Why aren’t you using analytics software?

Orange-google_analytics

How many people visited your website yesterday?  What did they look at?

Can you answer those two incredibly important questions that every website owner needs to know when shaping their website strategy?  If said no, then this post is for you.  Continuing with our small business website issues series, today we’re going to talk about website analytics software, particularly my favorite, Google Analytics.

Why should I care about analytics software?

Analytics software, whether you are using Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or Clicky, all analytics programs share some similarities.

  • Provide qualitative and quantitative website statistics
  • Drive continuous improvement of your site to improve the visitor experience

This information is what you should be using to shape your website’s content, design, and marketing efforts.

What kind of data you can expect to get

As you’ll see once you start researching analytics platforms is that all of the good platforms provide you with a ton of information, some of which you can ignore when starting out.  Let’s look at the most important metrics for all website users.

Visitors/Unique Visitors – the number one reason most small businesses install analytics software on their website is to see how many people visit their site in a given time frame.  The difference between a visitor and a unique visitor is that you could have 100 visits in a day, but that could easily be from twenty people visiting your site five times per day.  If you’re running a site with a lot of great content then having one person visit your site multiple times a day is very likely.  Your unique visitors number takes those multiple visits out of the equation so that one person visiting your site 10 times a day is treated the same as someone who only visits your site once.

Bounce rate – one of the most misunderstood metrics, but also one of the most important when trying to improve your search engine page rank.  The bounce rate reflects people who only see one page on your site before they leave.  This page could be the homepage, an interior page, or a landing page, but if they only see one page, they are considered a bounce.  Google looks at bounces as an indicator of irrelevant content which is why a high bounce rate can result in a lower search engine ranking.  One of the most problematic site categories for a high bounce rate is blogs.  Typically blog posts go on the front page of the site and the entire blog post is shown.  Unfortunately this habit can make your bounce rank artificially high since even though you have visitors and great content, most people still only view your homepage before moving to another website.  This is why it can be important to use the content/page break feature in blogging platforms.

Most popular content – depending on your platform, this may have a different name, but the results are the same.  This section displays your most popular website pages based on page views.  This is an incredibly helpful metric for sites that generate content as it helps to shape future content creation based on what your website audience enjoys reading.

Referrers – this is another incredibly useful metric, especially for small businesses that always wonder how people find them.  Since the web doesn’t give you a chance to interact with every single site visitor and find out how they found you, this is the next best thing.  You can see referrals from Facebook, Twitter, your local Chamber of Commerce, as well as other websites that have linked to your site.  If your business is listed in online directories, this is a great way to keep track of the effectiveness of those listings.

Keywords – as Google continues to severely punish websites that use Black Hat SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing to improve their page rank for irrelevant topics, they have stopped passing search keywords to analytics software when referring a visitor to a website.  While other search engines still provide keyword data, this metric is definitely on the decline as Google typically accounts for a disproportionate number of search referrals, an average of our client websites that we analyze shows that over 75% of search traffic to their sites comes from Google.

Browser/Platform – you’ve probably heard it on the news, and we’ve talked about it here on the blog before, but mobile traffic is booming.  If you want to see how important a mobile strategy is for your website moving forward, all you have to do is find where your analytics software breaks out the desktop/tablet/mobile and the operating systems and browsers in use.  In Google Analytics these two have been split apart so that you can view your raw desktop/tablet/mobile numbers independently of which operating system or browser they are using.

Installing Google Analytics on your website

Since Google Analytics is my preferred analytics platform, plus it provides free access to all of the most important metrics for a small business, plus it is used by some of the largest websites in the world, including Gilt, Intuit, Airbnb, and Fairmont-Raffles Hotels International, so it’s an incredibly full featured option that you can use regardless of how big your website becomes.

To get started with Google Analytics, visit http://google.com/analytics and click “Access Google Analytics” and their setup assistant will walk your through installing the tracking code on your website.  And of course if you would like help getting setup with Google Analytics, or any other analytics program, please feel free to drop us an email or give us a call.

So while there are a ton of additional features available in website analytics, getting started with them is the best way to move your website forward and know just how hard it’s working for you day in and day out.  Have you recently installed an analytics program and discovered something about your site visitors you didn’t expect?  Leave a comment and let us know.