If you own a business, chances are you’ve heard more than once that the most important tool you can purchase to promote your brand is a website.
In an ever-increasing age of technology, consumers demand the ability to access information about products and services with just a few clicks on a computer or other personal electronic device. Failure to market a business and its products and services on the information highway can result in loss of potential customers to a competitor.
So you listened to the advice and had a website created for your business. Now what? How do you know if the website is actually growing your business?
One of the best ways to determine a website’s effectiveness is with analytics tools. The most popular analytic tool on the market is Google Analytics. Once incorporated into your website, it gathers data about a variety of things, including the number of new and unique visitors to a website, which other sites are referring yours and how your site is faring with the social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Google Analytics is fairly easy to set up and use. If a professional website service created and administers your website, they should be able to set up this service for you if they haven’t already done so. If you administer your own website, visit the Google Analytics website for instructions on how to sign up and begin monitoring traffic and other data for your website.
While Google Analytics is widely used, it certainly is not the only data-gathering service available. Here are some other tools that are similar:
· Clicky – The user interface of this tool can take some getting used to at first. However, it provides a very comprehensive overview of the most important core data: number of visitors, bounce rate, top search terms, most-viewed content and visitor actions. Clicky offers both a free and paid version.
· Heap – Perhaps one of the most user-friendly interfaces can be found on this analytic tool. In fact, if you are a business owner who is administering your own website, this may be an ideal choice. It’s easy to use and provides data in a clear, concise manner that anyone can understand.
· Piwik – An open-source web analytics platform, this program is both easy to set up and to use. There is a free and a paid version of this program. The dashboard is customizable and it is quite easy to set up and track website goals. However, this program provides only the basic stats, so if you’re looking for an in-depth and detailed website analysis, this probably is not the best program to use.
Regardless of which data-gathering service is being used, it is important to understand the lingo. Let’s go over a few simple terms.
Metrics is the term used to describe screen views, pages/sessions and the average session duration for a website. Metrics are able to be measured as a sum or ratio.
No matter how basic the data-analyzing program, it most likely tracks this metric. The period of time for which a visitor is actively engaged on your website is called a session.
Depending on the program, the terminology that describes persons who view your website is either users or visitors. Users and visitors are those who have completed at least one session on the website.
This is the total number of pages a user/visitor has viewed on your website. Repeated views of a single page by the same user/visitor are counted as separate views.
Perhaps one of the most important metrics, the bounce rate indicates the number of single-page visits to a website. A high bounce rate is not a good thing. It means a user/visitor looked at only one page of a website before moving on. The goal of any website with more than one page is to engage users/visitors enough that they will want to explore the entire site. If you have a website with a high bounce rate, consider redesigning the main landing page to make it more exciting to users/visitors.
Goals allow website administrators to track how often users/visitors to the website complete a specific action while on the website, such as visiting more than one page or using an online purchasing tool to buy a product or service available on the website.
Our next blog post will discuss how to improve your website if your analytics routinely indicate that your website is not engaging users/visitors. Check back for those tips, and feel free to offer your own in the comments section of this post.
Shari L. Berg is the owner/operator of The Write Reflection, and a writing professional for 25 years.