I ran into a client the other day and she raved about the surge of business at her hair salons since we launched her new sites. I asked her how her traffic was doing.
“You mean I find out how many people are going to my site?” she asked.
Yes! You absolutely can. I’ll tell you how, because a remarkable number of people are wondering the same thing. Let this also be a warning to any readers who think this is a dumb question. You’ll miss or lose business if you make assumptions about what people know, so listen up.
The main way people monitor their website traffic is through Google Analytics. You can use this insightful data to tweak your website, attract of the right type of traffic, and convert more visitors into customers.
There are five basic questions that Google Analytics can help you answer about your website visitors.
- How Are People Finding My Site?
It’s not a mystery, even though when you first launch a blog or website you might rather amazed to watch your traffic begin to go up and wonder who are these people and how did they find me. You can use Google Analytics to answer that question and find out how many visitors are coming from a variety of sources. Here are the main ways someone may find your website.
- Organic – Someone does a search for a product or service, your site comes up in the search results and they click your listing. Google Analytics can also pinpoint which browser a visiter used to get to your site.
- Direct – Someone went directly to your site by typing in your actual URL, which they got from your business card or other non-online source.
- Referral – Another website mentioned your site, provided a link, and someone clicked through. Google Analytics will show your the sources of your links.
- Social Media – A social media site provided a link, and someone clicked through. Google Analytics identifies which social media sites your visitors are coming from.
- Email – if you send out email newsletters and include links back to your site, Google Analytics can track those results and show you that you are not wasting your time.
You will be able to see the results of posting frequently and strategically on Facebook, Twitter and other sites, of sending out a newsletter and if you have been working on optimizing your pages and posts, you will see the number of visits from organic searches starting to rise. It only seems like magic!
2.) What Do People Think of My Site?
When someone comes to your site you can tell whether he or she visited one page and then left (bounced) and how long he or she stayed on the page before leaving. So if you have a high bounce rate and the average time spent on a page is very low, then you know that your website is not attracting your right target market, or that your target market doesn’t like what they see and skedaddle off.
Thankfully, that’s not the case with New Tricks. Despite having a bounce rate of 85%, we know that people generally like our site. How can we tell?
Each week for eight years, I write at least one blog post. These 600 or so blog posts bring a steady stream of traffic to our site.
In the screenshot below from our New Tricks Google Analytics account, we can see that people coming to our website to read one of the posts are spending between 1.5 and 8 minutes reading an article. For 85 percent of our visitors, this was what they came for and after reading the post, they left the site. This is typical of sites with active well-read blogs.
We can see a different behavior pattern from looking at what happens when people visit an actual page on our website rather than a blog post. For example, we can see below that visitors to our home page (/) are staying there an average of 2.5 minutes, which is quite a long time considering that according to the Neilson Norman Group most users stay on a website page less than 59 seconds. For 40% of the visitors, they must have liked what they saw because they go on to visit another page on the site.
3.) What Pages Are Getting The Most Action?
Google Analytics can show you which web pages are getting the most traffic. You can find out which pages are duds, that are getting little action. When you see these red flags, you need to test what is going on so you can do something about it.
Often, companies have ancillary pages not listed on the main menu that are buried and languish on a sidebar on a departmental page not getting visits. What do you do with this info? Does this page have important information? If so, move the information or the page. Make sure the information can be presented or displayed in a way people will find more engaging or eliminate it completely.
Google Analytics account can show you which page or post brought each visitor to your site and what he or she did next. This is called Behavior Flow and is very helpful to finding out the path people are taking when viewing your site.
If it is not what you think should be going on, you can try to figure out what is wrong and fix it. For example, if people are reading a couple of pages then exiting from one specific page then perhaps there is something on that exit page that is chasing them away. Finding these patterns and making hypotheses about what is going on so you can change things for the better, is the whole point of evaluating user behavior patterns presented in Google Analytics.
4.) Are Your Visitors Finding You On Their Mobile Devices?
Google wants people to be able to read the results of a search on their mobile devices. They encourage website owners to provide mobile views by rewarding sites that give users a good experience. The reward is better mobile ranking. Google Analytics will tell you how you are ranking and who is using what size device to visit your site. If you have a lot of mobile traffic, you need to make sure you are putting your best foot forward for visitors on these smaller devices.
5.) Are My Visitors Real?
Don’t get excited when Google Analytics shows that you have 100 people a day going to your site. Not all traffic is from real people wanting to read your posts or buy your services. It is entirely possible that a quarter of your visitors may be spam, especially if you have rather low traffic numbers. You might think http://go.ekatalog.xyz/ referred some visitors to your site, so then you check it out. This link takes you to Ali Express, which is an Asian version of Amazon that fooled you into clicking their link so it will make their traffic ratings higher. Probably links from porn sites, social button sites or even Eastern European sites are Ghost spam☹. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
With these five things are a start to your becoming a website sleuth, gaining important data from Google. You may be overwhelmed at first with how to find things, or get more information than you want, If you can’t figure it out, Google it. Seriously, start with these few things and then dive deeper into information that you can use to make your website serve the customers you most want to reach, and make it easier for them to use your products and services.
If you’re not already set up with Google Analytics here is a quick guide to get you started:
Download the free version of the Yoast Google Analytics plugin. They also have some great posts on setting it up. It is easy as pie.
Once your code is in place, you can go to your Google Analytics account that you set up to see how you are doing. And for those of you who just want to find out how many people are visiting your site, the Google Analytics Plugin by Yoast will give you a that information, showing you a view of your overall traffic and top posts, right on your dashboard. I think that helps people keep active on their sites since they can track the spikes when they post on Facebook or send out a newsletter.
We can all use a little motivation to do the work! What do you think?