Are you monitoring your website’s success?
Some businesses are satisfied just having a website where they can send their customers to find more information. But others are quite interested in the statistics that are built when those site visitors start clicking.
There are a plethora of website tracking companies that gather this data behind the scenes of your website; no extra work involved for you. They widely vary in price, from those that cover the basics and are free of charge, to those that provide most intricate statistics and come with a hefty price tag.
If your website is fewer than 50 pages (and some website that are even larger), the complimentary (read: free) Google Analytics will probably meet your needs. Be sure to ask your web designer to include Google Analytics’ tracking code when building the template of your website (so that every page gets counted), and if your site has already been out there for some time, just ask your webmaster to add it. It’s never too late to begin tracking, though, without the historic data, your reference point of comparison will be later. Ask your web manager to give you access to the Analytics account so that you can set up reports to be emailed to you automatically each month or quarter, and so you can look up ad hoc tracking figures whenever the mood strikes.
Once you implement any type of tracking mechanism, how do you determine your website’s success? Some measure the number of page views or visits (a page view is counted each time a single page of your site loads, a visit is a session that can include one or more page views; consult your specific tracking glossary for definitions).
Others look at the number of unique visitors (each of who could account for several page views or visits). Tip: exclude from your tracking report the IP or group of IP addresses that make up your own company’s computers; this will eliminate all data that stems from internal traffic. (Do you really care if your employees view the company homepage each time they open an internet browser?)
Other interesting calculations include average time visitors spend on the site and their bounce rate (how often visitors are leaving the site after viewing only one page). Your tracking analysis can also shed light on where your visitors are coming from, i.e. search engines (and which keywords were used to get there) and referring websites. If you have a Google AdWords campaign, those results can be integrated with your Google Analytics findings.
The best way to determine the success of your website is to define your online goals.
- Does your website sell products? How much money do you hope to generate through this outlet? Keep a log of your online sales and track it over time. Are people finding your site through search engines when using relevant keywords? Are your visitors able to find the products they seek once they land on your site?
- Is there a way for your visitors to register (give you their names and other information you find useful) on your website? Keep a database of all the contacts you make via your site, and look for ways to increase registration, such as offering visitors free samples of your product or literature about a topic that sparks their interest in exchange for their basic info. Do these contacts eventually become customers? Or are you attracking web registrants who are not valid leads?
- Is there a certain path of pages you intend for your visitors? Measure your success by examining the content drilldown report. Are visitors finding your content as expected? How can you better lead them where you want them to go?
- Is there a specific page that spells accomplishment? Perhaps a “Thank you for completing our survey” or other conversion or confirmation page that visitors reach once completing a task. Inspect the data surrounding that specific page. Create a clear avenue that leads visitors to complete this task.
Keep in mind if using Google Analytics, that the information ultimately belongs to Google. Export tracking reports on a monthly basis and save them for your own files; as of now, Google only stores up to two years of data.
Finally, don’t just file away valuable statistics! Use these findings to make improvements to your website’s content, navigation and search engine optimization. Happy tracking.