I have to confess that I’ve been dragging my feet about using Google Analytics. Everyone was telling me how important it was but it just didn’t seem like a priority. My web hosting gives me fairly good stats on traffic, keywords people were using and the countries visitors are from. What more could Google Analytics do?
Apparently, a lot!
First you can track how many visitors came to your site, which pages they visited and how long they stayed. You can also see how these people came to your site; did they type in your URL, click a link from another site or come from a search engine.
If you notice certain sites are sending you a lot of traffic it’s worth visiting those sites to find out why. Perhaps you can do something to further encourage them to send traffic your way.
When looking at search engine traffic, you can not only see which search engines are sending you the most traffic, but also which keywords are the most common sources of traffic. Even more important, you can see which keywords sent you quality traffic. A keyword that sends a smaller number of people to your site who stay, visit a number of pages and eventually purchase is far more valuable to you than a keyword that drives tons of people to your site who take one look and then “bounce” off your site.
You can also separate paid keywords (ie Google Adwords) from organic keywords (searches). This will allow you to focus your advertising on keywords that actually lead to sales, thus reducing the amount you spend on people who don’t buy.
You can also look at the top landing pages for your site. Not everyone will arrive at your site at your home page. They may enter at any point. You can not only see which pages are the most popular entry to your site, you can see which are the most effective. If you see a popular landing page where lots of people are bouncing, you know you need to make some changes to that page to encourage people to stick around.
If you sell products from your website you can track which products are most popular, where the purchasers live and how they came to your site. This is important information to know when planning your marketing. If you know a large percentage of your customers come from Washington State you’ll want to focus your advertising there.
By tracking when and where people leave your site you can stop and rectify problems. For example, if you notice a large percentage of people are leaving mid-way through the purchase process you can revisit your process to see if it’s too difficult or not providing enough information.
The biggest problem with Google Analytics is there is almost too much data for beginners. It’s hard to know where to start and what to track. Particularly if you are just starting out in business it can seem like more trouble than it’s worth.
However, even if you’re not quite ready to take the time to learn how to use Google Analytics correctly, it’s worth putting the tracking code on your site now. That way, once you are ready to start analyzing your traffic you’ll have some history to look at.
Join me next week when we’ll explore Google’s keyword tools.
Andrea J. Stenberg
Are you using Google Analytics? Please leave a comment and tell us what you track and how it helps you run your business.