Web designers and developers often work separately from those who focus more on strategy for SEO, paid media, or social media. There are a lot of reasons why this occurs (large companies with independent teams lacking full communication, outsourcing to vendor, etc.), and the separation is easy to understand because these positions utilize different skill sets and are driven by different trends. Working in an agency, there are common questions we get from clients as well. In a short series of blog posts, I’ll respond to some common questions and misconceptions, providing a little insight into some of the latest best practices and strategies. This week, I’ll be introducing an effective way to measure website success.
How can I track success on my website?
You likely spent a lot of time and/or money into a new website. Measuring visitors, engagement and actual conversions of some kind be it sales, downloads, etc. is a critical part of owning a website. You want to show success and proof of your investment. That’s where an analytics platform comes in very handy, almost necessary. And Google provides a great starting point.
With Google Analytics, there are many metrics and dimensions that you can use to dissect the data about your visitors. But on a basic level, these reports help you answer the following questions:
- Visits (New & Repeating): How much traffic are you getting?
- Pageviews and average pages viewed per visit: How many pages are they viewing?
- Traffic source (Direct, organic search, email, etc.): Where are the visitors coming from?
- Engagement: average time on site/page, bounce rate: How well are visitors interacting with your site?
- Conversions, conversions rate, revenue (for ecommerce websites): Are visitor completing the tasks you want them to?
Designers can look to certain reports to gain insight into how well the visual aspect of the website affects traffic. They spend time setting the navigation, building calls-to-action and placing links to interior pages to encourage visitors to stay on the site. Among these reports are:
- Behavior Flow & Navigation Summary: Where are visitors going on the site?
- In-Page Analytics: What links are visitors clicking on?
- Engagement, such as bounce rate: Does this page connect with my visitors, or do they leave right away?
Developers can also use GA to find valuable information to help keep websites running strong. Build quality is a key factor to keep them running smooth, especially with the growth of mobile and tablet devices. A positive user experience is key to success. Relevant reports include:
- Site Speed: Is the site loading fast enough for visitors?
- Technology & Mobile report: Can visitors access the website from their device?
- Site Search: Can users find the information they are looking for?
Google Analytics gets even better when you integrate other data such as Google Webmaster Tools and Google AdWords. And when you consider all of the ways to set up cross-domain tracking, filters and data importing, there is so much information to be gained. It’s powerful and better yet, free. There is a paid version of GA, but at $150,000 per year it’s geared towards much larger companies. It’s an amazing platform for any website owner.
If you’re new to Google Analytics, perhaps you’ve set up an account but have never known what to do with all of that data, there is plenty of information available for you to learn more:
- Google Analytics Help: Tutorials, FAQs, etc.
- Google Analytics Blog: Official news, customer stories, etc.
- Moz Blog: Great industry blog on a variety of topics including analytics
- Occam’s Razor: More advanced, but one of the smartest bloggers on analytics
- KISSmetrics Blog:Well known blog on analytics