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Every Page is a Landing Page

When redesigning Web sites we tend to put a lot of focus on the home page. A significant amount of time is spent on the design, graphics, and content of that single page. Meanwhile, pages that are deeper in the site get less attention, and the deepest ones end up being nothing more than a copy-paste of text from the old site to the new one.

Web statistics can paint a different picture of importance, though. Pages beyond the home page can end up being the most popular landing pages. A landing (or entrance) page is the first page in a user’s session. It’s not uncommon for a site to get 80% of its traffic from search engines like Google, and that traffic lands on pages at all levels, from the home page down to the very deep pages. Every page has the potential to be a landing page.

Bounce Rate

The user experience for visitors landing on deep pages is often sub-optimal. These pages are likely to have been touched once when they were created, then forgotten. Low-value pages produce high bounce rates, where “bounces” are single-page visits. High bounce rate pages are not persuasive and fail to generate a next click.

The bounce rate is calculated as [# bounces / # entrances] x 100

Google Analytics can help you identify high bounce rate pages. Figure 1 shows a segment of the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report which gives us useful data including:

  • Pageviews
  • Entrances
  • Bounce Rate
pages_report_1
Figure 1: All Pages Site Content Report

You can see that, for the handful of pages we’re showing here, the bounce rates vary wildly. Consider page #3 which had 39,954 pageviews and 37,379 entrances. The first thing that is significant here is that almost all of the pageviews were entrances (37,379/39,954 x 100 = 94%). There are relatively few clicks into this page from other pages on the site. Page #3 also has a high bounce rate (92%). The most common user experience for this page is:

Enter > Read some or all of the content > Leave.

Bounces aren’t always bad, though. A page whose primary purpose is to provide phone numbers or address information would be expected to have a high bounce rate because it accomplishes its goal without requiring another click. But those pages are the exception. In most cases, high bounce rates are bad.

Fixing High Bounce Rate Pages

Take a look at your high bounce rate pages and ask yourself:

  • Who are the users we expect to land on this page?
  • What questions are they likely to be trying to answer?
  • Have we presented our value proposition?
  • Have we provided one or more persuasive calls-to-action?

In 2011 Google started blocking keyword data from analytics tools like Google Analytics to improve user privacy, making the determination of user intent more difficult for us. So there may be some guesswork required to understand users and user intent.

In lieu of keyword data in Analytics, Google’s Webmaster Tools reports do provide some keyword data for individual pages.

The most common causes of high bounce rate for deeper pages are the lack of value proposition statements and missing or low-visibility calls-to-action. It’s important to make a clear statement about why your product, program, service, etc. is the best choice. Those messages are usually communicated on “higher up” pages (category home pages, etc.) but rarely on the subordinate ones. Because every page in the site might be a landing page, you can’t assume that the value proposition message has already been seen. Each page should also include at least one clearly visible, persuasive call-to-action. You can use a combination of placement, color, and graphics to visually emphasize the call-to-action link. Plus, language can have a big impact on click rates. Link text such as “Click Here” lack persuasive punch. “Our Award-Winning Team” is a more compelling message.

Measure Your Results

Some of your high bounce rate landing pages will have glaring issues and be easy to fix. Others might require more than one attempt to resolve. Don’t be afraid to change, measure, and change again if needed. The Web is the best medium for experimentation.

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