How’s your website doing? Are you achieving your goals? While questions like these are easy to ask, they can often be difficult to answer. Tracking the results of your website plays a vital role in measuring what online strategies are working and what needs to be fixed. If you haven’t been keeping track of your results, you won’t be able to identify visitor trends and other opportunities that help you set goals to improve your site’s effectiveness.
The Importance of Google Analytics
We all want an attractive website that grabs the attention of our intended audience. However, an appealing design isn’t the only measure of a website’s success. Once a website has been launched there is still plenty of work to do to keep your audience engaged. Google Analytics can provide you with the distinct advantage of knowing how many visitors you get, the pages they look at, how long they stay, and the terms they use to find you with.This can be especially helpful when evaluating your website and deciding what to change.
What Should be Tracked?
While the amount of data Google Analytics provides can seem a bit overwhelming at first, it’s actually pretty easy once you learn how to track some basic numbers. Once you get a handle on the following key metrics, you can easily expand your data portfolio as you build your analytic skills.
Formerly known as visitors, sessions represents the number of times a user was active on your website. These numbers are important because they represent the size of the audience you are reaching. As you expand your online marketing efforts, you can compare these statistics from month to month. If the number of sessions grows, this means more people are visiting and coming back to your site for information. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that this metric does not recognize individual users. Instead, it will count a new session for repeat visitors who visit your site after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Page views represent the total number of pages viewed on your website. This number is important because you want visitors to view as many pages on your site as possible. Keep in mind that a high number of page views can be due to the quality and value of the content on your site. However, it can also mean visitors are unable to find what they are looking for (or) certain pages on your website aren’t working properly. That’s why it’s important to refer to other metrics to interpret the page view data.
Understanding the number of sessions and page views of your website is important. However, it’s just as important to know where your visitors are coming from. Google Analytics helps break down your traffic sources into the following four categories:
- Organic Search: search engine traffic
- Referral: backlinks from other sites
- Direct: domain being typed directly into a browser
- Social: social media traffic
Each of these sources will provide you with information about your website and where your traffic is coming from.
A bounce rate is determined when a visitor reaches your website and immediately leaves. This usually means a user didn’t find what they were looking for (or) they reached your site on accident. However, reducing your bounce rate is critical because lost visitors equal lost opportunities. That’s why it’s important to determine why people are leaving and fix any existing issues that may be turning visitors away from your site.
Out of all the metrics, you might track, your conversion rate is probably one of the most important. A conversion rate is the percentage rate of visitors who achieved a goal on your website. Goals can include completing a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a contact form or viewing a certain page on your website. If your site has a low conversion rate, it’s possible that you’re either attracting the wrong kind of visitors or the content on your site is ineffective.
Monitoring your conversion rate can also tell you if something is wrong with your website. For example, if your conversion rate suddenly drops, this may attribute to an error with your shopping cart or sign-up form.
Beyond Google Analytics
Ultimately, it’s what you do with all this the information that’s important. The whole point of using Google Analytics is to gather information and make improvements that will lead to your online success. By keeping track of your on-going results you will have the ability to monitor and update your site on a regular basis. Doing so will help you identify any existing or potential issues and learn what you need to do to create a solution that will increase visitor engagement and improve user experience.
Credit: KATIE FURRER