Website Analytics: What You Should Be Looking For

When you mention website analytics to anybody, usually the first words uttered in response are “Google Analytics”. Google Analytics is just one analytics tool of many that are available to you. Google has the advantage because it is free. However, to the first time viewer it can be daunting to see all of the available information, and most beginners have no idea where to start. In reality most business that have analytics installed focus only on the volume of traffic that has visited their website. But just using analytics for this purpose is a mistake and means you are also missing out on some valuable marketing data.

First things first though! To reap the rewards of website analytics you first have to install it. Depending on which analytics package you select, installing the required tracking code could be something you can do yourself, or you may need to pass this task over to your webmaster to perform for you. The key however, is to get analytics installed as soon as possible after your website has been built, even if you have no plans on looking at the data for some time. By doing this, the data will build up over time, and you will be able to show a before and after comparison, when you perform specific tasks design to drive traffic back to your website. An important tip would be to ensure your tracking code is applied to all your website’s pages. And also remember to add them to new pages you create in the future. If you have a dynamic website that allows you to automatically create new pages using templates, then it is easy enough to apply the tracking code directly into the templates, that way new pages will automatically have the code embedded on creation.

So onto the important part – what should you be looking for inside your analytics dashboard? Most SEO experts agree that websites owners should really focus on the following statistical measurements:

  1. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) – This means you need to identify what your main goals are for your website. So for example you may have a new marketing initiative that has been set up to increase traffic to your website and to gain you more new customers. Using analytics to check that your traffic and conversion rates are increasing will tell you if your initiative is working, or if you need to rethink the way you are doing things.
  2. Referring Sources – This appears under Traffic Sources/Direct Traffic and gives us an overview of how many pages and how many visitors we’ve had, and from which websites they are clicking through from. If you are paying for organic search engine optimization, or if you have placed a marketing video on YouTube (for examples), you want to know if the search engines and/or YouTube are good sources for sending people to your website. However, even if the numbers you are seeing are fairly low, you also need to know if people are simply picking up the phone and calling you, after seeing your telephone number listed in the search engines (e.g. Google Plus Local listing) or from your YouTube video, before deciding if this is money being well spent or not.
  3. Bounce Rate – This is defined as the number of people who land on your website, and then exit immediately after reviewing that landing page, without first clicking through to other pages on your site. In the eyes of Google, having a high bounce rate means that the specific page doesn’t have good quality and meaning full content, and that is the reason why people are clicking away from your site. Although this may not always be the reason why people are clicking away, Google will still penalize your website rankings if they see a high bounce rate. So, even if your plan is to have a single landing page with a form embedded for contact, you should create a ‘Thank You’ page that the visitor will get to automatically after sending their details in the form, in order not to increase your bounce rate more than you have to.
  4. Conversion Rate – Knowing the volume of traffic your website is getting is of no value to you without knowing what your conversion rate is. Converting your traffic to customers or subscribers is what it’s all about. It’s better to have 10 visitor visit your website and have 1 subscribe to your service, than to have a million visitors with no subscribers at all. By identifying where your visitors are coming from, and which of those convert for you, will allow you to evaluate your online marketing budget and put more money into the places that are driving more converted traffic for you.
  5. Social Media Activity – Right now social signals are huge when it comes to Google assessing how relevant your website is. If you know what topics and conversations are driving the most website traffic to your website will help you plan and social your social media efforts in order to increase traffic and awareness of your brand.

There are many measurement indicators that are usually available, such as ‘returning v new visitor’ comparisons, length of stay in your website, number of pages visited, etc. that will also prove to be useful. But as a beginner you should focus on the 5 measurements above until you are used to reading the data and fully understand it.

If you would like to know more about how search engine optimization and how analytics can help you improve the performance of your online marketing efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact Alchemy Digital Media at the address below:

Alchemy Digital Media
12893 Timber Ridge Drive,

Fort Myers, FL 33913
Tel: (239) 214-2614


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About Author: Earl
Earl is the co-founder and President of Alchemy Digital Media. Originally from the UK, Earl moved to the United States in 2001, and eventually set up Alchemy Digital Media in 2007 with his business partner. Earl originally stepped into the web design world as a graphic designer, but later found his passion in search engine optimization and online video marketing. You can follow Earl on Twitter here

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