Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Know Your Website Numbers - What you Don't Measure you Can't Improve

As a business owner we all know the importance of 'keeping your finger on the pulse' of your business. It is vital that you know how the various areas of your business are performaing against industry benchmarks or your own budgets and targets.

And your website is no different.

What statistics do you review about your website on a regular basis. What numbers do you need to keep track of? What is relevant and what is not relevant?

In terms of what statistical package do you use there are many options. The main one that I use is Google Analytics, because it gives you good information about your website and it is free.

It is not the most detailed package on the market. If you are a stats guru then maybe you should look at something like Overture which does provide an extra level of detail which you don't get with free packages.

For the average business owner Google Analytics will do just fine.

Please Please Please be very wary of the stats packages provided by web hosts. I am yet to find one that gives you any kind of accurate meaningful information. If you know of one please let me know.

So what things do you look at with Google Analytics.

1. Bounce Rate

Under the Content Tab in Analytics click on the 'Top Content' section. This will show you a list of the pages on your website, and among other things it will show you the 'bounce rate' for each page.

The 'bounce rate' represents people that clicked on this page of your website and then left your website or 'bounced'.

What you want to look for is a page that has a higher bounce rate than other pages on your website. If you find a page with a higher bounce rate have a close look at this page. Is there something about the layout or the content that is unattractive to people. Improving this page could make a significant difference to the overall performance of your website.

If your website has a high overall bounce rate then you need to look closely at the quality of your website traffic and where it is coming from. Maybe you are attracting people to your website that are not looking for what you are offering.

Also, related to this are the 'Top Exit Pages' which is also under the content tab. Have a look at your top exit pages to see where people are leaving your website from. Can these pages be improved?

2. Pages/Visit

Pages/Visit represents how engaged your visitors are by your website. If they find useful content on your site and it is easy to navigate they will look at more pages on your website.

I watch the trend of this number with the aim for it to be trending up.

If this number is too low you need to look at your content and navigation to make them more useful and user friendly.

3. Traffic Sources

The third number that I look at is the percentage of traffic coming from direct traffic, search engines, and referring websites. I like to see a spread of traffic across each of these sources so that you are not relying solely on one source of traffic for your website.

What if that source disappeared tomorrow? So would all your website traffic.

For each of the top traffic sources you can click on the link that is in the list and see the bounce rate and pages/view for each traffic source. I use this to determine the quality of the traffic source. I then invest my time in developing traffic from the sources that give me the lowest bounce rate and highest pages/visit.


If you want to get a better idea of how your website is performing against similar sites you can also use the benchmarking feature. You will find this under the 'Visitors' tab. This will compare the main stats for your website against similar websites to see how you are performing. This will also help to give you a list of areas to work on improving your website.

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