Category Archives: Web traffic

Why are we still ‘Clicking here’?

Sophie’s campaign for clear communication

If you Googled ‘Click here’ in the early 2000s you got the download page for Acrobat Reader. In those days, every website had screes of PDF documents on their pages and obligingly included a link to download the reader – just in case this was the first PDF you’d downloaded. The text for that link was invariably “Click Here”.

We’ve come a long way since then. Most of our web content is in HTML, not PDF, and we confidently assume that most browsers can read PDFs if we need to include one.

But we still love ‘Click here’ and its friends ‘Read More’, ‘More Details’ and my personal favourite ‘More’.

Why?

I know we’re all tailoring our content to be Mobile First and satisfy our smart phone addicted millennials and Gen Zs. But are we also assuming they have psychic powers and can guess what content we’re hiding behind our one-word, generic link labels?

I don’t want to use the word lazy, but when I see these generic link shortcuts, I am sorely tempted.

Do your readers (and me) a favour. Splash out and – write link labels that actually describe the pages they link to.

The lift in usability, conversion and NPS for your site will be your just reward.

When communication becomes a sugary drink

Sophie’s campaign for clear communication

When you work in PR or marketing it’s very easy to ‘drink the kool aid’ of your company – in other words, get sucked in by your own marketing messages.

It happens to the best of us and it can be amusing to the outsider when it does – just watch any speech by Donald Trump and you’ll see what I mean.

I saw a closer-to-home example today. An insurance company (we don’t need to say which one) has the caption “we make your world a safer place” on their reception wall.

I looked at that for quite a while, thinking “Do they?Really?”

“Surely you just pay up when something bad happens.”

When I dug deeper, I realised the caption is linked to a series of safety messages across their channels. But, in isolation, it comes across as a bit Trumpy.

We all get a little kool aidy when we work in corporate (or even small business) comms. We need to believe in what our company stands for and be able to talk up the products and services.

But, it’s wise to maintain a balance and stay credible. Too much kool aid can lead you in Trumpish directions.

So the next time you’re working on a pithy one-liner for your company’s big campaign – ask yourself “Does makes sense all by itself – or am I sipping kool aid?”

What’s so cool about optimising content?

I’ve decided to start up my own business. “Yay me!” 

It’s quite exciting being your own boss and having control over your working day, but there’s one thing I didn’t think of when I started this…

What exactly do I do, that other people don’t, that’s “valuable”?

I thought about this and I’ve decided that I optimise content.

Problem solved!

Well, not quite because now I have to ask myself “What does optimising content mean?” and “How does optimising content add value?” Big questions for someone who is launching her own company!

So I sat down, a comfier and more long-term solution than thinking on my feet, and mulled it over.

Let’s open Door Number 1

Optimising content, on the surface, means making the ‘words on the page’ of a website better, ie:

  • Easier to read and focused on the message of that page
  • Consistent in voice and tone and matching the corporate style guide

Always a fun task, but what value does it add to the company that owns the site?

Sadly, when you’re running your own business, money and ‘value to the client’ have to be your drivers. Fun is important, but it does have to take the passenger seat.

OK, so we’re optimising content but what are we achieving?

Well, editing content on the page and making it easier to read, and focused, helps customers understand what the page is offering. Customers who understand what a site is offering are more likely to transact with that site.

One point to optimising content.

Batter up, let’s go for two points!

It’s a comfortable feeling when a web page matches other company publications. The page and the other publications feel like they are part of the same message.

Customers feel like they’re dealing with one entity. This helps them feel confident about what they’re reading. A confident site visitor is, again, more likely to transact.

Two points, we’re doing well.

But is that all there is to content optimisation – tidying up page content?

Not really.

As I explored the question, I came up with a number of other content-related improvements that we can make to a site that go way beyond the words on the page.

How would you like to improve the SEO ranking of a page?

Align the terms used to describe that page to the right keywords and watch the page move up the rankings.

Do you want more people to complete a form?

Look at the words on the form – the instructions, field names, error messages and button labels – are they simple and easy to understand? Make the message easier and more people can make it to “Submit”.

Are the navigation and internal site search up to scratch?

Maybe the words used to label and describe pages could be better? Match those labels and descriptions to the terms customers search with and they have a greater chance of finding what they’re looking for.

What about site management, is it tricky to find the right site assets in the CMS?

Yes, you can optimise content in the CMS. Get the names and descriptions of site assets – the metadata – right and they’ll be quicker and easier to find.

We’re really racking up those points now.

So what is content optimisation?

It’s finding and improving the language and labelling of all content across a site:

  • Words on the page
  • Page titles, names, navigation labels and in-page links
  • Form field names, instructions, error messages and button labels
  • Meta data – the words that label and define each site asset

And now to Door Number 2 – how does this add value?

After opening Door Number 1, this seems like a rather silly question, doesn’t it? 

If you review and improve your content, navigation, site search, SEO, form completion and the assets used to build a site… that’s gotta add some value?

Let me think… surely it will:

  • Increase the number of people coming to a site
  • Simplify the journey through the site
  • Improve the experience of the site
  • Increase the number of conversions on the site
  • While making the site easier and more efficient to maintain

Now the only question is “How do I spread the word?”

So…. my company is F Two and you can find it at www.ftwo.com.au 🙂 

And speaking of optimising content, I’m about to optimise the stuffing out of it, so do drop in and let me know what you think of it. 

Those of you of the canine-loving persuasion may enjoy the dog metaphors soon to arrive. 

Lies, damn lies and web statistics

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase before. It was made famous by Mark Twain in the 1800s and more recently by the TV program The West Wing.

In both those cases, the phrase referred to the way politicians can make numbers say whatever they want. I think the same applies to web statistics. 

Web stats – those numbers we use to tell us how well our site is performing. How many visitors came from where, what they did, whether they fell into the sales funnel and where they went after they left.

They are the key measures we use to gauge the success of our websites.

But what do statistics really tell us? And how much are they open to interpretation?

Hits

When I first started playing with websites, it was all about ‘hits’. You wanted lots of ‘hits’ on your site.

Then we realised that ‘hits’ were just calls to the server for a piece of code or content – a page with lot of images and other bits and pieces on it would get more ‘hits’ than a simple page.

Want your boss to think your page is really successful? Make it really complex so it gets lots of hits.

Views

So then we turned to ‘views’. A ‘view’ is when someone loads a page in their browser – they’ve clicked on a link to that page or entered its URL into an address bar. We all wanted our pages to get lots of ‘views’ because that meant people were looking at them.

Want good page view statistics? Create lots of links to your page. It doesn’t matter if they’re relevant, just as long as you’re getting the views.

But what did ‘views’ really mean? They didn’t tell you how long a visitor looked at the page or what they were doing. Just getting our pages into browser windows wasn’t enough, we needed to know the page doing its job.

Time on page and Bounces

So we started looking at ‘time on page’ and ‘bounces’.

‘Time on page’ is fairly straight-forward. It’s how long a page stays open in a browser window before the visitor clicks a link, closes the browser or moves to a differnt page.

‘Bounces’ are where a site visitor only views a single page in a website. They open that page (from a Google search results page, a referring link from another site or just by typing the URL) and then they leave the site. They don’t look at any other pages.

‘Time on page’ became quite popular for a while because people assumed that a long time on a page meant the page was ‘sticky’ and ‘sticky’ was good (sticky = the site visitor sticks to the page).

‘Bounces’ were seen as bad because they didn’t draw a site visitor into the site – not sticky. There was a point where we were trying to ‘fix’ bounce pages because we thought they must be fauty.

But is ‘time on page’ really good? If someone has your home page open for two minutes, does that mean they’re fascinated by the design or does it really mean they couldn’t find what they were looking for? (or maybe they got bored at the slow download speed and opened a new tab to look at anothe site.

And are bounce pages bad. If a visitor finds exactly what they need on the first page they see, eg the phone number or address of your bricks and morter shop, is that a bad thing?

Want your boss to think your pages are sticky? Make them really complicated and hide links to other pages.

You’ve probably noticed that I keep talking about pages being loaded in browswer windows, not looked at by site visitors. There is a very good reason why I’m doing this. We have no way of knowing if the page is being looked at, just because it’s open in someone’s browswer window.

They could have loaded it and then wandered off to do something else. Or opened a new tab and gone to a completely different site.

So we had to get a bit more clever and try to figure out what people are doing. 

Interpreting the data

As I’m sure you’re beginning to see, a lot of this is open to interpretation. 

Using our ‘page views’ in chronological order, we can build a picture of  the paths site visitors take through our site. The page they entered through, the pages they visited and the page they exited from. This is called a ‘click-path’.

The key to good web site analytics is to ask yourself what are the behaviours you want to see on your site and figure out how to identify those behaviours using the statistics.

Is your site a news feed, with articles you want your site visitors to read? Use your statistics to see how your site visitors are getting to your articles, how much time they are spending on each one (enough time to read it?) and what they do when they leave that page – go to other articles, leave the site, find a menu page.

Are you running an eCommerce site? You’ll want to use your statistics to see how people get to your site, the paths they use to get to your sales funnel or shopping cart and, most importantly, the steps they take through your checkout – how many dropped out before buying, where did they drop out, what pages have longer ‘time on page’ (these could be pages that are harder to complete)?.

Beyond your site

So far, I’ve mainly looked at the statistics you can use to look at behaviour in your site. You an also learn a lot from statistics on what they did before they even got to your site. 

Search engine page rankings must be the most maddening stats there are. They are so hard to control – you’re up against every other website on the WWW to get that top ranking. 

There are quite a few websites in the WWW these days.

Looking at what keywords your visitors use to get to your pages  (and how high your pages rank for those keywords) tells you all sorts of things:

  • the terms your customers use to describe your product or service
  • how well your site is optimised for that term
  • how well your competitors‘ sites are optimised for that term
  • match your search rankings up with your click paths, bounce rates, page views and successful checkouts and you have a clear idea of how well your site serves your customers needs (and yours)

If your site is an eCommerce one, and you indulge in serach engine marketing, odds on you live or die by two three-letter acronyms:

  • CPC – Cost per Click 
  • CPA – Cost per Acquisition

 Although these two sets of stats tell you more about how much your SEM campaigns are costing you, they can also help you ID the keywords that are popular on the WWW.

Want to make your site seen cost effective – bag all the cheap search terms and build your content around them. You CPC will be low, your search rankings will be high and your site will get lots of traffic.

Sadly your CPA may sky-rocket along, with your bounces – and not the good bounces.

So what does all this tell us?  Mainly that site statistics can say almost anything you want. Maybe not outright lies, but definitely some interesting half-truths.

Getting them to tell you what you need to know takes a bit of smarts a lot of know-how.

If you’d like some help sifting through your site data or with your site content in general, have a chat with F-Two consulting. We can sort the good page views from the bad bounces and help you tailor your website to capture your traffic and channel it to conversion.