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How Sweetcode.io Achieved a Less Than 15% Bounce Rate

November 28, 2017 - Content Marketing, Marketing -
By: Chris Riley

You hope that every person who lands on your site is so thrilled to be there that they navigate through every page you meticulously created. However, this is not the reality. People will find your site by various means, some not even relevant to your business. But others will be relevant to you and your business, and visitors won’t get that immediate gratification they were looking for. It’s the latter audience you need to be concerned about.

Every site has a bounce rate. Anything less than 40% means you are doing a great job. And right now, Sweetcode.io is hovering around 10%. Here is why.

Sweetcode.io is a media site owned and operated by Fixate. The purpose of the site is to give the technical world what they have been asking for—deeply technical content with no fluff. All content is practitioner-created, which means that it is not made up of the opinions of freelance writers. It is rooted in practice. The site has served to demonstrate the type of content that the Fixate IO community of practitioners can create. It helps recruit new contributors, and gives back to the community by promoting underrepresented coder audiences.

We have every reason to be thrilled about our 10% bounce rate, because “competing” sites range between a 45% and 70% bounce rate (sources: meltwater.com and similarweb.com). But we should not be surprised. The reason why: Content marketing is our business, and if we accept our assumption that for audiences where domain expertise matters, content marketing is king, then we should know exactly what we are doing. Before this sounds like gloating, let me explain why it is working.

  • Content is focused on tactics: The litmus test for content on the site is “Can I read it and leave the article being able to take action?” The site does not have content that is novel, or ponderous. It’s content that focuses on being able to do real things in the development world.

 

  • No click/impression-based advertising: Readers are not faced with dreaded and much-hated banner or click-based ads, which developers pride themselves in avoiding. We do have an offering for category takeover and branded microsites. But these offerings are based on content and credibility. (No low-value, low-quality impressions or clicks.) And, the metric we rely on is Share of Voice.
  • Only practitioner content: The content on the site is written by readers’ peers, not  freelance writers who cannot talk about technology with the same depth.

 

 

  • Minimal syndication: A lot of media sites turn to syndication, and even paid syndication (which is a have your cake and eat it too situation), to populate a site. It brings in content, but the problem is that proper/legally syndicated content will reference the original post at the top of the article. This is a huge turnoff, and it also does not help SEO. That is why Sweetcode.io content focuses on original content, which is unfortunately often syndicated, even without our approval. (Hence the use of the qualifier “minimal.”)

 

 

  • Content with a long lifespan: Media sites like TheNewStack.io and TechCrunch.com do a great job with very timely editorial technical content. And they can drive a ton of traffic because this content is very exciting news. But new is old within a day, usually, and the post content has a very short lifespan. Posts will peak in traffic in the first four hours or not at all. And the longtail traffic is very low. Viral content on Sweetcode is not as frequent, but posts peak in traffic in a day, and the longtail traffic is hefty for weeks—and for some posts, even longer. The site is now about 1.5 years old, and some of the original posts are still driving substantial traffic.

 

What this equates to is value. The consumer of the site gets more value per page because what they are consuming is not trivial. The biggest sacrifice of such an approach is that traffic volume will be lower than a typical tech media site. But the traffic is much more targeted and engaged, and if you subtract the bounce rate for other sites from the total traffic volume, you will find similar traffic and growth.

While this post is oozing with pride, you can’t deny the numbers. Targeted and high-quality practitioner content marketing has a huge impact on the value your site provides to its readers, and ultimately results in exceptionally low bounce rates.


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Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling. In addition to being a research analyst, he is an O’Reilly author, regular speaker, and subject matter expert in the areas of DevOps strategy and culture. Chris believes the biggest challenges faced in the tech market are not tools, but rather people and planning.