Launching a new website is a lot of work. Finding the right look, writing the content. Eventually, all of that work gets done and the site it out there for the world to see. Then, it’s time to wait for visitors to discover your site….
When I first launched my LesaTownsend.com website in 2009, like most websites, it didn’t get much traffic. And even after the site was up and completely indexed by the Search Engines, it was only getting a small trickle of traffic. It wasn’t until I started using the free Google Analytics tools to track the site’s performance that I started to see an uptick in site visitors.
A couple of months ago, I launched a new website to better coordinate with the topics of my newsletter. It, too, started out with little traffic. But I have used the data in Google Analytics from the beginning with this site, so its traffic is increasing more quickly than my original site did. In fact, this month, traffic is up a whopping 1,000%! What that really means is that traffic last month was REALLY low, but I sure LOVE seeing that huge number in my stats.
I love using the reports and graphs in Google Analytics to see how my sites are doing. Seeing those numbers go up every month is something to celebrate. It is cold, hard proof that what I am doing is working.
Google Analytics is completely free and easy to set up. If you use WordPress (like I do) for your website, make it even easier on yourself and use a plugin to do the set up for you. If you don’t already have one, set one up today.
How Analytics Helps Website Performance
It is a website’s visitors that determine how successful any given website really is, as much as those high-priced web designers might like you to think they alone know what makes a website successful. But how do you really know if your visitors like what they see when they visit your site? The free Google Analytics tools help you to know how visitors found your site and how they interacted with it. You can use this information to improve your site’s overall performance, which will lead to increased sales.
Your audience is composed of the visitors to your site. A healthy website has lots of new visitors as well as a good percentage of repeat visitors. Use the metrics in Analytics to track: the total number of visits to your site, the number of unique visitors, the total number of pages viewed on your site, the average number of pages viewed per visit, the average time on site for each visitor, the percent of single-page views, and the percent of total visitors who visited your site for the first time.
There is complete integration with Adwords, so if you pay for traffic to your site, you can easily track how well your AdWords campaigns are meeting your expectations: how many visitors they’re bringing in, how much money those visitors are spending, and the extent to which visitors are completing goals.
Traffic is the lifeblood of your website. Analytics gives you lots of data to use to track your traffic patterns, including: where the traffic is coming from (the “Source”), what type of media contained the link to your site (the “Medium”), what keywords people are using to find your site, and where your direct traffic lands.
In web analytics, conversion is a term used to describe the successful completion of a business critical task. In Analytics, you can set up what are called “goals” which track the number of people who reach the end result, including: URL destination, time on site, pages per visit, or event.
Use the Content metrics to develop an understanding of how well your content addresses the purpose of your site. Google Analytics tracks the following kinds of data about how visitors interact with your site content:
- The pages on which they enter and exit your site.
- How often and how long they view individual pages.
- The extent to which they search your site for specific content.
- The extent to which they interact with things like slide shows or embedded videos.
- How frequently they click AdSense ads, and the revenue you see from those clicks.
The Social Engagement reports allow you to see how people shared content on your site via social actions. Examples of social actions on your site that can be tracked include Google +1 button clicks, Facebook “Like” and “Send” interactions, and Del.icio.us bookmarks.
It takes more than simply putting a site up online to make a website successful. A successful website engages your visitor and makes them want to return. Use the free tools available in Google Analytics to improve the performance of your website. Your business will thank you.