It takes a lot of time and money to create a new website. You’ve probably read all the reasons you need to remake your website every few years. And they’re all true. But what happens after all those hours of developing or managing your agency? What happens after that glorious launch day arrives?
Most people forget about the website and move onto other priorities. This is especially tempting if your new website took longer than anticipated and you want to catch up. Or it looks so amazing, you think it’s ready to roll.
Your website still needs attention. I know, I know–you thought you’d checked this considerable item off your list. But once you’ve published your website, it’s time for you start evaluating it. You don’t want to wait until you make another new website to ensure it’s doing everything possible for you.
Google Analytics is one of the best tools out there for seeing how traffic flows through (or away from) your website. But you have to know what you’re looking for.
If you’re still in the process of designing your new website, use this information to decide what you need it to help you accomplish.
Here are four things Google Analytics can tell you. Plus one thing it can’t.
The bounce rate counts the number of people who click on a page and then leave right away. For whatever reason, your website repelled them. It’s not personal, it just was not at they were looking for. At all.
The bounce rate matters for a few reasons. First, it means that people were expecting something VERY different or the content failed to show them any value.
This is especially critical for any paid ads. If you pay for traffic and you get a high bounce rate, you need to immediately reconsider if the ad has confused people or broken a promise.
If it happens too often, if could impact your SEO efforts, too.
For everyone who doesn’t bounce, Google Analytics’ Behavior Flow visualizes the path they take on your website. After someone lands somewhere on your website, where do they go?
You want to pay close attention to this, because if people flock to specific pages or content, you want to promote those pages. You also want to include a clear and compelling call to action on that page.
Your call to action is about nurturing a relationship. If the relationship is new, gated content may help. If the content is in-depth and technical, and speaks to a prospect making a decision, entice them to fill out a form or call you.
This also might give you some insights into which services are in high demand.
Google Analytics allows you to set goals, based on how people can take steps in your website. This allows you to make a critical distinction: the difference between traffic and conversions.
Traffic to your website sounds like a good thing and it might be. But if it’s the wrong traffic, or people are uninterested and unconvinced, it’s a false positive. Tracking goals gives you an objective way to evaluate your website.
If someone can’t afford your rates, or doesn’t need your services, you don’t need their traffic.
Even outside of Google Analytics, every page on your website needs to serve a higher purpose. Thinking of goals for your website is a fine way to think of the entire online experience, no matter what digital tools you’re working with.
Google use its invisible, creepy magic to stuff your analytics account with all kinds of data about your visitors. Location data, interests, and other random tidbits flood this feature. Enabling it comes with a note that you may need to update your privacy statement, so keep that in mind.
A word of caution: don’t assume your traffic corresponds with your target audience, unless you see evidence to support that (if your sales team is pleased with the quality of leads from the website, for example).
Now for the Part Google Analytics Can’t Do
Google Analytics can harness all kinds of information, but it can be misleading. Awhile back, I was working at a non-profit with a hyper-local audience. One of my first orders of business was enabling Google Analytics.
In our small corner of the city, a developer was planning a Whole Foods, with tax increment financing. If your eyes lit up at “Whole Foods,” and glazed over at “tax increment financing,” you’re like 95 percent of people.
But there was a key step achieved with the board of alderman for the developer to get this financing, which meant people were in fact (likely) going to get the Whole Foods they wanted. I wrote a brief article and tweeted it out.
The website traffic went up 400 percent that day. And then promptly went back to normal.
I took it with a grain of salt, because one spike based on the Whole Foods project, well it wasn’t a bad thing, it didn’t get us that much closer to our goals by itself. A lot of this traffic was far outside our geographic boundaries. I imagine it was a lot of people who pay attention to news about retail and foot traffic in urban neighborhoods. Plus some bots.
We continued to look for opportunities to highlight our work and monitored our traffic, over time.
Google Analytics can’t help you prioritize, synthesize, analyze, or read between the lines of what it shows you.
You need to have some ideas about what your organization needs, what audience you want to attract, and where they are in your sales funnel.
Google Analytics is a bit of a Rorschach. How you set it up determines what you will capture and how you set it up shows you what you value. Do you want people to visit your website more than once? Do you want to move people from readers to buyers? Do you want people downloading gated content?
If you’d like to discuss ensuring that your website is working for you and not simply taking up digital space, please learn more about how I can help you or give me a call at (314) 896-0001.