To date, everything that I have shown you as been about getting visitors to your website, be it via SEO or PPC, or any other method. If you have done the necessary work, you will start enjoying increased visitor traffic to your website in due course.

The next step of course, is to analyze this traffic so as to be able to begin tweaking the website itself. By analyzing, I mean looking at where your visitors are coming from, what they’re looking at on your site, how long they’re there for and so forth.

NB: Analytics is an essential element of online success and should not be underestimated!

There are many ways to track and analyze your website statistics, but by far the easiest and most dynamic tool I have found on the internet is Google Analytics – the best part being that it is free! First you ‘ll need to sign up for Google Analytics by visiting:

http://www.google.com/analytics/

The Google Analytics Home Page

Above: The Google Analytics Home Page

If you already have a Google account (such as Gmail, Adwords, etc), you can login using those details. Next, you will need to  add your website or websites to the system. In order for Google Analytics to “track” your website, you will ned to edit the HTML code of the pages you want tracked. If you have the know-how to do this, go ahead – if not, simply give the instructions and code to your website designer to do. Remember you must upload this code to every page you want to track,not just the home page. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Once the tracking code is uploaded, you’re ready to go! Analytics will begin tracking data within a day or two – no further effort required from your side. I suggest that you leave this for at least a few days (ideally a week or month) to get a good average data report. Day to day reports can be very decieving and encourage unnecesarry  action on your part.

Once you’ve given Analytics a chance to track a decent time period, you will have some very valuable data at your fingertips. Login to your account dashboard and you will be greeted by a page that looks something like this:

Google Analytics Account Snapshot

Above: A Sample Google Analytics Account Snapshot

Note – If you have a few websites on Analytics, your welcome screen will look different to the above image. Simply select the relevant website to get to this dashboard.

The first element to take note of is the time period (top right-hand corner) – all of your statistics will be based on that time period. So make sure you’ve set it to the correct period or you could be in for a surprise! From the dashboard, you can assess the following information:

  • Visits – This figure is the number of visits to your website by real people (as opposed to robots and crawlers, etc). This is much more accurate than the figure that your website host (ISP) will give you, as these are usually “hits”. Hits are not the same as actual visits and can be very decieving.
  • Pageviews – This is the total number of pages that have been viewed over the given period. The more pageviews, the more value your visitors are finding in your website, as it means that they are browsing around (similar to browsing around a store, vs walking in and walking out!)
  • Pages/Visit – This is the average pages viewed per visit, calculated using the “Pageview” figure divided by the Visits “figure”. The greater this number, the better. Again, this shows you how many people are browsing.
  • Bounce Rate – This figure represents the number of visitors who visit one page on your website, and then leave. This figure can be very powerful in assessing the value of the content on your website. If visitors do not find what exactly they’re looking for, they leave. Testing and tweaking different content is a great way to alter your bounce rate, but don’t become overly obsessed about this figure (as many do). Google Analytics specialist, Avinash Kaushik has stated: “It is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying.” Try keep your bounce rate within these parameters and you’ll be fine.
  • Remember – if your website is using an opt-in form (AWeber, Constant Contact, etc) for newsletter signups or similar, your bounce rate will naturally be very high, as people who opt-in are automatically “bounced” off the page to another page (thank you page, etc).
  • Avg. Time on Site – This figure gives you an inidcation of the average amount of time that each visitor spends on your website. The longer they spend, the better. An easy way to increase this figure is by using video on your website. A 3 minute long video will certainly encourage visitors to stay on a page longer than if there was only text which they could skim through.

Lower down on the dashboard page, you will also find some powerful information pertaining your website:

  • Visitors Overview Graph – This graph gives you a good indication of the flow of traffic to your website and allows you to assess your “busy” and “slow” times of the day, week and month. The sharp dips in the above sample indicate weekends, where traffic was pretty much non-existent.
  • Map Overlay – This map is particularly handy if you run a website which targets an international audience, or if your business targets clients from other countries. You may use this information to invest in PPC or offline advertising methods to better target areas with profit potential. Google is becoming more and more geographrically intelligent, and can even tell you what city your visitors are from. You will be surprised to see where your visitors are coming from!
  • Traffic Sources Overview – This pie chart is an invaluable weapon in your SEO arsenal as it gives you the lowdown on exactly where your traffic is coming from. You may be surpised at what you find here. By clicking the “view report” link, you can find out exactly which sites are sending traffic your way. Use this chart to find potential referrers that could be captitalised on. For example, if you find that you are getting a lot of good, targeted traffic from a specific website, consider purchasing a banner advert on that site for a month and assessing the results thereof.
  • Content Overview -  Here you can see which pages on your website are most popular. Please note that only the pages with the tracking code installed are displayed here – and all other pages are combined as one results (displayed as “/” at the top). Focus on the pages that are receiving the most traffic so that you can get increase your conversion rate using the most powerful pages.

These basic tools can assist you greatly in increasing the effeciency and profitability of your website. Don’t forget to explore the host of other statistics and tools on the left-side bar which include:

  • Intelligence
  • Visitors
  • Traffic Sources
  • Content

Anyone that is involved or has been involved in business will agree that one of the components of success is constant analysis, review and improvement. Your website is no different – there are always things that can be improved on. Start with Google Analytics to get the basics right and then tweak your way to success!

In your next and final lesson, we look at Viral Marketing on the internet and how you can use it to increase your website traffic exponentially. The internet has the greatest potential for viral marketing success (consider Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

To proceed to the next lesson, click here…