Working to create and launch a website is one thing, but then what? How do you take care of it? If you want to promote it, how do you track results? Let’s take a look at website traffic stats and some of the tools Google Analytics offers you.
Engage, Mr. Data
Google’s Analytics suite of tools has become the 800-pound gorilla of stats tools for website managers. When a site is built, it’s easy for companies like U.S. NetworX to add custom tracking code, which is in turn used by Google to report on your site’s activity. You then log into their Analytics site to do all of your research and work.
The amount of data presented is mind-boggling, to put it simply. The initial view, called the Dashboard, provides the easiest to read and use data. It’s here that you can apply a date range for results, then view data such as visits, pageviews, time spent on the site, how folks found your site, keywords used, a map of users, and more. And to its credit, the Analytics system just makes sense; it’s laid out well and can be as simple (or as advanced) as you wish to make it.
If the Dashboard is too low-level for you, there are many ways you can customize the data and results you’re after. You can use the menus and settings to generate a myriad amount of data to track your site’s performance, from long-term campaign trends to “how many people visited my blog page just today?”
Put it to work for me!
Explaining Analytics’ virtues is one thing, but practicing it is another. Let’s do an example with some suggestions as to how to use it.
Let’s say you embark on a push to promote your company’s services. Your site has a Services page which you updated on March 1, and now that it’s a month later, let’s see how things went.
I’d first change the date range to match March 1 to April 1, so your first glance of data will report traffic for just that month. However, that’s the whole site. In order to see traffic to that one page, click the Content link. From this section, you should easily see a breakdown of traffic in that date range for specific pages. (Note: for the sites U.S. NetworX builds, “/index.php” is your homepage.) If you can’t find your important page, click the View Full Report link and sort via the Page column which is really the URL of the page.
You’ll see the traffic data for the page in question. Here’s what you should keep an eye on:
Pageviews: how many times your page was viewed
Unique Views: out of the number of Pageviews, how many were seen by the same users during the same session.
Time on Page: the average length of time a user was at your page
Bounce Rate: the percentage of visits to the page which resulted in the person leaving your site.
% Exit: the percent of exits from your site from this one page.
What’s the take-away from all of that? The number of Pageviews is one thing, but Unique Views can help you see if there lots of repeat visits to the page by the same users. Time on Page would help you see if a user is sticking around and reading a lot of data, watching a video, etc. But if your Bounce Rate is high, it’s possible folks read your content and moved past it and the site. Not necessarily bad, if they left your site and acted upon your info, though. But if your % Exit rate is high, you might consider changing up things to keep the user in your site, such as a link to more info or form to request more info.
A note to our clients
We’ve been transitioning new projects and sites to Google Analytics this year with good results. Existing sites can be moved to the tool with minimal fuss; please contact us to discuss the process. We think you’ll enjoy viewing and acting on your website’s traffic.