Blog Archives

Bounce rate demystified

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how to lower your bounce rate

So named because of his notoriously high bounce rate.

This post explains bounce rates and description tags. Those of you who dare to keep abreast of your website stats may have puzzled over the “bounce rate” stat.

Sure we understand it’s people who came and left but how quickly must they leave to be counted as a bouncer? And how should we feel about a 39% bounce rate? Hurt? Resigned? Hungry?  Actually hunger is not a feeling. Even if you don’t read the rest of this article you have learnt that much.

Bounce rate may be a sign that the visitor did not get what they expected or wanted. If your traffic is weak and your bounce rate is high you may simply need to improve your content – more words, images, information, videos, links and the like. Try this and review your bounce rate in a month or so.

Note: if your visitor comes to your site and leaves from the same page without looking elsewhere it counts as a bounce. But who is to say that the visitor didn’t find what she wanted before departing? One way to investigate this is to look at your the average amount of time spent on the page or post. A high bounce rate with a correspondingly short time spent on the page or post is a bad sign.

But what if your content is pretty good, traffic flow to the page relatively plentiful but your bounce rate is high? This means that plenty of people are being referred to the page by Google for certain search terms but are then disappointed with your content and leaving. Something is array. How to lower your bounce rate? One option – try inserting or editing your description tag.

What is a description tag?

what is a description tag?

One in three results reveals a good description tag.

When you create a post or page for your site you have the option of inserting a description tag. It literally should describe the content of the page.

Google uses this content to add some text to its search results (in yellow on the left) explaining to the searcher what she will find by clicking the link. The middle result is the best by far. The top and bottom probably don’t have tags and thus Google has tried to improvise content from the text it finds on the page. Not good.

what is a bounce rate

Our tag for this post.

Your description tag should be accurate and alluring, written as normal English and last 150 to 160 characters. Your new description tag may increase or decrease traffic but should certainly decrease your bounce rate as the traffic you receive will be better qualified. No surprises for the visitor = lower bounce rate. Customers love to get what they came for.

Description tags are optional and often get forgotten by website developers who don’t care or marketers who just don’t know. This is not OK as description tags are very important for Google rankings. Here’s our description tag for this very post.

Your CMS should easily allow you to add description tags when creating content. You can always go back and add suitable tags to all your content. We cover this stuff in Online Savvy. (Originally published in 2011, updated May 2016.)

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SEO and images

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You already know that good search engine results depend on many factors – the length of copy on your page, the URL of that page, the age of that page and the images on that page. There are many more factors of course but let us talk images for now. By “image” we mean photograph, graphic or illustration.

Images are a key factor for Google when evaluating the credibility of your page. Google  knows that over all, pages with more images are more credible and information-laden than pages with less images. Credible, valuable, much-referred to pages are the pages it wishes to recommend. 

So #1: use images, preferably more than one per page. Find an excuse.

Using images to boost SEO

This alt tag aims for people investing in property at 590 Orrong Road.

#2: take time to fill in the details relating to that image when you insert it into the page via your content management system. As the image on the left shows, filling in the Alternate Text box (the “alt tag”) to your image takes seconds and helps Google’s robots understand what the image is. Be sure to use search-savvy terms. If you want new mums to see your site, use a term like “parenting advice for new mums” as the alt tag text. 

Sadly many images are inserted with no alt tag information. No alt tag information = no way for Google to understand the image = bad.  Change this image by image ASAP.

#3 The image / file nameis also important. Digital cameras usually give pictures

using images to boost google rankings

Yes, we're just using this second to boost SEO. So sue us!

an alpha-numeric name such as jpg35018ki which is not helpful to Google. The world’s most committed SEO-savvy marketer (that’s you, yes?) will rename the file to something SEO- friendly such as “autistic child receives free early intervention”. This is time consuming but it will help you forever.

#4 Refer to the image and what it describes in text near the image. Eg: Note above the text we wrote as part of tip #2. It mentions the image and explains the image. This helps Google understand the image.

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What SEO tactics really work?

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Nonprofits rarely spend enough energy on gaining better search engine results. Printing brochures and creating static displays at libraries are all very well but may not gain as many new donors, volunteers, members and participants as a page one Google ranking.

how to get better search engine results

Pick an option and get to work.

But how does one go about such an achievement aside from taking a SEO Savvy 101 webinar?

Well for a start, learn the options you have at your disposal. Then pick the best options, by which we mean the options that yield the best results for the least effort. This Marketing Sherpa graph is very telling and much appreciated.

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Who says it’s tough at the top?

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Fact: The lower your nonprofit’s profile the more important Google is. After all if your website is going to ‘meet’ people who don’t know your organisation exists, you’re going to need Google to do the introductions.

SEO for nonprofits

Your listing on the third page? If so, read it and weep.

Bad news: As this extract from Hubspot points out, people don’t exactly dig deep when searching for information online. The first three options take up 58% of the click throughs. The rest get crumbs – and we haven’t even got to the bottom half of page one. Clearly SEO needs to be a priority, yet for most nonprofits it is not.

Plug: We’ll be running an SEO Savvy webinar again later this year but here’s one consideration for those of you who are already tinkering your site for certain keywords and phrases: go long. Yep looong.

Suggestion: The theory with “longtail” key words is this: everyone is battling for good results on short, popular search terms such as “animal charities” or “animal charity donations” where the traffic is thick, the stakes are high and the competition fierce. 

seo advice for nonprofits

The longer it goes, the easier it gets.

Chances are that you will never attain a high Google result on such popular and obvious key words. But what if you optimise your site for longer search terms such as “animal charities donation Brisbane”  or “no- kill animal shelters donation Brisbane”? Sure there is less traffic but the traffic that you will get is better qualified and the term is far less competitive. Try it.

The chart (above, left) shows that there are a lot of people searching variables of the most popular search terms on any given subject. How does one get this traffic? Start by adding geographies to your keywords and phrases that will draw people to the services pages of your site not the homepage – why not “cheap dentist in South Melbourne open weeknights”?

You can always test search terms at Google’s keyword tool. You can also read this article from HubSpot on the seven keyword mistakes people like us make.

Good news: The terms sought after by nonprofits are not nearly as competitive as those desired by the corporate world. Try getting to  Google’s page one for terms like “gyms + Perth” “car insurance + under 25” or “hotels+Sydney”.

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SEO tip. Copywrite this.

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We’ve mentioned this before but we need to make it clearer. The websites that will continue to rise in search engine results are those which supply continually updated, relevant information and articles within their website.

We recommend folding most of your new copy into your news section. We recommend classifying many things as news – from new courses, to new staff apointmnebnts, awards, media coverage of your issue – the lot. This makes the news section a go-to area for regular visitors.   

Abundant, fresh content helps in two ways – it gives people material to spread via their social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google’s +1 which search engines love and it also gives people a reason to keep coming back to your site.

OK – so you haven’t got the time or inspiration to come up with fresh copy all day long. Here are some content suggestions:

website copy tip

Skim, condense and pour out media coverage. They'll drink it up.

Media monitoring: using Google alerts and your own media consumption, you can highlight media coverage of your issues (not your organisation necessarily, just your issues) to visitors. Throw in an explanation of the coverage (“The Courier Mail has a story about early childhood intervention waiting lists today: www…”) PLUS at least a line (would 500 words kill you?) of comment about the story. This adds credibility for both Google and the reader.

Hardcore SEO types will be sure to insert an image of the article onto your webpage and to fill in details for the image when inserting it. (WordPress has half a dozen fields to enter when inserting any image which is bothersome but helps search engines.)

Your readers will love you filtering the news for them and by offering a comment you look like experts. Media loves that too.

regular updates make good copywriting

Report on your progress - or lack thereof

Regular monitoring and reporting

Transparency is sexy. No really. Too few organisations regularly boast about securing new donors, participants, subscribers, staff, volunteers etc. We’d recommend monthly updates on all these.

Why? Because monitoring these issues, highlights these issues. Eg: mentioning that you scored three new monthly donors is a reminder that you want monthly donors. Regular updates create good regular, fresh copy with lots of keywords. Do it now and stop coming across like an organisation that doesn’t need everyone’s help. You should appear to be a living, breathing entity.

website copy suggestions

Imagine writing a note to every pollie who speaks of your issue, every time. Good for your profile?

Hansard: do you listen to Parliament much? Shame on you. In that case why not run a regular search of hansard for mention of your key issues? Again, you can summarise key mentions of your issue and attach your expert comment. One thing for sure – the pollies making the comments will quickly learn that they have been mentioned on your site. You look important, you bring your readers information they’d otherwise have missed and you get noticed by the right people.

Website content suggestion

Magazines do it for the same reasons - simple, regular, easily-digestible content.


Q&A: create a regular Q&A of 20 questions like this from the Good Weekend above. Throw in some serious questions relating to your issues and some silly questions too. Ask interesting people to answer them. Publish the most interesting 12 answers and a headshot. Approach some VIPs as you’ll be hard to refuse and the process will get you noticed by them. Aim for one a month. Simple.

PR advice

Roll out the poll.

Monthly polls: each month you ask a new question and report back on the results of the previous poll. Simple. Use Survey Monkey or, preferably a poll application from within your content management system.

Annual reports are a source of web copy

Short on inspiration for copy? Take nuggets from your annual reports and magazines.

Annual reports and membership magazines:  Once published and quickly forgotten; these labour-intensive obligations are just waiting to be rehashed as fresh copy for the news section of your website.

See? Content is easy. And once you have the content flowing, be sure to add Sexy Bookmarks, as we have below to make sharing your content easy. And of course feel free to share this.

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The dark art of SEO

Ever wondered how to get a first page search result on Google? Well the answer ain’t always steely determination and a dash of luck as this New York Times piece explains. It’s lengthy but worth the read if SEO at all interests you. Non profits are fortunate to generally have less SEO competition that our civilian pals in fast moving consumer goods or financial services. That said, a little effort from some of us may yield marked improvements…. Read More

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