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Page Hits Are (Probably) Not Your Goal

Submitted Wednesday, December 12th 2012 7:39 am by Jeremy
tags:   SEO    Bounce Rate    Conversion Rate  

Often it seems people get so caught up in where their site ranks, that they forget to make sure that Google sending them all the page hits in the world would do them any good in the first place. Generally speaking more eyeballs on your website is a good thing, but if you have to sacrifice what you're really trying to do for page hits, you might be worse off than you were before. 

Unless your website is monetized by advertising, which would mean that getting someone to the site at all, even if you tricked them into it, is the end goal, then you still need the user to do something after they stumble on to your website. You still need them to buy your item, come to your restaurant, pay for a membership, etc.  

First things first, you need to worry about your bounce rate. This is the rate at which people will leave immediately. Forget "they didn't buy anything," these people didn't even look at another page. It's pretty much impossible to come up with a number as to what is a "normal" bounce rate, but it could very easily be most your hits, and still nothing to panic over. If a retail store had anywhere close to a majority of its potential customers step one foot into the store, look around, and immediately decide "Uh...no thanks" and leave, then that would probably be a call for drastic changes to be made. Sadly, that's par for the course for a website. 

The second thing to look at is your conversion rate. This is the rate at which a visitor turns into a sale, a registration, a lead, a customer, or whatever else you have a website in place to do. Again, it's pretty much impossible to quantify what's "normal" across all industries and level of competition, but it's probably going to be lower than you hope. Something like 1% of users being converted to customers might actually be a pretty good rate. If 5% of hits turned into sales that would pretty much be out of this world. 

Why This is Important

These factors are important because they're an equal, if not more important, part of the equation, but are often overlooked in the mad dash to do whatever it takes to move up google's rankings. If you have to make your site less friendly, or attractive, in order to move up a few spots for your keywords, then you might have made things worse. Let's take some concrete keywords that we at Webteam might be interested in.

Eau Claire Website Design

Google Rank Hits Per Month Bounce Rate Conversion Rate Non Bounces Per Month Conversions Per Month
10 200 40% 2% 120 4
5 300 45% 1.5% 135 4.5
1 500 50% 1% 250 5

Obviously these bounce rate and conversion rate numbers are completely made up, but the point is to illustrate that after much time, effort, and, possibly, expense, you moved from 10 to 5 to 1 on the Google rankings. However, since you lost track of making your site more apt to convert those page hits, you only gained 1 extra sale a month despite a 150% increase in page hits. Should your new 1% converting site ever slip in the rankings to #2 or #3, because Google changed how they rank, or because a competitor outdid you, you probably would have been better off leaving your #10 ranked site that converted 2% of page hits alone.

Meanwhile you could have gained the same number of conversions a month that you gained by moving from 5 to 1 in the rankings (keeping in mind each of those rungs is a larger and larger hurdle) by improving your 1.5% conversion rate by less than .17%, which might be significantly less effort. 

You have Few Precious Seconds - Make them Count

People make up their mind about your website in seconds. Some research even claims fractions of a second. Most research concludes you have somewhere between 3 seconds and 1/10th of a second to convince most visitors not to bounce. It's vital that your page's actions be obvious. If you land someone for the Google search "acme widget" on to your Acme Widget product page, they should be able to see everything they need to know, and see how they get it, and as little else as possible. Now, this isn't to say you can't offer detailed product info, you should. Just make the item, the picture, the price, and how to get it in your cart, crystal clear. Your eyeballs should be drawn exactly to where they need to be. Ditch things that aren't of obvious importance. You might consider it "neat" that your website can have up to the minute weather on it, but stuff like that isn't always appropriate, and can divide attention. If you're a local airport, for example, then having the local weather on your site has obvious utility. If you're selling shoes, no one cares what the weather in your local town is like. Trim the fat.

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