In this day and age for many businesses the first port of call for a potential customer will be to look at your website. But how much do you know about the people that visit your website and how much time are you devoting to looking at this?

There is a an old and much used saying that “there is no such thing as a free lunch”, but when it comes to understanding more about the visitors to your website there really is – Google Analytics. Hopefully most of you reading this blog will already know that you have Google Analytics on your site. But if you are at all unsure, then we would urge you to check straight away. The firm that set up your website will be able to check this for you.

So what can Google Analytics tell you about your visitors? Over any given period that Google Analytics has been in place on your site, it can give you a wealth of information. It will tell you how many visitors in total your site has had. If possible it is good practice to overlay this over enquiry or sales figures to establish the degree of correlation between web visits and these figures. This is important, because if there is a correlation the argument is more compelling for you to try and drive more traffic to your website.

Google Analytics (or GA for short) will also tell you how many of your visitors are unique and how many are repeat visitors. It will tell you how people came to arrive at your site – organic search (search engine), direct (where they keyed in the address – often a good reflection of offline marketing), social media and referral (via a listing of your site on another website – which may also include spam). If you are doing any paid for activity like adwords or you are doing any email marketing or e-newsletters, then these will also show up. You should be looking at these figures on a regular basis, particularly when you see spikes or peaks in visitors to understand what has driven them there. Each one of these categories of source is at least to some degree under your control. Let’s take social media for example, you might be active on social media but to what extent is it driving traffic to your site. Post too frequently on social media with blatantly promotional posts and you will use followers, but an occasional post where you highlight some content on your site is usually acceptable.

GA will also tell you how many pages on average a person visits, how long they spend on the site and what the bounce rate is – a bounce is where they arrive on one page and leave the site immediately before going on to another page. It will also tell you what country the visitor is from, what type of device they use and the behavioural flow. The flow diagrams will give you a good idea of where people arrive on your site, where they go once they arrive, which pages are most popular and where they leave. GA used to tell you what people are keying in to find your site in search, but the bulk of this information is now cloaked i.e. not visible.

It is a good idea to log some of these key stats in an excel spreadsheet and chart them, so that you can detect month on month changes, seasonality and year on year comparisons. Reviewing this information on say a monthly basis can be a good motivator to drive other activity and impact on these figures. Also when people do make an enquiry or a purchase, make sure you ask where they heard about you and that you log this as well.

Once you have got to grips with the basics then it is worth looking at the information in greater details. For example, if you accept that the number of pages viewed is a good proxy for gauging engagement with a site, which method of driving traffic to your website brings the most engaged visitors. Or, which page are most people leaving your website from and what can you do to stem the tide e.g. signpost them to other content.

You can also set up goals in GA. A good one might be to set a goal for completion of the contact form on your website (which can be done provided completion of your contact form results in a thank you page). GA will then tell you which forms of traffic are most effective at driving traffic that completes your contact form.

How much of what we have outlined in this blog are you doing? Most firms invest a lot of money in their websites, isn’t it then worthwhile investing some time in understanding how it is performing? If you think you could do with some help interpreting this information or planning activity to affect these figures – then of course you could get in touch with us by completing our contact form.

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