Things You Should Know About Your Website

Being the detailed and fairly pedantic person that I am, I constantly track, monitor and ensure I understand what’s happening with my website and for my client sites. I find this analysis an integral part of understanding what visitors are interested in and improve content accordingly. It’s also reassuring to know where the traffic is coming from, and when. What actions have I taken to encourage well targeted traffic? When’s the best time to send out marketing emails, post a new blog or announce something on Twitter?

Without analysis of these details I would be blind to the affects of all my online activity – and there’s no fun in that – it’s quite a satisfying thing to post a new blog, tweet about it and then watch the traffic activity and blog comments start coming in. You then know that what you do is not just of interest to you – it is adding value to your customers and target market.

So here are a list of some key things any website owner should know about their website:

  • unique visits to the site for any given period
  • your top traffic sources and search key words used
  • when peaks in traffic have occurred and why (correlated with marketing activity)
  • what pages (or blog posts) are the most popular
  • average time spent on the site and on each page
  • trends for all of the above

These are the main things I always look at using Google Analytics but there are many more metrics available through this tool. It’s also good to know the “bounce rate” (what % of people leave the site after just viewing 1 page), and for the sake of understanding how people use your website check out the “site overlay” function to see the percentage of clicks on any link for each page.

Another key area is “Conversions”. You can set goals on the behaviour you want people to take and track the conversion % achieved.  For example if you have a booking system within your site you could have a goal to have 5% of the traffic convert to bookings. Some booking systems will let you add your google analytics user code so you can effectively track the usage of the booking process (The Siteminder Booking button is one example of this).

It’s amazing how many businesses barely look at their website statistics, which is a shame because online marketing is one of the few marketing activities where you can accurately track activity from marketing campaigns – you can and should use this knowledge to monitor and improve you marketing strategy.

Interested to hear about what other metrics people typically monitor for their websites too, share your thoughts!

4 Comments

  1. Greevis September 15, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    Thoughtful Blog Post, Michele. You can actually take it one step further and look at the actual dollar value of traffic from a source; after all dollars turned over is how the effectiveness website should be measured ultimately.

    With Web Rooms you can use the analytics code so that this dollar value is measured. But you would have known that if you’d come to my talk at the e-tourism conference 😉

    • Michelle Ackers September 15, 2010 at 10:08 am #

      Thanks for the additional idea on a useful measure to track Graham, good to know that Web Rooms measures that for your clients.
      Apologies on missing your talk too – can’t clone myself!

  2. Duncan Waterman September 16, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Good blog Michelle. Same as Web Rooms The Booking Button from SiteMinder has just released Google E-commerce tracking to round out our tracking functionality. We now support cross domain tracking so properties can see where visitors come from and Google Adwords so that spend and Return on Investment Measured.

  3. Hamish October 8, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    This is a good list of factors to monitor. And I couldn’t agree more that people make far too little use of the data that is available via analytics.

    I would change the emphasis on individual metrics putting bounce rate and conversion at top of the list:

    – bounce rate is essential in assessing –

    a. the overall effectiveness of your pages as landing pages – say 50% of traffic is bouncing then half the people who look at your site aren’t finding any reason to stick around… You need to look at making pages grab attention in the crucial few seconds that people are on a page.

    b. the value of traffic generated from a source – say you pay a site $200 a year for an ad/listing and get 200 visitors a year from that site ($1 per visit)… ah but 70% of that traffic bounces… so the real cost per effective visit is $200/60 or $3.33… important to know when it comes round to deciding whether to renewing a listing.

    In my experience 70% bounce from some tourism directory sites isn’t unusual. Check bounce from a traffic source when assessing whether it is worth continuing with.

    – Knowing conversion is essential too –

    a. how effective is your site? If it isn’t producing enquiries/bookings, then you need to look at making changes. Traffic is great but you need it to produce results or your site isn’t working.

    b. how valuable is the traffic from a source… If you paid $200 for a listing on a site for a year and it produced one $150 booking in that year then you have questionable return on the investment from that site.

    Cheers
    Hamish

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