Having worked with many small businesses in my internet marketing career with Trellis since graduating from the University of Wisconsin, I can tell you that only a few out of all of those small businesses were actually tracking their online presence on a consistent basis. Guess what? The particular business owners, who were tracking their website traffic, also happened to have the most valuable websites out of all the smaller clients I have worked with. This should come as no surprise to you, because once you track your websites performance, you can quickly understand its value and invest in your online presence in a way that is profitable.
About 80 percent of the smaller companies I have worked with had no idea how many visitors were going to their website on a monthly basis before working with us, and many of them did not even know that it was something that was free to get! Google Analytics anybody??????
1) Install Google Analytics:
i. Sign up to Google Analytics with a Gmail account at Google Analytics and click access Google Analytics on the top right.
ii. Click on get tracking code and install the tracking code into the head of your website in the head section. This can be done by going into the head file of your website, most likely head.php if your website is built on a cms such as wordpress and placing it in the head section. Sometimes the head section may be in the header.php file. If your website is not built with php or some sort of backend programming language then you may have to insert it into each page at the head section at the top of each page.
iii. Once this is done, you should be able to verify your Google Analytics code and Google will tell you if they are able to track the code from the header. If you get any errors it means that you are installing the code into the wrong part of your website and that Google cannot access it properly. If you are not technically savvy, please contact us at Trellis and we will do it for free or find a web savvy individual who can help you with this process. It should not take more than 20 minutes or so and is something a friend should do for free.
2) How to interpret and utilize your Google Analytics.
The above image is the homepage screen that you will get when you go to view your websites analytics. This is the most important base information about your websites traffic, and will give you valuable insight into how well your website is performing online.
Total Visits: The first statistic is the total visits that have been to your website in the time period you have set to view on the top right, which is default one months’ time. This is different from unique visitors in that this includes visitors who have been to the website multiple times. If you visit a website twice it will not add to the unique visitors but will add to the total visits.
Unique Visitors: Unique Visitors are visitors coming from specific IP addresses and will not be counted as a new visitor if they return to a website from the same IP address.
Pageviews: page views are the total number of pages that were visited on your website in the time frame you are viewing on Google Analytics which is defaulted to one month.
Pages / visit: pages / visit are the number of pages per visit an average user views on your website. If you multiply pages / visit by visits you will get page views.
Avg. visit duration: The average duration is a straight forward stat telling you how long the average visitor is on your website for.
Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is an incredibly important statistic because it tells you how many visitors are immediately leaving your website without going to another web page on your site. If your bounce rate is high, than something needs to be changed on your homepage to increase visitor conversions rates that will cause more visitors to go to more web pages on your site.
% New Visits: This is an important statistic that tells you the percentage of people that are visiting your website that are new visitors. If you divide unique visitors by visits you will get % new visits.
Traffic acquisition is critical for understanding where your traffic is coming from. The overview Google Analytics traffic acquisition page shows the main channels that should be driving traffic to your website, Organic, Direct, Referral, Email, and Social. You can also generate paid traffic if you have the budget to do so. These are all pretty self-explanatory but in case you are not exactly sure what they mean here is a quick explanation:
Organic traffic is traffic generated from the major search engines, Google/Bing/Yahoo. Direct traffic is the traffic in which a user directly enters your web address into their browser. Referral traffic is traffic coming from links of your site from other websites, meaning they are finding you from other websites that are not considered major social media or search engine sources. Email traffic is traffic generate from email blasts such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact etc… Social is traffic coming from the major social sites Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc…
If you see that one of those sectors is very low or at dead 0, than you may want to look into ways to boost those areas such as running an SEO or social media campaign with an advertising agency or finding more creative ways to harvest emails and send out newsletters. Additionally, it is useful to look at the conversions and bounce rate of those traffic sources to see if users are leaving your site at an abnormal rate compared to the other traffic sources.
Setting up conversions through goals or eCommerce is also critical towards understanding the value of your web presence. To do this simply click on the conversions tab at the bottom left of Google Analytics and setup goals or eCommerce tracking. This is done by adding a tracking code to the places on your site that you want to track conversions such as email submissions or eCommerce purchases and add to cart submissions. Once you have a decent understanding for the conversions of your website, you will start to understand its real value. On average anywhere from 20 to 200 unique visitors can be required to generate a legitamate sale or lead from your website.
If you are getting 20 or so solid conversions per month, than this means you are likely to be making 10 or so sales each month depending on the rate that you close leads from your website (average close rate for most businesses is around 50%). This could be equivalent to a few hundred dollars a month or tens of thousands of dollars depending on how valuable a client or sale is worth to you. Once you have figured this out, you can really begin to invest in your web presence in a way that brings a strong ROI because you will have a decent approximation of how valuable generating more traffic to your website is in terms of real sales and profit at your company. This could make paid traffic such as a Google Adwords a great option or simply mean that SEO and other organic methods of generating traffic are the best ways to grow and improve the value of your website and web presence.
In conclusion, this is a pretty basic overview of how to utilize Google Analytics, and if you want more help or insight into more advanced details we will most likely have more advanced Google Analytics’ blog posts in the future. We are also happy to help you out if you simply reach out to us for help on more detailed questions about Google Analytics.
I hope this helps and have a great end to the 2013 year!