Web Analytics Low-down: Top Five Indicators to Measure your Success
Last month, DHR’s Sarah Harte went along to the latest in a series of Google Breakfast Briefings focused on Analytics. Here are some of the highlights that Sarah took away from the session as well as the top five indicators to measure your website’s effectiveness.
Things change quickly in the world of digital marketing. I’ve been using Google Analytics – a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources – for about seven years now and the interface has been updated a number of times, making it more important than ever to upskill and keep abreast of new developments. You don’t have to be a webmaster or techie to use Analytics, instead the service is aimed at anyone in an organisation who wants to find out: how people are accessing their website(s); where they are visiting from; what search terms they’re using; what pages are most popular, and much more.
The Google Analytics basic package is free, and is hugely beneficial to organisations (big and small) and particularly for those that don’t have big budgets, yet want to track their website statistics in order to measure and report on their online activities. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!
Google Analytics can track visitors coming from all websites, including search engines and social networks, direct visits and referring sites.
If you’re just starting out with Analytics, it can be confusing. Therefore it’s important to highlight the essential indicators to focus on when using the Analytics dashboard (i.e. the webpage that you land on when you log in to the Analytics service). These include:
- Real Time: a set of reports that show what’s happening on your site as it happens, who’s visiting your site right now; what pages they are clicking on, and more.
- Audience: these reports are designed to provide insight into: who makes up your audience (demographics, interests, geography), how that audience reaches and consumes your content (technology, mobile), loyalty and engagement (behaviour). If the number of page views and session times are high, this shows that those who visit your site are going to numerous pages within it and spending relatively long amounts of time viewing your content. This is a good indication that you are doing something right.
- Mobile is a huge area of growth, so it’s really important to check the devices that people are using when they visit your site, i.e. are they coming to your website via a personal computer or a handheld mobile device, such as a tablet computer or smart phone? If the number of mobile users visiting your site is low, this can be a bad sign, so you should check to see how optimised your site is for mobile (you could do a quick and very basic test yourself by accessing your website from a smartphone and assessing how well it looks and functions when viewed from a mobile device).There is an increasing amount of people switching from PCs to tablets and mobile devices for browsing the internet. In the UK and Ireland alone, some are predicting the average mobile and tablet usage is set to total over 50% by the end of the year, as more and more people move away from their PCs and use their mobiles to search, browse, purchase, and more. Because of this, it is a major issue if mobile users are not using your site.
- The Behaviour section contains reports designed to help you improve the content on your site to meet the needs and expectations of your users. The Behavior Flow report visualises the path users travelled from one page on your site to the next. This report can help you discover what content keeps users engaged with your site.
- The Site Content Pages Report shows how frequently each page on your site was viewed. Some things to watch out for in this report include the following:
- All pages – check the time that visitors to your site spent on each page (if the time is longer than 30 seconds, this could also mean the page in question is difficult for visitors to navigate).
- Bounce rate – this represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site. It’s a measure of effectiveness in encouraging visitors to continue with their visit. According to Google, a bounce rate of less than 20 per cent is normal. If it is 40 to 50 per cent, it is alarming and you need to ask yourself why are visitors to your site having a poor experience and moving away from it so promptly? High bounce rates on your landing pages (web page which serves as the entry point for a website or a particular section of a website) could indicate that these pages need to be rewritten or redesigned to be more effective.
At the end of the hour-long session at Google, we were informed of a number of other options for finding out more about the Analytics service, including:
- Taking the Analytics IQ exam
- Analytics academy – online lessons
- Exploring the Google Forum for queries
- Accessing ‘Think with Google’, Google’s source for insights, trends and research in digital marketing.
For more information and to request invitations to future events, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org – for the coffee alone it is worth the early start :)