In the digital marketing world, understanding the behaviors of your target audience is essential for any successful campaign. Many marketers will utilize Google Analytics as a tool to track these behaviors and report website traffic. However, Google Analytics isn’t perfect for accurately tracking certain behaviors, which requires the use of plugins like Scroll Depth for websites that focus on readership rather than conversions and webpage engagements.
The problem with Google Analytics
Bounce rate, or the percent of visitors who navigate away from your page without any interactions, is an important metric that informs marketers if their audience is engaged or not. It also boosts a website’s Google ranking; having a low bounce rate signals that viewers are having positive interactions with the site.
Google Analytics’ bounce rate algorithm can be problematic for long-form websites, news sites and blogs, as events are only triggered by clicking things like submission forms, videos, links, articles and other pages.
A visitor may be engaged by an article, but won’t navigate elsewhere on the webpage after they finish reading, which counts as a bounce. While Google Analytics records the amount of time a visitor spends per session, the time that’s recorded is dependent on if a user bounces.
If a bounce is recorded, zero seconds is sent to Google Analytics, which is then counted as part of the total for “time per session.” For a web developer, this issue would be easily fixed through inserting code into the website, but not all of us are web developers with HTML, CSS and JQuery experience.
There are also issues in Google Analytics where referral spam traffic is counted in your analytics, which often garner zero time spent on site as well as 100 percent bounce rates (check out my latest post on how to remove spam referrals from your Google Analytics Reports). If you’re trying to set benchmarks to compare yourself to the competition using the Google Analytics Benchmark Report, this can be incredibly problematic if skewed data is being served to your GA account.
A simple solution on WordPress
Last week I stumbled upon the WP Scroll Depth plug-in, which sets events at different scroll points on your page. Percentage events are triggered at the 25, 50, 75 and 100 percent scroll distances in pixels for a page and are then sent to Google Analytics via Events.
Scroll Depth also records the amount of time between the page load and scroll point, making it useful for tracking time on the page and how long it takes to view content. This is a simple fix that allows me to see if visitors read my articles and at what point they exit the page.
It isn’t as useful for e-commerce or conversion websites, but WP Scroll Depth is a powerful tool that provides a more accurate depiction of what my bounce rate, as it’s is based on how much of an article my audience reads rather than e-commerce conversions or webpage engagements.