We recently wrote about SEO performance KPIs, most of which can be found on the Google Analytics dashboard. We showed you how important it is to monitor these KPIs and today we will discuss the importance of interpreting the data. Once again, we will focus on key website analytics and explain how this interpretation can help you develop effective marketing and sales strategies.
The Importance of Interpreting Website Analytics Correctly
To understand the importance of website analytics interpretation, let’s draw the parallel between running your website and driving a car. The analytics are the information you see on the dashboard. Some of them are straightforward, such as speed and fuel level. But you may also see a flashing indicator, such as the Check Engine light.
That could be just an indication that the gas cap of the car is loose. Or it may man that the spark plugs are failing or that the spark plug wires are damaged (both serious issues that need fixing immediately). The same is true about website analytics. They need a thorough interpretation to know whether you are reaching the goals you intend.
Where Do You Start?
As stated above, interpreting website analytics will show you whether you are going in the right direction. Thus, the first thing you need to do is to set it. The goals for your website should be:
For instance, you may consider “more page views” a goal. If you have 1,000 page views per day and they grow to 1,005 after you implement your marketing strategy, you can say you have achieved your goal. You have more page views. But they are not sufficient, because they are nowhere proportional to the effort you made to obtain them.
Get the Right Goals and Start Monitoring Your Website Analytics
Another problem with running a business online is setting the right goals for your website and for your marketing strategies. Just like with social media, there are vanity metrics and goals that mean little to you when it comes to getting new customers and growing your sales.
Take the example above, with the page views number. A big number is great, but it is irrelevant if your visitors do not take any action, or leave the website after a short dwelling time. When you start digging into the data you compile from website analytics, you understand the correlations and realise that you do not need more page views, but more conversions and higher average session duration.
Let Us Start Interpreting the Most Important Website Analytics!
With all the above being understood, this is what you should focus on when looking at your website analytics:
1. Traffic by Device
This one is very straightforward. It tells you what device visitors use while browsing your site. Right now, smartphone and tablet traffic has clearly exceeded desktop traffic all over the world. But, if you have a significant number of desktop users, you should continue paying attention to the way your website displays on bigger screens and desktop browsers.
Focusing only on the mobile experience would lose you valuable customers, especially if your products are targeted at an older audience, which has just caught up with the use of computers and would find it hard to adapt to mobile phones.
2. Traffic Sources
This element of the website analytics shows how your visitors reached your website. There are five possibilities:
- Search – the users reached your website by performing a search on Google or Bing
- Referral – the users clicked on a link on another website (this is an inbound link)
- Social – the users reached your website from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn;
- Direct – the users typed in the URL of your website or clicked on a bookmark;
- Other – these are traffic sources that the analytics tools cannot identify, such as poorly tracked banner ads.
The percentage of each traffic source is very important to tell you whether you are reaching your marketing and sales goals. For example, if you have a high percentage of Other Sources, this means that you are not properly tracking your ad campaigns. Maybe your Facebook pixel is not properly installed or there is a typo somewhere in the code.
3. Conversion Rates by Traffic Source
This is one of the things any marketer and business owner should include in their routine check-ups. Know where your conversions come from. Know where to spend more time and money to develop marketing strategies and where to cut your losses.
As you are looking ahead at increasing marketing costs, monitoring and interpreting conversion rates by traffic sources will become more and more important for small businesses. It is the only way of focusing your efforts efficiently and reaching your goals within your budget.
4. New Users vs. Sessions
Here is another combination of websites analytics that you should interpret in correlation. A session is the name Google uses since 2014 for page visits. Thus a session starts when a user gets on your website and ends when they navigate to another website or close the browser tab/window.
It is important to remember that a session does not mean a unique visitor. Each device that accesses the internet has a unique IP address, and this is what Google records. Thus, if a user visits your website from their phone, then from their computer, you will get 2 sessions recorded in the analytics.
Thus, the importance of analysing new users and sessions in correlation: if you have a high number of sessions and a low number of new users, most definitely you have the case explained above – where users visit your site from several devices.
This is not a single element of website analytics, but covers several of them. They are:
- Page views – how many times your website was accessed in a given period of time
- Average time on page – how much time the average user spends on your website
- Bounce rate – how many visitors left your website after browsing just one page
- Exit rate – indicates the pages visitors were browsing when they left your website.
Why do we put these analytical items together? Because you should analyse them in correlation to get the bigger picture, that’s why. For example: you have a high bounce rate, but high average time on page. This means that the users found what they were looking for. So why did they leave? It could be because your pages are rich in information but have weak calls to action. This is something you can fix and you will see improvements in various other metrics, including conversions.
Most website analytics elements should be interpreted in correlation to one another. You cannot focus on a set of data and ignore others. Together, these analytical data give you a clear image of your average website visitors. Once you compile a profile of how they use your website, you can understand whether they are a match for your buyer persona or not. If there is no match, then you need to rethink your SEO, content and marketing strategies, because you are not attracting the right type of visitors to your website.