Having a website is a cornerstone to creating an identity and presence for many businesses. It’s your calling card and the first impression that many customers will have of you and your business. Therefore you want to make sure that your website is effective in supporting your goals and the needs of your customers.
Web analytics is the process through which internal data about your web site is collected, measured, and analyzed to understand and optimize web usage. In this post, we’re talking analytics you can collect once users have come to your site. For analytics to be really valuable, you need to have goals and performance measures for your site. This article simply and without techno-babble lays out what you have to do before you implement analytics.
What Can Analytics Do?
Analytics gives you information that can help you evaluate your marketing strategy, your website content, and the layout of your site. Specifically, most tools can tell you:
- How many unique visitors do you get?
- Traffic sources - are people coming to you from search engines, being linked from other sites, or going directly to your site?
- What keywords are people using to arrive at your site? Does your site content and goals match what people come to it looking for? If not, you need to change your content or change your marketing.
- Which pages get the most views and how long do people stay? Popular pages can be a guide for what layout or content your users like.
There’s so much more analytics can do. Pick a tool and do some research on the potential it has. There are always some hidden tricks to learn!
There are many free or low-cost tools that you can set up on your site to collect these measurements. Check out these articles and sources for a few of them:
- Google Analytics is the incredibly powerful tool and the typical starting place for those delving into analytics. It’s a free tool that will give you a bounty of information on how visitors use your site. All the options can occasionally make it somewhat difficult to navigate so be sure to avail yourself of support resources
- CrazyEgg is a very popular and easy to use tool that has one particular claim to fame: heatmaps. This tracks the movement of the mouse on the page in a way that is reputed to mimic eyetracking. Here’s a list of more tools that utilize some form of heatmaps
- 10 Promising Free Web Analytics Tools focuses on some of the lesser known options. They provide a lot more flexibility than some of the other tools. Each tool is best suited to a particular need so check them out to see if any match up with your site. Some of them take a little tech know-how to install
If you choose to implement a free or low-cost program that will track your analytics, it’s important to do it sooner rather than later. The more data you gather over a longer period of time, the more representative and therefore useful your numbers will be to you. Even if you never touch it, the information will be incredibly valuable should you ever hire someone to redesign your site.