Tracking your Progress Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an essential tool to help you understand the traffic on your website. Among other things, the software enables you to see how much traffic you are getting, which of your pages are most popular and where your traffic is coming from, all excellent sources or Market Research.

Despite this, even some established firms are not fully utilizing the power of this data. One London based firm made blogging part of the marketing strategy and asked senior employees to blog on a regular basis, however, they gave no feedback as to how popular the posts were or how many views they got.

This is invaluable information. If you post on a regular basis, tracking the analytics will enable you to focus your time and effort on the topics that your audience find most interesting and relevant. Google Analytics allows you to judge the success of your posts by looking at a number of factors:

  • Number of hits – The number of hits on a website, or for a particular post, is an interesting metric to track over time to see how well your site is performing. It is also an essential input to your conversion rate calculation (i.e. what percentage of hits go on to complete a defined action on your site, such as make a purchase or request a call back). However, while this number will tell you how many people viewed a site, or a given page, it does little to reveal the success of the post.
  • The time readers spent on a page – So long as you take into account the volume of information on the page, with the assumption that more words on the page will take longer to read, the average time spent on a page is a good indicator of how the audience rates the article. It is likely that a poorly written article will be reviewed very briefly and then the reader will leave the page. For a well written, thought provoking piece, the reader is much more likely to take the time to read and perhaps even reread the content.
  • The traffic source – If people like the post and think others will also like it, they are more likely to share the link, either on social media, on their own site or in an email. A large percentage of traffic coming from referrals is a good sign, as it indicates that your link is being shared across the internet, particularly if the referrals are coming from a wide variety of sources. A high proportion of search hits could suggest that your content is particularly topical and it is rating high in search engines, suggesting that it may be a good topic to pursue further, or write in more depth about.
  • Bounce rate – If people stumble across the post and it is not what they expected, badly laid out, or badly written, they will exit without navigating to other parts of your site and you will see a high bounce rate. In order to keep your potential clients engaged you have to focus on improving the usability of your site, as well as writing great content.

This represents a very small proportion of the functionality in Google Analytics, but it is very powerful data that can help to drive not just your marketing strategy, but also your business strategy more generally. If for example, you notice that a large proportion of your traffic is coming from a particular country, there may be opportunity to tailor the product or service more specifically to the needs of that market in order to improve your conversion rate.

How to get set up with Google Analytics

Analytics is a free service provided by Google, so if you have a website and you don’t already have an Analytics account, you should sign up now.

Once you are registered and you have provided Google with the relevant information about your site, you will be provided with a few lines of code that you need to include on every page on your site. Rather than pasting this code in manually, there are a number of plugins that will ensure the code is properly integrated, this is also built into the functionality of many WordPress themes.

That being said, it is simple enough to manually paste the code into the footer file, just before the </body></html> tags. This ensures that the code is on every new page or post that you create and allows Google to track these pages.