So, you’ve launched your amazing new website that you can’t wait to tell everyone about, now to just sit back and watch the visitors come in, right?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that… As great as it would be for visitors to just come flooding into your new site based on it’s fantastic design (and that’s not to say great design doesn’t help), you need to be tracking exactly how you are gaining traffic, where from, it’s demographics and how you can consistently keep it rising. You need to ensure your website is doing the work for you.
This is where the below sites come in – they’ll show you exactly how people search for your website, how they get to your website and what they do when they get there. All these vital statistics will inform you what your visitors are looking for and help you make improved decisions on the directions your business should be focusing on.
Arguably the most well-known of all the web-tracking platforms, Google Analytics may seem like a scary and confusing leap into the unknown, but we want to show you that it doesn’t have to be. In a phrase, Google Analytics’ purpose is to get to know your customers. How does it do that? I hear you ask, let’s delve into it…
When you log into the platform you’ll see a sidebar divided into seven sections ready to go with information about your website, we’re going to keep it simple and go over the basics of each of these, because even this will provide you with a wealth of data to mull over.
The home tab is what will pop-up when you first open the platform and it is probably where you will spend most of your time. It contains a great overview of your website’s performance and its visitors, including statistics on the following:
- User numbers – Monthly, daily and even hourly data on how many people were on your site at any given time.
- Session Duration – How long those users spent on your site before leaving.
- Bounce Rate – What percentage of users only viewed the initial page before leaving the site.
- Active Users – Live data on how many users are currently on your site.
- How do you acquire users? – See what channels your traffic is coming from, these include direct, social, organic and referral.
- Where are your users? – See the location in the world your visitors are coming from.
- When do your users visit? – See what times/days are most popular for visitors.
- What pages do your users visit? – See which pages on your site are being viewed the most.
- Top Devices – See which devices your visitors are viewing your site on, mobile, desktop or tablet.
- How well do you retain users? – The number of users that are coming back to the site after their initial session, and over what time period.
We’re going to skip over the second section, customisation, as this simply helps you customise the layout and data shown in your analytics dashboard. There’s no actual data here!
The next section, as the name might suggest, looks at Realtime data for your website. Here you can view data as at that exact moment on the following: the most popular pages, keywords, traffic sources, location of users and much more. This is much more useful and will bring greater insight for high-traffic websites that have numerous sources leading to their site.
Tab number four is Audience – This shows the behaviour and demographics of users viewing your website. This data can be filtered down into age, location, gender, device, operating system or new vs returning visitors for every single statistic; so you can see exactly how a specific demographic interacts with your site and even whether you’re more popular with a particular segment (extremely useful for targeting things such as advertising and content)!
Next up is the acquisition tab, where you can view how users are coming to your site, in other words, how you’re acquiring new visitors. We glanced over the channels of acquisition briefly but let’s go into a bit more depth, these are:
- Social – The visitor came through a link on a social media platform, possibly on your business’ social media page or an ad being run on the platform.
- Direct – The user directly entered your web address, or has it bookmarked.
- Organic – The visitor landed on your website through searching keywords in a search engine (Google, Bing etc.) and finding your site.
- Email – The traffic came to your site through a link in an email they received, possibly through an email campaign you are running.
- Referral – The user came to your website through a link that was not one of the above, possibly an online form or survey your business created.
The behaviour tab, and more importantly it’s ‘behaviour flow’ function is a fantastic tool to see how visitors move through the different pages of your site, detailing which pages users landed on, where they next visited on the site and at which page they exited. Any pages with high drop-off rates should possibly be looked at updating or altering to keep users on the site for longer.
The final tab, conversions, adds the possibility to set up goals for any action you want your visitors to take on your site. This will vary between businesses but could be something as simple as signing up for your newsletter, purchasing a product or filling out a contact form. The conversions tab will then allow you to see how many of your visitors are ‘converting’, in other words, achieving that end goal that you’ve set up, and furthermore where the best converting channels are. This last bit is vital for focusing your businesses marketing efforts without wasting any resources.
Google Search Console
Now that we know how users interact with our site, let’s find out how search engines interact with our site. Google Search Console tools and reports are all aimed at improving your site’s performance within Google search results.
The layout is very similar to that of Google Analytics, once you’ve linked your site, you’ll see a sidebar with various tabs full of different information on your website. You’ll firstly see a great overview of how your website is performing in Google search, the number of clicks, number of impressions and its average position in the search. The most valuable of these performance statistics, alongside the top keywords your visitors are searching for, is by far the average CTR (click-through-rate); this shows you how many of the people that see your site come up in their search are actually clicking through to your page rather than just scrolling past.
Another important feature of Google Search Console is its URL inspection; which will show you any errors on your website such as broken links or pages that aren’t loading, both of which can have quite a negative effect on your google ranking if left unresolved. To unlock this feature, you’ll simply have to upload a sitemap of your website, which basically tells Google all the pages that are included in the site and their hierarchy, so that it knows what to show users when they find your site. If you ever have a page updated or changed, simply use the inspection tool to tell Google that you want that specific page reviewing, and they will have the page updated in their search results.
Google Search console also allows you to view your website’s mobile usability – giving you a score for various factors mobile users will be affected by such as image optimisation, page resolution, load speeds, navigation and accessibility. This section will show you the exact pages causing any reductions in your mobile usability score and recommendations on how to fix these.
A much more recent, much awaited addition to Google Search Console is the Products tab. This will let any of you that own an e-commerce store view how well your products are performing in Google search ranking – Giving you any issues causing them to rank lowly and guiding you through step-by-step how you can quickly and easily fix these, a fantastic aid for getting your products to the very top of the rankings!
A new player on the block, but quickly up-and-coming is Hotjar. It works a lot like Google analytics, showing how your visitors are interacting with your website, except Hotjar doesn’t display this data numerically but instead adopts a visual approach.
The platform allows you to view heatmaps of your site, but what’s web design got to do with temperature? Very little! The heatmaps in fact track the exact mouse movements of your visitors so that you can see right in-front which parts or links of your page get the most clicks, through colour coordinating ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ areas. What’s even more impressive is that Hotjar will record each session a user takes on your site, which you can then go through and view, seeing exactly what the visitor looked at and the path they took through your site, almost as if by magic.
Hotjar also gives you the capability to assign funnels, similar to goals on Google Analytics, so that you can check that your users are going to the pages that you want them to, and if not, which pages they are exiting the site at. A great example could be that you want your users to register for your software, you could set up a 4-step funnel (homepage, pricing, register, dashboard) that you can then analyse for effectiveness; how many users that land on your software website are actually registering at the end of their visit.
Another useful feature of Hotjar is its feedback tools, split into 3 useful sections:
- Incoming – Allows your users to give instant visual feedback on your website or app, see what people love and hat, identify issues, and find opportunities for growth
- Polls – Understand the reasons behind your visitor’s wants and what’s stopping them from achieving it. Target questions to specific visitors anywhere on your web & mobile site.
- Surveys – Build your own responsive surveys using an easy editor, collect responses in real-time from any device and get to know your audience better.
Are there any other ways that you use to monitor the performance of your website? Let us know in the comments below!