What are the most important Google Analytics metrics every SME should be checking?
Why use google analytics? Why wouldn’t you? Is a more appropriate question..Why would you put up a website onto the wide world of web and not want to know who is looking at it – when, and why? It amazes me how many small business owners invest in a website but fail to either install Google Analytics, or know what to look for, preferring to leave that magic in the hands of a digital or SEO expert. Yet Analytics is a simple to install and simple to use tool that is essential for anyone hoping to use the web to connect with potential customers.
Analytics will be able to tell you hour by hour who is looking at your website, where they came from (is your social media or tv campaign working) which pages they came in to (great if you are running an Ad words campaign) and which pages switched them off. You can see page by page which articles they took one look at and thought – yeah…nah. Leaving you to update, edit or delete parts of your site that aren’t working and promote parts that are.
Is anyone going to your contact page? Where did they go after that? Did they submit an enquiry?
Google Analytics is FREE and although it is fairly easy to set up, to get the best out of this extremely useful and intuitive tool, you need to have a bit of in-depth knowledge and a little bit of time. There are plenty of self-help videos on YouTube that will teach you the basics and certainly enough for you to be able to make decisions like a CEO around what is working and what is not.
Just spending a little time learning how to work the intuitive user-tool will soon help you understand the interface, the different report sets and how to work with your site to make decisions on what to do next. Like all good information though, it’s what you do with it that counts. There is a raft of information for the decisioning junkies amongst us, but if you are a typical time-starved owner of a growing business, there are a few metrics that you should have on your dashboard to keep the performance of your site on your radar.
It’s easy enough after a bit of practice to get sucked into the metrics and go back every day to see what has happened the night before. BUT if you are a beginner and just want to grasp the basics – here are the things you want to monitor.
1) Bounce Rates
This is pretty much the one metric to get to grips with asap – it tells you how ENGAGED people are with your site. The bounce rate will tell you how many people took a quick look at your page and decided not to read it. Ouch. If you are driving 500 people to your site a week at a cost of $2 per click, and your bounce rate is at 90%, I’m sorry to say that you just poured $900 straight down the toilet. Check your bounce rates regularly and if they are higher than 50%, review your content and make some changes. Bounce rates change by industry, and by the nature of your campaign and so it is hard to work out what an acceptable bounce rate is for you. However, keep on top of this one and always aim to develop a message or site that engages with your target audience. If you want help with that – then it’s time to pick up the phone.
2)Visitors and Unique visitors
2nd on the list? Well obviously it matters how many people are coming to your site each day, and how many of them are returning – how many come back on the same day and how many are brand new. Analytics will tell you all of this, but what does it mean? It doesn’t matter if 100 or 10K visitors are coming daily, if your bounce rate is at 100% it’s kinda useless information anyway. However, assuming your visitors have something to read that motivates them into action, you’ll be wanting to ensure that your daily visitor numbers are going up. You want a nice healthy ratio between those coming back for 2nd and 3rd viewings (meaning they are moving along the sales cycle and increasing their engagement with your brand) and those who are brand new and wanting to be entertained by you.
3) Time on site & pages per visit
How long are people spending reading your stuff? When crawlers are looking at your site they are making note of the amount of time the traffic they send is spending with you. Like all good word of mouth people, the referring sites want to only send visitors to sites that will stimulate, engage, and answer the query that they put into their original search. If your site shows that people are spending time on your site and then going to subsequent other pages, the crawlers and bots will have to assume that your site is valuable – and so will send more traffic your way.
If you are running a Google Adwords campaign, then you will want to look at acquisition tools to find out how your campaign is going, based on your key words and your criteria, and if you changed something on your site recently you may looking at sources, telling you where people are coming from, landing pages – which pages they came into (especially useful for campaigns from other media) and conversions if you have an e-commerce site. But for now, master the basics and have a play around with your site and your off-site engagement campaigns to see what happens. Before long, you will become a google analytics junkie too.