If you have a website, you’re probably familiar with the idea of analytics. It’s possible, however, that you aren’t fully harnessing the power of analytics to help your business. Analysis paralysis is a common feeling when looking at so much data–where do you start? How should your results guide your marketing strategy? Fear not, business owner. Read on to learn how powerful digging into your website data can be, and leave with a few actionable tips you can try today!
What are analytics, exactly?
First, we need to make sure we’re speaking the same data language. Analytics are methods of analysis; when it comes to website data, analytics track things like who visits your site, when they visit, how they get there, and what do they do once they’ve arrived. This information is critical to understanding how your website is working for you and identifying ways it can be improved. In even simpler terms, analytics help you analyze your website’s performance so you can use it to make more money. Music to any business owner’s ears, right?
The most popular (and free!) analytics resource is Google Analytics. By creating an account that links to your website, you can use Google Analytics to track all sorts of data from your website visitors. The data you focus on can help you fine-tune your digital marketing strategies and know if your efforts with content or search engine marketing are yielding results!
Where should I start?
When you log in to Google Analytics, you’ll see the home page, which uses their default dashboard. This page includes information like current number of users on your site, users’ locations by country, devices your users are using (desktop vs. mobile), and more. Each data point is viewable in a chart or graph, but the home page alone can be overwhelming, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. My first piece of advice would be to customize your dashboard (you can find this under the Customization link). Decide what data is most important or useful to your understanding of your website’s users. [The savvy people at Moz, a software and SEO consulting company, recommend several dashboard types based on who is interpreting the information. Check out their tips here if you’re ready to dive in.]
If you’d like a more basic overview, I’d suggest exploring Analytics first. You can’t break it, so take a deep breath and click around. Familiarizing yourself with the features might reveal some interesting information.
How Can I Make Analytics Work For Me?
Google Analytics offers basic data all website owners should know and use to improve their site’s performance. Again, this is just a snapshot of the information provided, but it’s a great place to start.
- Audience (who is visiting your site? Demographics like age, location, gender, and more can help you fine-tune your marketing.)
- Page Popularity (which pages on your site get the most hits? Which pages keep people the longest? This can tell you where your best content lives AND where you might need to beef up your site.)
- Traffic Channels (this identifies how people arrive to your site. Did they find you from a search engine? a social media post? an email blast? directly from an ad you’re running? You can increase your efforts toward a successful traffic channel when you know what works.)
- Historical Data (you can use Google Analytics to compare data collected about your website’s performance from years ago to its current performance. This can help you track trends and verify your efforts. For example, you can see if your traffic typically increases seasonally or at certain times during the day, or if your additional content has increased your traffic and session duration.)
- Bounce Rate and Session Duration
- Bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits, meaning someone comes to your website but doesn’t click around to any additional pages. The goal here is a low percentage number, meaning most visitors stay on your site to learn more. If your bounce rate is high, it might mean that your landing page isn’t very helpful or is difficult to navigate. (It’s worth noting that if your site only has one page, your bounce rate will be 100% because visitors truly have nowhere else to go.)
- Session duration is the average length of time someone spends on your site. Here, a low number of seconds means site visitors aren’t staying. That could be a good thing if their question was answered right away, but it could also mean that your site didn’t load quickly and visitors went elsewhere or the landing page didn’t appear to provide the information they were looking for. Both of these are things you could work on improving!
No matter what information you’re tracking, it’s key to check your data regularly and act accordingly.
Now that you know the power behind the data, use analytics to continuously improve and evolve your site. If you need help with website optimization, data tracking or search engine marketing, contact the experts at Duneland Media at (219) 369-4676. We look forward to helping you reach more customers and make more money!