It’s become fairly obvious to small business owners that they need to have an online presence these days – many of the folks I talk to have already spent thousands of dollars on a website to promote their goods and services. But when I ask them how their website is performing – are they getting more inquiries, leads or sales? – they usually say they don’t really know.
For business owners that are new to the web, the idea of capturing and analyzing useful information can be challenging. While they understand the necessity of measuring traffic and trends on their site in order to calculate their marketing ROI, it’s difficult for many small business owners to find time to do the analysis and make sense of the data. The amount of information that analytics software can deliver is overwhelming.
For those who want to delve in, I recommend starting with Google Analytics. It’s free to use, offers lots of visuals (dashboards, etc.), and includes plenty of online tutorials to get you started. Once you’re set up with reports, start by focusing on four basic metrics:
- Unique Visitors – Unique visitors counts everyone who has visited your site over a given time period. This means that if you had 500 unique visitors, 500 different people visited your site at least once. If this number is low, it could mean that your site is either having trouble with search engines, or that you don’t have enough relevant content, or both.
- Traffic Sources – How do people reach your site? Are they finding you as a result of searching on Google or Yahoo/Bing, or from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter? Referring information can help you see where your visitors are coming from. You can then use this information to make decisions about where and how to promote your business.
- Referring Keywords – These are the phrases your potential customers entered into a search engine that led them to your site. Ideally they’re words that are related to your business. If not, then it could indicate that your site is not well-optimized.
- Top Content – No matter how big or small your site – and regardless of whether you actually do business through your site – it’s important to know which pages draw the most visitors. Not only can you model your underperforming pages to more closely mimic the layout and/or content of your top pages, you can (and should) include a “call to action” for your visitors. Use the most frequently visited pages on your site to ask your visitors to perform a specific action, for example, join your email list, download a coupon, etc.
Google Analytics offers some great tools and as you begin to feel more comfortable with the reports you can explore features like goals, top entrance/exit pages, bounce rates, and time spent on the site.
Panoptic can help by monitoring your monthly website traffic for you, and providing you with “key performance measurements” (KPM) and additional insight into how visitors interact with your content. Which provides me with the perfect segue into our next topic, what makes for good content and how does content fit into the SEO picture?