Regardless of how well you optimized your website prior to launch, you should be constantly evaluating the performance of your site. The best way to do this is with Google Analytics, which allows you to use real visitors to your site to help you optimize your content and site structure. When used correctly, it will help you identify what is and isn’t working on your site and can even inform you about the success of your marketing campaigns.
What should be tracked?
Although Google Analytics provides a large number of statistics about your site, we suggest you begin by focusing on these 5 key metrics:
Number of visitors
When monitoring the number of visitors to your site, don’t forget to pay close attention to how many are new visitors versus returning visitors. By tracking these numbers before and after marketing initiatives, you will be able to determine the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns, and if it is appealing to new or existing customers.
Tracking these numbers will also allow you to set goals for yourself. These goals could be to increase your monthly number of visitors by 10% or to try and increase the number of new visitors vs. returning visitors. Without measuring this metric, it will be impossible for you to know if your website is increasing or decreasing in popularity.
How your visitors behave once they land on your website can help you identify your site’s weak points. For example, when a visitor lands on a page on your site and then immediately leaves (by going back to the previous page or closing the page) without taking any further action, this is called “bounce rate”, which can have negative effects on your SEO. It is important to find out which of your pages have the highest “bounce rate”, so you can then take steps to optimize them and retain more visitors.
With Google Analytics you can also track other visitor trends like:
- How much time users spend on your site
- How many pages they view in one session
- Which pages are the most popular
- How they are viewing the site (mobile, tablet or desktop)
By analyzing all these visitor trends you will be able to see your site’s optimization opportunities.
One of the more important metrics is the source from which visitors enter your site. Google Analytics can tell you if visitors came from direct traffic (typing in your site’s URL), organic searches, paid ads, or other websites. The visitors that come from other websites (not search engines) are called referrals.
The most popular sources of referral traffic are social networks. For example, if you posted a link to your site on Twitter, you will know exactly which visitors came from there. This will help you determine whether it is worthwhile to promote your website on Twitter again or not. Of course, the problem might not be the platform, but the way you posted the link. Maybe your message wasn’t very interesting, or you just didn’t pick the best time to post it. This is why paying close attention to your traffic sources in conjunction with what content you are putting out there on other sites is vital.
Many people use search engines when looking for new products and services. Your web Google Analytics will show you which keywords your site is coming up on and which ones are driving traffic to your site. You can also discover keyword opportunities you may be missing out on and you can use these keywords when creating new pages or blog posts for your site.
Leads, conversions & ROI
Generating lots of traffic to your site is well and good but only if the traffic is high quality and made up of your target audience. You will know if you are reaching your target market or not by the number of leads you receive from your site.
You will want to track the number of website leads who convert into customers so you can track your conversion rate. If 5 of the 20 leads from your website become a customer, your conversion rate is 25%.
By using Google Analytics on a monthly or quarterly basis to analyze these 5 key metrics mentioned above have valuable information that enables you to make educated and informed decisions based on real statistics and measurements rather than intuition and guesswork.