In our last post, we discussed how important it is to build your online presence through branding and website design and development. How do you know, though, if your branding efforts are leading to increased traffic? Website analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of visitor data. The data that is collected and analyzed is used to understand and optimize your site; however, it’s much more than just measuring traffic. It can also be put to use in market research and to improve a website’s effectiveness.
Google Analytics (GA) is one of the most powerful analytics tools you can find today. In fact, it’s been proven that GA is used by at least 56 percent of businesses as their main method of measuring site analytics. The latest version streamlined the application, making it even easier to use.
GA provides infographics related to traffic and conversions on your website. If you are not familiar with all the terms yet, a conversion might mean a share, a click, a purchase, a download, a play or another action that you want a visitor to accomplish on your website. The more people who convert on your website, the more potential there is for profit.
Types of Traffic
There are many types of traffic that Google Analytics monitors. Here are a few examples:
- Direct: This type of traffic comes from visitors who typed your web address into their browser.
- Paid Search: If you have campaigns with Google Adwords, this is where that data is reported. Google Analytics can help determine the return on your investment.
- Referral: This traffic comes from other websites in the form of links. If someone blogged about a product or service you offer and a user clicked-through to your site, it would be reported here.
- Organic Search: If someone uses Google or Bing to search for your website, Google Analytics will put that traffic in this category.
- Social Sources: GA also includes a feature that reveals how many people come to your site through various social networks.
When you first log into Google Analytics, you will see the Audience Dashboard. This initially includes a line graph that shows how your website has performed in the last 30 days, but there are many different metrics that can be displayed. Depending on what your specific goals are, there will be some numbers that are more important than others. For example, if your website is fairly new, the information in New Visitors and New Sessions will be more important than those in Returning Visitors.
Other numbers to look at will be Average Session Duration, Bounce Rate and Pages per Session. These will help you understand whether or not your website is engaging to visitors. A low bounce rate indicates that your site visitors are not leaving as soon as they arrive. The longer people spend on your website, the better chance there is for a conversion. Also, if your bounce rate is very high (over 90 percent or so), or if your time spent on site is very low, you should consider making some serious design, branding or content improvements.
If the numbers show that you have significant traffic from other countries, you may want to expand your business or provide content in different languages. If your site has dips and spikes in traffic, it may correlate with a coupon or newsletter you sent out, or perhaps a social media campaign or other marketing strategy you underwent. GA will let you add notes so you can provide context to the numbers. The Audience Dashboard will allow you to analyze your website’s performance on a basic level, including where your traffic came from and which of your marketing efforts are paying off.
The Behavior Dashboard pinpoints exactly what visitors did while on your site. It shows the Behavior Flow, which reveals how users traverse and eventually leave your site. It will also help you make changes that influence this behavior. The In-Page Analytics feature will let you see how many visitors scroll down on your site and what gets clicked on. This can help you make positive changes to your website layout.
GA also allows you to see where you had the most conversions, such as your mobile site or your desktop site, as well as how much was earned. This helps you develop effective marketing campaigns. While getting more traffic to your site is important, converting the traffic you already have is just as valuable.
Google Analytics is the best application for monitoring your site metrics and making any necessary changes – it has hundreds of valuable tools that are updated constantly. Setting it up involves placing a simple line of code on every page of your site, which is usually accomplished by editing your header or footer. Our next post will cover search engine marketing, including various tools and tricks to help your marketing campaigns really pay off.