Since we’ve been in business for nearly 50 years (spoiler alert…2016 is gonna be one big party!), we talk to a lot of clients and prospects about what is working for their business and what is not.
When it comes to their online presence, we can objectively evaluate their success level by looking at a few key reports on Google Analytics. If you aren’t currently using an analytics program to evaluate your own website, we would strongly suggest you add some as soon as possible.
Google Analytics is free and provides a comprehensive overview of who is looking at your site, how they found your site, what they did once they were on your site and more. While Google isn’t the only game in town, it is certainly one of the best.
You can sign up for a Google Analytics account by going to www.google.com/analytics and following the on-screen prompts. You will have to install the tracking code on your website which may require the help of your developer depending on how your site is set up. Once you have the account set up and the tracking code in place, you’ll begin seeing all kinds of data on your account dashboard. Google provides plenty of powerful out of the box reports; here are the ones that we look at when evaluating a website’s performance.
1. Acquisition Overview – Once you are logged in to your Analytics account, click on Acquisition from the left hand side, and then click on “Overview” from the menu that appears below Acquisition. This report will show you how many people visited your website and where they came from during a specific time frame. You can continue drilling down from this report. If your number one source of traffic was “organic search” you can click on that heading to see what terms were searched for to find your site. The data found on this report can give you a really good idea where traffic is being generated from. If your organic search traffic is low, for example, it might be a good idea to ramp up the SEO on your pages.
2. Top Landing Pages – This report (found under Behavior > Site Content > Landing Page) tells you what page people entered your site on. From an optimization stand point, this give you a tremendous opportunity to make sure the top entry pages are also the ones that are optimized with your best offers, headlines and conversion techniques. From this report, be sure to check out the bounce rate. This tells you the percentage of single page visits; meaning that this person only looked at the landing page without going anywhere else. If the bounce rate is quite high (over 50%), it may be time to rework the landing page to make sure it is inviting and tells the user what you want him/her to do on the site.
3. Social Reports – If you use social media to promote your business, you can track its effectiveness in terms of website traffic using analytics. To access the social reports, click on Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals. This report will show you how much traffic your social work is generating. Clicking on the name of the social network (Facebook for example) will drill down to another report that shows you what pages the visitor actually landed on.
4. Mobile Report – Wondering if your website is getting any traffic from a mobile search? Check the report under Audience > Mobile > Overview to see what percentage of traffic is coming from desktop, mobile or tablets. If you don’t yet have a mobile optimized website, the data reported here may convince you that it is finally time to take the leap.
One of the most important reports is not listed here and that’s because most websites we encounter don’t have this set up correctly. Google Analytics has a very important feature called Goals and Conversions. In Analytics, you can set up a goal. The goal can be a purchase from your online store, a successful form submission, or simply a visit to your contact us page. This is the true measure of how well your website is actually performing for your business. If your conversions are low, then it is time to rethink your landing page, your offer, your website layout or your product offering.
Setting up a goal isn’t terribly difficult, however, it does require some serious thought that not many business owners have put in to their sites. In order to set up a goal, you must have already considered what traffic flow you want your visitor to take. You must set up calls to action and offers on your site. You must have an offer that entices the user to complete your goal. This a conversation that should be had internally first, then with your web developer or marketing partner to make sure they understand what your goal is and can implement it correctly.