While the key performance indicators, KPI’s, you focus on will be unique to your business, there are some things that are important to all businesses. Regardless of what your business is you should know,
- Where your website visitors are coming from
- Which keywords bring visitors to your website
- The most valuable content on your website
- How visitors are viewing your website and whether your content is achieving your desired outcomes
- If your website creates a good first impression
The answers to these questions should be found in your analytics package, and there’s no reason for not having analytics installed. There are plenty of packages available on the market and while some of them command hefty price tags, some of them are absolutely free. Google analytics is one such package and here we’ll take a look at how this software can help to provide these essential answers.
Where Are Visitors Coming From?
You can see the source of your traffic by looking at the All Traffic Sources report. This report will show you the domain from which your visitors came together with the medium. The mediums are:
- CPC – paid advertising
- Organic – an unpaid entry in a search engine
- Direct – You URL was entered in the address box
- Referral – A link on a site which was not a search engine
If the number of visits is low you know you’re not getting your message out and you need to focus on increasing traffic. To attract free (organic) traffic you might consider things such as,
- On page optimisation, such as tags, keywords and internal linking structure
- Off page optimization such as increasing the number of backlinks to your site, perhaps via article marketing or posting comments on blogs or forums
Alternatively you might decide to pay for traffic. The most common way of doing this when starting a business is via a PPC campaign.
If you decide to pay for traffic, knowing which sites are sending traffic to you will tell you which sites could be worth advertising on. If your main traffic source is the Google search engine an Adwords campaign on the search network could be beneficial.
Alternatively if your main traffic source is from referrals, provided these sites accept Google advertisements, you might want to try an advertising campaign on the Google display network. If the referring sites have not partnered with Google, you could approach the site directly and ask for an advertising placement. This also gives you an opportunity to establish a marketing relationship with them, for example for cross selling.
As well as Google there are many other sites that offer paid advertising.
Knowing which sites are referring traffic to you gives you an advantage when creating your advertising campaigns because you know,
- They think there customers will be interested in you
- They think you add value
Thus you’re putting your advertisement in front of targeted traffic.
So you can see that knowing where your traffic is coming from presents you with an opportunity to increase targeted traffic. This traffic is more likely to purchase from you and hence increase your profitability.
Which Keywords Bring Visitors to Your Site?
The majority of both paid and organic traffic is likely to be driven by keywords. Thus it’s essential that you know which keywords are working for you. The keywords report shows you exactly this.
By using the compare to site view, you can quickly and easily see which keywords are performing above and below the site average. If you’re paying for an advertisement based on a poor performing keyword, you can reduce your costs, and hence increase your profitability, by terminating this campaign.
What is the Most Valuable Content on the Site?
The Pages report within the site content section will show you the most popular pages in your site. Once you know this you can then promote products that will appeal to your visitors. For example, you could promote different products on each page, each product being related to the page topic, you could display an ad for your top ten best selling items, or you could perhaps show your deal of the month offer. As these campaigns are being displayed on your most viewed pages, you know they’re getting maximum exposure to your visitors. While many won’t buy, the chances are some will.
This report may also highlight surprising discrepancies between the pages you feel are most important and those that your visitors do. For example, you may be putting substantial resources into your homepage, but the report shows that several internal pages attract far more views. If this is the case you can divert your resources to developing the most viewed pages so that you provide more value to your visitors. This may encourage them to keep returning to your site and one day they may convert from visitor to customer. Alternatively, knowing that your visitors are not interested in your homepage, may persuade you to change its content in an attempt to increase its value.
How Do Visitors View Your Site?
Even better than knowing what pages provide value to your visitors, is knowing exactly what content they are interested in. This can be determined by looking at the In-Page Analytics report. Essentially this report shows you where people click, and conversely where they don’t.
If links are not being clicked you could amend the underperforming areas. This could include,
- Changing the content of the area
- Using a different call to action
- Moving the content to a more prominent area of the page
Does Your Website Create a Good First Impression?
We all want our websites to be of value to our visitors. After all, if visitors find no value in our site, they will not do business with us. A good sign of providing no value is a high bounce rate.
Within Google Analytics the bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who found your site and left without doing anything, they did not even view another page. A high bounce rate could indicate that you are attracting the wrong type of traffic. This means that,
- Time spent on acquiring traffic is wasted
- Money spent acquiring traffic is wasted
- Your conversion rate falls
To improve your bounce rate you need to look at the way you bring traffic to your site. By using the traffic and keyword reports discussed earlier you can see what isn’t working and take the appropriate action. You can use tools such as Google Insights for Search and the Google Keyword Tool to help you identify keywords which are currently being searched on. Then you can replace some of your ineffective keywords with those being suggested. You can also see what keywords are being searched on in different regions and the up and coming search terms. This gives you the ability to produce highly targeted marketing campaigns.
Of course it could be that you’re attracting targeted traffic to your site, but once they arrive they believe your site holds no value for them so they leave. Criminal! In this scenario your landing page isn’t working. To identify unproductive landing pages, use the Landing Pages report. Once you’ve identified which pages need attention, change the content of the page or change the page that your link points to. So, for example, don’t link everything to your homepage. Use the relevant internal page instead.
A high bounce rate is not always a bad thing, so you must look beyond the numbers. The bounce rate does not measure the amount of time someone spends on your site. Therefore if your site is a blog, where people tend to read the latest post and leave, a high bounce rate is to be expected. Likewise, if someone was to arrive at a review page and click the Buy Now button, this is a desired response and something to be encouraged.
So there you have it, a quick look at how you can use Google analytics to help you answer key business questions. As you gain familiarity with the software you’ll be able to gain an even deeper understanding of your websites performance.
Over to You: Are you getting the most out of your website? Do you know how your website is performing? What other metrics do you think website owners should be aware of? Can you recommend an analytics package other than Google?