Making the most of website analytics
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 13:24
An essential part of any website marketing campaign is your own analytics data ‘ the statistics that show the number of visits to the site, which pages are viewed, where these visitors come from (referrals), and at what point they leave. Analytics can provide much more information as well, yet there are key data trends that can provide valuable information on the effectiveness of your online strategy.
Most websites will have access to some form of analytics data, probably provided by their web hosting company or as a subscription to a software package. We have previously reviewed the different types of website statistics programmes available, including Google Analytics which launched at the end of 2005.
Google Analytics recently underwent changes to the way data is presented and it remains a powerful and user-friendly analytics package that should be seriously considered, especially if your hosting service only provides a basic level of data. It’s also free!
Changing over from one analytics package to another can create discrepancies in data due to the way that different packages record and analyse traffic logs, so the trends over time through one analytics package are more valuable. As you review these trends, you need to consider what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are important for your business, to see whether they are improving or not.
For example, how well is your site working for your visitors and what is the proportion of unique visitors or the split between first time visits and repeat visits over a period of time? You can review how long, on average, your visitors spend on your site. If you have a large site but the time being spent is relatively short, then there could be an underlying problem with the type of visitors your site is attracting, or with the way the site is being perceived or how well it works.
You might need to look at the entry and exit points on the site to get an indication of whether visitors are leaving straight away (possibly the wrong type of visitors for your business?) or if they are leaving at a common point within the site (perhaps where a page is slow to load or an enquiry form is asking for too much information?). This type of data can then give you ideas on what needs to be changed so that you can test alternative approaches and review the change in the statistics over the next few months.
Website analytics may also show that some pages are being visited more than others, which can again reflect your site optimisation and ranking performance, or the navigation routes into the site from the Home Page. If key pages are not being visited enough, or less important pages are attracting proportionately higher volumes of traffic, you might need to look at how these pages are performing in the search results, or whether links to them form other pages need to be revised and made more, or less, prominent.
The referral data within an analytics package will also indicate which search engines or other websites are driving most visitors to your site and, with search, which terms have they been using. This can reflect how your site is ranking (or which PPC terms are performing well) but does this also reflect how people are searching and therefore are there other terms that should also be driving more visits to your site?
Reviewing trends within a website analytics package should be done at least monthly and often more frequently, particularly if there are changes being made to the website or the marketing campaign ‘ whether online or offline. The depth of data available can provide an excellent insight into how your web business is performing and should be used as a tool to test, adjust and review on a regular basis.
If you’d like to know more about how your website analytics can be used effectively to monitor and improve your online performance, contact us now for more information.
This article was written by Web Search Workshop, a search engine optimisation and marketing consultancy for UK business websites. Contact us today for a free assessment of your website.