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September 9, 2014 | Amanda Martin

Website Analytics: 5 Metrics That Can Improve Performance

Web analytics and what you need to track

Website analytics probably sounds like one of the most boring blog topics ever, am I right? Well, I would almost say that I have to agree with you, but I’m here to spice it up a bit.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to be jumping through hoops of fire, but this isn’t going to be a snooze fest. I’m here to show you the 5 key things in your website analytics to make sure you are investigating.

Why check these five things? To see whom your site is reaching and how they are finding you. If you are a data nerd in training, listen up - this post is exactly for you!

1. Track Sources and Channels

Where is your website traffic coming from? Are your visitors finding you through search, or are they coming directly to your website? Maybe they're finding a link to your site on a blog, or possibly through your social media accounts?

Where your visitors are originating is a big piece of your data puzzle. It shows you where you are succeeding and where you need to put your nose to the grindstone. Discovering that your search traffic is low may be the result of poor on-page SEO, or maybe you aren’t targeting the right customers with the information in your blog. By uncovering this, you can create a game plan to rewrite key pages or change blog topics.

If you have no traffic coming from social media, maybe it’s time to rethink your game plan for your social media postings. How often are you using your social accounts? Posting too much or too little can have implications.

Once you find your social media sweet spot, optimize it. If you have found your sweet spot, are you following the 80/20 rule? If you think you are, but you still aren't seeing traffic from social media, then maybe you aren’t talking about your brand enough. Telling your followers too little about yourself is just as bad as being a Braggy Betty, and talking only about how awesome you are.

Use your 20% to push out some brand-related promotions, as long as you keep a balance your fans won’t mind. Simply changing up what you're posting and when can help drive more traffic to your site.

2. Track New Visitors

This one is kind of a no-brainer. New visitors to your site are just that, people who haven't visited your site before. The percentage of new visitors that's ideal for you is subjective, and depends on your industry and the function of your website.

If you run an ecommerce store, the more new visitors, the better! But if you provide a service that visitors log in to use, you want to see return traffic just as much as new traffic. A closed-loop marketing software like HubSpot can help you track exactly what's happening with leads and customers, beyond what you can tell from just Google Analytics.

Use this data as a yardstick to measure the success of campaigns targeting new visitors, or those bringing back previous visitors. Whichever is best for your business, make sure to keep tabs on this stat, because it can give you great insight into the success of your marketing efforts.

3. Track Bounce Rate

If you're willing to break out the shovel and dig down a little deeper into your search channel analytics, you'll find your landing pages (in Google Analytics, you can find it under Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages). I know I said "bounce rate," and I’m getting to that, I promise.

But understanding your landing page data is essential, because it describes the pages that bring searchers to your site - the ones they first land on. So, what can you do with this data? It's important to see which pages are being landed on and what percentage of those searchers found your information useful. This is measured by bounce rate (ah, there it is!). Bounce rate is an indication of whether the information on the landing page was what the searcher was looking for.

By definition, bounce rate is “the percentage of visitors who enter the site and 'bounce' (leave) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.” Obviously, you want the lowest possible number of searchers leaving your website before visiting a second page. Bounce rate tells you a lot about your conversion path: if someone finds what they're looking for and chooses to stay on your site, they're one step closer to becoming a fan of your brand.

4. Track Demographics and Interests

Your audience says a lot about the type of content you produce. After all, you target your buyer personas, right? Google Analytics offers Demographics and Interests data collected from visitors to your site (Hint: this is a separate feature that must be enabled in your Admin settings.).

Google stores cookies in your browser history that constantly collect data about the websites you visit. This is how they can (or think they can) determine your age, gender, and general interests.

You may be able to use this data to steer the content you share on your blog and social media accounts. This will make your visitors more inclined to stay on your site for a longer period of time, lowering the bounce rate I mentioned before and improving other metrics as well.

5. Track User Flow

Last, but certainly not least, is user flow. If you want to really get your hands dirty, dig into this great feature of Google Analytics. User flow is basically a glorious flow chart of how visitors behave once they reach your website, starting with landing pages and showing you where and when people choose to leave.

Tracking user flow gives you valuable insight into what happens when visitors from all sources hit your website. If they choose to stay (a.k.a. pass the bounce rate test), you can see their path through the other pages they viewed and when they leave. Using this to optimize the pages where visitors are dropping off at higher rates can help you convert more of these visitors into leads or customers.

Determining where your traffic is coming from can really help shape your goals and web strategy for your company. Optimizing your website on a regular basis will help you meet those goals, and increase your chances of appearing in search results.

Wipe that drool off your chin and rejoice! You now have the power to make it to the top of Google (or Bing, but who uses that?)!

Want a little more insider information? We'd love to help you assess your website.

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Amanda Martin

Amanda Martin

Amanda is no longer with VIEO, but as an inbound marketing project manager she coordinated with VIEO’s design, content, and strategy teams to create compelling, effective inbound marketing campaigns.

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