How to SMASH and HIKE your website stats

SMASH those terrible metrics.
HIKE those awesome numbers.
Ask me how!
Ok enough bumper sticker talk.
This is one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on.
Because we were diligent from start to finish.
And have the results to back up our approach.
Here’s what I mean:
Bounce rate? HALVED.
Avg. time on page? DOUBLED.
This is the success story of a website I worked on with my team at Gulf News.
It was 2017 and we were working our way to upgrade all websites within the publishing group’s family.
We had to launch a new site in early 2018.
This particular website was by far the most popular out of all the magazines in the group.
It looked like it was from 2002 and wasn’t responsive at all.
But with almost 70% of users coming from mobile, it was obscene.
Obscenely outdated and disrespectful to its very loyal fanbase.
In fact, the site structure was such a mess, it made finding content an absolute mission.
But because the fan base was so loyal and the content was so good, people persisted.
This was most surprising. How could people put up with this all these years? Were they just ok with it?!
Now there’s one thing I’ve learnt in life: never take anything for granted.
And we couldn’t guarantee that people would just tolerate the website in its current state forever.
So we got to work.
I’ll spare you the gory details but here’s 3 ways we improved on every single metric with this website:
1. Adopted a truly mobile-first approach to the redesign.
Honestly, I had never done this on any other project before but we were strict about mobile-first with this one.
As in, we focused entirely on mobile for the vast majority of the project.
If most users were on mobile, then this website had to be DOPE on mobile.
This was not open for discussion. The end result speaks for itself.
2. Promotion of related content at the end of each article.
This is one of those ‘you may also like’ features.
– It helps with content discovery.
– It helps spread link equity.
– It gives people more reasons to stick around on the site.
On the old site, this was poorly done with outdated and irrelevant content.
It wasn’t helpful for users and it reflected poorly on the brand.
Which leads me to my next point:
3. Added infinite scroll.
Ok so this is always a polarising feature but work with me on this one.
When you have great content that looks amazing on any screen, you have to capitalise on that.
Infinite scroll introduced more content to readers and kept them engaged for longer on the site.
It was subtle too.
You scrolled to the end of the article and then the next one seamlessly appeared (after ‘you may also like’ articles).
We gave editors the ability to choose which articles should appear and this ensured RELEVANCE and QUALITY.
The above 3 points indicate how we kept people on the site for longer because we gave them a lot more reasons to stick around.
This is how you increase dwell time and reduce bounce rates.
It’s a concept you can apply to any website.
As for ad revenue and pageviews? Well of course these improved. They had to, right?
We knew we had to nail the browsing and content discovery experience.
People needed to feel comfortable and happy using the website.
We figured if you got this right, then traffic would improve and so would ad clicks (more eyeballs).
To complement this, we restructured the entire site and went hard with on page SEO.
– Redundant sections were removed and more obvious labelling was adopted for sections and the nav menu.
– I tightened up the meta data and coached the editorial team on how to write better headlines and article descriptions.
– I showed them the benefits of internal linking, using concise image alt texts and how to write for the web vs print.
Our goal was simple: make it an absolute joy to use the website.
Now I haven’t got my head in the clouds. I know the results are out of the ordinary.
We knew that we’d see improvements.
But to see consistency with results was unprecedented. I’m yet to work on a site where this has happened. I hope this changes because I’d love to share more success stories like this one!
It’s been a while since my time at Gulf News but I’m told (without specific numbers) that bounce rates are still consistently low and time spent on site is as high as ever
I’m so privileged to have worked on this project because it taught me so much in every way.
I’m glad we ditched the scalpel for a sledgehammer.
There’s no way we could have smashed those metrics any other way.
Want similar results? Let’s talk. Start with a free website audit today.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.