5 Essential Analytics for your Website

Most people install some sort of analytics on their website for a good reason – but how many people know the basics of what to look at? Here are the big 5 indicators to check.

For the screen shots I will be using Google Analytics. It’s free and powerful, and they have just improved their interface drastically. You can read more about Google Analytics here.

You need to decide how many days you are going to analyse. You can get very accurate statistics by looking at just one day, but you risk jumping to conclusions. I normally look at the last week.

1. Bounce Rates

Bounce rates are a great way to measure how people like your website. A bounce is where someone clicks through a link to one of your pages then leaves without going to any other pages. In most analytic programs, this must happen in a set amount of time, like 10 seconds.

Website Analytics Image

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If you are getting free traffic from sites, blog comments or whatever, a 60% bounce rate can be normal. It’s free, so don’t panic. However, if you are paying for traffic and it has a bounce rate of over 30%, you need to take a critical look at the factors which effect bounces. Here are the most common:

  • Unfocused Ads. Are you bidding on the right keywords? You can get lots of traffic from the words “Free videos”, but if that is not what you are offering, people will bounce.
  • Bad page design. What is the first impression for the customer? If your page looks unprofessional, people won’t do business with you. Is your call to action clear and repeated a couple times?

2. Pages per Visitor

How many pages do your visitors look at on average? This can depend on your site structure etc, but if people are only looking at 1 or 2, this is generally a indicator of bad navigation. I like to see visitors looking at over 4 pages.

3. Conversions

Make sure you setup some goals on your site. This may be filling in and submitting a form, or purchasing goods etc. Any action which is important to your business is important to track.

Conversions are the ultimate guide to your advertising profitability. Why would you pay for something which has little effect. Be warned, some verticals may have a very long purchase process, so don’t shut off your ads too fast. However, don’t waste money on traffic streams which have no return.

4. Content Leaks

Have a look at the content report

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Look at the exit rates. An exit is where that page is the last a visitor looked at. Take a critical look at where people are leaving your site from. Is something confusing them? Are they getting lost? Are they looking for something they can’t find? Index or top level pages with little information should have a very low exit rate. A high rate indicates confusing navigation.

5. Time on page

You can use the time on page averages to figure out how much text a visitor reads, and how confusing they find your navigation or order process. Here are 2 very broad rules of thumb:

  • Information pages (like product pages) should have a higher time on page, but not excessive. People need time to read and look at pictures.
  • Index pages (like category lists etc) should have a low time. People should be able to navigate quickly through the indexes down to the product level.

Conclusion:

Analytic programs record a lot of data, and you could spend all day looking at the metrics. However, you most likely have some other work. Check the basics daily and use them to improve your website and advertising. Check the more detailed metrics (such as geo-location, browser versions) when ever you make a big change to catch design and programming errors.

What tips to you have? What do you check? Leave a comment.

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