Your website’s success hinges on how effectively you set goals and KPIs — and measure them over time. Before you prepare to launch a new site or revamp an existing one, consider the following questions: What do you want website visitors to do when they get to your site? Where will those actions take place? How will you track them? These are all questions that can help set you up for success from the start.
One of the best tools to track your website data is Google Analytics. In fact, 56 percent of all websites use it to track site performance, reported Hootsuite. Why is it the best tool? First, it was developed by the same company who created the No. 1 search engine in the world — Google. Second, it’s a free tool that allows you to analyze data about your business in one place.
Hootsuite offers a great step-by-step guide that can help you or your website development team set up Google Analytics, which is a critical first step. It has to be set up properly in order to aggregate key data.
Once you’ve established your goals, KPIs and set up Google Analytics, here are four important Google Analytics website metrics to track:
This is the metric that businesses typically care about most. Interestingly, “conversions” don’t just represent people who bought something on your site. They can include, but aren’t limited to: clicking on a product, clicking on a product or service benefit in a comprehensive listing, committing to a quick survey, completing a requested action, or completing a form to request more information or service availability. This draws back to the importance of setting goals and KPIs in the beginning of your website planning, in order to determine what exactly you hope to measure, how you’ll measure it and what numbers you hope to reach. Using Google Analytics, you might determine only a small number of people use your service availability form and explore ways you can better promote it sitewide and improve the user experience on the page itself.
Pageviews are the number of times the page was viewed. Repeated views of a single page are also counted. Let’s say you have five service pages. You could drill down to see which of the five service pages is currently generating the most traffic. Is it just generally a more popular service or is there something you did well on that page that could be replicated across your other service lines? Additionally, if you have a blog or resource section on your site, you might track which topics get the most Pageviews. This can help you understand the types of information your audience is looking for so you can create more of the same, which might also be heavily trafficked.
It’s important to note, however, that not all traffic to your site is “qualified” traffic. That means they may or may not be part of your target audience or convert to a customer. For that reason, it’s helpful to use Customer Relationship Management Software in tandem with Google Analytics. That way, when someone visits your site, fills out a lead generation form, and hits “submit”, that lead information can go directly into your CRM software. Depending on your CRM’s capabilities, you can then categorize the leads, track leads that turned into customers or clients, and assign a monetary value to it.
A “session” is the period of time a website visitor is active on your website or app. Once someone is inactive for half an hour or more, their future activity is considered a new session. If someone leaves your site and comes back within 30 minutes, it’s counted as part of the original session.
Sessions are a direct reflection of how engaging and relevant the messaging is on the initial page the person visited. You want your audience to read, interact and buy your products or services (if it’s an ecommerce site). Increased time spent on site means you’ve hit a quality note with the user.
Have you ever clicked through to a webpage from Google and — seconds later — hit the back button because it wasn’t the information you wanted? That’s considered a “bounce,” or a single-page visit where there was no interaction with the page. People bounce from a page for a number of reasons, including when they deem the page is irrelevant to their original search. For example, someone might search “signs of a stroke” in Google and click through from search to a hospital page with the headline: “Why We’re the No. Center for Neurological Care.” The headline doesn’t align 1:1 with the keyword the person searched: “signs of stroke.” As a result, they may deem it irrelevant. Maybe the signs of stroke are actually on that hospital page, but they’re buried so far down the page the person never saw them. That’s why it’s important to choose a keyword that represents the central theme of the content and include that keyword in prominent places, such as the headline. Your content should also be well organized so that the visitor doesn’t have to search very hard to find what they need.
Traffic sources tell you where your traffic is coming from, such as Google or social media, for instance. This is really helpful because it tells you how successful other key marketing initiatives are at sending traffic to your site. For example, maybe you hired a team to keyword optimize your webpages to perform more optimally in search engines (like Google). After those pages launched, you see a notable increase in new users from the source “google / organic.”
You can also tag the URLs in your email marketing campaigns so they track how many people click through to your website. Maybe your company sent out four different emails as part of a campaign to help educate the public on the benefits of natural gas. By adding UTM parameters to your URLs (specific text strings that you can append to URLs), you can measure and compare how many users clicked through from each email. Email platforms, such as HubSpot or Mailchimp, also have reports you can utilize to track and measure the success of your email campaigns. Open rates, click rates, bounces, unsubscribes, and spam scores are just some of the email marketing metrics to monitor, in addition to Google Analytics website metrics.
By regularly monitoring Google Analytics website metrics, you can make informed decisions about your business using data — not just gut instinct.