Whether you work from a small home office or have a chain of stores, owning a website is a business necessity. The next logical step after your website goes live is to check how it performs and understand how your visitors interact with various pages of content. One free option that is used by many small- to medium-sized businesses globally to track website performance for various metrics is Google Analytics.
You could go through the set up guide to establish your own Google Analytics account but for many logging in for the first time can be daunting. There is so much information on display and so many different ways to tweak data that deciding what are the most important metrics to watch can be tough. Here are the five you need most to understand and improve your website design and content so you get better interaction and higher numbers of business inquiries.
Tracking all website visits
From the Visitor Overview report, you can see a "snapshot" of data for your website over a particular period of time. Scroll down to dive into some basic details for your site:
Unique visitors refers to the number of people visiting your site in a specific time period (there could be multiple visits by fewer people). By looking at the trend of unique visits, you could see if there is any steady increase in the visits or any specific periods that have a spike in website activity. If you are doing a promotion then you should watch for unique visitors from that geography during that time period to measure the results.
Gauging website engagement
Visit Duration gives you an understanding of quality of the visits and can help you understand interest levels to improve user experience on your site and drive more meaningful interactions over time. Page views is the number of total views of all pages viewed in all visits. So if one visitor looks at three pages in each of his two website visits, then the resulting page views would be six.
Avg. Time on Page indicates the quality of your content based on how it engages the audience on that page. If you are able to hold visitors for longer periods, that usually translates to better relationships, higher trust and more sales. Bounce rate, on the other hand, is the percentage of visits with only one page view before the visitor leaves. A high number of returning visitors and the frequency with which they return to your site indicates that your online community has established a strong connection with your site.
Knowing your traffic sources
If you know your traffic sources, you could plan your marketing strategies with much more focus and effectiveness.
These are the four ways people visit your website:
- Direct (i.e., people who type in your site URL into the address bar)
- Referrals (i.e., a link on another site)
- Search, which includes:
Organic(e.g., keyword searches, links, referrals, etc.)
Paid (i.e., ads on search engines)
On Google analytics, you can see if people are coming to your site through links posted on social media sites or through referrals from other websites. This means you can see whether your efforts in social media marketing are paying off or if you need to ramp up your efforts on search engine performance. As you optimize your website content and achieve better ranks for keywords and phrases, you will see an increase in the number of organic visits.
But the number of visits is not a true indicator of business interest. There might be a source that gives you a high number of visitors for a short duration. For example: Affinity Express gets a large number of visits from Facebook, as our team members respond to our regular updates and postings. As much as we welcome and encourage this engagement, it does not convert into business.
Using In-Page Analytics
In-Page Analytics helps us to actually get into the minds of our customers. This unique report allows you to see a visual representation of how your visitors click and navigate their way through your site. The report has many benefits that can help you understand each click on your website and lead your efforts for onsite optimization improvements and design changes.
Here are some questions that you could answer with this amazing tool:
- Are my users seeing the content I want them to see?
- How can I improve my page layout?
- Are my calls to action motivating or visible enough to act?
- What links are users clicking?
- Can I hold their interest for a longer period of time?
- How can I improve interaction on my website pages?
- Does browsing behavior differ among new and returning customers?
Keep an eye on how many visitors are using mobile devices to access your site by going to: Audience > Mobile > Overview.
This data could address important questions like:
- Do visitors coming through mobile sources hold any business value?
- Are mobile visitors able to view my website? Are they bouncing at a much higher rate than the other traffic?
- What is the purpose of my website?
- How can I improve my web design to cater to mobile visitors and help them convert?
- Is there enough traffic from mobile visitors to justify having a mobile site? Is mobile activity on my site trending upwards over time?
Make sure that you have a mobile-optimized site if the percentage of visitors is higher than 10%.
Before you go ahead with optimizing your website for mobile audience, dig deeper to determine which devices your visitors use (Audience > Mobile > Devices). Before you start making changes, you'll know whether more people are using tablets or phones and can then decide what changes will help the majority of people view your site better.
Another time-saving tactic here is customizing the dashboard to view the reports that support your business. For example, you could decide to see your website bounce rate, conversions recorded in a particular time frame or traffic sources as soon as you log into your account. Just click on the type of report you want to see from the left column and hit "Add to Dashboard." You can then position reports on the dashboard by dragging and dropping, or deleting ones you don't want. By clicking "View Report" under the graphic, you could delve deeper into the detailed report on that topic.
As Google Analytics provides many other metrics, every business needs to pin down the three or four most important ones that need to be monitored frequently.
Which other metrics do you track and how do they help you in your marketing strategy?