A website without visitors is like a book without readers. You want visitors not just to look at the cover but to read the whole book. Your website needs to attract the right kind of visitors and keep them reading. Google Analytics can help you do that. How?
1.Who is coming in the door?
Google Analytics (GA) can tell you something about who your visitors are. The country and county they are from for a start and their gender, age group and other interests will be added to the menus if you choose to upgrade to Google Universal Analytics. All useful information, especially if you know the location and ideal profile of your target audience.
GA will also tell you how these visitors found your site. The four main sources are:
internet searches (what did they enter as a search term, which engine did they use)
social media – (are they following links from twitter, Facebook, Reddit etc)
other websites – which kind souls have linked your website or its content on their website or blog and recommended it to their visitors
email and blogging campaigns – your own e-marketing efforts – are they working?
Top Tips: Generally a healthy traffic flow will come from all four – if you are missing out on any of these there is an opportunity for building on your SEO, social media use, online partnerships or e-marketing.
2. A warm welcome?
GA will tell you which page or pages are your landing page (the one visitors arrive at). Your landing page should work as a good introduction to your website. Is it encouraging visitors to stay and look around, or are they reversing fast and heading for the hills?
Top Tips: Make your home page clear, informative and welcoming. If visitors are arriving on a page other than your home page, make that equally welcoming. Don’t, whatever you do, have a sliding or moving image on your landing page. “Sliders tank sales” is now a well established fact (except for those who make sliders, who just won’t be told!). There is a useful function for sliders but only in a context where your visitors choose to look at them, such as a ‘Gallery’ page. Otherwise they are almost always distracting and confusing – even annoying.
3. Are you leaving so soon?
Bounce rate (leaving your site almost immediately after only viewing one page) is essential information. It may be painful to see it but if your bounce rate is high (really you should hope for much better than the 50% internet average) your visitors are leaving your site without looking further than the cover. Your visitors came to your website for a reason – does the site meet their expectation or is your landing page failing to tell them where and how your website will meet their needs?
Top tips: A high bounce rate is a major clue that the layout, content and/or navigation of your site are simply not clear or inviting enough. Make a list of what could be improved and change them one by one over time. Use GA to show you whether the bounce rate and pageview counts have improved following each change. Check also if the site is working equally for new and returning visitors, and for mobile as well as desktop clients.
4. Where to next?
When visitors stay, where do they go next? GA will tell you the pattern of visitor flow, the most visited pages, how long they stayed there, the most common exit pages and how many pages were visited per visit. This will tell you a lot about what your visitors are interested in (build on it).
It will also tell you how your internal navigation is working. Are there pages that nobody really looks at? How are they signposted? Or are you directing people to pages that then frustrate or bore them and become an exit page? Are the top menu tabs nice and visible and do they describe the page well? Do you have essential pages that are unlinked or hidden away?
Top Tips: Visitors to websites scan top left to top right, then down the right side before looking at the main body of a page. Put links to the most important pages clearly across the top or down the side where they will see them. Make the navigation clear and accurate. If there are some pages which are well visited, engage with your visitors there. Add some key messages and encouragement to navigate further on those pages too.
5. How are you labeled?
The text on your site, especially the first paragraphs and post titles, will be used by search engines to match your content with the things people are looking for. GA can tell you which keyword phrases worked to bring visitors to you, and which page(s) they came to (and if they stayed). Look at this lists of keywords in GA- are they a good match for your key message and content? Or are there other key words
and phrases that you should be promoting instead in your text?
Top Tips: Use Google Webmaster Tools to identify the
popular keywords that are close to the core content of your website and
see if you can’t target those too in your present content and future posts. Aim for search terms that are popular in searches but less used on websites. GWT will show you which.
6. Reaching out.
If you are using blog posts, social media, advertising or email to direct people to your site, then use GA to see what is working for you. Time of day, day of the week and month of the year are all worth monitoring with GA. Take a block of time and compare different months traffic, or watch how a twitter campaign does or doesn’t work.
What are the titles and subjects of your most successful blog posts? If a particular post or media campaign brings traffic to your site, how are that audience responding to the rest of the site. A post that has a high visit rate may not necessarily be bringing traffic to the rest of your site. Did a campaign work to get people searching on Google, clicking a link in an email or follow a Facebook recommendation?
Top Tips: Isolate your campaigns at first to see what works best. Try a post with a different title to see if that makes a difference, or send a twitter campaign and then a facebook or email campaign to gauge the behaviour of different audiences.