Analytics is a core requirement for any website that is intended to improve any business model. Your website is an investment, and you need to know whether that investment is working and how you can get as big a return on it as possible. When you use analytics on your site, you can compare the goals you have for your business and compare that to how your website supports, contradicts, or ignores those goals.
What to Measure
The hardest and most important part of tracking data on your website is deciding what you need to track. The data that you look at needs to be information that you can do something with and which supports one of your business goals. Tools like Google Analytics can gather and display huge amounts of data, and if you don’t know what you want to get out of tracking, they can be overwhelming and ultimately unhelpful.
Ask yourself: What do my customers want to find on my web site? What do I need them to find? How do these things make my business more successful?
If you need a few ideas about what you can measure, think about some of the following. These are just suggestions to get the idea train moving. What works for your business is up to you.
- Coupon downloads
- Menu downloads or views
- Contact page views
- Online sales
- Pages shared to social media
- Referrals from print or radio ads
- Clicks from online ads
- Which pages get the most visits
If there is a question you have about how your website is used, analytics can answer it. You may need to rephrase your question or rethink how you can accomplish your goals, but it can be done.
How to Measure
Each tracking tool is a little different, but Google Analytics will supply you with a snippet that you need to place on every single one of your website’s pages. If you’re using a content management system or template, this can be easily added to a single file that will then display on all of your pages. But if you have a static page with a unique file for each page, this may take a little more work as you must copy and paste the code snippet into the same spot on each page. For the best results, you should place your Analytics code near the top of your page, directly after the <head> tag.
Once the code is implemented, leave it alone for a few days to let the site gather enough data to see trends forming. While you’re waiting, there are some wonderful tutorials available for Google Analytics, such as through Lynda, YouTube, and even from Google’s own Analytics Academy.
When you log back in to check on your data, here are some easily accessed reports that may help you on your way:
- Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium – Which sites people are finding your link on and how long they remain on your site for after clicking that link
- Acquisition > Search Console > Queries – Which searches people are using to find your site.
- Behavior > Site Content > All Pages – Which of your pages are getting the most visitors, how long they spend on those pages, and how often they are the first or last page that visitors are on
- Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages – What pages people are being linked to and is the first page of your site that is seen
- Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages – What pages are the last page that was seen before visitors leave the site
There are many more reports that you can view, customize, and save in your Dashboards section, but these should give you a good start. If you want to track metrics like those suggested above, you’ll want to read through more detailed tutorials, or possibly tap the shoulder of your favourite neighborhood analytics experts to help you get them set up.
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