By Andrea Techlin
Internet Marketing Consultant
My favorite book of all time is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It is a science fiction comedy series created by Douglas Adams. The name of the book refers to an electronic resource given to the main character, Arthur, an ordinary man who has just survived Earth’s destruction and finds himself as a stowaway on a spaceship with his best friend (who, he has just learned, is an alien).
Needless to say, he’s overwhelmed and afraid, and not quite sure what to do with himself in outer space. His friend hands him The Guide, which only says “Don’t Panic” on the cover. That’s good advice, and a good place to start.
So let’s take a deep breath and look at our own guide to navigating mysterious and uncharted territory. It’s really not so bad once you know the landscape and the language (and have a friend along for the ride).
Google Analytics is the most used Web analytics software, and it’s also free. You will need a Google account, and then It is fairly easy to install on your website and start collecting data.
With Google Analytics, you can see how many visitors you attract in a given day, week, month, and year. But this is just scratching the surface of the data you have access to about people interested in your services. If you have recently set up up GA, or your marketing company has done this for you and given you access, you are probably wondering what to do with all this information.
As a marketing consultant, there are reports that I look at each month for my clients that help me see how the website is performing and gives me insight into what we can do to make improvements or jump on new opportunities. Below are some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that I look at and compare to previous months (or years), how I interpret the data, and benchmarks to gauge how you’re doing against others in your industry and your local competitors.
How Did We Get Here? - Traffic
How much total traffic does your website get each month? This will be different for every practice, depending on your market’s population size, competition, and whether you are doing any paid advertising or relying solely on organic search traffic.
You will also want to break this down one step further and look specifically at your local traffic, the users who can actually come into your office. You can look at this by state and a breakdown of the top cities.
Look at where your traffic is coming from in terms of channels:
- Paid advertising
Organic search should make up a majority of your traffic if you are doing regular SEO, but that shouldn’t be your only strategy. Ideally, you want to make a multi-channel marketing strategy that taps into all opportunities and reaches people in all stages of the conversion funnel.
This includes engaging with your existing clients on social media, brand exposure to get in front of new people, directory listing for backlinks and referral traffic, targeted search marketing to show up for keyword searches, and remarketing campaigns to stay top of mind in someone’s decision making process.
Do We Like This Place? - Quality and Engagement
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. The average for your website will never be 100 percent or 0, so what you are looking for is a healthy average.
For my clients, I am looking for a bounce rate that is around or below 60 percent. If this starts to get high, look to see if the higher number is coming from paid advertising that you’ve added, which tends to have a higher bounce rate than organic traffic. If the higher number is due to organic traffic, then look at the individual pages that have a high percentage.
What can you do to encourage visitors to continue through more of your site? Look at adding more internal links on that page to related areas, eye-catching graphic buttons for resources/guides, and check that your navigation menu is easily accessible and organized well.
When you have a healthy bounce rate, you should also see a good session duration. This is the average amount of time your visitors are staying on your site. This will be different for every practice (and even every month), and gives you insight into how engaging your website is.
You want this to be over a minute, and personally I like to see my clients site around a minute and a half. You want users on your website to look through several pages of information and maybe even check out your blog before proceeding to your contact page or leaving.
Who Are These People and What Do They Want? - Audience Demographics
It’s important to know, and not assume, who is coming to your website. Google Analytics, tied to Google’s other products, is able to gather quite a bit of information about visitors.
You are able to see what type of technology they are using, such as their device (desktop, mobile, and tablet) and browser. You can access information about their demographics (gender, age, and language). Understanding your target audience is extremely helpful when choosing your voice and creating content for your website. This data can also be used off-site in the same way when creating messaging and imagery for your social media or print marketing.
To understand your visitors’ interests and needs, Google Analytics’ Search Queries is a gold mine. This is a list of actual search phrases that brought up your website in results, showing you the number of impressions and clicks to your website. This allows you to see exactly what potential clients are looking for, giving you not only topic areas, but often specific questions.
Did We Make It? - Goals and Conversions
All of the data that Google Analytics presents can be interesting and provide insights into better decision making for your website and digital marketing. To make sure you’re tracking what matters most - leads - you need to set up goals for conversions.
For example, this could be filling out the contact form or newsletter signup form, so you would set up a destination goal of arriving at the confirmation page of a successful form submission. You can add additional goals for events like downloading a resource or watching a video.
Continue Your Journey - Resources
Whether you are preparing to take the GA certification test yourself or just looking to enhance your knowledge, the Google Analytics Academy provides great training videos.
If you are looking for professional help with your website and Web marketing, you will want to look for an individual that is Google Analytics-certified, or a company that is recognized as a Google Partner.
Call us today at 800-368-9910 to speak to an experienced digital marketing consultant and learn what your Web analytics says about your practice’s website.