can easily browse your content.
  • Install Google Analytics as early as possible.

 

How do you reduce your bounce rates?

Article by Bryan Kerr

I love breaking down the techie side of blogging into easy-to-understand tutorials. That's mostly what you'll find here on The Hobby Blogger.

Comments

  1. Not only that, but you should have a sitemap in your website, to allow bots index it more effectively. I have no idea where you can find it in WordPress, but it’s part of BlogEngine, for example, so should be in WP as well.
    The outcome of implementing the sitemap is that bot is using it together with your markup to see when your article was changed and has to be re-indexed, as well as how often would you like to revisit it.

    Every time you edit article in your blog, even very old article, the blog engine changes the sitemap for you and search bots immediately know it. When search bots realize you have it, they start to poll for it very frequently – like every hour. It’s like you are always surrounded by press :)

    Currently you don’t have it, according to your robots.txt.

    Ah, yes, and a tag cloud is a must. Currently you are using categories only (actually, I think you are using only the “Uncategorized” category), but that only means that after implementing the tag cloud and categories you will have to retouch all your past articles. Which is a good idea anyway – I am doing it to articles which gets favor from Google for some unpredictable reason.

    The funny thing is that your 404 page is full of navigation elements. Try to visit page on your website which doesn’t exist, you’ll see what I am talking about.

    • Bryan Kerr says:

      Yeah, I know I need to get a sitemap up. It’s on the todo list. And you’re right, I haven’t set up categories yet either, so the “Uncategorized” is the only one that exists. Categories are lower on the priority list until I get enough content to figure out what my categories will be.

      I also know about all the navigation elements on my 404 page. It’s a feature of the Genesis Theme Framework. Though I’ve got to get rid of the double bullets on that page. Much to do.

      I’m also on the idea of retouching my posts. I’ll eventually add a resources link section to each post. From what I’ve read, Google likes frequently updated content, and that’s one way to update without having to come up with a whole new post(s).

  2. Just checked with my log files for July. The next day I’ve installed the site map, Google started to index my blog every 45 minutes. And before it was about once per 3 days. That’s 48 times more often. Even if your content is “evergreen”, the difference is very sensible and benefits are obvious. It’s way more important than onsite navigation.

    Also I noticed, that some bots (Sogou?) are polling for your robots.txt just to discover the site map. If they don’t find it there, they don’t bother to index anything. Besides, Google gives me more than 98% of search traffic, so I don’t care much about Baidu, Sogou, Bing etc. Besides, my position on Bing is even better than at Google, so I guess my target audience is just using Google.

    P.S. Now, in January 2012, GoogleBot is visiting my blog at least once per 30 minutes, instead of 48. Perhaps, that’s because of more or less frequent posting.

  3. Bryan Kerr says:

    Cool. I just started archiving my raw access logs. When I get a sitemap, I’ll study the logs and see if GoogleBot changes its behavior similarly. Thanks for the info…again :-).

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