So you’ve set up Google Analytics and you’ve connected it to your analytics plugin. You can see just how many people have visited your site and what pages they visited. But why do you need a website analysis? The short answer: to help your business grow.
It’s not quite as simple as installing a plugin or setting up Google Analytics though. You also need to analyse these analytics. In other words, you can’t simply use these tools to gather data; once you have the data you need to perform a website analysis. This will help you establish what’s working (Keep on doing this!) and what needs fixing.
The point of performing a website analysis is to gather data that can inform your business decisions. This is good practice and you should be comparing your analytics on an ongoing basis. But this is even more important if you’ve made big changes to your site or you’ve launched a new site or product.
This is because the data that you gather tells you about your audience, their behaviour on your website and when they leave your site. Analysing this data can give you actionable results. For example, once you’ve figured out why or on which page people are leaving, you can take action to change this.
In fact, you should be using your website analysis to create a ToDo list of actions you can take to improve your site’s performance. Regardless of the size of your business, your site can benefit from this analysis.
Website Analysis Tools
With Google Analytics you can track and monitor various performance metrics. You can also make use of the Insight tools provided on platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, for example. If you’re running an external campaign, or something like Google Adwords, you’ll need to add your analyses of these to your other metrics as well.
Google Analytics offers a number of key indicators, which you can use for your website analysis. Here’s a quick look at what some of these are. For a more detailed description, have a look at this glossary from Loves Data.
- Session: A visit to your site.
- User: A person who is visiting your site. Unique users give you an indication of how many different people visited your site. You can also gain insight into the value of the information you provide by looking at the number of return users.
- Pageviews: The number of pages viewed. This is different to Pages, which refers to which pages were viewed. In Google Analytics, pages are organised according to their popularity – that is, pages that are viewed the most will appear first.
- Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of users who leave your site after only visiting a single page. The higher the percentage, the higher the number of users leaving. This is a handy tool as you can look at which pages have a higher bounce rate, and try to motivate users to click through to other pages.
- Location: Where your users hail from. You can find out if you’re reaching the right audience, or if you need to adjust your content for a different audience.
- Traffic: This tells you how your users are finding your site. It includes details about the channels (social, organic or direct), return or unique traffic, the search engines they’re using and other information. This provides insight into which channels are working and which either need more work or should be abandoned.
- Referrers: The sites (such as Facebook or other websites) that refer users to your site. Again, this gives you insight into how people are finding your site and where to focus your resources.
- Device: The technology your users are using. This data includes whether users are on mobile or desktop, their screen resolution (useful if you have a very visual site), whether they’re using iOS or Android and other such information.
Using Relevant Data
The above tools are just some of the many you have at your disposal, all of which can help you make data-driven decisions to boost your business. But your analysis needs to make use of relevant data. Without this, you’re wasting your time and your resources. For small businesses, with limited resources, this could end up costing you if you make the wrong decision based on the wrong data.
Say you decide not to make your website mobile-friendly as the overhaul would cost too much. But have you looked at how many of your users are on mobile devices? Or you decide to focus on an American audience, but the majority of your users are from European countries. Your efforts will cost you, in users, cash or other resources, if you don’t look at the correct data.
To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to start by establishing what data you need. Do you want to track the busiest hours on your social media? Should you be keeping an eye on the type of people visiting your site? What about bounce rates? And page views?
Essentially, you need to determine which performance indicators can help you grow your business. And by extension, which metrics to keep an eye on.
Once you have an idea of what data to track, you need to start analysing the data. It’s a good idea to do this in a spreadsheet, so you can keep track of your progress. This can help you avoid what’s known as vanity metrics – metrics without any comparative data, and which therefore cannot be examined in context.
To track your analytics effectively, you need to have a purpose. If you know your end goal, you’ll be able to more effectively find the information you need to make your decisions. For example, if you want to get a better understanding of your audience, you’ll need to examine your users and their behaviour. this includes the pages they visit on your site, the duration of their visits as well as their location and demographics.
As you’re analysing your data, you should be noting down anything interesting or actionable. Perhaps the majority of your users are on mobile devices; make a note to ensure your site is mobile-friendly. If your bounce rate is too high it could indicate that people are not finding the right type of info on your site, or a particular page. Try adjusting your content to fix this.
If you frequently record the relevant data, you’ll be able to see if your efforts are working. Maybe you decided your content needed a boost and you’ve started publishing a weekly business blog. Check the data. Is this driving traffic? Boosting sales? If you’re sending a weekly newsletter now, instead of a monthly one, can you see the results?
Making change can be effective, but only if it is worth the effort and resources you put into that change. To do this, you need to institute a frequent website analysis. This should focus on your key performance indicators. Plus you should have a clear purpose, which aligns with your business goals.
Once you understand these factors, you can start to record and analyse your data. This information needs to be given to the key players in your business so that they too can make the correct data-driven decisions. This in turn, will help you grow your business.