You just launched your brand new website, congrats! What an accomplishment! While you’re all giving out high-fives and enjoying that cold celebratory beer, you may not have thought about how you’re going to monitor all your sites traffic. Some people (my 50 year old father) may not even know you could monitor your websites traffic, let alone how to read it, understand it, and create a plan to improve it. Everyone has heard of Google Analytics, but does anyone really know what it is? Google Analytics is one of the most used and important tools for gauging your traffic and reading real-time stats. Let’s start off as simple as it gets, and well, let’s just keep it simple.
How do I get Google Analytics? It’s Easy! If you have a Google account (if not, just sign up), click on analytics and it walks you through every step. Assuming you know what website you want to track, you won’t have any issues. “And now my website it tracked, right!? YIPPIEE” Two things before you can start tracking your website. First, never say “yippee” ever, and second, once you complete your registration, Google provides a snippet of code. This code is meant for you to copy and paste into the code of your website pages. If you don’t know how to do this or don’t have a Word Press site (Word Press does it automatically for you) your web developer will definitely know. A tip for entering the code, make sure it’s at the HEADER not FOOTER of your code. There’s a lot of debate about this but I like having the code load first because that way if something breaks on your page, your analytics will still be tracking.
You have the code, it’s properly placed at the bottom of all page codes, and your website is officially being tracked. So now what are you going to do with all that data? What should you even focus on? How can you tell what’s important versus unimportant? I’m not answering any of those questions because it’s extremely complicated and every site has different issues that require a different approach with different pieces of data to focus on. But I will answer the basics that I think every site should be keeping an eye on.
Bounce Rate tells you how many people left a specific page without visiting any other pages. I like to think of this as a strong indicator of the “stickiness” to your site. If you have a high bounce rate than your site is just not engaging enough to users. It could be a design issue or content issue, whatever the case may be, but the bounce rate can help identify some major problems.
Landing Page is the page that a user first gets to (lands on) after clicking a link that redirects the user to that page. Optimizing the engagement of all your major landing pages is an absolute must. This metric is great for understanding why your high performance landing pages work and how you can tweak your low performing pages and improve them.
Conversion Funnels show how customers go through your site and experience it. Every site should have a desired path for their customers to take, ultimately leading them to one end goal (conversion.) It’s important to see the user’s path through a site so you can gauge the “user-ability” and overall user experience.
Devices are an extremely important metric to monitor, arguably the most important. A lot of people don’t know that the use of mobile devices to surf the web is increasing at an alarming rate. If 70% of your traffic is coming through a mobile device, you need a mobile site! This also means that you MUST HAVE A RESPONSIVE SITE. I won’t get into the whole responsive discussion because then I’ll go completely off topic and start talking about non-responsive sites and I’ll only get mad. But it’s definitely becoming a must these days.
Time On Site is important, but I say this with caution. I don’t want everyone thinking that their site rocks because the average time on site is 30 minutes. The common idea here is the longer a user is on my site the better, right? DUH! Well, not exactly, or at all. It could mean the user is getting lost and can’t find the page they want because your site is confusing as hell and now you just pissed them off and they’re never coming back ever again. On the other hand, it could mean you have the greatest, most engaging website ever and they never want to leave. Those are both the extremes, but I made my point. You have to understand what your product is and how long users should really be on your site before they reach that final goal (conversion.)
These are just some of the basics that I think are really important for people to analyze no matter what vertical of what industry. Let me highlight this point, DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF TO THIS! Google has so many amazing tools that you can play around with so you can monitor exactly what you want. Take the time to fully understand everything Google Analytics offers. Take classes, read books, anything; it’s well worth any amount of time and money. If you can master Google Analytics, I have no doubt that you will be successful. It has to be just about the coolest thing ever, AM I RIGHT, OR AM I RIGHT?