When you’re running a small business, it is easy to skip setting up Google Analytics. Even though it can be a pain (and a little scary) to set up analytics, it’s important to your site’s long-term success so you can understand how your site is doing. Google Analytics/Google Search Console will allow you to track the data associated with your website so you can see how people are getting to your site, how long they’re staying there, what pages they’ve visited and much more. Having data about your site AND information about your competitors can give you knowledge that can be vital if you want to find hidden digital marketing opportunities to go for.
What? You Don’t Have Analytics Set Up On Your Site Because It’s Too Technical?
Analytics. Many people hate the word “analytics.” In fact, just the thought of analytics is often enough to make people run in the other direction, but if you’re going to see how successful your website traffic and campaigns are going, you must face your fears and enter the belly of the beast.
Sometimes the only reason people don’t set up analytics tracking is because it’s a technical area, and most of us aren’t up to speed with what it takes to make it happen. (Analytics is a whole entity by itself, and it can be overwhelming – and, I’ll admit, is slightly intimidating.) There are also some questions you need to ask yourself about analytics in general…
Do you want to buy a specific analytics tool? Will Google Analytics/Google Search Console provide you with enough information and data? And who’s going to set up the program and make it work the way it should? Who will pull out the data you need to analyze? How will you know how your site is performing? (Those are all great questions!!)
You can find some answers to these basic analytics questions here, so you can at least get an understanding of analytics 101.
When it comes to analytics there are several things you should understand and watch out for. Here are a few of them…
Pick the Right Tools
There are a lot of tools available on the market for tracking and collecting website data, but if you’re just starting out the best option is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool that Google provides for you. It gives you a look into how visitors are using the pages of your website – and so much more. It also cuts down on customer acquisition costs because you can target your marketing, organic search and advertising campaigns more effectively. Google Analytics probably has more than enough detail for you – unless you’re a complete geek who loves analyzing data!
Tracking the Wrong Data
There is a wealth of information in analytics that you will want to track, but if you open Google Analytics and freak out at all the areas and details you can see, it’s time to take a step back. And breathe. To start here are five important pieces of information that everyone should look at:
- Where is your traffic coming from? One of the most important stats to review is where your traffic is coming from. You might be surprised about how people are getting to your site.
- What pages are converting? This data shows you which pages are turning into cash – is it your check-out page? Your lead magnet? Which pages are working and which ones might need some tweaking?
- Who are your visitors? You get all sorts of information about the people who are coming to your site. Are they movie lovers? Music lovers? Gamers? Business professionals? What country, city and state are they from? All this information will help you with your retargeting and other digital marketing efforts.
- Which pages are performing best? Quick! Do you know which page on your site gets the most views? The answer might surprise you. If you find a page that’s performing particularly well, you may want to figure out what the “formula” to that page is and replicate that to create other pages.
- How long do people stay on a page? This data is important for helping you rank pages in Google’s search results. The longer someone stays on your page – the better!
Did you know that violent crime rates increase as ice cream sales increase? Surprised? No, it’s not because criminals like eating ice cream cones as they’re committing crimes. This is called a “correlation.” Hot weather causes the two situations to increase.
Just because the traffic to your website changes while you’re running a new campaign does not always mean the two are connected. To find out the real correlation between the new campaign and the amount of traffic you’re getting, you need to evaluate the data to ensure they are truly related.
Pull Out Internal Traffic from Your Numbers
Analytics tools — like Google Analytics (GA) or Google Search Console – keep details about the number of people that visit your website. Unless you have set everything up correctly, however, these numbers will also include internal traffic. Internal traffic is the traffic that comes from inside your own company – meaning your employees visiting your website for whatever reason. You have internal traffic because your employees need to visit your site daily – often several times – to look things up, check pricing, respond to blog questions, etc. These internal traffic numbers can really skew the results shown in your analytics. To fix this issue you need to exclude your company’s IP address from the results.
Views are NOT Visits
Web page visits are different than web page views. If a person is doing research and visits 12 of your pages, that counts as only one visitor. If you mistakenly believe that 12 page views are 12 unique visitors, the analysis of your current online marketing strategy will be inaccurate.
Slowly Understand The Data Analytics Shows You
Effectively using analytics can be complicated – and that’s why many companies hire third-party companies to handle the data analysis. If you can’t afford to hire a pro, don’t feel bad if you have to take it slow.
The ability to track and understand your website data is key to making good and profitable decisions in your small business. Get stated tracking today!