Using Google Analytics to Improve your Website [Updated]
Do you monitor your website to ensure you are getting the best results?
Do you know how many visitors your site is getting? How long are they staying? Which pages are most popular?
Like other areas of your business, where you monitor them regularly to make improvements, your website is exactly the same. We all know that websites should be updated regularly, both from a technical and content perspective, but how do you what you need to change or add?
To really make the most of your investment, your website should be continually monitored using an analytics software. As a Google Partner, we recommend Google Analytics and install it as standard on all the websites we build.
A client of ours had never checked their Analytics and until we looked at it with them recently, they didn’t realise that no one had ever clicked on another page, beyond the home page!
Google Analytics enables you to gather and monitor many important figures about the visitors to your website, including:
- Number of sessions, users, page views and number of pages per visit
- Bounce rate
- New vs. returning customers
- Acquisition – where do your visitors come from? (e.g. organic search, direct, referral site, social media etc)
- What devices is your site mainly viewed on?
- Most viewed pages and landing pages
These are just the highlights, as there is a lot of data that Google Analytics collates, which you can delve into on many levels on a page-by-page basis. In fact, the breadth of data that is available on Google Analytics can be quite daunting to those that are unfamiliar with it, as it can be hard to pick out what is relevant to you and your site.
So here are just a few of the simpler ways that you can use the data to make improvements to your website.
The higher the bounce rate, the higher the percentage of people that have only visited one page of your site and then left. Take a look at the pages on your site that have a high bounce rate, then evaluate the page’s content to see if it needs to be more engaging or encourage an action.
A few ways to improve your bounce rate:
- Make your content enticing and grab the user’s attention quickly.
- Reduce the loading time of your site (e.g. smaller image sizes, host on a fast server)
- Make your landing pages visually appealing
- Ensure calls-to-action are obvious and tempting
Knowing where your traffic comes from will help you to plan your marketing budget. You can compare how much traffic is coming from any paid advertising (such as AdWords) versus organic results, and see if any money spent on social media is effective.
Evaluating the success of where your traffic comes from:
- Organic Search – If you have a large percentage of visits from people searching for you in a search engine, e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, this lets you know that your pages are well-optimised and you are being found in search results. If organic search stats are low, then you need to invest in an SEO strategy.
- Referral – By seeing which sites link to your site and send visitors your way, you can establish which are worth investing time and money to build a relationship. If you pay to have your business listed on any directories, this is a great way to find out how worthwhile that investment is, as you will be able to see how many users have been directed from that referral site.
- Social – Most businesses these days have a presence on social media and spend a proportion of the marketing budget on communicating with customers in this way. By monitoring how many visits you get from various social media channels, you can see if your money and time is being spent in the best way.
- Paid Search – If you utilise Google AdWords, this area will give you more detail about the types of clicks you are getting from your paid ads. If the engagement is not what you expect and you are not reaching your goals and conversions, then you can change your ad content or your paid search strategy.
Using the ‘behaviour flow’ feature, you can follow a user’s journey through your website, page by page.
It can be used in many different ways to make improvement to your website:
- At the point visitors most commonly choose to exit your site, you can take a look at that page to see what improvements may need to be made.
- As it shows the most popular path through your website, you can prioritise changes to your website. Make edits and improvements to the pages that people visit most often first as it will have more impact.
- If you want to add a key piece of information, such as an image, video or testimonial, you can put it on a page where more people are likely to see it.
Desktop vs Mobile
Google Analytics provides important data on what percentage of traffic views your site on desktop, tablet or mobile devices. All sites should now be responsive as standard for easy browsing on any device, but if you are experiencing a high bounce rate on tablet or mobile, you know that some improvements need to be made.
See our blog on ‘How Does Mobile-First Indexing Affect Your Website?’ to see how important your mobile site is, even if you don’t get a high percentage of mobile views.
Within Behaviour and Site Content, you can view a range of useful information on all pages, landing pages and exit pages.
In ‘all pages’, the pages with the highest number of sessions indicate which content your visitors find most useful, so put more effort into keeping these up-to-date and produce more of the same. From your most popular pages, you can link to other content that may interest your users, to try to up-sell your products/services. You can also use this information to create new pages with a similar style and format to try to attract more visitors.
By looking at your most popular landing pages, you can see where people are landing, and see if they are finding these pages through organic search, direct, paid ads, social media etc. This helps with your overall digital marketing strategy. The most popular landing page on a website is usually the home page, but make sure that any links from social media, ads or referral sites link to internal pages if they are more relevant than the homepage. If a visitor doesn’t find what they want straight away, it is likely they’ll just leave.
Exit pages are also useful to investigate but it is an area of ambiguity. A user may leave because they haven’t found the information they are looking for, or they might leave because they have found it. Depending on the website, an online conversion may not be the goal, so exit pages have to be viewed as individual cases.
As mentioned above, the extensive data that is available can be quite overwhelming for someone new to Google Analytics. Each individual business and its goals will require different analysis of the data, so it is helpful to get an expert to take a look for you.
Hyphen offers monthly Google Analytics reports, tailored to your business’s goals, so please contact us for more information.
Until next time,