How successful is your website? Do you really know how well it is performing for your business? Many website owners make the mistake of thinking that the more traffic they get to their website the better, and they work towards this end. It is better to focus efforts on bringing in targeted traffic that will convert to sales or enquiries. To understand more correctly how well a website is performing, and who is visiting the website, a good website statistics package is required, as well as an understanding of the data these website reports produce. With many website hosting packages free website statistics are available. However, the information is not always easy to understand or doesn't always give you the information in a way that is easy to understand.
Google Analytics is a great application that Google provides absolutely free. It tracks all activity on your website, not just visits through Google. All you need is a Google Account, and FTP access to your website to insert a small amount of code in your website, and away you go. If you don't already have a Google account, I encourage you to set one up as soon as possible! You can do so at: https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount Not only will you have access to Google Analytics, but having a Google account gives you a whole host of other tools.
As a start, it is a good idea to find out how many visitors are coming to your website. Visitors are broken down into new and returning visitors. While it is great to attract new visitors to your site, you should aim to see a decent percentage of returning visitors as well, as this gives a good indication that people find your site interesting enough to come back to.
How many pages are viewed during a visit to your website?
How much time do visitors spend on your website? If they are spending very little time on your site when you have an information-rich site, then you need to start looking at the navigational report to find out where you are losing them.
The Keywords that people are finding your website through, are a good indication of what keywords are performing well for you in the search engines. Are the keywords that are displaying for you truly reflective of what you offer? If not, then it is time to revamp the content on your website.
Which referrals drive the highest quality traffic? This report lists activity coming via referrals from other websites. This is useful for tracking links that you cannot control. You can gauge the overall effectiveness and importance of PR activities, partnerships, etc. The referrals are compared to the number of visits, page views per visit, conversion rates and average value per visit.
Which navigation paths resulted in conversions during the visit? For each navigation path, this report shows conversion rates and the value per visit.
From which pages do visitors commonly exit your site? This report shows the number of exits from pages on your site. If you notice a high number of exits for specific pages, it is time to seriously analyse these pages and try to improve them, because it is very likely that people are not getting the information they expect or want.
Arguably this is one of the most important pieces of information. Conversion data gives you a true understanding of how successful your site really is. Conversional goals can be set up through your Analytics settings. Take time to think about what goals you want to track. These may be sales or web enquiries you are receiving, or specific pages in your website that you want to focus on. Keep in mind that if your visitor contacts you by phone or fax, this will not be reflected in the goal conversions. However, you can set your contact page as being a goal to get a feel for how many people are looking for your contact details. By monitoring the changes in conversion rates for your primary goals, you can monitor the overall effectiveness of website changes, marketing roll-outs and other events.
How does paid search compare with organic search in driving high quality traffic to my site? This report compares paid and organic referrals with respect to number of visits, page views per visit, conversion rates and average visit value.
Throughout the report it gives you the ability to track your website statistics between various date ranges. The reports also allows you to compare data, so you can find out how your site is tracking against a previous date period.
The current Beta which is just in the process of being released, provides a lot more flexibility, and one of the most exciting things about the new version is that it allows you to schedule reports, daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. This is great news as it makes the process of accessing your website reports even easier.
There are many other features that Google Analytics offers, and it is worth spending the time having a good look at them and trying to understand what they have to offer you. Alternatively, speak to your webmaster or SEO specialist and get them to help you understand how Google Analytics can help improve your website performance. By having a better understanding of it, you can potentially increase your profits significantly.
When you analyse the data from your website statistics with the intention of improving your site, or getting a good indication of how your site is performing, it is important that you have a decent snapshot of the data to work from, i.e. make sure that you are not making assumptions based on the data of a single day, as trends vary over time, and even from day-to-day. IMPORTANTLY- never become complacent! Make sure you review your website reports at least weekly or monthly if not daily to make sure that your website is performing to your expectations.
Andrew Seidel is the Director of Quantum Web Solutions, specialising in web site marketing. Andrew has a wealth of business management experience and a strong understanding of reporting and the success of a business.