Having a great website, carefully written content and an SEO strategy in place is useless if you have no way of gauging your website’s performance. There is no excuse for lacking in this department in this day and age, with so many great free web analytics applications available. Google Analytics, together with some other major site statistics providers offer tools to measure your site performance as well as opportunities to improve your customers’ experience on your website.
To start off with, why are analytics important? The answer is fairly simple. Analytics provide you with (very) detailed statistics of your site’s performance and allow you to improve particular aspects of it. Furthermore, web analytics show you who is visiting your website and the specific pages that are being visited. In addition, you may also see where your traffic is coming from and on which pages your visitors leave your site.
There are also numerous other statistics available – but which statistics to use greatly depends on the ultimate goal that you set for your website. Whether you aim at simply having a great number of visitors or more advanced targets such as driving online sales or encouraging newsletter subscriptions, statistics will help you analyse and target your audience better. Below are 2 common goals that I will discuss. I will reference Google Analytics as an example of such statistical tools.
Increasing visitors and improving usability
This goal is the most common amongst website owners. After all, who wouldn’t want more visitors to his website? One can measure the number of users through web analytics, by visiting the site through the number of ‘sessions’ statistic. One should also note the number of return visitors as these may mean that your site is merely being repeatedly visited by the same set of people. It’s great to have repeat visitors, but it’s even better to have new users and retain them too.
You may also improve usability by having a look at the ‘Users Flow‘ statistic. This shows from where your users came from (social media, google search etc.), and which pages they visited, as well as the pages they chose to abandon your website. This ‘flow’ of visitors can help you decide on what content is popular amongst your visitors. If a particular page is not included in the flow, or has a very low ranking, this may mean that the access to that page is difficult (e.g the button may not be positioned in a way that is visible enough, or the name is not clear or interesting for users to click).
Another important statistic is the ‘Bounce Rate’. This refers to the number of people that visited your website but left immediately, without clicking on any link on your site. Having a high ‘bounce rate’ on your website (e.g higher than 50%) means that at least half your traffic was not interested in your site and left as soon as the page loaded. This may mean you might need to improve your content further or improve site usability and responsiveness, such as on mobile devices.
In either case, increasing visitors and improving site usability can be easily gauged using these 4 simple statistics: Sessions, Repeat Visits, Users Flow and Bounce Rate.
Be it increasing online sales, or having more subscribers to your mailing list, web analytics can help you identify areas of improvement.
To start off with, how are people accessing your website? In the ‘Mobile’ tab on Google Analytics, one may see the number of users that accessed your website on a mobile device, tablet or a regular desktop. Having a high number of mobile or tablet users may mean you might need to optimise the site even further to improve conversions on these devices. In addition, tracking the current popular pages that convert (once again through the ‘Users Flow’ or ‘Pages’ metric) one may easily identify the content that people like, so you can try to replicate the content or increase offers to increase your sales or subscriptions.
Using demographics (such as age and gender) and geo-location will also help you target your products, services and content so as to appeal more to your audience. If you notice a large percentage of people accessing the site from a particular country, for example, you may decide to offer a translation in the language of that particular country or region.
Lastly, once again, pay attention to bounce rates as they will also indicate the pages that you are losing customers on.
It is clear that web analytics is an invaluable resource to improve your site, search engine visibility as well as improving conversions. However, the difficulty may lie in identifying the reports that are mostly significant to you and your selected goals. Although a web marketing agency will be able to help you in this area, it is also highly advisable to take your time and explore Google Analytics (or your preferred statistic measurement tool), understand it and then take small, incremental steps to improve your site performance.