Five Basics to Monitor Using Website Analytics
If you’re new to using an analytics package on your website you may find the sheer number of measurements and statistics at your fingertips a little daunting. Below I’ve explained 5 basic areas that any good analytics package will cover and how the information gleaned from them can be used to further improve your site.
1) Keyword Analysis
An analytics package will allow you to assess, without much effort, the keywords sending traffic to your site, a crucial piece of information for any SEO plan.
This keyword report will break down where this keyword came from – e.g. Google – and how people performed who used this keyword. With aspects such as bounce rate (people that immediately left your website) and transaction information (how many keyword visits lead to a sale), you can quickly paint a picture of what is driving your business.
This allows you to determine which keywords are not pulling their weight, or if there’s a term you hadn’t targeted that’s performing really well. With a little bit of additional targeting, that missed keyword might turn into a goldmine of potential.
2) Monitor Bounce Rate
Since Google rolled out its Panda update, one of the metrics that Google has made a big deal of highlighting is bounce rate.
Bounce rate is the ratio of users who land on one page of your site and only view that page, leaving without viewing any other page.
Obviously this is a bit of a noisy metric, as bounce rate does not differentiate between page-view times. If your page does everything the customer wants then it’s not unreasonable that they leave.
Nevertheless it can be a brilliant way of organising your information to find quick wins. A simple weighted-sort on a report, ordered by descending bounce rate, will give you a nice snapshot of pages to look into and find performance issues.
3) Breakdown Of Visitor Sources
It’s worth being aware of how your visitors are coming to you. For example, if the number of hits you receive from Bing is well below what you would expect (based on their share of the search market) it could be worth spending time making sure your site is set up correctly for Bing’s crawler.
So to put a few numbers in here if Google has 80% of the search market and Bing has 10%, you’d expect that if google was bringing 8,000 visitors a day Bring should bring around 1,000.
Additionally, if you run an affiliate scheme you have immediate access to referring websites, helping you know which are driving the most traffic, the best value traffic, and what affiliates to bin.
4) User Capabilities
It’s worth remembering now and again that, while the goal of SEO is to try and drive traffic to a page, your efforts are worth nothing if your users can’t view the content. Internet browsers transmit a large amount of information when a user connects to a site and a good analytics package will give you access to this data, which you can use to highlight performance problems.
For example, if a particular browser or browser version has a bounce rate higher than others, or seems to drive significantly less revenue, it’s quite likely that something is going wrong for those users and needs urgent attention.
Does your website traffic peak at certain times of the day, week or month? Do you know how this affects your website loading times? Google has recently increased the weighting it gives to page load speed when calculating rankings in its search results.
Your analytics package makes it possible to discover trends that occur day-by-day, week by week etc, and can find page loading times that are otherwise incredibly difficult to pinpoint.
Being able to improve slow-loading pages, or rent additional processing power for times of day that your website receives traffic spikes, is crucial for a final stage of basic optimisation.
There are several packages out there designed to help you monitor variables like this, the most popular being Google Analytics and Omniture. There are literally hundreds of other options on the market with more arriving each day, with varying subscription costs and feature lists, leaving you no reason not to start analysing now!
I hope these simple tips will allow you to delve into your analytics packages and get a more detailed view of how your site is being used and where it needs strengthening. If you’ve got any stories of success with an analytics package, or would like to ask about some of the different functions, please leave a comment below.