Following on from my talk at Think Visibility last weekend, several people mentioned how they loved the vast sea of data Google Analytics provides, but simply don’t know where to begin sorting through it to uncover trends. It can be overwhelming. So I’ve put together these 7 analytics tips to help you get started.
While these steps are aimed towards Google Analytics users, the tips can apply to the majority of website analytics software.
Spot trends in data and react
1. Look at the main visitor graph. Is there a trend emerging as to the days of the week (or times of year) when most traffic arrives at your website? This will probably correlate with your overall seasonal trends. Gifts or electronics for example may see peaks before holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and so on.
Whereas cosmetic surgery traffic will probably peak after New Year when people have made those New Year resolutions and start comparing clinic websites in preparation for looking good on their summer holidays. Plan for the year ahead to ensure website updates and targeted campaigns are ready for those peaks.
Refine: don’t settle for simplified analytics overviews2. Exactly what percentage of visitors came from Google compared to Live or Yahoo? Monitor this and compare with your SEO efforts to see how effective they are. Check how many and which pages are indexed in each search engine and work to improve that if necessary to increase traffic. This is especially important for new websites.
Dig deeper into website statistics
3. Exactly which web pages on referring sites are linking to you? In order to do this, simply click on the domain name listed under Referring Sites to open up pages or directories where traffic originated. Can the link be improved through better anchor text or positioning?
Compare metrics and investigate
4. View visitor browser and OS statistics and look at bounce rates for each. Did you check your website in all browser and OS combinations? Are there any barriers for certain combinations?
An ecommerce checkout may include extra scripting so again, check the browser and OS combinations of those who dropped out of the checkout funnel in case any patterns occur and investigate if so. Don’t forget that visually all may look fine, but how fast did your website load?
5. Also, check which pages visitors navigated to if they left the checkout funnel and did not leave your website altogether. Have you got enough supporting information in the checkout? Or are there too many distractions?
As I mentioned in my Advanced Analytics talk at Think Visibility, key performance indicators (KPIs) are useless on their own if you have nothing to compare them to. Therefore take your KPI and compare it another metric.
6. Use the Advanced Segmentation menu (top right of the Analytics screen) to select “non-bounce visits” at the same time as “all visits”. Which websites are referring visitors who are the least likely to bounce? Which pages are they landing on and therefore which pages are the best for engaging visitors? Use this information to further optimise other pages on your website.
7. Compare the current time frame to the same one the previous month or year – what improvements or declines do you see in traffic? Compare this with your past and present SEO / PPC / other marketing efforts to see which have been working. You can segment the graph to show paid or non-paid traffic using the Advanced Segmentation menu (top right) to view and compare organic and paid search traffic.
Use the methods above as inspiration to create your own analysis tactics and leave a comment if you find any you’d particularly recommend. I love feedback so let me know how you get on!
Joanna Butler is an SEO and online marketing consultant in the UK. If you liked this article, why not take a look at her online marketing blog, Search Engine Chocolate.