3 Website Metrics to Use to Your Advantage

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Photo Credit: Catherine Jamieson

So you’re looking at your website’s stats from Google Analytics (or Coremetrics, or Webtrends, or whichever web analytics program you’re using) and feeling overwhelmed.  What should I look at?  What’s important? What does this mean?  But most importantly, what should I do now?!? Well, my friends, have no fear. I’ve got three easy metrics for you to look at and what you can do to take action and improve your website.

1. Keywords Used to Find Your Site

Over the past 6 months, what are the keywords that people typed into a search engine to get to your website?  Of course you’ll see the obvious variations of your company name, your url, and other strange anomalies.  Hopefully the words you are seeing most often are those that are already a part of your SEO campaign, but the focus here is to look at the words that are most commonly used.

Develop a list of the words that appear most often and look at them in relation to your website.  Clearly these are “hot topics” that people are searching for – are you providing your visitors with enough information on these topics?  Think about ways you can add more content by expanding on these keywords.  If you have a blog, great!  You’ve got some new ideas for blog posts.  If not, outline some possible new pages with content that focuses on these terms.

2. Bounce Rate

Here is a little refresher on what a bounce rate is: the percentage of initial visitors to a site who leave or “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.  Each individual page has it’s own bounce rate, since anyone can enter a website from different pages.  A low bounce rate percentage is the goal because it means that people are looking at more than one page rather than just leaving after landing there.

Take a look at each individual page’s bounce rate and organize it so you can see all of the pages that have a BR higher than 60%.  What can you do to improve those pages?  Is the content vague?  Make it more in-depth and specific. Maybe the picture is ugly.  Or maybe it needs a call-to-action.  It could be a number of things, so brainstorm ways to make those pages better and then put your theories to the test.  You’ll know they’re working if you start seeing the bounce rates for them go down over subsequent months.  If not, keep tweaking and testing.

I should note here that it’s typical for blog posts to have a higher bounce rate, as well as landing pages for PPC ads (if you didn’t already filter out paid search when you were looking at the page data).  Focus first on other pages with higher bounce rates.

3. Traffic Sources

It’s important to know how people are finding your website.  Are they coming to you directly by typing your URL in the address bar?  Is all your hard work on Facebook and Twitter paying off in the form of referral traffic?  Did you nail your SEO campaign and people are getting to you through your keywords?  All traffic is a good thing, but I’d like to stress here that you’re looking for a healthy mix of direct, referral, and search traffic.  If all of your traffic is direct traffic, you may have an opportunity to improve your search engine optimization or undertake a PPC campaign.  If all of your traffic is coming from search, maybe you should consider doing more link building and social media interaction.  Make sure that people can get to you through all avenues, whether it’s having your web address on all your offline marketing efforts, stepping up your game in SEO and PPC, or researching which social networks might be right for you.

I find it’s helpful to filter out any traffic that might be coming from you and your coworkers, so you can get a more “true” picture of what people are doing on your site independent of what you might be doing on there.

Looking at web analytics data from your website is a very important part of internet marketing, but just looking at it isn’t enough.  It takes time and effort to analyze the trends and assess what is working and what can be done better. There is never one clear answer, which is what makes the process so fun because you can constantly test out your theories.  The whole purpose of having a web presence is to interact with your visitors and build relationships, so by giving them what they want, you’ve got yourself a win-win situation.