Website Analytics – Some Helpful Hints

As a marketer, executive, or business owner you know how important analytics can be to your business, but you probably also know how daunting a task it can be as a beginner! It’s tough to make sense of all the information and use it to help you make important business decisions and essentially play yield management with your online marketing. These basic tips, from sites like SearchEngineWatch.com, TopRankBlog.com, and the Google Analytics blog, can serve as a guideline of things to watch out for.

Things to pay attention to:

-         Unique visitors: The number of new visitors to your site. If this number is low it could mean your site is having issues with search engines, or you need more content on your site to make it relevant

-         Traffic Sources: The sites that are bringing visitors to your Website. Analyzing these trends can help you make decisions when promoting your site in the future. For example, say you’re getting a lot of traffic from Twitter but nothing notable from Facebook; re-think your social media strategy for Facebook.

-         Referring Keywords: The phrases that a user puts into a search engine and was taken to your site via those search results. It’s extremely important to pay attention to what keywords people are using and make sure those words are optimized on your Website; a great tool to use is Google’s keyword tool:

-         Top Content: The pages on your Website that do the best. If you pay attention to what works, it will help build out the pages on your Website and improve the current pages. Pay attention to keywords and the CTAs (calls to action) you are using.

-         Locations: Where your site visitors are coming from. It’s important to know where your visitors are coming from as you can tailor your site’s content to their tastes, keeping them engaged in your business (and on your Website) longer.

-         Campaign Tracking: Tracking the actual CONVERSIONS or GOALS you have for visitors – if they follow a CTA (example: signing up for a newsletter) that would probably mean the campaign you used to drive them to that page worked. Setting up goals on your site is extremely important as it tells you how well things are working. If you don’t have goals set up within your analytics currently, think what you want visitors to do on your site – for example, as a hotel owner you want them to call and book. Make sure you have analytics set up on those pages with your phone number. Note: use phone call tracking resources, like Phonalytics.

-         Time: The time visitors spend on your site, sometimes referred to as “stickiness” and essentially the “bounce rate.” By looking at your referring traffic sites’ “bounce rates”, you see what sources are keeping visitors on your Website longer. If you have specific traffic sources coming from marketing initiatives, paying attention to these analytics can help you evaluate their effectiveness.

A note on Hits, Visits, Conversions:

Some people use the terms “hits” and “visits” or even “conversions” interchangeably – however, these words have different meanings and are therefore, not interchangeable. “Hits” refers to the number of times a server request is made to display specific items on a specific Webpage. As your page loads, it is “hitting” the server for the information on your site, i.e. your logo, photos, your page design.

You can see that this is very different from a “visitor” as one visitor could count as multiple “hits” as their browser has to download all of the information on the page. A “visit” is a user that lands on a page on your Website and navigates to other pages and then leaves your site (refer above to “unique visits” and returning visitors to further differentiate).

“Conversions” are the goals completed by visitors on your website. A goal can be anything from booking a room on your online reservation system, purchasing a spa package or calling in to book. “Conversions” are very different from “hits” or “visitors”, as they are specific goals you have set up on your website and will most definitely be far fewer than “hits” and “visits.”

Website analytics can be very intimidating. Blogs and discussion boards are available to help make the process easier. If you use Google Analytics, the “Google Analytics” channel on YouTube can be extremely helpful or even the Google Analytics blog.

In the end, remember this cycle in marketing: planning, execution, and evaluation. Having good analytics set up on your website and within your marketing initiatives can bring your business a clear view on what works and what doesn’t.

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