Web Analytics 101: Website Tracking for Beginners
Hey, you! Yes, you. I’m watching you. I can see how you got here, where you’re from, and how long you’ve stayed. Creepy? Nah. It’s just part of basic web analytics, and it’s something you should be doing, too. (Don’t worry – I can’t see everything you’re doing, i.e. personal information. That’s a different kind of ESP.)
If you’re new to tracking your website’s analytics, getting started can be a little daunting. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to get started and begin seeing better results.
How do I get started?
First thing’s first: define your goal. What do you want people to do when they visit your website? Should they sign up for your email newsletter? Download a PDF guide? Click through to a specific landing page? This should align with your overall business goals.
Once you know what action you want people to take, you’ll need a tracking tool for your website. Google Analytics is the go-to website tracking tool for small business owners – and it’s free! Like any new tool, it’ll take some getting used to. But once you know what to look for, tracking your website’s activity will become intuitive…and dare I say, fun?
What should I track?
Your visitors’ origin will give you insight into the terms people are using to search for your business, how effective your social and email efforts are at driving traffic to your website, and how many people are directly visiting your website by typing in your website URL. There are the three types of traffic to keep an eye on:
- Search traffic: Traffic from any search engine, such as Google or Bing.
- Referral traffic: Traffic that came from links to your website in emails, other websites or any other promotional links out there. If you’re promoting your website on Facebook, Twitter or any other social channel, this is where you’d see those results.
- Direct navigation: People who type in your web address directly or bookmark your site.
Pro-tip: Want to track a link to a specific landing page that directs to your website? Try tagging your links with UTM parameters.
Search engine keywords and terms
You already know how you refer to your products and services because you’re the expert. But how are people really searching for terms related to your industry? Are they searching for “photobooths for weddings” or “photobooth rental?” And is photobooth one word or two? These subtleties could mean the difference between your website getting discovered in search results quickly and being completely overlooked by thousands of prospects.
Remember your very first step, defining your goal? Your conversion rate tells you how many people took a desired action and converted – whether that action was signing up for your newsletter, downloading a PDF guide or clicking on a video link. Your conversion rate could be based on events, submits, specific page loads and more.
If a person views a few pages on your site and then leaves, that final page they were on is considered the “exit page.” This could indicate that the visitor was interested in learning more about your business, but left when they couldn’t find what they were looking for.
Identify these pages and then ask yourself if there is anything you could change to get your visitors to stick around. For example, your pricing information, product descriptions and contact information are some of the most popular types of content visitors look for on any website, so it should be easy to find.
These are the pages your visitors find the most useful and engaging. If your website is on the larger side (think 40+ pages), consider consolidating some of that information on fewer pages. This could help people find what they need faster, and in turn drive them to your call to action faster.
Pro-tip: Want to make content updates, but you’re not sure if your new content will get clicks? Run a split test!
Ok, now what do I do?
If you’re new to web analytics, getting started can be overwhelming. Make it easy on yourself by focusing on just one thing. Conversion rate, for example, is a great metric to start with.
If your conversions are low, a few things might be happening: your order page might be broken, your content might need some help, or you simply might not be attracting the right audience. Whatever the reason, it’s important to identify it sooner rather than later so you can start making more sales!
But I want more website visitors NOW!
Ok, ok. Just about every small business owner wants more traffic, STAT. You never hear anyone complaining about too much web traffic, do you? Here are a few ways you can start reeling in more visitors today.
- Run a test to optimize your website for conversions.
- Use your email marketing to drive more traffic to your website.
- Leverage your social channels. Here’s how one company did it.