What is Your Site Telling You? Five Things to Look for in Website Analytics
January 26, 2017
Websites are a lot like plants. All the various branches (pages, in this case) grow from a single, strong base, with new leaves and branches bursting and growing over time.
And like all living things, they need frequent attention and nourishment to thrive. They need fresh content, a running dialogue with their audience and occasional pruning to stay healthy.
The good news is that you can perform a lot of the maintenance and care yourself, and it starts with a dive into your site’s analytics. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a paid service, like WebTrends, or a free one, like Google Analytics. All of them will give you the actionable insights you need to identify which segments of your site are working and which aren’t.
What can your analytics tool tell you?
- Overall traffic and trends. Your home page will always be the most heavily visited page on your site — it’s your front door, after all — but it’s important to pay attention to the other pages as well. Are you seeing an uptick in visits to your “contact us” or “services” pages? Are fewer people visiting your careers page?
- Exit pages. It’s likely that your home page will be near the top of the list for exit pages, the last page visitors saw on your site before leaving. But identifying the less predictable exit pages can be enlightening as well. Are visitors giving up halfway through the donation or application process? If so, how can you improve the experience?
- Referrals. Who is sending visitors your way? The search engines are often at the top of the list, but are industry publications or other media linking to a press release or other content? Is your recent blog post or white paper getting a lot of attention from social media? Page referrals can be a great source for developing new relationships and finding out what types of content resonate the loudest and longest.
- Search engine terms. What terms are prospects and customers entering into the Googles and Bings of the world that are leading them to your site? Knowing how your audience describes your organization, its products and services can be a great source of information you can incorporate into your online and offline marketing materials.
- Onsite search criteria. One of the most overlooked and information-rich segments of your site analytics is data regarding the terms visitors are entering into your search tool. It can give you terrific insights into areas that could use a little tweaking. Are they describing your products or services differently? Are they having trouble finding specific content? This information can help you identify areas of navigation or content that need to be added or adjusted.