If you’ve ever taken the time to peer into the Google Analytics dashboard, there’s a good chance you’ve been overwhelmed by the available information. You can learn everything about your visitors from their country of origin to their browser version, gender, age and a ton more.
Every website has a goal: sell from the store, get users to see advertisements, convince readers to sign a petition or one of any number of other missions. These goals, called “conversions,” are central to the purpose of most commercial sites.
Analytics data is a major tool in making sure that goals are reached, telling administrators where the site is measuring up and where it isn’t, which is why BizBuzz makes monthly reports on analytics for our clients: you can’t afford to ignore what’s happening with your site. But it’s not enough to just have the information: you have to know what to do with it.
There are a few data categories that matter to every website:
Traffic and engagement
Finding out how your website is performing in terms of eyes on pages and clicks on links is invaluable, but knowing how to read these statistics can be counterintuitive. If you’ve got 1,000 visitors per month, things must be going well, right? If your bounce rate — a percentage that shows how many visitors simply leave your site from the first page they visited — is high, it means you’re not actually engaging with your audience. The reverse is true, too. Having a handful of dedicated users won’t be enough to see major strides toward your website’s goals.
If you’ve got lots of traffic and a high bounce rate, it’s time to make sure that each page on your site is linking around to relevant information throughout your site. You want to make conversions easy. If your bounce rate is good — typically from 25-50 percent or so — and you have low traffic, it’s time to focus on bringing in new viewers, which we’ll cover more specifically in a later post.
Know how visitors get to your site
Google Analytics has information about whether visitors have arrived from other websites that link to yours (called referrers), if they’ve come in from links in emails (which is handy for measuring mailing campaigns), clicked through from social sites like Facebook and Twitter or if they’ve come from search engines. It will also tell you who is coming to your site directly, which includes bookmarks, typing the site’s address into the search bar and links that are outside the scope of other categories.
Traffic sources are handy when trying to decide where to devote resources. If social media promotion isn’t where you want it, you can devote time to figuring out why and correct the issue. If you’re not getting many users from search engines, it’s time to look at SEO.
Know what visitors want
For us, the BizBuzz portfolio is one of our top pages, because visitors want to see what kind of work we produce before they give us a call. Other sites might find that attention is focused on popular products or interesting blog posts.
You can not only learn what visitors look at most, but what pages they’re viewing when they leave. Drop-offs, pages where visitors end their session, give a good idea of where weak links in the chain from start to finish on your site are located.
If users frequently jump ship around your image galleries or multimedia pages, it might be time to look at improving loading speed. If visitors are consistently lost at the blog, it’s time to reevaluate content.