J. A. Russell
Villa Maria Estate
Scenic Hotel Group
Web Design Services
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Vaughan Reed - Managing Director & Web Strategist
They are a culmination of my last 6+ years using Google Analytics – a specific tool for managing and measuring the effectiveness of your website. The articles also provide in-depth instructions for the techniques discussed within my Webinar - Read your Google Analytics like a pro!
As a website design and online strategy company, the team at Labyrinth Solutions firmly believe that having a successful website is a direct result from your on-going management and marketing of your website together with direction and support you receive from your website provider. Launching a great website in todays’ crowded online space without a clear plan for on-going management and marketing is unlikely to achieve desirable results for your business.
I hope to empower you with the tools and knowledge you need to monitor your website effectively so you can achieve website success, so let’s get started.
Upon logging into Google Analytics the Audience Overview is where I focus my attention, looking at key measurements (as highlighted), ‘magic numbers’ and assess website stickability!
Visits – some specialists put more importance on Unique Visits but my preference is Visits. I don’t mind if Unique Visitors is low in comparison to Visits, because this indicates that you have a good number of returning visitors. Most people don’t make a (buying) decision on their first visit; it generally takes a few visits before they’ve made up their mind. Therefore a good number of returning visitors indicates a user friendly website with relevant content.
Low website traffic volume is the No. 1 priority to fix, so make sure;
Page / Visit, Avg Visit Duration & Bounce Rate – Assessing these three figures will define your website “stickability” - a term which implies your website relevancy and ability to retain your audience interest. I like to refer to them as magic numbers. If one of these magic numbers is out then your website stickability is unbalanced and attaining website success will be beyond your grasp.
The magic numbers you are looking for are:
Mobile Visitors – Whilst still in the Audience section, have a look at your mobile visitor stats
Click on Audience > Mobile > Overview
As you can see with our example, roughly 30% of the traffic is coming from mobile devices so there is a proven need to update this website to display and operate effectively when viewed on a mobile phone or tablet.
Important Note: these Mobile stats include traffic from Tablets. The majority of websites will look and function adequately on a tablet, so what we really want to know about is ‘mobile phone’ traffic. You could go to the Devices section and add up all the individual numbers for mobile devices traffic but this is time consuming and limited in the detail you achieve, so here’s a better way…
The following steps will create a custom Advance Segment that will allow you to view your stats for Mobile Phone usage only.
To enable the custom Advance Segment, do the following:
If you go back to Audience > Overview with the Advanced Segment enabled, you’ll see a summary of how effective the website is for Mobile Phone visitors.
In the example above you can see that this website receives just over 10% (total visits where 4860) of their traffic via mobile phone devices. Also, two key values (Page / Visit, Avg Visit Duration) are within range for the Magic Number of 3 and our bounce rate is within the 30% range – all of which tells us that this website is effective in retaining mobile visitors.
The major reason why this example website is effective for mobile visitors is because it has been specifically designed to display effectively when viewed via; Desktop, Tablet and Mobile devices as you can see in the screenshot:
The next thing to check is where traffic is originating from. Remember to remove the filter for Mobile Visitors. Click the X next to the Advance Segment...
Click on Traffic Sources > Sources > All Traffic
Here you’re looking at where your main source of traffic is coming from and how relevant (or sticky) the traffic is for each source.
Look at the Number of Visits in context with Pages / Visit, Avg Visit Duration & Bounce Rate.
Note any abnormal values; these can indicate both good quality and poor quality. If you are receiving poor quality traffic from a specific source then stop or reduce your spend for that particular marketing source. If you are receiving good quality traffic from a particular source then conversely, think about increasing your marketing spend to get more traffic.
Important Note: If you had a high average bounce rate, this section would show you if there’s an issue due to a specific source of traffic.
Click on Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries
The Search Engine Optimization section is relatively new but it’s very useful! This section provides great information about rankings in Google and the Click Through Rate (CTR) for specific keywords.
To enable this feature you have to link your Analytics account with your Google Webmaster Tools. Refer to the following Google Webmaster Tools setup guide to enable the Search Engine Optimization feature: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1308621?hl=en&ref_topic=1308589
Within the Search Engine Optimization section you should monitor your rankings and CTR for the primary keywords that describe your business. If your website is not getting a good CTR but you are ranking well then you need to look at the description Meta tag for the landing page to make sure it is persuasive enough. I think the example site shown does a great sales job to cover many bases.
Important Note: I have found that ranking isn’t totally accurate for New Zealand listings due to international traffic skewing the results even when filtering by New Zealand only traffic. The clicks should be accurate but I recommend using the stats for ‘impressions’, ‘rankings’ and ‘CTR’ as a guide only.
Click on Content > Site Content > All Pages
Next I look at the top ranked pages.
Obviously, the aim here is to know which pages are being viewed the most by your website audience. However, more importantly, you’ll want to look at the stickability of your top pages too. Remember, this is how effective these (top ranked) pages are at retaining your visitor’s interest.
Look at your Pageviews, Avg Time on Page and Bounce Rate to gauge the “stickability” of each of your top pages.
If any of your top level pages have poor stickability, take a look at the page and see what could be causing the issue. Generally, the problems are due to minimal content, poor content or no clear call to actions.
Important Note: If you had a high average bounce rate, this section would show you if the issue is due to a specific page.
While in Site Content, it’s also worth checking the Site Search stats. If you have internal searching on your website (this is searching within your website, not an external search engine), this section will tell you what search terms people are using within your website to find information.
For Site Search to work on your own website, you’ll need to do some ‘configuring’ first so please refer to the following setup guide: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1012264?hl=en
You can use Site Search to monitor your top internal search terms. To test the results that you see, I suggest that you perform the search yourself to make sure the appropriate results are being returned. Knowing your top internal search terms is very important to help you fine-tune meta-data and writing content.
The key statistics that I have highlighted in this article are ones that I like to monitor on a monthly basis for our clients. Of course there are a lot of others that you can monitor but my selection will give you a good gauge of your overall website performance.
#2 Google Analytics – Important Tools to Know and Use
#3 Google Analytics – Tracking Goals and Monitoring Conversions
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