You might already look at your Top Pages report, but you might not be taking action off of it. Even if your traffic is low and you’re not selling anything yet, this one report can provide a whole lot of great insights for your blog and business.
You can find this report by taking this path in your Google Analytics left sidebar: Behavior > Site Content > Top Pages
Once you’ve located the report, you’ll see a list of your pages organized from highest pages to lowest.
Bounce Rate and % Exit Rate
From here, take a look at the Bounce Rate and % Exit columns. While it’s not a perfect science, these metrics will help you understand which pages are resonating with your readers and which ones could use a little bit of love.
A bounce happens when someone visits your site and then leaves without taking another action. For example, if someone visits my site and reads only the content on the page they landed on, that will be considered a bounce.
A non-bouncer engages with your site. For example, they might browse additional pages or fill out an email opt-in form.
An important thing to remember here is that a bounce does NOT mean your content is bad. It just means you have an opportunity to optimize that page.
Your % Exit Rate shows you the percent of page traffic that leaves the site after visiting a particular page. The main difference between Bounce Rate and Exit Rate is that a visitor can browse multiple pages before exiting and factor into your % Exit Rate. A visitor who browses multiple pages will not be considered a bounce.
Take action on your insights
Take action off of the Top Pages report by first understanding which pages are resonating with your readers and which pages are not. I recommend making a list in a spreadsheet
Once you have a list of low versus high Bounce Rate and Exit Rate pages, it’s time to start analyzing. Start with the low Bounce Rate pages first. You’re doing something right on these pages! Are you linking to other blog posts? Do you have a really enticing opt-in incentive? Make a column in your spreadsheet to keep track of your insights.
Next, do the same thing for your high Bounce Rate pages. These are your pages that need some help. Add a column in your spreadsheet and make notes about what’s not working. Are readers not opting into your email sign up forms? Are there no links on the page directing users to additional content? Is the readability of the content weak?
Once you have your insights, the next step is to take what you’ve learned from the low Bounce Rate column and apply it to the high Bounce Rate pages. Based on what your insights have told you, add links, update your opt-in incentives or re-work the layout of the blog posts.
Measure your work
It’s extremely important to make sure you’re measuring the impact of all that work you’re doing to lower your Bounce Rate and % Exit Rate. Because let’s be honest, none of us are in the business of wasting time here.
You’re going want to do what’s called a Pre/Post analysis on your work. It’s super simple and will help you understand the impact of your changes.
Take note of the dates you made your changes to each page, and then let those changes live on your site for about a month before you begin your analysis.
Next, pull the Bounce Rates and % Exit Rates for the month prior to the date you made your changes to each page and record those numbers in your spreadsheet. Then, do the same thing for the month after you made those changes and record your new Bounce Rates and % Exit Rates.
Check to see if there was an improvement between the two time periods.
Continue improving your site
If the changes you made didn’t seem to make an impact, go back to your insights and determine which additional changes can be made to optimize your low performing pages. But make sure you ask yourself whether another round of changes makes sense for your business, or if there are better ways to use your time.
If your changes did improve the performance of your pages, congratulations! But your work is not done here. You now have a new standard for your site. Site optimization is never done and there’s always something new you can learn to make it better. I recommend repeating this exercise at least twice a year.
Now that you’ve gotten to know this great report, don’t forget about it! As I mentioned above, it’s important to measure the health of your content at least a couple times a year because it’s a free way to get more out of the content you’ve already worked so hard on.
This process is a great way to begin understanding what your readers really want from your site. I always recommend keeping a spreadsheet full of great insights and reviewing them before you sit down to write your next piece of content. Doing this will allow you to make smart decisions for your site that will positively impact your business in the future.
Sam Baker is the owner of Sam Baker Analytics, a site dedicated to simplifying analytics for creative businesses. With over 5 years of experience, she is all about teaching site owners how to use data to make smart business decisions. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or check out her work at sambakeranalytics.com