My dramatically decreased website bounce rate has amazed me for months, for most of 2010 in fact. I originally attributed the decrease in my bounce rate to the Scribe SEO plugin, a premium plugin that enables a powerhouse of Search Engine Optimization and Copywriting Optimization.
Proudly displayed Scribe SEO Affiliate link
I tried out and immediately signed up for the Scribe SEO service last winter towards the end of February and early March of 2010. I wrote about Scribe SEO and created a couple early video demos out in the dock office. (you might even be able to see my teeth chattering)
A couple months later, I was using this great tool to polish up content for a client. We focused on their top performing articles first, a process that I likened to taking an average baseball hitter and turning them into a home run king.
Polish the low hanging SEO fruit, then work on other articles later.
In both cases, I felt that bounce rate was dropping, but in both cases a massive amount of other work was taking place in the background, creating a massive cloud in the data that would confirm the effectiveness. Both sites were undergoing massive change and over haul, not the least of which involved page load time improvements.
On any given day however, if you asked me, I’d tell you my gut opinion. Scribe SEO was helping me improve my content by optimizing not only the SEO aspects of articles, but also the Copy in the titles and descriptions. The end results of this synergy was that my articles would rise in the SERPs, attract attention from the ‘Right’ people that were looking for the ‘Right’ content that I had to offer. I was not just optimizing content to get traffic from any old keywords, but the right keywords, and showing the potential visitors what they would find before they got there.
When these Scribe optimized visitors showed up, they were already comfortable with the content they found because they found what they were looking for. This helped them get the most from the content, read the articles, watch the videos and more. It helped me because I had a good idea what a person looking for this content might be looking for as opposed to a visitor that came in after clicking on a wild ass tangent keyword like ‘Dolly Pardon’s Breasts’.
For over a year, Google sent traffic to my site on the keyword of Dolly Pardon’s Breasts. I’ve never ever blogged, written or shared a picture of Dolly Pardon’s breasts nor do I intend to.( Oops. )
Anyway when all those visitors looking for Mrs. Pardon’s assets, they quickly bounced away from my site. No breasts here.
By the way if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a little long winded in the telling of a story. I won’t mind if you scan forward. I hope I don’t drive you to bounce away.
Statistical Evidence to Backup Decreased Bounce Rate with Scribe SEO
I’d share the anecdotes. I’d share my gut feeling and give a person my recommendation. I guided clients to the product, and I used it myself. Boy! did I use it myself.
The problem was that when I looked at my own bounce rate, it had appeared to drop down to single digits months earlier before I started using Scribe SEO. So much for causation, unless Google and my visitors both experienced a priori in regards to my future content optimization.
Evidence be damned, I was still convinced. Yes, I can be a little stubborn, but I was sure that I was on the right track. I just didn’t have a real clear set of data to work with. In fact I still don’t.
But the other day, I did something very stupid. Funny thing about doing stupid things. If you are lucky, you realize you made a mistake. If you are smart or at least a little intelligent, you might even learn a lesson from your mistake.
Well, that kind of thing happened to stupid old me.
Way back when I first started blogging, not quite a year after I left the corporate finance world on top as a whistleblower for the IRS after turning in my former employer and leaving the chinese mafia in the dust, I wrote about what I knew about. That mostly involved consumer electronics, applied business technology, finance, law and logistics. My first blog was called Maven Mapper’s Information and it started on a Blogspot site before later in 2007 after I met Ted Murphy at the first Blogworld, my site was moved to a wordpress installation. Ted is a great guy and significant in this regard, he provided the impetus for me to move to WordPress.
There’s some irony in that because way back then most pundits were accusing Ted of trying to destroy the blogosphere, but I suspect he has more responsibility in pushing hundreds of thousands of bloggers onto a great platform, possibly more than anyone short of Matt Mullenweg.
Note. I’m not saying that Ted is one of the most important people in WordPress.
So that blog moved to WordPress eventually faded. I ultimately stopped blogging about consumer electronics on it, I later stopped blogging about MindManager on it and finally stopped or mostly stopped blogging about Dragon Naturally Speaking on it too. That good old blog did what so many do. It faded baby.
Enter my stupid Move – I nuked my home page!
All throughout 2010, I was using this kick ass SEO Copywriting tool. You might recall I mentioned it above more times than I used the word ‘the’, well almost. I had a problem with it however. For some weird reason, that old blog of mine was didn’t work with it. For some reason, I just couldn’t get that WP install to play nice with the Scribe SEO plugin. It was a faded blog, but I had long tail traffic.
Now, I’ve done a lot of blog and site merges over the last couple years. I’ve always been impressed with the new synergy that develops. In fact, I am just wrapping up one of these this week at DanielleLiss.com. My work on that site, merging 3 typepad sites, into one new solid WordPress site actually was the impetus for this article, but I might be digressing again….
Like many people, I am guilty of rarely working on my own sites and applying my voodoo to my own stuff. It would significantly help if I did, but my clients pay me better than I pay myself. hmmm That’s not exactly true.
I learn more from solving problems for my clients than I learn working in isolation. That is definitely true! And, I am not happy unless, I’m learning something new, which is even more true, or is it truest?
So when I went through and merged this old blog of mine that existed on a directory of Softduit.com, I only did a partial job of it. (First bad mistake). I started in on it in November, then got caught up in a client project which was a more important priority, and never got back to finishing the job. (Second bad mistake)
All that Un-Optimized Content that Scribe SEO hadn’t worked on Launched My Bounce Rate!
OK, I shouldn’t be happy about that. You see, all that content on that old blog, got exported via wordpress and then re-imported into the wordpress install on Softduit at the root level. A lot of categories got nuked and a lot was left undone. But an interesting thing was included, all of those old blog articles had not yet been optimized by Scribe SEO. They had the good ol’ All in One plugin pushing on them for years and years, but no copy optimization of descriptions and no raw stats from Scribe evaluations either.
When those articles hit my site, my bounce rate went from low double digits right back up in to the high eighties. It is still not the perfect example I’m looking for, but I do believe there is some correlation here.
So the next question to ask is what will it take to bring my bounce rate back down without removing all that content again. Or to put it another way,
If I use Scribe SEO on that content, will my Bounce Rate drop when the right visitors start finding what they are looking for again?
That’s what I’m going to try and figure out and test. First.
I have a couple other theories as to items that might be contributing to this dramatic spike in bounce rate that include but may not be limited to:
- Google Analytics may have been hosed way back when and is unhosed now
- YARPP (Yet another related post plugin) may be sharing articles at the bottom of the site that don’t match up so well any more and are sending people away a bit
- Legacy blog visitors are confused by the new location moved from staging-softduit.mystagingwebsite.com/mavenmappersinformation directory to staging-softduit.mystagingwebsite.com’s blog and are just clicking away
- I may have a spike in 404’s that hasn’t been cleaned up yet
- Could be my theme – Back when the Bounce Rate first dropped, I had just upgraded to a new WordPress CMS configuration. Over the last year, the theme has broken down and is in need of a reboot. A broken, or breaking theme can definitely impact bounce rate. However, I suspect this is not the case here because I believe people are bouncing before they have a chance to navigate to the areas of the site that have issues.
- The absence of my picture – on the old blog, I had a relatively bad picture of my own headshot incorporated into the header image. That doesn’t exist on the softduit site for many good reasons, but maybe its absence much to my embarrassment and my wife’s annoyance is triggering people to bounce. (yeah right) (well then again . . .)
Regardless, I’m going to start with Scribe Copy Optimization on hundreds of those old articles and record what happens next.
I’m sure fixing all of these things will help, but I want to see with my new second chance how much the Scribe SEO factor comes into play in regards to website bounce rate.
If you have experiences with bounce rate and Scribe SEO, I’d love to hear your thoughts and perspective. If you are looking for a great article on reducing bounce rate on a WordPress site, I did like the article I found here http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/reduce-blog-bounce-rate/ even though the url and site layout didn’t inspire much confidence. (not knocking it, just well, you be the judge if you like but this is not a recommendation from me, yet at least). If you have a better resource, please drop me a link in a comment below.
If you have read this article to the end, thanks for not bouncing, but you may be skewing the results of my new analysis!
As I go back and work to optimize about 900 articles consolidated to this website from literally two legacy blogs, the task feels a little daunting. I wanted to share a couple tools that I’ve been using to prepare for the ultimate job.
First, I’m working to get the basic basic information populated in the All in One SEO plugin fields, Title, Description and even keywords.
I intend to make a few passes through the site over the next month. The plan is to iteratively improve the articles from an SEO perspective so that they attract the right traffic, or the traffic that will benefit from those articles the most as a result of answering the question of the original search engine query if possible. That’s a tall order for blog articles written in years, some dating back four years and not written with longevity and long tails in mind. In fact I’ve deleted over 100 articles out right where they
- were badly written in the first place (I’ve written tens of thousands of blog articles and have definitely had some duds)
- or where the article was about a topic, site or company that doesn’t exist any more.
- or where the subject in retrospect seems spammy or lacking substance or just doesn’t provide any value add any more
- where the topic just doesn’t fit with this site at all. Bringing blog posts from one old blogger blog to a new blog 2-3 years ago and then bringing all of those to this site, its not hard to imagine that some of the topics don’t fit. In fact, I’m still wondering if I should delete all or most of the articles about Apple. As it stands, I’m keeping them if for no other reason than to serve as a marker for myself, showing where I have been and how I’ve grown.
Foliovision Descriptions for All in One SEO WordPress 3.0.4
Foliopress DescriptionsMass edit descriptions for every post, page or category page. Supports post excerpt, Thesis and All In One SEO meta description fields.
I used one handy plugin to mass edit individual post descriptions. The plugin hasn’t been updated in a long time, so I was careful when using it. After all was said and done it did seem to work with WordPress 3.0.4 and the plugins I was using myself. On the down side, it only worked with descriptions. I would have liked it better if it had done titles too!
In summary, I simply manually copied each and every post title and pasted it in the description field, 30 posts at a time, then saved them and the plugin saved those descriptions to the All in One SEO Description Field.
Next I’m working with the Missing Data – All in One SEO Pack Plugin to continue populating the All in One fields. This plugin simply searches all your posts and pages and tells you which ones are missing information for the AIOSEO Title, AIOSEO Description or AIOSEO keywords fields for that post or page.
It gave me a gargantuan list of posts and pages that I need to work on.
On the down side, it doesn’t have any useful mass editing capabilities at all. It simply gives you a quick link to the edit button for each of those posts. I suppose I could use that old ‘Linky’ add on for Firefox to open up all those links, but that would likely crash my browser. So I’m just working through them about 5-10 posts at a time.
Again, I’m simply copying the WordPress Post title and pasting it in the All in One SEO Title field and hitting update.
Actually, before I do to many of these, I’m going to take a look at running a MySQL query to achieve the same result in mass, more to follow on that in the next update!
Once I get all the fields in All in One covered, then I’m going to start running the Scribe SEO plugin like crazy.
Update 2 1-10-2011
Just spent sometime putting together a csv file that enabled me to copy all of the missing titles from post_title and then import them into the post_meta table into the field of _aioseop_title.
That helped me to update about 900 records immediately. Probably should have done that with descriptions too, but sometimes you have to do things the hard way to figure out what is easier.
To achieve this, I backed up my entire WordPress database.
I used the Missing Data plugin to determine which Post ID’s were missing titles in the All in One SEO fields, which are stored in the Post_meta table in the WordPress database. I literally copied the all the info from the plugin page, dropped it into excel, and cleaned it up.
Then I added row headers for the post_meta table.
I created a concatenation in excel to turn the excel fields into something that would be easy to import via csv, copied that into notepad, saved it as a csv then ran the import of all those titles.
Note if I can get good keywords, those also make great tags too! Keywords aren’t worth much for SEO but solid tags are because they link, cross link and also help the YARPP plugin make a better connection.
Made more progress on this project tonight and this article has officially warped into a log of my efforts. I may go back and rewrite it later once I’ve documented everything that I’ve learned. Until then, I’ll record as I go in old fashioned weB LOG ways. 😉
I identified another 73 articles to trash, so more old articles are out of the way. I also dived into Google Analytics to come up with a prioritization of articles to work on. I used a similar methodology for a client last summer using Scribe SEO way back then. That time, I worked to optimize the best performing articles.
This time, I simply wanted to identify the low performing articles in two separate slices. The first slice included articles based on Pageviews. The second and more important for this effort included articles based on bounce rate, highest to lowest.
From there I went through articles one at a time, which is tedious and slow, but it is for a good cause. Namely improving the performance on my website and primary source of my revenue. This is not super high level work, so I was able to watch a movie or two while I worked on these articles. (The old True Grit and a couple episodes of The Cape a new pilot).
Epiphany on the good articles that will always Push Bounce Rate up
There were basically two types of articles at the top of the list of pages that had a high bounce rate.
- Articles that were optimized poorly and pulling the wrong visitors. Essentially they were targeting the wrong keywords and visitors from Google were came expecting the wrong thing. When they arrived on my pages of this nature, they probably hit the back button right away and searched elsewhere. The fix – I performed a medium level optimization on these so that they would target the most appropriate primary keywords for the article. In some cases, I ran a Scribe SEO analysis and sometimes I did not. I’ve run Scribe SEO so often that I am getting pretty good at eyeballing many of the corrections necessary and only need to use it for the more complex articles and every now and then to keep my own SEO senses tuned up.
- Articles that were good stand alone articles but not a good fit for the site. These articles had little chance of converting a visitor into a subscriber let alone a student, client or business partner. Some needed more optimization and some did not, but regardless anyone coming to these articles from the SERPs were likely to leave after they read it. The Epiphany – came in the form of well they are going to leave anyway, might as well earn something from this content as they exit. So I went for an easy fix and just optimized these articles for Adsense. Longer articles received ads at top and bottom, shorter articles at either the top or bottom depending on the structure of the article. These might also make good targets for an affiliate advertisement. However, the articles that I have encountered thus far date back several years and are somewhat less topical. I opted for Adsense so that I wouldn’t have to keep going back and putting new affiliate banner ads in every year for hundreds and hundreds of articles.
So the end result is that with this latest phase, I’m correcting the targeting of primary keywords to bring in the right visitor for the content using Scribe SEO and my own experience using Scribe SEO. I’m cutting out a lot of old content that is long past being topical or useful (bad articles were dropped in an earlier session described above). And for articles that are just natural bounces, I provided a potential tempting click away target in the form of an Adsense ad. Maybe it will boost my revenue enough to pay for Scribe a couple months out of the year.