Web analytics involves researching the habits of your website’s visitors through a number of metrics ranging from total visits, page views, and many other statistics. The most popular tool these days is Google Analytics; a powerful free tool available to any webmaster. A quick install of the Google Analytics code is all that is needed to drive more data to your eyeballs than your bucket can hold. In this sea of information lies some real big fish. To get to those fish you must be able to take a step back and look at trending from the macro level and answer a few basic questions.
#1 “How many people are visiting my site?”
This is represented as visits, which is then separated into total and absolute visits. Absolute visits are determined by the total number of unique ids issued by the tracking software, and total visits is a summed total of all visits to the site. In the old days of the internet this was referred to as “hits,” and we certainly all remember those cool hit counters everyone had on their pages. The simple takeaway here is: are more or less people visiting my site?
#2 “How are they finding my website?”
Within Google Analytics you can separate this into four topical level metrics: non-paid (organic) search results, paid search (PPC), referring sites, and direct visits. Referring site visits are generated when someone clicks on a link to your page from another website, and a direct visit is when someone types in the URL directly. From this view point you can see what is working for you and where you need to invest in the future. Does your SEO campaign show results? Is your PPC campaign matching your spend? Are people typing in the URL you put on your last event flyer? Does Facebook work for you? Lastly, where do I go from here with my online marketing efforts?
#3 “What are your goals for the website, and how do you achieve those in a visit?”
Is your goal simply eyeballs for an onboard advertising package, or are you trying to gain leads for your start-up? The website is no longer a “If you build it, they will come” turnkey package. It takes a lot of strategic planning to build a conversion funnel to fulfill your needs. Identify your core bottom line goal, i.e. profitability, and reverse engineer what it takes to push that goal. Does your website reflect that? Is your sales funnel streamlined enough to avoid confused or frustrated customers? Follow the entire pathway of the ideal visitor, or simply a pathway you presume a normal visitor would take.
#4 “What are your visitors actually doing?”
Take a glance at the top landing pages and bounce rate. Are your visitors “sticking” to your site, or are they hitting the eject button and bailing on you? Do the top landing pages fall somewhere in your above goal path, or are they finding your favorite stuffed chinchilla fan page? Look at the top viewed pages to get an idea where people are either landing or migrating to on your site. You want to see from a top level what your visitors are engaged with when they enter and navigate through your site.
The answers to these questions will arm you with the information you need to redefine your online marketing strategy and get the most out of your time and spend. These are questions that we ask ourselves when we engage a client’s website from a macro level. They are simple questions with often simple answers, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that they are highly effective. When used properly they are game changing.