How to Customize a WordPress Theme


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Thread: Need ideas for better navigation to reduce bounce rate

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    198

    Default Need ideas for better navigation to reduce bounce rate

    I have been developing a content rich site in the garage flooring niche that was originally started as an Adsense site. I currently earn money through Adsense, Amazon, and charging for ad space. I get a lot of good comments and feedback from my readers about the quality of the content and my traffic has steadily been increasing. In fact some of my pages and quite a few of my posts are ranked very high. One of my problems however is that my bounce rate is hanging steady at around 74%.

    One of my biggest issues is categories. I've never been a fan of having "categories" in a menu for navigation. What does that mean to the average person who comes across a wordpress site anyway? I'm currently running a Genesis theme. My main nav bar across the top contains a selection for each of my primary keywords that goes directly to a page and that's it. On the right side bar I have the latest posts and most popular posts. At the top of the sidebar I have a highlighted box with a drop down menu for categories. The title of the box is "Get more tips and information on garage flooring here". Most of my content is either there or on the blog pages.

    When checking with Google analytics, I've noticed that these category pages are not used that much. I have well over 50 posts to the site. I'm wondering if I should get rid of the categories box and stick something up in the main nav menu? The latest upgrade to my theme makes the menu bar static, so I'm wondering if I should do that as well? My current menu bar scrolls up out of sight as you scroll down.

    My home page gets the most organic traffic. Snippets of the first 8 posts are on the home page with about 7 pages of blog content after that. According to analytics, these are rarely used as well.

    My problem is trying to figure out whether or not my site is intuitive enough for the average user and if that is the reason for the higher bounce rate. I have related posts at the bottom of each post and page as well as links throughout my posts and pages. I just don't know if it's the nature of the niche to find what you are looking for and leave or if it is due to poor navigation techniques.

    I wanted to post this in "site review" but I don't think I can post a link yet. I would happily give the name if I can do that to get some input. I have some articles that need to get posted and possibly a new page with a new category, but I've been holding off until I get this navigation issue figured out.

    How do you direct traffic to your categories and the rest of your content? I'm concerned that maybe my nav set up is holding me back and I'm looking for ideas.

    Thanks,

    Shea

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    15,398

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    I think that would be a good move, or at least something to try. And the good news is you can always test the before/after with Analytics. My blog used to be made up of all categories on the nav, but I have slowly moved to more static menu links because of the very reasons you state. Plus Analytics said no one was clicking on most of the categories.

    I'm actually in the process of making all the menu options on my blog static/landing pages with tiers. It just makes more sense. After all, you can always link to your posts in that category on the landing page that you link to. There are plugins for that.

    I think what determines how you should structure your site depends on what your visitors need. For example, I've sort of branded my blog as my place to talk about the latest and greatest so my "What's New" tab gets a LOT more clicks. People are sort of trained to start there. I left the "Make Money" and "Traffic" category tabs there because they were the most-clicked categories. But I still am going to turn those into static/landing pages with better "getting started" content to draw people to the appropriate posts in that category.

    So ask yourself, what is the most important content on your site? How can you structure your menu so your visitors are finding the most important information? I used to be big on creating numerous categories on my blog, but over the years found out it made more sense to limit the number of categories and work more on the layout.

    Remember, it's about what your visitors want. Start there and let that dictate what you should do with your nav. I don't think there is one right answer here.

    Here's the other thing to consider. When you are looking at your bounce rate, make sure you look at each page individually instead of the site average. For example, my hex color page gets a lot of traffic but the bounce rate is always high. Some pages will have high bounce rates by nature because people find what they need and leave. Poople just want to generate a color and then they're off.

    But since that page gets a lot of traffic it drives my entire site's bounce rate down. So my homepage bounce rate may only be 50% but a high-traffic page with a 85% bounce rate can drive the entire bounce rate down. This is why Google says don't worry much about the average bounce rate with regards to SEO. It's definitely RELATIVE to the search term. Now that doesn't mean bounce rate isn't important. It tells a lot about how helpful your site is to people! For example if your homepage bounce rate is 85% that is alarming. But certain searches yield higher bounce rates due to the nature of the search. So that's why you need to look at bounce rate on an individual basis.

    Great question, though! You should have enough for a site review now.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    198

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    Thanks for the input Lisa. I'm seriously thinking about placing all my navigation up on the main nav bar. Unless you are a blogger, I don't think the standard site structure of wordpress is very intuitive to the average reader. I'm thinking about eliminating my latest posts widget as well and only going with the popular posts widget.

    I'm actually in the process of making all the menu options on my blog static/landing pages with tiers. It just makes more sense. After all, you can always link to your posts in that category on the landing page that you link to. There are plugins for that.
    If you get a chance, could you elaborate on this more?

    As far as bounce rate goes, I understand what you are saying about the average. Fortunately my homepage which drives the most traffic has a bounce rate of 36%. I'm assuming this is acceptable. I have a couple of popular pages with a high bounce rate that gives people the info they are looking for and then they leave. I can understand that. I just want to make sure that some of my other pages with the higher bounce rates are structured optimally for navigation. I feel that readers may be missing out on some key components related to the subject due to poor navigation.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    15,398

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    Yes anything that is under 40% is supposedly very good and above average from what I've read.

    What I mean is instead of being taken to my latest posts on "Make Money" when you click the menu link, you will be taken to a landing page that has more introductory info about making money (i.e. what you need to know as a beginner, etc.) and then below that, I would link to my latest blog posts on that topic.

    I've never been a fan of the "Full blog" layout (only linking to categories), but just haven't made time to arrange things the way I want them to be. That's why I was so critical of WordPress in the beginning but in 2010 when they made it easier to change your menu around, that changed the game.

    I used to have a local group website meetup here that I ran and we met once a month. Almost everyone in the group said that blogs often confuse them and they can't find info they need.....largely because of the navigation/layout. You click a menu button expecting to find information on X and then it's just a list of posts on various topics instead of more structured content. A lot of blogs are also missing the "Start Here" content for those who are just beginning. This is static information that a lot of sites could benefit from.

    I'm not saying there is a right and wrong way. I'm just saying there are often better ways. I think using a mixture of both static and dynamic is best for most sites.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    198

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    Almost everyone in the group said that blogs often confuse them and they can't find info they need.....largely because of the navigation/layout. You click a menu button expecting to find information on X and then it's just a list of posts on various topics instead of more structured content.
    Exactly! That's how I feel as well. Thanks for the explanation.

    Shea

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