In early March, I made a small but important strategic change to my front page. So here’s a quick bounce rate checkup to see if the change is helping.
A bounce rate checkup can be valuable for bloggers who are trying to help readers navigate through their site.
I’ve written about bounce rate before. In a nutshell, the bounce rate is the percentage of views that begin and end on the same page of your site. This is to say, it’s a measure of how well (or how poorly) people make their way deeper into your site.
A low bounce rate shows people visit multiple pages when they come to your site. A high bounce rate shows people might land on a page, read it, then leave.
But the bounce rate can be tricky for blogs.
If you’ve done your homework to improve search engine optimization, SEO, your blog’s overall bounce rate may be high. And that might be a good thing. For blogs, that high bounce rate could mean people are reaching your blog when searching for the answer to a specific question. If they arrive from a search engine result, find the answer they’re looking for and leave, you may not consider it ideal, but you’ve provided the information they sought.
I thought that was especially important since this blog focuses on multiple topics rather than a single narrow niche.
So back in March, I changed the layout of my front page to add a section of recent posts that allowed visitors to select a display of recent posts by topic.
Here’s what that portion of the front page looks like:
By selecting from the list of categories, you will immediately see the most recent posts filed under that category. Of course, it defaults to all, so if you don’t make a selection, you’ll see the most recent posts regardless of category.
If you came to read only about blogging or grammar, the selection of the appropriate topic would narrow the display to show you only posts from your topic of interest.
But the numbers don’t exactly add up.
I found the numbers from Google Analytics quite surprising. I decided to compare the past two months of this year against the same time period last year. (A year-to-year comparison is almost always better than a month-to-month comparison since reader patterns can change over different parts of the year.)
Whenever I compare a section of time for any stats, I tend to look at the most basic, commonly tracked stats first.
I happily noted increases year to year in page views and unique visitors. That’s always welcome news!
But when I looked at bounce rate for the home page, I nearly fell out of my chair.
Last year, my home page bounce rate for early March through early May was about 65%. That’s lower than a typical blog’s overall bounce rate, but still a bit higher than I’d like.
But when I checked the same time period for this year, I found that my front page bounce rate had dropped to 7.51%.
I would love to claim responsibility for that dramatic an improvement.
And I’d love to tell you I knew this would happen.
But I can’t.
Honestly, this seems almost like an impossibility.
Maybe it has something to do with more people reading blogs during the pandemic. But I don’t believe that’s the case. Overall, I’m willing to accept some degree of improvement in the front page bounce rate.
But that much? Something seems off to me.
So I’ll continue to monitor the numbers. If Google Analytics is having some sort of strange glitch, maybe it will soon correct itself.
If the numbers remain consistent, then maybe I’ll reach a point where I’ll believe what this little bounce rate checkup actually tells me.
It’d be nice if it were really true!