“If you build it they will come” … well maybe, it did work for Kevin Costner in The Field of Dreams. For those of you who haven’t seen the 1989 movie, Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, hears a voice that tells him “If you build it they will come”. Well, “it” turned out to be a baseball field, and “they” turned out to be former baseball players (I won’t give away any spoilers for those of you who might want to check this classic film out).
For your website, you also want to build it and then see who comes, where they go on your website, how long they stay, and what they click on. For those of you who haven’t thought about website analytics before, I will give you 7 suggestions of what to track and look at so that you can understand your visitors better and improve your website.
Discover how people are finding your website
One of the great things about analytics is that you can discover where your website visitors came from before they landed on your website. Did they find you through a search on Google? Or maybe from a link on social media or YouTube? Or maybe you ran an advertisement and someone clicked?
Regardless of how they ended up on your website, you will want to know where they came from. In the case of paid ads – you don’t want to keep paying for them if they aren’t working! If you are creating content on YouTube – you want to make sure that is time well spent and that your message and call-to-action are working. If you are being found in Google searches, that will mean that your website and content are ranking high and your content is what people are looking for.
Find out what pages on your website your visitors are going to and how long they are staying
Besides attracting people to your website, you want to make sure that they are finding what they came for. To figure this out, you can find out how many pages on your website people are looking at before they leave. The more pages they go to means that they are finding useful information, or what they came for. If they only look at one page on your site and then leave, then you also are getting good information – this might mean:
- There is a disconnect between where they came from and what they landed on – or in other words, they ended up on your website and it isn’t what they wanted. In this case, you will want to look at your messaging and make sure it is clear so that people know what they are going to get to when they click.
- You don’t have a clear call-to-action, or CTA, on each page. You want to make sure that each page on your website tells visitors what they should do next – for example, “buy now”, “download”, or “sign up”. If people are only going to one page and then leaving your website, take another look at that page and make sure you are directing people to the next step that you want them to take!
Conversion, or goal, tracking
You want to make sure your messaging is converting and that your goals are being met.
For example – if you paid for an advertisement and people are clicking – that is great because you know that the ad is working well and capturing people’s interest. But, in the end, you also want them to be “doing something” – usually making a purchase, filling out a contact form for your services, or signing up for your newsletter. So in addition to looking at the number of visitors to a page, you can also choose to look at the statistics of how many visitors completed the ACTION you wanted them to take.
These actions will be different for each website, and depend on your goals – so start making a list, and then in your analytics software you can set up tracking for button clicks on forms or shopping carts, or when they submit their email address to your email service provider (ESP).
Where in the world are your website visitors from?
It is very helpful to know who your website visitors are. Are they from the same country as you live in? Are you attracting people from your town? Or worldwide?
Depending on your business, you want to make sure that the RIGHT people are finding your website. For example – if you are a brick and mortar store, then you will be targeting people who are local to you. If you find that many of your website visitors are not within driving distance, then you will want to figure out why locals are not finding you. Also, this gives you great information – if you are providing a service that can be done remotely or via zoom, or if you have products that aren’t available elsewhere, you might want to look into how you can increase the countries you ship to, or add a virtual component to your business.
If you are a local coffee shop, but your website visitors are not local, then you want to review your Google My Business listing, and other advertisements to make sure that they are targeted correctly.
What device are your website visitors using to access your website?
This is critical, because often when a website is built it is optimized to look great on a large screen, but most people will find when they look at website analytics, that at least ½ of their website visitors are looking at their website on a small mobile screen. If this is the case for you – you will want to make sure that everything is working and looking great on that smaller screen size. If not, you are losing ½ of your visitors.
For some businesses, mobile visitors may be an even higher percentage – for example, if you are a restaurant, your visitors may well be finding you on their mobile devices when they are out and about looking for something to eat. You want to make sure people can find where you are located and are easily able to see what food you offer – else you might lose a potential diner because they can’t read your menu on the small screen!
What content does your visitor want to see?
By looking at what your visitors are clicking on, you can see what interests them and what doesn’t. This allows you to focus on creating content they are looking for – giving them reasons to come back to your website and spend more time on it when they visit.
Website analytics can help you find problems with your website
Have you ever been concerned that something isn’t working on your website? Whether it is a form submit button that is not linked to your email service provider or a link that goes to the wrong place. You might get lucky and a website visitor will reach out and let you know that something isn’t working, but you can’t rely on that. Instead, you can look at your analytics and determine if something isn’t working as expected. For example, if you are watching a button click on a form, and you see that it is being clicked, but your email list is not growing … then you know that it is not linked correctly and needs to be fixed ASAP!
You can also use analytics to find out where people are leaving your website. For example, if people add items to their shopping cart, but never checkout, make sure that it is clear how they get to the checkout page!