Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Website Analytics – A Necessity For Growing Your Business

Website Analytics – A Necessity For Growing Your Business

These days, installing a good website analytics program on your website is simple and costs nothing. Still, there are many small business websites that have not taken advantage of the amazing information they can retrieve through an integrated analytics package.

Here are my top five reasons for installing an analytics package on your business website.

Reason #1: Navigation Path Analysis
While your homepage is probably your most viewed page, realize that people will also land on other pages deeper within your site.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the navigation path visitors take when they first hit your site? You might assume they are taking one path when, in reality, they are taking a very different one that lowers the chance of conversion.

If you don’t know how people move through your website, it will be very difficult to tune your site to improve visitor experience.

Reason #2: Traffic Referral Monitoring
How do people actually find your business website? How much traffic is Google or Yahoo sending your way? Is your online advertising actually driving traffic back to your site?

An analytics package will tell you which sites people were at before coming to yours. In addition, you'll learn what people typed into the various search engines to find your web pages. This information is critical to help you discover what is driving traffic so that you can do more of the things that work and less of things that don't!

Reason #3: Page Content
Did you just write a great new content article for your site? A good analytics package will show you how often pages get viewed relative to others on your site. You'll also know exactly how long people stayed at a particular page.

This information can help you decide how popular your pages are. If you know which pages your visitors tend to linger on, you can adjust any advertising or monetization strategies for higher profits.

Reason #4: Key Performance Indicators
A good analytics package will allow you to set up and monitor user-defined goals. By defining and monitoring your key performance indicators, you’ll always know how effective your page elements are in enticing and converting your visitors.

The real power comes from combining an analytics package with A/B Split and multivariate testing. By using these two tools together, you will be able to not only monitor your conversions rates, but test the various page elements that lead to higher conversions.

Reason #5: Trend Monitoring
Trend monitoring lets you look at any single performance indicator over time. Seeing how your conversion rates and other indicators change over time will give you a quick indication of the overall health of your business.

Trends that are useful to monitor over time include:

- Average time on site (i.e., visitor engagement)
- Depth of visit (How many total pages are viewed?)
- Unique visitors
- Repeat visitors
- Bounce rate (# people that leave after viewing only 1 page)

While there are many types of analytics packages available, for ease of installation and use, I recommend Google Analytics. The program is free and has several years of real-world testing. In addition, there are a lot of good books available that show how to setup the package on your website.

Installing Google Analytics on your website is simply a matter of pasting a little tracking code on each of your pages and then having Google verify the installation. Once Google picks up on your tracking code, you’ll be presented with an analytics Dashboard upon signing into your account.

There are also many paid-for analytics packages that have their own advantages and drawbacks. Take the time to research the best package for your needs.

You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. A good analytics package can help identify what needs to be improved. Start monitoring your web visitors today and you’ll be well on your way to improving both your site and your profits.

By: Corte Swearingen
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