Don Schindler

Social Media Trainer for Industries

How to fix a high bounce rate on your website

trampoline-fail-bball

People that bounce your website consider it a fail – like this.

If you have a website, you have a bounce rate. It’s inevitable that someone will find your page through a search, click the link, read the content and decide this wasn’t what they were looking for.  Instead of clicking anything on your website, they will back out, close the window or click on a link that leads to another website that is on your website.

don-schindler-website-bounce-rate

My bounce rate for the year

This is a bounce. And if you have Google Analytics running on your website, Google will let you know how many times this happens to your website.

But Google is also watching from the search engine side of the business and if you get too high of a bounce rate for a certain keyword, they won’t be showing your website for that keyword much longer.

So what can cause a high bounce rate?

1. Technical Issues

Slow page load times – if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load (and even 3 seconds is pushing it), then the bounce rate is gonna go up. People don’t have time to wait on your big image carousel (hate those things) or all those cool widgets from Facebook and Twitter that display your content.

If you want to see how fast your page loads, use GTmetrix or Pingdom and it will tell you what is taking too long.

Not being Mobile First – When it comes to where the web is going, mobile is leading the charge. There are more mobile phones than toothbrushes and it’s how the majority of us access the web, read our email and play games.

So if you website isn’t mobile-optimized (which means that it can function for the user on a mobile phone – most relevant content for a mobile user is easy to find and operate with a thumb) and responsively designed (one website that shifts size and content depending on the device accessing it) then you are going to have a high bounce rate for mobile and tablets.

Cheap crappy hosting – maybe you have a website and you decided to go with the lowest possible payment (Web Hosting for only $1.99 a month). Even with net neutrality, a crappy provider could put your website with a few hundred other small websites on one web server without a load balancer and your website gets punished for slow load times.

Loading popups – now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for an email capture pop-up after the user has been on the page for a while. But if your email capture pop-up launches the minute someone arrives at the website, that’s annoying and it can slow down the website load time.

2. Website Content

Low Quality Content – unfortunately most websites suffer from this. The content just sucks. It’s full of marketing fluff or it promises to teach you something and just doesn’t deliver.

Or maybe the content is actually decent but you used a lame clip art or a FREE stupid office people stock photo. People judge pages quickly and bad photos with short meatless content will drive them away in a hurry.

Content is buried – Here’s a big one of my pet peeves. Too many people write their content in Word using the rules we all learned in school about how to write properly – especially when it comes to research and findings.

The problem here is that people read on the web very differently. They are looking to scan the article quickly to see what points you are trying to get across and then if they want to read it – they will but it will be quick so they need breaks in sentences (no more than two sentence in a paragraph) and pieces to be highlighted that are important.

You need to make the content SNACK-ABLE.

Page doesn’t match the search results – Maybe you have good content but you are using the wrong keywords within the text or in the title or the meta-description.

What happens is that your page is indexed for certain keywords but the content doesn’t match. You need to make sure that your titles, descriptions and the content are all feeding into the same themes.

3. Bad Web Design

Poor or no next step (i.e. no Call-To-Action) – Probably one of the biggest offenders of page bounce is there is no clear call to action on the website. Why make the user guess where you want them to go next?

Every page on the website should have a clear Call-To-Action.

If you are a content website, then your Call-To-Action is to get them to connect with you and give up their information like an email address. If you are retail, then you want to get them to purchase your product. If you are service, you want them to call you or buy your services.

Another Call-To-Action could be signing up for your newsletter or share your information on social media. If you want them to stay on the website and read more information, then at the end of the article how about you give them some more articles to read that are relevant to the topic they are reading about.

Making the page hard to read – web design and user interface is so important. The last thing you want to do is clutter up the content with buttons and ads.

If the user can’t easily read the page, then why did you do the content in the first place?

Every page should be clean, with a nice font, great relevant images or video and a few simple links to get them where they should go next. If you aren’t for sure if you have a good design to the website, just ask your friends, family and a few strangers (you can even ask me – I’ll tell  you).

It’s also why I recommend picking popular templates if you are using a system like wordpress. I use the Hemingway theme. It works for me and I don’t get any complaints.

So what kind of bounce rate is good?

For a content website, I would try to stick around 50% or so. There’s a great infographic by Kissmetrics that shows you what some bounce rates are per website intention like retail or portal.

kissmetrics-bounce-rate-infographic

How do you fix a bad bounce rate?

My first worries would be the technical issues – get the site mobile friendly and fix page load times.

Second, really work the Call-To-Actions over on your top 25-50 pages that are getting the most traffic. One of these is sure to be your homepage.  Are visitors getting what they want? Is the page designed well? Is there a clear Call-To-Action? For every page, you should be able to answer the “So What”?.

  • What’s this page for?
  • What’s it’s Call-To-Action?
  • Is the content relevant?
  • Is the design clean and easy to read?
  • Do the photos/video help make it more interesting and engaging?

Anyway, I hope this helps you understand more about bounce rates and how to fix them. If you need anything else, or you have some cool fixes for bounce rates as well, please put them in the comments or send me an email.

Are There Only Two Steps To Being A Great Leader?

Two Steps To Being The Leader You Want To Be

If I asked you to picture a good leader, who would you think of? An old boss, a church pastor, a captain of one of your teams.

Or maybe you think of a celebrity leader. Like Patton or maybe a President.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think of much when someone tells me a person is a great leader. Why? Because I’ve never had direct experience with the leader they are pointing out.

I always think “that’s nice” and then I watch them to see if they prove it.

Prove to me you are a great leader. That you have what it takes to lead me.

I was thinking about this the other day while I was contemplating on my own ability to be a better leader.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s just two steps. Two steps are all you need to be a great leader.

Step 1 – Define what leadership means to you.

Now you may have all sorts of different characteristics that define leadership.

You have your list, I have mine. When you Google leadership qualities, there are going to be lots of articles and books on the subject. Here is the top ten traits – here are the top 25 qualities. Everyone’s got an opinion.

And so do you. So why not define leadership your way. I’m sure the leadership qualities you believe in aren’t far from mine.

So write them down. This is what I put down and in the order I liked.

Inspiration with Confidence – How hard is it to inspire? Damn hard. So when someone inspires me, I go all out for them. Tie that with confidence (true confidence in that they know what they are doing) and you’ve got a leader to be reckoned with.

Decisive while Accountable – To me, a good leader knows he or she is there to make the tough decisions. Committee meeting after collaboration meeting after email thread with a wish-washy decision drives me crazy.

Make the decision and let’s run. But once the decision has been made, leadership is held accountable.

Why is it so unforgivable for leaders to make mistakes? Because they rarely take the hit.

If they take the hit, then I have more respect for them. Blame others and I’ll shake my head and walk away vowing never to follow you again.

Creative with Focus – Leadership sees stuff others don’t and then focuses on it. With this focus, they can then break it down into the simpliest components so others can see their creative plan. C

reativity without focus is chaos – which leads to changes in plans, careers, and organizations. Not for me.

Optimism in the face of Commitment – A good leader doesn’t have to be an eternal optimist spewing rainbows and unicorns when actually the sh!t’s hitting the fan.

Leadership means you can rally people and get them to dig in and fight through it which leads straight to commitment. If the leader is in the trenches with me and still has his or her head up – I’m right by their side.

Honesty with a Sense of Humor – Leaders are honest about everything. They might not be able to tell you everything but they aren’t going to lie about it to cover it up.

Combine that with a good sense of humor (and humor is sometimes the easiest way to get the truth across) and you got somebody I will listen to. Not just take orders from.

Awareness that leads to Intuition – This is a tough one for leaders because sometimes they are far removed from the day to day. But that’s their fault and they need to be more aware of what’s going on with the company, the people and the situation.

This awareness will help so much when it comes to intuition – when you are hyper aware, your gut will let you know whether or not you are making a good decision. Without the awareness, you might as well flip a coin.

You probably have more or maybe you’ll cut some of these out and that’s fine. I’m not here to say you have to have these qualities to be a good leader. I just want them if you are going to be my leader.

Step 2 – Own Your Leadership Qualities

Pretty simple, huh? You listed out what you wanted and now you can become a great leader – just follow what you want others to see in you.

How do you know if you have these qualities?

You can always ask someone you trust but I would bet hands down you are smart enough to know if you’ve got these characteristics.

That internal voice that judges your current leaders about their skill set – just turn it on yourself and see what it says. If it says you need to work on something, then listen.

You can only get better and be the leader you’ve always wanted to follow.

What are your favorite leadership qualities?

Seven Steps On How To Build A Farm Website Yourself

death star website

Your website is the only thing you truly own.

Recently I’ve been asked a lot of questions about building your own website. Farmers have been asking me if they can do it.

The answer is, of course, you can.

Is it hard? Nope, not compared to back in the day (mid 90’s) when you had to handcode everything. Websites are much easier to build and there’s several companies that would love to do it for you like Wix or Square Space.

But if you want to DIY it. Here’s how I would go about it.

1. Get your content together first!

  • Get photos
  • Write the text
  • Make some videos

Honestly you would not believe how many people want to jump right into the website build without any content prepared. How do you know what you want to say?

When it comes to a print brochure, you never start the design without having the content. The content is crucial to the design. Websites are no different. Start with the content first!

What content is normal? I would see these as navigational items on a dairy farm website followed by what question it answers for the customer.

  • Milk Production – How is milk made?
  • Animal Care – How do cows live?
  • Our Community – What is it like where you live?
  • About Our Farm – What else is on your farm? How does it run?
  • Contact Us – How do I ask another question?
  • Journal/blog – How can I see what it is really like to live on a farm 24/7?

 

fair-oaks-website

Fair Oaks Call To Action – VISIT THE FARM

2. Think about what you want people to do or know about your farm.

This is your CALL TO ACTION. Make this the most important call out on the website. Think about these questions when you are putting it together.

  • Do you want people to reach out to you if they have questions?
  • Do you want people to visit the farm? Maybe take a tour?
  • Do you want people to sign up for an email list – you can give them updates on the farm, share recipes, tell them when BLANK is going on…
wordpress-logo

WordPress.com or WordPress.org are both good choices for small sites

3. Should you setup with wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org? Well, that depends.

First you need to ask yourself “why” you want to self host. Here’s a general list of pros and cons.

Pros
– you have almost full control
– you can add content pretty easily
– lots of people use wordpress so there’s a ton of help online
– lots of design templates to choose from

Cons
– can be complicated to set up
– there are monthly costs (domain and hosting)
– can be limiting down the road if you need more features
– there are always updates that you need to be installing

Why I initially went with wordpress.com?

  1. No cost
  2. No worries on set up
  3. Search engines love WP.com

Why I switched:

  1. I wanted more control over the plugins I could use.
  2. The costs are very small.
  3. I wanted to capture email addresses and have more control over the design.

Personally, if you are new to blogging or websites, I recommend wordpress.com. It’s a lot easier to set up and get going.

If you are looking for something even easier than wordpress – I recommend blogger or tumblr.

But if you really want to use wordpress.org and control your own website then I recommend using WP Beginner or WP Learner. Read through the beginning steps before starting.

If you select, wordpress.org you can buy your domain through them or buy it through another company like 1and1.com. These are not affiliate links – I just happen to use them.

You’ll also need hosting. You can buy that through several companies. The guides will explain all of this. There are many companies out there and I’ve used GoDaddy, Hostgator and Rackspace to name a few.

4. Selecting a good design template
Both wordpress.com and .org have great templates. There are several things that I’m looking for in a template.

  1. Mobile friendly/optimized. More people are reading with their portable devices and you don’t want to be a pain for them.
  2. Clean design focused on large photos/graphics. Don’t get something to clutter – the user’s eye won’t focus on the content you want them to.
  3. The ability to add right or left side widgets but not both. I like sharing widgets how to connect with me and capture email as well as show them what posts are popular.

5. Make time to write once a month or more.
Putting time on the calendar is the most important thing. Block the time it takes and spend the time it takes. Don’t underestimate the time because then you’ll blow it off. You are going to need a few hours for your first posts. After that it gets easier.

What topics should you write about? Well, that depends.
Everyone is going to tell you to write about your passion which I assume is your farm. I write about marketing and how to do it better. That keeps me going.

But if you want to attract an audience, which I’m pretty sure you want to do then you should be writing about what your customers want to know about farming.

Most farmers I know are awesome storytellers and you should incorporate that into your writing. If the topic is animal care, then don’t just bullet point the checklist you follow for cow health.

Write a story about how you accomplished the checklist or what went wrong and how you fixed it. Nobody wants talking points – they want to laugh, cry or think about what happened on the farm. And some days a picture can be all that is necessary to convey this.

What topics would I focus on?
Animal Care, dairy farming activities, struggles and successes, how the community plays a role in the farm, how you play a role in the community, what you feed your family, what you do for fun with the family, how you are improving your farm, your opinion on just about anything, what hobbies you have…remember most people are pretty far removed from the farm and they are intrigued with the lifestyle.

6. Set up Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
After you get the website up and running, it’s time to add some tools that will make your life easier.

Add Google Analytics – this will let you know what people are doing on the website. Where they are going, what they like, what they are sharing, where they are coming from.

Add Google Webmaster Tools – this will tell you how the website is performing in Google’s search engine eyes. Can they search it effectively? What keywords are people searching on and finding your website? What pages are broken? All sorts of great stuff and it’s free.

7. Getting exposure.
The final step is probably the toughest when it comes to having a website. How are people going to find it? While I have a few steps you can do, I’m definitely going to be writing a larger post about getting your website out there but in the meantime here’s a few tips.

  • Share your posts on social media as much as you can. I hate to bust your bubble but most people don’t see everything you post – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. So I would be oversharing as opposed to undersharing. And by social media, there is more than just Facebook out there. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, etc… If you are serious about blogging, then you need to be serious about using social media for the exposure and interaction.
  • Share with the search engines. You can use pingomatic.com to post and it will ping the search engines to come check out your content. BTW, Google normally visits a site once a month until you get popular then they could visit a few times a day.
  • Share via email. When you are first starting out, it’s ok to spam the family until they get tired. Make sure to ask them to share as well. You never know who they are all connected with.

OK, well that’s basically it for the beginner level. If you have questions along the way, feel free to hit me up and I’ll try and answer them. You can leave a comment below or just email me using the links on the right hand side.

Good luck. Can’t wait to see your site!

Six Tips On How To Talk To A Reporter About Your Farm

talking-to-reporters

Talking to reporters can be daunting – here are tips to help you handle it.

Guest Post from David Pelzer.*

To be successful in dairy farming today, you not only need to farm and manage your cows well, you also need to know how to tell your story to the public. That means talking to people through traditional media as well as social media.

When I was a journalist, I always appreciated those interview sources who answered my questions directly, and thoughtfully. I held them in higher esteem than those who gave me canned answers, or who didn’t really answer my questions.

You want to be the authentic one, the one who comes across as a real person, as well as the truth bearer.

Here are six things to keep in mind when you’re talking to the media:

1. Trust that the media is out to do the right thing – but needs help.
My oldest son Jeremy is currently a political reporter for one of the larger papers in the country. Neither Jeremy nor I can recall a reporter who didn’t try to report the truth.

That doesn’t mean they always get the story right. You have to help them get there.

This starts with helping the reporter know what the real story is, and helping him or her find their way toward it.
You can do this, not by trying to educate the reporter, but by sharing your story, and showing its connection to the larger story.

2. Talk about the why before the what.
Let’s say the story is about alleged cases of animal mistreatment, for example. You will not only want to talk about how animal care is one of the core values of dairy farms, but also about why good animal care makes both moral and economic sense for the vast majority of dairy farmers across the country. We shouldn’t be shy about sharing our values.

3. Engage the reporter in a conversation.
Don’t just state what you want to say. Ask them questions to gauge their comprehension of what you are saying, and to start a dialogue.

If your tone is right, this will show your inquisitiveness, not your desire to make the interview an inquisition. Ask your questions from a sincere desire to understand, and the reporter will see this as a sign of respect.

4. During the interview, stop and ask the reporter to summarize what they heard you say.
Often the reporter will give you the line they plan to quote you. If the quote is wrong, it’s your chance to catch the error and edit it on the spot. Simply apologize for not being clear, then give the quote you really want.

5. Get in the last word.
If you hear the reporter wrapping up, be sure to summarize the main point you wished to convey. You could “flag” this by saying, “The most important thing in our discussion has been …” This often will be the quote the reporter will be sure to insert into the story.

6. Don’t forget to close the loop.
Lastly, once the story is out, don’t miss the chance to congratulate the reporter on a good story. Most reporters receive precious little feedback on their work, and when you do this in a constructive way, you can make yourself an ally for life.

What are your experiences and tips in talking with the media?

 

*Written by David Pelzer, Senior Vice President of Strategic Communications at DMI.

David has been working for America’s Dairy Farmers for 20+ years and in his position oversees industry-wide crisis preparedness efforts and media relations. Before his time working with dairy farmers he was an editor of several national publications serving agriculture.

 

Why you should be using Google Webmaster Tools and how to set it up? – Simple SEO

The best things is that Google will email you when your site is having issues. This is huge.

Google Webmaster Tools emailing me

Google warned me that I was having issues back in January with my domain.

How do you know when your website is having issues with the search engine? You don’t. Google needs to tell you.

But there’s also a ton more it does. I’m just going to give you a few highlights.

 

Search Queries Reports

Since Google Analytics doesn’t give up keywords people are using to search with when they discover your  website (only if they are logged in), Google Webmaster tools will provide these search queries regardless if they are logged in or not.

The only issue is that it’s not tied specifically to their visit. :(

But you will find a ton of information on your keywords and landing pages like impressions, clicks, click-thru-rates and rankings.

Google Search Queries

Search Queries will tell you what keywords people used to find your website

There’s a ton of information to be found here and here’s a great article from LunaMetrics explaining a lot more of it.

You’ll also want to connect your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. It’s pretty easy to do. Just go to Acquisition -> Search Engine Optimization -> Landing Pages.

The only thing you need to worry about there is that only one account Google Webmaster Tools account can be connected to one Google Analytics account.

 

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