Why You Need to Look at Your Website’s Google Analytics
A client recently said to me,
“But you need to look at it,” I said. “Otherwise, you won’t know which parts of your website need improvement.”
I explained that a website is a lot like decorating your house. You’re never finished. And after a while, tastes change. It is important to look at your Google Analytics report at least weekly. At the end of each project, I spend time with my clients going over their Google Analytics and making sure they know how to look at them. I even go back after a couple of weeks to see what the numbers say and give some feedback so they understand the connection between social media, blog posts, and Google. It’s that important.
I don’t want to just build websites for small businesses. I want their businesses to be successful and turn browsers into clients. If they aren’t getting feedback from potential clients, then we won’t know how to improve their website.
If you don’t have Google Analytics on your website, you are missing out on key feedback. Some people think that once their website is up, then their work is done. But how do you know your website is effective? Is it reaching people? Does anyone care?
I once told a client that the secret to building a website is to continue adding content and links to ensure that people keep coming back to your website and don’t forget you. A website is like the opposite of the movie Field of Dreams.
Can you hear it? The whispers? “Build it, and they will come . . . Build it, and they will come . . .”
You must promote your website by adding content and social media links. If you aren’t doing that, your website will only go so far to get your more business.
The easiest way to create a website strategy is to install Google Analytics.
The place to add code to embed Google Analytics into your website depends on your website builder. To get started I recommend looking here.
If you have Google Analytics and don’t know what you are looking at, then keep on reading!
First, log in here. . .
Once you log in, you’ll see so much data on the screen, you might not even know where to start. I decided to focus on four metrics in this blog post. I will cover more of the why, what, and how numbers in a future post.
Here is a snapshot of part of the Google Analytics for The Right Space.
What do we see here?
I wish there was a way to know how many users her competitor got this week, but all she can really do is compete with herself here. This graph shows that last week, there were almost 40 new users on her website. Why is that? Her website is new, so most everyone is a new user. Also, you will usually see a spike in users when you post something on social media and link back to your website.
What is cool to see is that there was a spike last Sunday. And looking at her social media activity, it is easy to see why. She posted an article on Facebook about a kitchen renovation, and curious users went to her website to find out more.
How many users should you strive for? Well that depends on how often your users convert into leads. How do we know how many leads she got? Her website has a contact form, and five users sent her an email through her website. There is also a special phone number on the website that forwards to her real cell phone. I would consider anyone who used that cell phone number to call her as a lead.
If you look at the data, 17 users turned into five emails this week for services. That is a conversion rate of 29%! (5 / 17)
A “session” is generally described as activity within a website that can span 30 minutes. What is the difference between sessions and users? “Sessions” refer to how many times someone went to a website. “Users” is actually unique users. Even more interesting, look at the difference: 21 minus 17 is 4. That means four people left her website after 30 minutes and then came back in the same week. These people are really interested!
3) Bounce Rate
“Bounce rate” is the number of people who leave a website after only viewing one page. This is why I don’t recommend one-page websites. If you only have one page, how do you know what content people are interested in? I am sure there is a business case for a one-page website, but in general, I encourage you to make multiple pages and organize your content accordingly.
The lower the bounce, rate the better. Most articles say that an average bounce rate is between 40% and 60%. An excellent bounce rate is under 40%. I personally have not seen anything under 40%, but I bet my bottom dollar that Amazon’s bounce rate is super low.
What if your website bounce rate is 80% or higher? Something is scaring people away. It could be bad design or a lack of content. If that is the case, you need to do some serious work on your website.
If you would like to improve your bounce rate and get users to explore other parts of your website, the most important thing you can do is make sure that you have a with a clear call to action that takes the user on a journey. Also, have descriptive headers that incite users to click to other pages. Make sure your blog titles match what the headline promised so users read down to the end of the article. Also, videos and beautiful, captivating photos can improve a bounce rate. The most important thing to do is to set your own baseline and try to improve your website’s bounce rate at a steady pace.
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4) Session Duration
Session duration is how long as user is on your website (broken down into seconds). What is the perfect length of a user session? It depends on the journey you want users to take. A session duration that is too short means they are leaving your website quickly, but a long session duration may not be good, either. If you are a government website, for example, you want people to find what they are looking for quickly. Otherwise, they might call someone and take up an employee’s time with questions that the website could have answered.
A lot of what I said about bounce rate can improve your session duration, too. Another tip: make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. Look at your website on your mobile devices and watch the fonts to make sure you can read your content on a mobile device. Also, look at your menu and make sure it isn’t so long that it cuts off on the page.
As you can see, Google Analytics is not scary. It is a great tool that can help you pinpoint the content users like that keeps them coming back.
As I said before, I am going to cover more of the why, what, and how of Google Analytics next week.
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