Do you track traffic to your website?
I’m often surprised by how little Google Analytics is used by the small business owners that I work with. Everyone recognizes the importance of marketing online, having a good website, blogging, and using social media. Yet using Google Analytics is often overlooked, even though it’s a critical part of online marketing.
Using Google Analytics is crucial because you need to determine what is working! This is especially important with search engine optimization, since you’ll want to know what content is generating traffic and how that traffic is converting on your website.
Common Mistakes with Google Analytics
In my work with small business owners, I often see one of two mistakes with Google Analytics:
- Google Analytics is not even set up. Usually this is due to hiring a web developer who is not thinking about a website as a marketing tool, so they neglect to even install the necessary tracking code. This is a huge mistake, but unfortunately, it’s one that I see over and over again with small business websites.
- Google Analytics is set up, but not used. In these cases, the Google Analytics tracking code has been installed, but no one is viewing the data!
In one case, I worked with a client whose developer made a huge mistake that resulted in stopping all traffic to their website (if you’re interested in the technical explanation, they redesigned the website and redirected traffic away from the domain where the site had been). As you can see, months went by with zero traffic to the site. Because no one was checking Analytics, this went by unnoticed. Fortunately, we were able to fix this situation but it is definitely not something that you want to have happen to you!
Setting up Google Analytics
Setting up Google Analytics on your website is quite easy. If I developed your site for you, this is already set up for you. Otherwise, you can use these steps:
- Sign up for an Analytics account by going to http://www.google.com/analytics/.
- Select “New Account,” add your website name and URL, and click the blue “Get Tracking ID” button. You’ll need to accept Google’s Terms of Service.
- If you’re using a WordPress website, you can then install the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin. You can then go to the plugin’s settings, select your new Analytics profile, and update your settings.
Note that you will probably want to share this data with your marketing staff or online marketing consultant. To do so, you can just add them as a user on your Analytics account for this profile by clicking on the “Admin” button on the upper right-hand corner, selecting your profile, clicking on the “Users” button, and then selecting “New User.”
Gathering Data and Setting Goals
Having Google Analytics set up will allow you to gather useful data, such as:
- Number of visitors to your site: find out how many people visit your website every day, every week, or every month.
- Traffic sources: where did your visitors come from? Was it through an organic search on Google? Was it a referral from another website?
- Keywords used: what keywords did users type in to find your site? This is priceless information, since it tells you two things: 1) what people are actually looking for online, and 2) what search terms Google is already associating with your site.
- Pages being viewed: what are the most popular pages on your site? What are the least popular? Is there a good call-to-action on your popular pages? Can you improve the less popular pages so that more people will view them?
- Bounce rate: how often do visitors visit only one page of your site? If a user lands on one page and hits the “back” button on their browser, this is considered a “bounce.” It’s generally not good for your website SEO because it suggests that users aren’t finding useful content on your site.
Analytics also allows you to track goals on your website. Basically, you can set a goal that you want to achieve through your web marketing. Of course, if you’re selling something on your site you would track sales, but if you’re in the service industry, common goals might include:
- Users that fill out the contact form
- Users that sign up for your newsletter
- Users that click on your social media profiles
- Users that engage with your content by spending more time on your site than the average visitor
- Users that engage with your content by reading more pages on your site than the average visitor
These goals will help you to identify whether you’re generating leads, encouraging people to stay in touch, and engaging with current and prospective clients. If you find that you’re not meeting your goals, then you’ll need to make some improvements to your website or your content strategy (though usually, you’ll need to make improvements to both!).
By using Google Analytics, you will be able to do one of the most important things for online marketing: track what’s working and what’s not so that you can make adjustments! As you gather more data, you’ll be able to identify what keywords, content, and referral sites are helping you to meet your goals. You can then tweak your approach to take advantage of those and to make improvements to the ones that aren’t working.