Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Website Optimization 4

OK so it's been a long time since I posted about optimizing your site. Sorry about that! Was traveling all last week.

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about a really important subject--analytics. Basically, analytics tell you what's happening on your site--how many people are visiting, where they are coming from, etc.

And analytics are crucial because you want to get an idea of what's going on on your site--are there pages that aren't working? Could other pages be set up better?

The good news is that setting up analytics on your site is pretty easy. Google Analytics is a free service. You can find it here: http://www.google.com/analytics/

You simply sign up for a new account by clicking "Sign up Now" under the "Access Analytics" button. Then it will walk you through the various items to fill out and then it'll give you a string of code that you'll need to paste in the HTML of your site. It will walk you through how to paste the code--basically, you just copy and paste it between your body tags of your HTML.

What are the cool things you can do with Google analytics? These are my favorites and the ones I use on a day to day basis:

Total visits to your site--this is the number of total visits coming to your site (inclusive of repeat visits one visitor might make). This is an important metric because it shows how many repeat visits you have--and someone who comes to your site more than once is showing interest which is a good thing!

Visitors--this is the total number of visitors (unique) who come to your site. This number is important because it represents how many people came to your site, not how many visits they made.

Pages Per Visit--This will tell you how many pages per visit (average) each person looked at. The more content you have, the more pages per visit you'll have in general.

Bounce Rate--This is an important stat also. It tells you how many people came to one page on your site and didn't look at any other pages (this will usually be your home page). You'll notice that as you get better ranking in the search engines, this number will increase because people will be searching on various keywords and your site might not be exactly what they had in mind when they get there. In general, you want the bounce rate to be decently low. A 50% bounce rate isn't good. A 20% bounce rate is better.

Average time on site--Tells you how long people on average are staying on your site.More content and more things to do on your site will equate to more time spent on your site--this is a good reason to offer things like sample chapters,etc.

My favorite metrics, though, are the traffic sources metrics. These tell you how people found your site---whether they were direct traffic (aka they knew your URL and typed it in), referring sites such as blogs or any other sites linking to you or search engine traffic (all search engines are included). The great part about the search engine traffic metric is that it gives you a list of all the keywords people used to find your site. Really useful to know!

Now, if you sell something on your site (such as your books), it gets even better because Google can track your sales. It will give you your conversion rate (your sales divided by your unique visitors to the site) and you can look into where people are dropping out of your sales path (which pages have the highest exit rate associated with them). And depending on where your traffic is coming from, you can figure out which traffic converts the best, good info when driving your marketing.

It's so important to know what's going on on your site so you can address any concerns. So, set up Google Analytics--it's free and it will take just a few mins.

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