Web analytics are one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. But they can also be a massive time sink if you do not use them effectively.
Ways to Use Web Analytics
Here are four ways to use your web analytics that aren’t a waste of time.
- Measure Trends
- Identify Root Causes
- Improve Efficiency
- Track Goals
If you told me your blog had 300 visitors today, how will I know whether or not to congratulate you? How can I know whether that is twice the traffic you got last week, or half the traffic you got last week?
Web stats at a single point in time simply do not tell enough of a story to be useful. Here are some trends you can look at that will give you a better idea of how well your site is performing.
- Look at the last 30-90 days of visits to measure your recent performance improvement or decline
- Compare two calendar years of traffic to spot seasonal trends that you can plan for in the future
- Observe time on page for different styles of blog posts to determine which ones are engaging your audience for longer
Identify Root Causes:
Sometimes we look at trends and freak out a bit when we spot something that looks bad, and other times we celebrate when we spot something that is going well.
But without understanding the root cause of an improvement or decline in performance you have no chance to do anything about it.
Here are some examples of using web analytics to dig into the root causes of these events:
- Segment traffic by source to determine whether a decrease in average time on site is due to visits from a low quality traffic source
- Compare the top ten referrers over two different months to identify if a traffic increase is coming from a new source that you can give some more attention to
- Make a list of your flagship article and drill down into the keywords that are sending traffic to them. Identify the keywords that have the highest bounce rate and see whether the article can be optimized to cater better to the intent behind those keywords.
Time is one of the scarcest resources that you and I have, so we want to be sure that we’re spending our time where it is doing the most good.
This means making sure that the forums and social networks that we hang out on are actually helping our website in some way.
Here are a few techniques for using web analytics to improve your efficiency:
- Use referral data to identify whether the forums you are a member of are sending you traffic. You can take this a step further by analyzing whether the traffic is coming from your own forums interactions or from other people linking to your content in their replies.
- Tag your URLs in different social networks so that traffic from applications isn’t simply counted as “direct” and you’re able to tell which networks your followers are engaging on the most.
- Find out where in the world your traffic comes from, and at which times of day, so that you can schedule posts and social network updates to take advantage of peak audience times.
An often overlooked usage of web analytics is tracking goals. Most of us have goals for our websites, even if we aren’t actively measuring them.
The most obvious examples of goals are things like traffic targets. A goal of achieving 10,000 visitors in a month is fairly easy to track with web analytics.
But goal tracking can be also used to connect the dots between different outcomes that you might currently be tracking with different tools. The benefit is that you can see not only which pages are producing the most goal conversions, but also which traffic sources, how many average visits it takes before a conversion is made, and much more.
Here are some examples of goals that you can track with your web analytics if they are set up correctly:
- Mailing list sign ups – By setting a goal for your mailing list opt-ins you can learn a whole lot more than would otherwise be available by looking at your Aweber Wouldn’t you like to know whether it is blog comments, guest posting, or forums that are producing the highest percentage of opt-ins for your list?
- Product sales – Some third party e-commerce platforms will let you add your analytics tracking code to the pages where your buyers download their purchases from. Then you can set a goal to track each sale and work out which of your traffic sources or blog posts is producing the most sales conversions and look for ways to optimize them.
- Funnel conversions – A funnel is simply a series of steps towards a goal, such as a blog post series or an email auto-responder. Your web analytics can be used to monitor each step of the funnel to work out which ones need to be optimized to get more of the traffic all the way to the final step where the goal conversion is measured.
As you can see web analytics can be used in very powerful ways to achieve some very important goals for your website, and prevent you from simply wasting time