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Basic Tips on Web Analytics

Posted on Feb 17th, 2010
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    Just about every business with a web site does something to market and promote it. When those companies are asked about web analytics, it’s surprising how many look back with a blank stare.  This isn’t the case with mature online marketers but it does happen a lot with new business web sites and blogs.

    For many companies that are new to web analytics the idea of digging in and finding useful information can be daunting.  It’s common marketing sense to measure what you’re marketing, but making sense of analytics data doesn’t always find time in the mix of duties a small business or new web site owner is responsible for.

    The amount of information that analytics packages deliver isn’t always easy to sort through and turn into business decisions. So what should those that are new to web analytics do? Keep it simple and start off with the basics.

    Each analytics package is different in features, price and learning curve. I’d suggest starting out with Google Analytics as it’s free, feature rich, and not too complicated to learn. Start off by looking at the items below.

    • Unique Visitors – Unique visitors are are an important metric as it counts everyone as one for any given time period. This means that if you had 250 unique visitors, 250 different people visited your site at least once. If your unique visitor number is low, it could mean that your site is either having issues in search engines, or need more content.
    • Traffic Sources – Are you getting traffic from Google, Yahoo, Twitter, or other sites? Referring information can help you see where your traffic is coming from which you can then use to make decisions on where and how to promote your future content.
    • Referring Keywords – These are the phrases that someone put into a search engine and arrived at your site with. Ideally they’d be keyword phrases that related to your company. If not, then it may be an indication that you’re either not optimized, or optimized for the wrong phrases.
    • Top Content – No matter what size your site is, knowing what pages get the most traffic can help you when building out new pages. Using the same format, or building out content on that topic, can help drive more traffic. These are also pages that call to action (CTA) buttons should be added if you want your visitors to do download a white paper or do something specific.
    • Location – If your business wants a strong local presence, the location area in analytics can tell you country, state and city of where your visitors are coming from. Are your visitors actually local? That’d be a good thing to know.
    • Campaign Tracking –  Track visitors from sources where you are marketing to a particular goal page or conversion.

    As you feel more comfortable with Google Analytics you can then start to explore other actionable data including conversions, trends and features such as the most often used search terms on your internal search engine. Features like goals, top entrance/exit pages, bounce rates, and time on site are also a good metrics to use in understanding how visitors are interacting with your content. Visit the Google Analytics Help page to find out everything you need to know to make the most out of GA.

    Web analytics can be overwhelming as there is a lot of information to be analyzed and then decisions that need to be made from that data. Instead of trying to jump in and consume it all, take it one step at a time.