There are many business owners that cannot survive without a mountain of analytical data. I am not sure it always helps them to make decisions, they just want the numbers. Sometimes, those numbers could lead a business owner down the wrong path. This is especially true when it comes to a business that has an online presence.
I’ll use my business as an example. We’re an online marketing consultancy, and as such, we are generally contacted by phone. My website is optimized for search and we receive good traffic from search engines. If, however, I look at the basic analytics for my website, I’d have to assume I was doing everything wrong. I’m not, those numbers don’t tell the whole story. The same could be said for paid search – you could be getting a lot of clicks, yet your analytics suggests that visitors don’t like your website.
Thom Craver on Search Engine Watch puts the whole problem into perspective when he discusses bounce rates. Referring to my business website again, people will find my site, they will click through to a page, perhaps see what they like, and find my phone number at the bottom of each page. They don’t need to click through to other pages, and no matter how good your web analytics are, they are not going to measure phone calls – that requires a new measure, a simple question “how did you find us” when talking to them on the phone.
Your bounce rates maybe high, however, that means little if your user is engaging in ways that are not measured. Thom Craver refers to PDF files as a good example – if a visitor downloads a PDF file, that will not be reflected in your bounce rates. Likewise, if your page answers their question, they probably won’t move on to another page. In short, bounce rates are by no means a true reflection of your pages quality, or necessarily of a visitors interaction with your business. You need far more robust tracking & analytics to get the true picture.