Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation
Beyond SEO – The right traffic to your site
An Introduction to Google Webmaster Tools
Introduction to Google Analytics and other website analytical tools
Introduction to Pay Per Click Campaigns
PPC Pay Per Click Marketing and purchase process
Integrating online video into your digital marketing strategy
Google Analytics is an absolute gem of a tool and can be used to make accurate business decisions regarding your advertising activities and marketing objectives. It will provide an opportunity to see what is working and what is not working in order to better utilise budgets and redistribute your spend and efforts.
It should pointed out that while Google Analytics is a great free tool, it should be cross referenced against other analytical software such as AWStats (free and installed on most hosting packages) or more professional software such as Omniture or Webtrends as data sometimes can be slightly conflicting.
It is also important to understand your objectives before you start your analysis. If you are approaching from an SEO point of view then the data you receive from the visitors of your site is as important as the data from the visitors you don’t achieve. Use services such as Googles Webmaster Tools or SEMRush to take a look at the information about where your site achieved a search engine placement but did not achieve a visit. More on this in another post.
If you are not familiar with the terms associated with web traffic then please see the summary below before reading on.
Once you have established your objectives there are two ways I approach the use of the data. Dip in and retrieve the data necessary to conclude the objective or take a look at the site visitors journey.
A site I worked on recently targeted the promotion of a trade in a specific vicinity from the trading address. Using analytics we were able to take a quick look at the geographical data by choosing visitors > Map overlay to see where the hits were coming from. In consequence the area the PPC campaign targeted was refined, reducing spend on clicks and improving conversion rates. Outside of the world of the web this data also facilitates decisions made about other geographical based advertising. A reasonably high spend on directory advertising was proving to have comparatively low conversion rates so the budget would be better distributed in areas producing sales. This is applicable for small and large business, with higher traffic websites you will have more data to play with and in turn a bit more digging to do but the cost savings are greater and overall turnover should far exceed the investment in getting it right.
So, let’s take a look at the journey I mentioned earlier. Although it can be very difficult to track one visitors journey through the website (unless you have software such as LivePerson) it is possible to retrieve enough data to make informed decision. This is technique I developed while working at a very high traffic retailer in order to make recommendations about advertising spends both on the Internet and in the real world. The basics of the journey is as follows
Referral > Landing page > Most popular pages > Exit Page > External links
This collection of data alone can answer a multitude of questions. Referrals, can quickly answer the question of whether some of your paid marketing is worth the spend, you will often see hits directly from mail sites so to some extent you can monitor your mailshots. Where you might struggle to monitor the effect of your advertising from print media or anything without a direct link. There are a few ways around this and I’ll give you a hint, creating unique landing pages to your advertising allows you to track how many hits you obtain from, say a flyer. Possibilities also arise in usability, pushing your visitors to specific parts of the site based on what you know they have come to find.
Landing pages are good for monitoring where traffic has come from but also provide a window into what is appearing high in search engines or popular pay per click search terms. Organic traffic to certain landing pages shows these are probably the most optimised pages satisfying more unique search terms. Check your search engine placement using webmaster tools, use this information to improve other pages and products.
The pages that receive the most hits Most popular pages might be highly optimised but also may reveal good usability and navigation of the site for example, home pageadvertising, good linking structure. Again this might reveal answers regarding offline advertising.
Exit pages are vital in knowing where your visitor got off. Ideally a thank you page post checkout or the contact us page for a trader. Match this by recording other data, whilst a checkouts provide the facility to monitor conversions, 10 hits or exits from your contact us page followed by 10 phone calls or emails suggests a conversion rate.
External links are as important as internal links and depending on the function of the site, remember that analytics does not drop a cookie so I the visitor leaves the site for more information and comes back google cannot tell you this. External links are especially good for sites providing information, sites with adverting, sites with sister sites and products.
Bare in mind that journeys can only be measured between two places, if a visitor hyperlinks to another page on your site then google can track the time spent on the first.
Organic Search – This is the natural search traffic obtained through the websites indexed pages on a search directory. For example, the left hand side of google.
Paid Search – This is search traffic from the adverts that appear on a search engines page. For example, Pay per click campaigns.
External / Internal links – External links are the links on the the website that link to another site. Internal links link to pages within the site.
Traffic Sources – Is a bracket heading for all the traffic sources that can be measured by Analytics.
Conversions – Are the traffic that can be measured and acheive a sale or appropriate call to action.
Conversion Rate – Are measurements on how many conversions achieved compared with number of visits. For example, a search term acheives 10 visits and 1 sale, this will produce a conversion rate
Landing Page – Is the first page at which the visitor arrived at the site (not always the home page)
Exit Page – Is the page at which the visitor leaves your site.