How to Lower Your Bounce Rate

How to Lower Your Bounce Rate with Google Tag Manager + Engaging Content

My blog is still in its infancy, but in the three months that it has been alive, my bounce rate has averaged at 13.93%.

What is Bounce Rate?

What is bounce rate?

Bounce rate is a metric provided by Google Analytics. Their definition is, “the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).”

In simpler terms?

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who reach your site and immediately leave without engaging.

What Bounce Rate Should You Aim For?

Bloggers and webmasters typically try to keep their bounce rate as low as possible. According to Kissmetrics, the average bounce rate is around 40% – higher for lead generation and single page sites, and lower for retail and service sites.

If your bounce rate is higher than average, don’t worry about comparing yourself to others – aim to improve your bounce rate by a small percentage every month.

How to Keep Your Bounce Rate Low

As long as you’ve got reasonable control over your blog or website, it shouldn’t be very hard to lower your bounce rate. Here are a few ideas to help:

Change What Bounce Rate Means with Google Tag Manager

One of the reasons my bounce rate is so low is because I have changed the definition of “bounce rate” so that it is a more useful metric to me.

Instead of indicating single-page visits, I have doctored it so that “bounce rate” indicates people who:

  • Only visit one page of my site
  • Do not scroll through at least 10% of the landing page
  • Do not engage by clicking on buttons or external links
  • Do not spend at least 30 seconds on my site

You can define what you want Google to measure as bounces based on the goals for your site. Because my site is primarily content to be read (and I have no major e-commerce or revenue goals), I consider a user’s visit successful if they spend a reasonable amount of time or scroll through the content to read more.

If you would like to start tracking scrolling as events to re-define your bounce rate, Lunametrics has an easy way to do this through Google Tag Manager. They also have a guide to change the way GA and GTM track the time spent on your page, which improves the accuracy of Google Analytic’s measurement of time on site as well as changing the meaning of bounce rate to exclude visitors who spend a certain amount of time on your site.

Don’t have Google Tag Manager set up on your site? Here’s an easy guide to get you started.

Write Engaging Content

Write engaging blog content to lower your bounce rate

I’m not gonna lie – my content is pretty kickass.

I have heard that as a “best practice”, it is good to keep your blog posts between 400-600 words.

I call bullshit.

So far almost all of my posts have been 800+ words, many of them being over 1000 words.

I find that well-researched posts that cover a fairly specific topic in great depth have the most success on my blog. List-posts also do reasonably well, but only if they provide actual information that someone might not know off the top of their head.

Other things that keep my blog engaging include:

  • Using high quality, relevant images
  • Making posts easy to read by breaking them up with headers and bullet lists
  • Being generally friendly and responsive in the comments to encourage future engagement

Promote Your Blog to Specific Audiences

Your bounce rate will also largely depend on where you get your traffic, and what your users expect when they visit your site.

If you place a search engine ad for the search term “best baked chicken recipe”, and the link leads to a page about vegetarianism, chances are users are going to high-tail it out of there immediately.

Similarly, if you Pin an image of a delicious meal with text that reads “Click for the complete recipe for the best baked chicken ever”, and the link leads to your vegetarian page, the users’ expectations will not be met and you will quickly lose your readers.

Making sure your title tags and meta description are very true to your content is one way to ensure that visitors that find you through organic search will stick around. If you make promises in the SERPs that your content doesn’t follow through with, people will have an unpleasant experience and leave, never to return.

Here are a few examples of sources of traffic that have the lowest bounce rate for my blog:

Annie Singer ME Bounce Rate

Here are a few examples of sources of traffic that have a higher bounce rate:

Annie Singer ME High Bounce Rate

From this data I can begin to make a few educated assumptions.

Perhaps I should spend more time and energy on gaining Referrals by doing more outreach to other bloggers.

I might want to stay away from StumbleUpon because the majority of visitors coming from that source bounce from my site. Alternatively, I might want to ask myself what the user’s expectations are of my site when thy come from StumbleUpon, and find a way to improve my content so that it meets that audience’s needs.

 

Bounce rate is not a make-or-break metric, but it can give you insight into how your sight is performing in relation to your personal or business goals. If you run a content-heavy blog that is not a major source of revenue, bounce rate can provide great insight into how engaging your website is, and if you do have more specific events set up through Google Analytics, bounce rate can be engineered to provide you insight no matter your goals.

 

Are you happy with your site’s bounce rate?

What tactics have you used to help improve your bounce rate?

Depression: How to Be Okay With Yourself

How to Be Okay With Yourself Even When You’re Depressed

Most of the important people in my life have struggled with severe mental illness at some point.

I have too.

It’s a lot more common than people let on.

Let me put it very plainly for those of you who have never experienced severe depression or other forms of mental illness: it sucks.

It’s also very different for everyone, and there are a wide variety of symptoms that you may or may not experience.

If you’re depressed, you might experience:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tons of other shitty things

For me personally, depression mostly just makes me really not like anything about myself. It makes me dislike my body, and feel badly about my intelligence. It magnifies embarrassing moments and makes me feel like other people don’t like me too.
woman sitting on a table
But even if you struggle with depression, there are ways to cope with not liking yourself.

If I had a friend tell me that they were depressed and did not like themselves, this is what I would tell them:

Get help for depression before you need it

It can be hard to determine when you actually need to get help for depression.

If you think you need help for depression, you definitely need help for depression.

If you are starting to think that depression might be negatively impacting your life or your relationships, you need help for depression.

You can get IMMEDIATE or EMERGENCY help by:

  • Calling a suicide hotline:
    • In the US: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • Calling 9-1-1
  • Calling your psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor
  • Go to a local emergency room

You can get non-emergency help by:

  • Asking you doctor for a mental health referral
  • Finding a local mental health professional

If you can’t afford mental health care:

  • Try to find low income services
    • Google “Low income counseling [my city]”
  • Your local university may provide free or discounted counseling for the community
  • If you are a student, some colleges offer free crisis counseling services for students
  • Look for group therapy sessions in the area – they are often much cheaper
  • See if your church or community center has a relevant support group
  • Find a support group through NAMI
  • At a minimum, talk to your friends and family about it

Make sure your basic needs are met first

If you can’t afford enough food or are living somewhere unsafe, you’re probably not going to get un-depressed or un-self-hating no matter what else you do.

Take care of your basic needs.

Do everything you can to be physically healthy and injury free.

Make sure you are eating and drinking properly. If you can’t afford proper nutrition, apply for government assistance or visit a local food bank. If you are having temporary financial hardship and can’t afford groceries for a few weeks, ask a friend or family member for help.

Feeling safe in your own home is huge to your overall wellbeing too. If you don’t feel safe for any reason, finding a new place to live should be your top priority.

High quality housing can be expensive, but having a safe place to live is vital.

If you are living somewhere unsafe but can’t afford a nice place to live:

  • Consider moving in with family and paying a small rent to them
  • Share an apartment with friends
  • Rent a room in someone’s house – if you find them through Craiglist or classified ads, make sure you meet them and are comfortable with them before considering moving in. In the state of Idaho, you can see the public criminal record of any resident through the Idaho Repository by searching their first and last name. If your state does not have a repository, even searching their name on Google may reveal past crimes, arrests, or other undesirable behavior.

Beyond the basic needs of food, water, and a safe place to live, strengthening your relationships can help you be a little more okay with yourself.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to make amends with people who treat you poorly, but if you don’t have a healthy relationship with your family, significant other, or friends, consider finding other ways to connect with people.

Understand Different Aspects of Your Value

Sometimes I feel like crap about my body, no matter how hard I try not to.

Realistically I know that I’m not ugly or fat. But some days what I know and what I feel are not the same things.

When my mind is stuck on hating one particular part of myself, I try to focus on my other parts.

What makes me valuable?

  • I have wonderful friends and family who love and support me
  • I’m really freakin’ strong
  • I am good at writing
  • I’m pretty dang smart
  • I’m good at handling difficult situations
  • I’m a good dog mom
  • I’m a really nice person
  • Lots of other things

Other days I feel fine about my body, but I feel bad because my challenges processing new information make me feel “stupid”. Well all “stupid” aside, I can still reflect on all of my positive traits.

It can take a little practice to be able to step back and look at yourself from a more objective view, but forcing your attention to your positive traits can make you feel just a little bit less terrible when you’re depressed.

Celebrate small accomplishments – and find people who will celebrate with you

Small accomplishments are a huge deal when you’re depressed, and you should celebrate the hell out of them.

These are the things that I sometimes struggle with:

  • Showering
  • Changing my clothes
  • Putting laundry away
  • Picking up dog poop
  • Eating

If your best friend won’t give you a high five for changing out of your pajamas for the first time in a week, consider finding a better friend.

My brother and I often talk about the stupid little things that start sliding when we are depressed. We support and encourage each other to complete whatever it is that seems impossible at the time, and then we share our pride as we conquer the great big burdensome task.

 

What makes you feel better about yourself when you’re depressed?

Diversity in Blog Images

I’m Sorry for All of the Young, Skinny White Girls On My Blog

One of my absolute favorite things about working in marketing is that I am in control of the visuals my company uses for their advertising, although I have to admit I haven’t done a great job with this blog.

I’m a skinny white girl… why shouldn’t I use skinny white girls as the face of my blog?

This blog is written from me to the world wide web, and as it turns out the world wide web is not a skinny white girl. I hope that my writing is inspiring, motivating, and actionable, and I think that inspiration, motivation, and information should come from a diverse background.

Representation in the media matters

Aside from research and information sourcing, representation in the media matters. In fact, in one study researchers found that watching TV was predicted decreased self-esteem in girls and black boys, and an increase in self-esteem in white boys.

Could it be because when white boys watch TV they see strong doctors, scientists, and superheroes in their image?

I also hope to be as much of an ally as possible for people who are underrepresented by standing up against whitewashing. As a young, skinny white woman, I have to stand up and say, “I don’t think that you need to look like me or be like me.”

older woman with a hat

To larger women: you do not need to aspire to be skinnier.

To women of color: you do not need to style your makeup to look “lighter”.

To older women: you do not need to use expensive face creams to try to make yourself look younger.

To women of other cultures: you do not need to abandon your traditional clothing and fashion.

To non-cis and straight women: you do not need to express your femininity in any certain way.

To all of the younger women who might look up to me: you can embrace your unique traits and grow into exactly who you want to be.

Some of the problems with diversity in marketing

Unfortunately representing diversity in marketing can be challenging. There are mad genius minority women doing incredible research, but it’s easier to find a white man’s research.

It is important to source information from writers and researchers from diverse backgrounds because people with different cultural traditions and experiences are able to identify different issues and address them in unique ways.

STEM Diversity

Here in the United States, we solve a lot of problems for white men (and white people in general), because the majority of our scientists are white men.

In addition to research, it can be challenging to visually represent different and diverse peoples. There are beautiful women in hijabs or with bindis all over the world, but in stock photo libraries they are far, far outnumbered by smiling skinny white women.

very white male doctor

While there are thousands of pictures of men in doctor’s scrubs, there are far fewer women represented as medical professionals, and most of them are represented as some nightmarish stereotype.

It’s also sad that using diversity in marketing can be controversial. In the last year, several companies have used gay couples in ads, which in some cases has caused blowback. It shouldn’t be controversial to represent gay families. It shouldn’t be controversial to represent people wearing traditional cultural clothing like hijabs and turbans.

What I can do to represent diversity

Beautiful Woman in Dotted White Dress

Be intentional in showing diversity

Historic biases make is all too easy to neglect diversity. The majority of STEM researchers in the United States are white men – and even more well known researchers in the United States are white men. Does that make it okay to back an argument exclusively with the research of white men?

A lot of what I see in my news feed is from a fairly un-diverse group of people. It’s easy to only re-Tweet skinny white women when you only follow skinny white women.

Anil Dash is a great example of someone who was very intentional in sharing more content from women – in fact, for an entire year he did not re-Tweet any men. In MozCon’s earlier years they had primarily white male speakers, and when they made intentional efforts to increase diversity their satisfaction scores went through the roof.

I can be mindful in selecting accounts to follow on social media, and in finding research and informational resources to cite.

I can also be mindful to represent people visually by seeking out stock photos that represent:

  • People with different skin tones
  • People in different cultural styles
  • Disabled people
  • Overweight people
  • Older people

Try to listen more

When you are the majority, listening is one of the most important things you can do. I see this neglected a lot in fitness.

If you peruse the #fitness hashtag on Instagram, chances are you’ll come across one or more picture of some incredibly fit person in a wheelchair (or person with a prosthetic limb), and messaging saying that you have no reason to make excuses if “these people” can do it.

While as an able-bodied, fit person this might seem to make sense at first, I have heard from members of the disabled community that this sentiment is degrading and condescending, implying that disabled people are inherently inferior.

Listening allows me to understand things from different perspective, and consider things I naturally might not.

 

This blog is not just for me, it is for you. If I ever post something misrepresentative or offensive please let me know (as politely as possible). It is never my intention to be appropriative, but ignorance is a weak excuse for being insensitive.

3 Outdated Blogging SEO Tactics

3 Outdated Blogging SEO Tactics You Need to Stop Using Now

As an SEO in the blogging world, I spend a lot of time cringing at the bad advice that is thrown around by self-proclaimed “experts”. It feels like the blogosphere is eternally stuck in 1999.

It’s 2016 – it’s time to join the 21st century.

Here are three tactics that you absolutely need to stop doing now.

Link Parties

Google started cracking down on shady linking tactics a long time ago. In the fall of 2005, a series of updates start targeting shady links – including reciprocal links.

In fact, in their Webmaster Guidelines, Google makes it pretty clear that things like Link Parties are an SEO no-no.

Here’s how they put it:

The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:… Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking

Ditch the blog Link Parties

How to do it in the 21st century

There are other reasons a person might want to participate in a link party, SEO aside. If a blog in your niche shares one of your blog posts, you may get relevant traffic to your site. It is also a way to engage and connect with other bloggers.

If you choose to participate in a link party, keep in mind that it is not a valid SEO tactic and make sure that your link is no-followed to reduce any risk.

Blog Comment Spam

I’m not sure if the memo made it out into the blogging world, but blog commenting is not a real SEO tactic.

I’ve heard it a two different ways:

  • Having comments on your own blog by other people helps your SEO
  • Commenting on other peoples’ websites with your link helps your SEO

Both of these assumptions are wrong.

Having comments on your blog is great – if they are constructive. Trading comments with other bloggers is in no way beneficial because the quality of the comment is usually low, and they are usually not the kind of quality user that will help you drive revenue. In fact, if you have too many low-quality comments with links, it can negatively impact your SEO.

Alternatively, commenting on other peoples’ blogs used to be a link building tactic until people started automating and abusing the heck out of it. Now, almost all blog comment systems and plug-ins automatically add a “no-follow” attribute to your comment link – that means that no “link juice” is passed through blog comment links.

How to do it in the 21st century

It’s important to understand the value of blog comments outside of SEO.

Accepting blog comments is a great way to encourage discussion on your own blog posts, and commenting on other peoples’ posts is a great way to engage in other relevant discussions.

If you find that you have a blog post that adds to the conversation, it’s usually okay to leave a link in blog comments as long as it’s relevant, but you will only be gaining click-through value, not backlink value.

No-Following All Outbound Links

sign, slippery, wet

While some people are still using and abusing spammy outdated linking techniques like comment spam and link parties, other bloggers are completely terrified of any form of linking.

Recently, some sites and blogs have begun no-following ALL outbound links from their website.

While excessive and spammy linking will damage your site, no-following all of your outbound links is not a positive indicator to search engines – and Google recommends against it.

In fact, one study found that linking out to highly authoritative websites had a direct and positive impact on search engine ranking.

How to do it in the 21st century

Use no-follow links selectively, but not on all links.

You should use no-follow links:

  • If you do not want to “endorse” the website
  • If you are linking to someone who has compensate you for mentioning them (ads, sponsored posts, etc.)
  • Places that links might be abused, like in your comments section or forums

 

SEO might seem like it is always rapidly changing, but if you use authentic tactics and don’t try to “trick” search engines, you will have no problem improving your search engine results. Stay away from these spammy techniques, and anything else that might be questionable.

Outdated Blogging SEO Tactics
Working for Free

Should You Work for Free?

If you specialize in anything – SEO, web design, personal training, music performance, you name it – chances are you’ve been asked to work for free at some point.

In general, this sums up my attitude towards working for free:

However I do believe that there is a place and time where working for free is not only acceptable, but also beneficial.

Here are a few questions to consider if you are thinking about doing work for free.

Do You Have the Time?

If you don’t have the time to take on a new project, absolutely do not work for free. Don’t overwhelm yourself with more than you can handle, especially if it doesn’t pay.

Do You Need the Money?

If you are just scraping by or if an extra few dollars would really help to improve your financial situation, don’t work for free. Instead, when a friend or family asks you to do work for them, pitch your rate. You can even offer them a discount to make them feel special. Otherwise, spend that same time looking for real, paying gigs.

Do You Want to Do It?

If you don’t enjoy what you do, you certainly shouldn’t work for free. On the other hand, if you genuinely enjoy the work that you do, you might want to consider doing it for under certain circumstances.

Is There a Benefit to You?

Unless there is some sort of benefit to you, don’t work for free. However consider a wide variety of benefits that doing certain types of work may provide:

  • Helping a friend with their small business may give you the satisfaction of seeing them succeed
  • Writing a free article for another website may give your site or business more exposure
  • Doing a favor for a friend may inspire them to later help you when you need it
  • Helping a local small business or charity allows you to add relevant experience to your resume

As an SEO and digital marketer, these are a few unpaid opportunities that I sometimes take advantage of:

Guest Posting and Writing for Other Websites

What it does for them: I typically charge clients $75 for a 400-600 word article, but under certain circumstances I will write for free. I might also write an adapted version of content from my own blog to re-purpose it for an external site.

What it does for me: Guest posting and writing for other websites provides SEO value to my own site, boosts my credibility as an author and niche expert, and send qualified traffic to my website.

Giving Website or Business Advice to Friends

Friends don't ask friends for free work

What it does for them: I don’t know if y’all know this, but I’m really good at my job. When my friends and family actually follow the advice that I give them, it’s common for them to see positive results. If a friend launches a new website, I’m usually happy to give it a once-over and tell them a few things that could be improved for the sake of SEO or user experience.

What it does for me: I love my friends and family dearly, and I want them to succeed. If 10 minutes of my time helps them succeed with their business or website, I consider their success a fair payment.

Helping with Google Analytics Issues

What it does for them: I’m pretty non-tech savvy, except when it comes to data. If someone is having trouble with Google Analytics, I’m usually happy to give it my best shot at helping them solve their issue. I’m particularly good at steering people towards the reports that give them the information they’re looking for, but I can sometimes help with setup or troubleshooting.

What it does for me: Solving other peoples’ Google Analytics problems helps me learn more about GA – and I manage a handful of accounts both for work as well as pleasure.

Accepting Product “Sponsorships”

What it does for them: New brands often struggle to gain exposure and traction for their online promotions, so they reach out to people to promote their products. A typical product sponsorship will be a trade of their goods for exposure to my audience.

What it does for me: I’m a sucker for swag. I have offered my soul to multiple companies in exchange for branded swag (joke’s on them, I never had a soul in the first place).

Trading Services

What it does for them: I occasionally trade services with small businesses. This allows them to get marketing services that are otherwise outside of their budget.

What it does for me: When I trade services, it allows me to gain things that are otherwise outside of my budget (or that I don’t want to splurge on). I might trade service for an expensive hair coloring or personal training program.

If you are trading services with other small businesses, make sure that a) you are not compromising your revenue goals, and b) you don’t feel obligated to trade for things you don’t really want.

 

Here are a few things that I never do for free:

  • If it takes more than an hour, I’m not going to do it for free
  • If I don’t like your business, I’m not going to work for free
  • If it is a large company asking, I’m not going to do it (unless there’s reeealllly sweet swag involved)

 

Do you ever work for free?

Under what circumstances?