Website Analytics. Do you need it?
Simple answer is yes! Regardless of whatever you are doing in the world, data is king and that’s a fact.
So why miss out on all the important data your website could be giving you? At the end of the day your website is your online shop window, so you need to be able optimise it as best as you can to suit your market and more importantly your customers’ needs. This can be done accurately when data is at hand.
What can I use this data for?
Well there are loads of different areas you can dig into to find that golden nugget of data, so here are a few of the most common yet important areas within website analytics.
This can be measured in a number of ways from how the user is engaging with the site or how long it takes to load. When looking in terms of how the user interacts with the site there are some basic values you can utilise.
‘Visits/Sessions’ allow you to determine how many users are visiting your site. On top of this you also have ‘new visits/sessions’ which shows how many of those visits are actually new ones.
Now you know exactly how many visits the site has, you have to ensure your visitors are engaging with the site and are not being put off by a certain factor. This can be a number of things, whether it’s the site loading time, lack of mobile responsiveness, or if it’s not what they were looking for. This data can be determined by the average number of Pages the user visits and the average time each user spends looking around. You can also see the bounce rate which gives you an indication on whether they are interacting with the site further than just the home page and clicking away before the site loads.
So not only do you know whether your site is getting visits or not but where they are all coming from. It may seem incredible that you’re getting 500+ visits a month but are they actually the visitors you want? Or are they similar to those annoying cold calls that pester you daily when you’re just trying to watch your beloved soaps!
Now that’s off my chest, time for an overview of ‘Traffic Values/Acquisitions’. They tend to be split into a number of sections such as direct traffic, organic searches, paid searches, referrals and social media.
Each one of the above can help you determine where your sites users are coming from. This is an extremely useful piece of data if, for example, you have been performing some SEO tweaks and want to compare organic search results with last month’s values or to see if your recent engagement in social media has brought any visits to your site.
Behaviour is a selection that allows you to further analyse your site in detail. It is particularly used to determine how the sites content is being used and the users’ behaviour.
Site content is an area that shows what pages are being visited including landing pages and what pages users are exiting the site on. Exit pages data can be especially important if there are a number of pages that have a high bounce rate or a high amount of visits but they are not spending time on the page.
You can then drill down further with the site’s speed and what search terms users are making to get to the site. Unfortunately one mistake that is commonly misunderstood with search terms is that it will tell you what keywords are most popular with users, however under recent changes to Google privacy policies you can no longer view all users’ exact search terms.
Say you wanted to add a new service to your site or a new product to your online store and was heavily promoting it via social media but wanted to track the impact. Well conversions/goals will allow you to set a number of patterns or events that take place on the site.
For example if you were to add a new post to your blog that promoted a new product on your store you could set a goal to track when the user visited the post, continued further to the products page, added the product to their basket, visited the checkout page and then hit the order confirmation page.
Yes it’s that simple and is a perfect example of how important data is to your site and how you can utilise it to improve most importantly your visitor’s experience.
A real life example
I always like to give a real-life example wherever possible as it can help set in stone previous examples as given above.
We recently had a customer approach us about their site’s performance and while they were still getting similar visitor rates their overall advertisement return and impact from news posts had gone down dramatically.
After an initial dig around the stats it had come apparent that the users visiting the site were leaving within approx. 30 seconds, giving a high bounce rate and a decreased visitor time and no further engagement.
Now, as we had no information regarding the site’s history we had to dig down even further to determine the actual cause of the site’s lapse of visitor interaction. Based on the timings, we found out that the site had a recent update in its design. Surely you would expect an update to the site’s design will help increase its engagement? Well the famous saying is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” and in this case that is exactly right.
Elements of the site had changed and did not improve the site’s engagement for the user, causing the higher bounce rate as the users were simply leaving the site straight away.
So as you can see if this customer did not have that analytic data that had been running throughout the site’s history we wouldn’t have been able to utilise its data and determine the reasoning behind the site’s lapse of visitor interaction.
So as you can gather from the above the possibilities with website analytics is endless, and when it is put into practice it can be a powerful asset to your site and online presence. But don’t forget Google analytics and a number of other tracking software is completely free to use – which I hope gives you even more reason to get it setup on your site.
You may be thinking to yourself “I don’t have the time to start digging into all this” and yes I can totally understand that, but my answer would be to just get it setup on your site and leave it for a couple of months. At the end of the day it will always be there running in the background collecting all that important data for when you may actually need it in the future. Just like the real life example. Not only that, you could also just setup a monthly overview report that can be sent to your email to keep you in the loop with things.
I would love to go into more detail with specific areas and how this vital data can help you improve your online shop window but I simply can’t fit it all into one article. But don’t be alarmed I will certainly be doing another which will go into further depth in the next coming weeks. Or if you want to know more about any specific areas please feel free to make a comment below and I will try to include it in the next one.
Bye for now.