Finding the Slackers – Are Some Landing Pages Just Not Doing Their Jobs?
By Scott Thomas
Landing Pages are the doorways to your website Landing pages are the doorways to your website.
We tend to think of our site like a book – people start at the front (the home page) and work their way through the content in a logical sequence. In reality, however, people use a search engine to find a page that matches their search results (which may not be what you expected), and enter your site through that page. If the page doesn’t entice them to go further into your site, they will leave.
Sometimes we design a specific landing page – so our visitor who came to our site from our Facebook profile, or Twitter profile, for example, will come to a landing page designed to greet them and provide information specific to that source. Other times, however, the search the user performs brings up a page that you never expected would be a landing page. But there it is, and now it is a landing page. Is it doing the job it is expected to do?
1. Finding the Landing Pages Your Visitors Are Using
We’ll begin by finding the landing pages our visitors are using. Google Analytics provides this information in the Landing Pages Report, located by finding Content -> Site Content -> Landing Pages. That report shows the pages visitors use to enter your site. By default, these landing pages are sorted by the number of visits. We’ll refine that shortly.
2. Finding Landing Pages With High Bounce Rates
One of the most talked-about topics in analytics is bounce rate. A “bounce” is a visit to a single page, where the visitor doesn’t go to another page on your site or take a measurable action, such as download a file, watch a video, etc. We’re often familiar with the bounce rate of our site, but that is just an average of bounce rates of all pages. The bounce rates of individual pages are far more useful if we’re trying to improve.
We can sort the columns by bounce rate, by simply clicking on the column heading, but that will show us some pages with a bounce rate of 100%, and others with a bounce rate of 0%. When we look at the number of visits, we’ll see that there are very few in these categories. To remove the extremes, Brian Clifton, author of Advanced Web Metrics, suggests you create a filter to remove pages with a bounce rate of 100%, or a bounce rate of less than 10%, as neither will help us with our topic today. The image at right shows this filter.
3. Finding the Landing Pages With the Most Significant Bounce Rate
If you haven’t already done so, click the column heading for Bounce Rate to sort the rows by Bounce Rate. We want the highest rates at the top, so the arrow next to the column name will point downward.
Next, click the Sort Type dropdown to change the setting from Default to Weighted (if it is grayed out, you need to click the Bounce Rate column heading to sort by bounce rate). The Weighted sort automagically weighs the importance of the number of visits against the bounce rate, so pages with more visits and a high bounce rate are more important than high bounce rate pages with lower numbers of visits. See the revised report at right.
This report now shows us the most visited pages with a high bounce rate. These are the pages quite often used as an entry by visitors, but are also the only page visited.
4. Landing Pages With High Bounce Rates, But Also High Average Time on Site
One thing should become clear quite quickly. Some of these often-visited pages with high bounce rates also have a high value for Average Visit Duration. If the average visit appears to be long enough for the visitor to have read all (or nearly all) of the page, then this landing page is doing at least part of its job. Visitors are searching for content, finding this page, and reading it. That is certainly good. However, the high bounce rate is still troubling. The visitor saw nothing on this page that enticed them to visit another page on your site.
This landing page was relevant to the search, but ask yourself if this page is also relevant to your site. For a lodging property, does this page have anything to do with your lodging business? If so, how can you entice the visitor to check out other pages? Can you link to something relevant within your site from within this landing page? For example, one of our most popular landing pages, with a high bounce rate, is a page containing a map of Maine lighthouses. We have added a link on that page to our Lighthouse Tour package, to encourage visitors to check out that package.
5. Landing Pages With High Bounce Rates and Low Time on Site
Landing pages with high bounce rates and low time on site means that the page was not relevant to the search result, or possibly that it simply provided information the visitor had already found elsewhere.
There tend to be two types of pages that fall in this category. First, pages that are entirely irrelevant to the searcher, and second, pages that are linked from a source that is sending low-value traffic.
In our modified Landing Pages report, click on Secondary Dimension, then click Source, to add a column to the report showing the source that sent the visitor to that page. If the source is a search engine (organic search, for our purposes – pay per click is a different scenario), it means that your page was not helpful for the visitor. You might want to consider working on the text of the page to make sure the words used on the page are the words a searcher would use to find it. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool can help you find terms searchers may use. Make sure your terminology on the page is very specific. Don’t just talk about lighthouses, but about Maine lighthouses or lighthouses along the coast of Maine.
If the source is not a search engine, it is possible that your page is linked from a site that really isn’t relevant to yours. If you have been trying to gain links to your site, be sure the site linking to you is relevant. A tourism site linking to your lodging property would be relevant. Other types of sites may not be. Bing is the first search engine to allow you to disavow a link to your site. Others are expected to follow suit. If you can’t see a way to justify the inbound link, ask the site to remove it. If they won’t remove it, you may want to consider disavowing it.
- Find the most commonly used landing pages with the highest bounce rates.
- Try to make the pages relevant to other pages within your site, to encourage the visitor to explore your other pages.
- Revise the page to make it specifically target key words and phrases that someone searching for that landing page might use.
- Evaluate inbound links to see if they might seem “spammy.”