Consider that you take the bait and install Google Analytics, and you set up one goal for each call to action on your site. Now what?
Now is the time to pay attention to your analytics and make steady improvements to your site based on your findings. If you spend fifteen focused minutes each week reviewing your analytics from the perspective of the three key reports outlined below and make the appropriate changes in response to the trends you see, you will not only make your site a far more effective marketing tool over the course of its expected lifespan of three years, but you will also likely extend that lifespan by at least another year or so. Set a recurring calendar event for 8:45 every Friday morning, and spend five minutes looking at each of the following reports every week.
Found under “Content > Top Content,” this report shows what pages on your site are most popular. From the main page, you can dig in a little deeper to get a sense of the navigation trends of your users to and from various pages. The “In-Page Analytics” tool is powerful and offers a clearer idea of how your site is being used than any other single report inside of Google Analytics. Watch out, though, or you will spend all of your fifteen minute allotment just on this.
Found under “Traffic Sources > Referring Sites,” this report shows which other sites send traffic your way. The tabs across the top of this report also indicate which sites contribute to what percentage of goal conversions. If you place ads, trade website links with other companies, or comment on other sites regularly, this report is the way to measure what you earn from your efforts. This report also gives you a good idea of which search engines and social media channels send people your way.
Found under “Traffic Sources > Keywords,” this report shows you what search engine phrases people use to find your site. Something to pay attention to here are branded versus non-branded keywords. Branded keywords include your company name, and non-branded keywords contain no reference to your name but are usually geared toward your expertise. Since the goal of your SEO efforts is to attract people to your site who do not yet know about you, you should look for a richer mix of non-branded keywords than branded keywords. As your content strategy matures, you will see that this happens naturally. This report also shows you which keywords contributed to what percentage of goal conversions.
The Benefits of Analytics
With analytics, you can prove or disprove the hypotheses you made when you were building your site. You can also identify and react to market and usability trends that you did not consider when building your site. A weekly review of your site’s analytics ensures that you always know the status of your site—what works, what does not, and why. This knowledge allows you to make subtle tweaks and corrections to your site on a frequent basis. These regular site tune-ups can significantly increase the life of your website while making it a continually improving marketing tool.
What’s more, you will be much smarter about both web analytics and web marketing in the process. This new knowledge and confidence will be handy throughout the rest of your career as a marketer. Paying attention to your own site’s analytics is a win-win: your site will run at maximum efficiency, you will become smarter about web marketing as each week passes, and you can rest easy knowing that you are in touch with the health of your most important marketing asset.
This post is an excerpt from my book, "A Website That Works."