No BS Best Practices for Utilizing Web Analytics
There is a seemingly endless list of services that offer some form of analytics tracking, and you can also use them to track virtually everything. All of this data can help you boost your online business, but first you need to determine how to properly shift through everything and make the applicable changes. For many people, this is a confusing and even frustrating experience. Fortunately, there are many proven techniques you can utilize to help you get the most out of your analytics while simultaneously reducing your work related stress.
Determine Your Most Important Points of Data
Web analytics offer a robust amount of information, ranging from keyword performance to the type of browser that each visitor uses. Experts have a difficult time agreeing about which points of data are the most critical for marketing purposes, so you may feel completely lost about what you should focus on.
It is best to keep things simple at first so that you can glean some vital insight at a quick glance. For example, keyword tracking is going to provide you with important information about which keywords are actually working. You can then use this data to enhance the written content on your website and blog, along with boosting the performance of your PPC ads.
Google Analytics, which is by far one of the most commonly used trackers, gives you the opportunity to overlay keyword data with additional details such as click-through ratio and search engine ranking position. This offers a more finely tuned way to decide whether or not a specific keyword is actually working.
Data You Should be Carefully Tracking
Everyone’s analytic needs are slightly different, but here is a brief overview of the data points that every online business can benefit from:
As previously mentioned, keywords are by far one of the most critical things you can track. Without developing a firm understanding of how this analytic metric works, it will be extremely difficult to create ads and blogs that will capture the attention of your target market. Even if you are unable to figure out how to do anything else with analytics, this is something you must focus on. When you discover that a specific phrase is performing very well, make sure that you incorporate it into future advertisements and written content. Conversely, if a keyword is not attracting attention, it is often best to abandon it in favor of words that are working.
Google makes it possible to track every keyword and search query that is used to bring people to your website via AdWords and organic searches. As you can see in the following example, keywords for a massage business such as “massage wedding” and “bridal massage” are barely coming up in search results, and when they do, they are not being clicked on.
On the other hand, the phrases in the next example are attracting a larger audience and a better overall click-through rate.
What we can learn from these examples is that it makes the most sense for this business to target keywords such as “Novi massage therapy” instead of “massage wedding.” Tracking this same type of information for your keywords on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis will make it clear which keywords are your top performers.
Although the business in this example may choose to keep wedding related keywords on their website, it would not make solid financial sense to put a lot of money into ads about this particular topic. Instead, they should go with the keywords that have the best click-through ratio in order to get the most bang for their buck.
2. Conversion Ratio
Even if a specific keyword phrase brings you hundreds of hits per day, it is still more important to convert those visits into a purchase. If this is not happening, you need to take a closer look at your website design to determine if there is some type of roadblock in place that is deterring consumers. It is also vital to ensure that your site is meeting consumer expectations by truly offering whatever your keywords promise.
Google Analytics enables users to set up specific goals to help them more effectively track their conversion ratios. For example, you could tie a goal into someone visiting a specific page, making a purchase or filling out an online form. Each time one of these actions are completed, Analytics will automatically update your conversion ratios. The image below shows the starting point with no conversions at all, but you can easily imagine how this would change once the data began to be tabulated.
Essentially, if your conversion rate stays low, this indicates that something is breaking down between getting people to your site and getting them to take the next desired action. Be sure to review your site for accuracy and ease of use if you run into an issue with low conversions.
You can learn a lot about the effectiveness of your website by carefully studying demographic information. For example, if your products or services are primarily geared toward an older audience but most of your visitors are in their 20s, you probably have an issue with the type of keywords that you are using. Of course, if the younger generation is making regular purchases, you will also learn that you should expand your vision of what your most common customer profiles look like.
On the other hand, if the younger visitors have a low conversion ratio, it is time to consider an overhaul of your website content and marketing efforts. This is something that you quite simply cannot know is the leading cause of low sales unless you look past basic keyword and conversion data and focus closely on demographics. To get the best overall view of your website’s success, make sure that you combine all three of these analytic factors for each major keyword.
In this example, you can see that the 55-64 and 25-34 age groups have the lowest bounce rate. If goals were set up in Analytics, you would also see which of these groups had the highest overall conversion rate. In other words, taking a close look at demographics definitely makes it easier to see who is most attracted to your overall message, which includes your keywords, marketing and much more. If you are not getting the intended results, you will need to make a few tweaks.
4. Traffic Sources
Are your ads actually working? Is your social media presence sending visitors to your site? Are backlinks actually increasing your click-through rate? The best way to answer all of these questions is to monitor your traffic sources.
As you can see in the nearby example from Google Analytics, the bounce rate for each traffic source is vital to track and understand. After all, even though organic search is bringing in the most traffic, paid search and social referrers are generating the lowest bounce rates. You can derive many important details from this information, including the fact that the ads and social media presence are doing the best job of delivering qualified leads. Emulating the type of keywords that are used with these two sources on your homepage may make your organic search bounce rate drop.
Backlinks are important to pay attention to for a variety of reasons. First, the reputation score of the website that gives you a backlink can help or hinder your own reputation score and Google search ranking. Secondly, backlinks that are well placed and attached to appropriate anchor text can become a major click-through source. As you monitor how each backlink impacts your site, you can get a better grasp of which websites you should approach for backlinks in the future.
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t make it as easy as they should to monitor this particular metric. In fact, they have purposefully removed older tools that would have given you detailed information about this category. However, through the Analytics portal, you can go to your Referral Traffic to get a quick overview:
Google’s Webmaster Tools make it a bit easier to see which sites are linking to yours, but you still need to drill down into each site to get more information, and this doesn’t tell you anything about the impact that those backlinks are having on your website.
In this instance, it can actually be more beneficial to use a tool outside of Google such as Moz, Majestic or Small SEO Tools to get a better idea of what type of backlinks are directing people to your website. Majestic’s offering provides the following useful information:
The main points to pay attention to in this report are the Trust Flow and the Link Type. If the link is marked as “NoFollow,” this means that Google is being told not to consider this link when developing your site’s overall reputation score. Look for higher Trust Flows, and consider removing links from a website that has a very low Trust Flow. 100 is the maximum score, and this will have the biggest positive impact on your site’s reputation score and search engine ranking.
Easy Management Techniques for Web Analytics
Google provides a robust analytics tool, but it can be confusing to navigate. Additionally, what happens if you want to track details from Google and another analytic resource? Instead of spending an exorbitant amount of time bouncing between providers and trying to combine the details you receive, it is best to turn to an SEO dashboard.
These dashboards give you a quick overview of all of the most pertinent information, including backlinks, keywords, search engine traffic referrals and much more. The best part is that you can connect your SEO dashboard to various accounts such as Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, and you can also track daily changes in your search engine results page (SERP) ranking for each keyword.
Putting Analytic Data to Work
Now that you have a better idea of what to track and how to track it, you need to utilize everything that you have learned. Make sure that you have connected your site to a Google Analytics and Google Webmaster account and consider pushing all of this data into one convenient dashboard. From there, it is best to analyze your data on a weekly and monthly basis to find any keyword issues, major SERP changes, advertising issues or unexpected demographic changes so that you can make the necessary adjustments.
Always remember that SEO is never going to be a one and done process, it’s a continuous process. You must continue to learn best practices, monitor data and implement regular changes in order to obtain and keep a high search engine ranking for each of your top keywords. If you see any major changes, take a moment to review Google’s latest algorithm updates and make the necessary tweaks to become fully compliant again.
Aside from using web analytics data itself, take the time to ensure that you always give your site the best chance to succeed by providing high quality written content, offering backlinks to sites with a good reputation score and avoiding duplicate content. If you fail to meet these basic metrics, Google will eventually penalize your site, and this will do way more damage than failing to review your analytics on a regular basis.