One of the keys to running a successful website is learning how to read the analytics. All websites should have an analytics package installed as standard, whether that is the free Google Analytics or an alternative. Analytics tracks visitor movements on a website and though there is a lot of information available, there are several key factors to focus on as a beginner. The more you use analytics to study what is happening on your website the more interested you’ll likely become in learning more about the websites performance and the visitors who use it.
When you first log into your account you would normally be presented by a dashboard. The dashboard contains the top level numbers that provide a snapshot of how the website is performing and can be viewed over set periods of time as well as compared to other periods. There are various numbers contained here that are worth noting.
Visitors, Unique & Returning
The number of visitors a website gets is critical. Websites getting more visitors will get more engagement, whether that is sales or enquiries and the goal of any website is to grow quality visitor’s levels. Unique visitors are the record for each individual, the remaining visits are returning visitors and it is always useful to see the percentage of new to returning visitors.
The bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors that don’t browse t website beyond the page that they land on. Ideal bounce rates are below 30%, certainly below 50% to demonstrate engagement. Unfortunately there is a lot of software operating online that causes bounce and the better the website performs the more vulnerable it is to bounce.
The exit pages are the pages that visitors are last on before leaving the website and can give a good indication to pages that are not working well. You would generally expect the contact page and the basket page (Ecommerce) to be high exit pages as they are often found at the end of a successful customer journey. Having a home page that is exited a lot will likely also result in a high bounce rate but also indicates that the website is not engaging.
The traffic sources are the various channels and links that visitors have used to find your website. You can compare the traffic source to other metrics such as keywords to give you an indication the keywords that were mostly used to find you on the various contributory channels. Traffic sources present a detailed view on what is working well for you so that you can try and do more of the same. Tracking the referral source has historically been one of the hardest tasks of a marketer, but online it is easy to see what is working and what isn’t. These stats can be manipulated to indicate the successes of specific campaigns as tracking in the business becomes more complex.
There are hundreds of different metrics available within a good analytics package and with experience highly detailed information can be gleaned. Once you understand the basics, exploring the activity on your website is one of the best ways to improve efficiency and make better marketing decisions going forwards.