In my last article ‘Guide to Getting Found,’ we discussed four steps to create a strong foundation for your business’ online presence: building a website; listing your site with only directories and search engines; developing a metatag strategy and the importance of creating content. With these blocks in place we can really start to pump up reach and begin measuring ROI. So today we’re going to discuss how the heck to keep up with everything your website is doing for you (which is probably a lot more than you think!) using the basic features available in most analytics packages and later talk about how to begin using you site as an effective sales tool.
One of the beauties of Internet marketing is that every interaction can be tracked clicks. With the right tracking (analytics) devices in place, you can easily tell where your website visitors are coming, learn which pages on your site are the most popular, determine where you lose visitors and even drill down to see where your website visitors are located.
If you don’t have some type of analytics tracking built into your site you won’t have access to any of this information or know where your areas of improvement exist or what your site’s strengths are.
There are several analytics packages available ranging from free to unnaturally expensive (but also equally impressive). When researching your options, make sure that you’re able to drill down to the specific information you need without a lot of hassle. Google has a great solution with their analytics package (www.google.com/analytics). The tool is free (unless you want to upgrade to their new Premium offerings and shell out around $50k/year) and is a breeze to install. There are other “free-mium” options around, such as Clicky (www.getclicky.com), Yahoo! Web Analytics (web.analytics.yahoo.com) and more. To get started with most of these options, you’ll be required to set up an account (usually free) with the vendor and install a small snippet of code somewhere on your website.
Google Analytics is by far the most popular and widely used analytics tool available. It’s my choice in tracking since Google offers a slew of other tools that can be used in conjunction with their analytics, and the fact that I can create and share custom reports is a plus too. To monitor your site with their tool, I’d recommend installing the code they supply in a part of your website that will be included with each and every page load. If you only installed the tracking code on your home page, well, that’s the only page that will publish any tracking data. Google currently recommends installing their code in a header file of your site between the tags.
Once installed, visit your analytics dashboard a few hours later to see all the glorious data your website has to offer about your visitors! The variety of built-in reports available in whatever analytics package you choose should be a great start in gaining some insights to your website. To gain a good high-level understanding of your website some points of interest would be: total number of unique visitors in a given time frame, overall bounce rate (a bounce by most analytics engines is considered a visitor who enters your website, does nothing else and then leaves), average time on site, average page views and conversions.
Again, this is good high-level data but won’t give you much actionable insight. You can, however, use this data to start establishing benchmarks for your website and SEO/SEM performance. No visitors yet? We’ll talk about traffic generators a little bit down the road. Next issue we’ll discuss analytics data mining and what to look for beyond basic analytics reports!