Are You Using Google Analytics?

Are you playing pin the tail on the donkey with your Website? You know, blindly taking marketing action without ever knowing if you’re even close to your target or goal?

I can tell you that if you don’t have analytics set up on your site, or you’ve never looked at them, you are operating blind. And it’s probably costing you money.

The easiest way to get a handle on what’s really going on with your Website and its visitors is to have your Web person install free Google Analytics on your site. Then, of course, you have to learn a thing or two about what all your nifty new analytics statistics mean and which ones you should pay attention to.

So this week I’ve got a post from guest blogger Jason Shindler, CEO of Curvine Web Solutions that explains a few simple ways to use Google Analytics without getting totally lost and confused…

Using Google Analytics to Make Your Website Shine

Everyone knows that you need to know how many people are using your Web site. But most people don’t know what to do with the information they receive. Using Google Analytics, you can see who is visiting your website and take action based on the information. In this post, I’ll present four ways to improve the marketing of your small business using the information found in Google Analytics.

1. Quality Versus Quantity. People tell me all the time that their site gets thousands of hits. But what does that mean? Did you get 2,000 people who weren’t interested in your services and products? Or were there many people who were very interested in you and what you offer?

You can determine this by visiting the dashboard and reviewing the number of pages per visit. People who visit one page are generally not interested. People who visit 10 pages might be more interested. There are no universal rules to how many pages per visit is normal, as the structure of a site, the technology used and the type of content make every site different. However, all other things being equal, a higher pages per visit number is typically better. Note that many people get confused between hits, page views, and visits. A great piece on the difference between these confusing terms is located here.

2. Visits to Your Website Should Not Bounce. The bounce rate is related to the number of pages per visit and is also an indicator of quality of traffic. A bounce means that someone came to the first page they visited and then didn’t visit any other pages. In almost all cases, a “bounce” represents a visitor who wasn’t interested in your site. Higher bounce rates are bad.

Just like the first rule, they are no general rules on what is an appropriate bounce rate, but you can compare different referring sites or ad campaigns to see which is more effective and which is generating the right type of visitor for your site. For example, an ad campaign that costs $100 that generates 100 visitors, but has a bounce rate of 99% is not as good as a $100 ad campaign that generates 100 visitors, but has a bounce rate of 25%.

3. Have a Goal in Mind. When you invite visitors to your site, you should have a goal (we all have goals, but have you articulated specific goals for visitors to your Web site). For example, get them to sign up for your mailing list, have them buy a product, or have them send email your way. Each of these goals can be tracked in Google Analytics, and you can generate meaningful statistics.

For example, you could find out that 23% of your visitors signed up for your mailing list or that your latest advertising campaign cost you $30, while delivering $500 in sales. To read more about how to set up goals in Google Analytics, click here.

4. Know Your Audience. As a group, what do your website visitors look like? Do they have fancy computers with fast connections? Do they all speak Swahili? Knowing more about who visits your site might change the choices you make.

For example, realizing that all of your users have slow connections might make you more mindful of the time it takes to load each page. You can find all of this in the “Visitors” tab. Key stats to look for are connection speed, screen resolution, and flash version (if you use Flash on your site).
For those of you who have used Google Analytics, what have you learned about your site’s users? What actions have you taken? Respond here by leaving a comment, then read more about Web site development at Jason’s blog.

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