Who is the king?
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
IN the May issue of Contract Flooring Journal, I explained how you could use ‘Google my Business’ to drive visitors to your website.
This month, in a second look at Google’s free marketing tools, we jump to the other end of the website and look at how you can use ‘Google Analytics’, another free resource provided by Google, to find out how much ‘traffic’ has visited your website.
I have a client who regularly monitors his website traffic with Google Analytics. Usually, site visitors, or ‘users’, as Google calls them, show a steady flow, with little fluctuation.
On one occasion, things were a bit different. On viewing a month-long period of website activity, my client spotted a spike in the data on a single day in March. At first it looked like an error, and obviously needed checking.
The first thing he looked at was if something special, or a marketing event, could have drawn such a large number of visitors to the website on that day.
Nothing stood out, so the next thing he did was condense the reporting period to that one day.
Yes, there it was. Almost five times the usual number of daily visitors were focused into six hours between 4-10pm.
Client now tightened his analysis down to what Google calls ‘referrals’. Referrals are visits that come via other websites that ‘send’ traffic to your website. These might include directories, news sites or social media platforms.
The referral data showed that 85% of that traffic spike had come from Facebook. The client had published a news story earlier that day on his website, then shared it on Facebook. The story clearly caught the imagination as people saw the Facebook post and clicked on to the news page in large numbers!
Without Google Analytics, the client wouldn’t have known how many visitors Facebook had sent to the website.
How do you set up Google Analytics?
If you have a Google account then you can use search for Google Analytics and use your Google log-in details to open your account. If not, you’ll be asked to create an account, which you should find straightforward.
You will then be asked to specify the website you wish to monitor traffic on.
Once you’ve added your website address and clicked through the simple set-up process, you’ll be taken to a page with some ‘tracking code. This code must be added to your website to enable Google Analytics to ‘see’ it.
Although the code may look complicated, it’s easy to deal with. Simply copy and paste it into an email asking your website developer or manager to add it so it can be seen by Google on all pages of your website.
Once uploaded, the data will start to build. In a couple of days, you’ll be able to log into your Google Analytics account and see the first results.
What will I be able to see?
As you may imagine, the traffic data you will have access to can be complex. However, the top line ‘Audience Overview’ is easy to understand and provides visitor counts for:
Users: The total number of people who visited your website in a specific period. The default is seven days usually, but you can easily select the date range you want see.
New users: Those who visited your website for the first time. All and new users are also shown in the form of a pie chart on this page.
Sessions: Each website visit is called a ‘session’.
Sessions per User: The average number of visits over all users in the analysed period.
Page views: This is the total number of pages viewed by all visitors in the measured period.
Session duration: How long visitors have spent looking at your website on average.
Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who’ve not interacted with your website other than the page they arrived at. It means that the person has found the answer to their question immediately from the page they landed on. Or, that the website was of no interest and they left immediately.
Why should I invest time in Google Analytics?
As you become more familiar with the data, you’ll learn more about how people are using your website. What pages visitors go to most? What websites, online directories, social media platforms, or other sites refer traffic; and what pages do visitors enter or leave the site from?
All this can be used in your marketing. For example, if you’ve a large website, you may find that three or four pages receive many more visits than the other pages. How can you use this information to attract and engage more visitors?
Conversely, you may need to figure out how to attract more visits to what you believe are particularly important pages. These may give the visitor useful information but have low traffic volumes.
As the saying goes, ‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’. Remember, Google Analytics is free – so please use it. It’s a highly valuable marketing tool!
As ever, if you need help with any aspect of Google Analytics, Google my Business, social media, or any other marketing, contractual or commercial matters, just drop me an email.