Analytics Provide Web Traffic Insight¹
One of the most notable advantages of a website over traditional advertising methods is that Web traffic is much easier to track and measure. Analytics tools can help business owners answer important questions about how many people are visiting a site, where they’re coming from, and how long they’re staying on the site.
By answering these and other questions, business owners can gain powerful insights into how customers and prospects are attracted to your website, and how you can best optimize your website content to meet your customer’s needs.
While large enterprises can use sophisticated analytics tools, for most small businesses, that kind of complexity represents expensive overkill. Instead, Google Analytics provides a free but powerful tool that will answer the vast majority of your questions and provide valuable insights without requiring technical expertise to set up or an advanced statistics degree to interpret.
What to Measure
Google Analytics and other traffic measurement tools can provide a wide range of data - some of which will be good to know, some of which can be unimportant or confusing to measure. To gain the most information quickly and easily, business owners should pay attention to the following metrics in their website analytics report:
- Unique visitors - This, as the time implies, measures how many distinct people view your site within the report’s time period. Unlike "hits," which measures how many times your page is loaded, the unique visitor’s statistic prevents visitors to multiple pages from being counted repeatedly.
- Traffic sources - Do most of your visitors find your site from search engines, Twitter, Facebook or local review sites? It may make sense to promote your content where most of traffic is coming from, or you may want to supplement your traffic with some pay-per-click advertising. Either way, you can’t decide if you don’t know how people find your site.
- Referring keywords - What are people searching for when they visit the site? Ideally, those keywords should be related to your company’s products or services. If not, your site content probably needs some tweaking to highlight your company more effectively.
- Top content - What are people clicking most frequently and spending the most time reading? That will give you a good indication of what people find most interesting about your site and company. Adding similar or related content would likely help increase your site traffic.
- Exit page - This stat tracks the last page visitors see before they leave your site. If you direct to a contact, subscription, "about us" or other page with a compelling call to action, the exit page metric will let you know.
Installing Google Analytics on a site is a simple process. If you have a Google account, visit the Analytics home page and request an Analytics tracking code. This is a short script that will enable Google to track visitors and content.
This code should then be inserted into the HTML code of each page you’re interested in tracking. (If you’re running a WordPress blog or have built your site in WordPress, a number of plug-ins can automate this process for you.) Once the code is inserted and verified, you’ll probably start seeing results in a day or so.
Within a few days, you’ll start to see interesting patterns about how the outside world finds and uses your website. This may confirm your plans, or lead to suggestions for needed improvements.
Either way, it’s valuable to gain analytics data so you’re not making decisions about your website based on hunches or guesses.