When it comes to understanding your web site visitors, few tools are as important as a quality web analytics package. While it is important to have a basic understanding of general terms, it's more important to use the information in these reports to help increase the productivity of your web site.
Search Referrals & Landing Pages
One of the most common things we come across here at Single Grain, is poorly targeted optimization. In other words, if you run a web site that sells books — and you're sending users looking for “children's books” to books on parenting — you need some work.
The trouble here is that many people assume that if they're ranking well, they don't need to worry. What happens though if the people you're bringing in through search optimization aren't doing what you want them to? Many times this happens when they come in looking for one thing and end up on a page focused on something different.
If you find this happening with your site, make the changes to keep your visitors productive and happy!
Understand Your Visitors!
The best types of analytics are those that show you how your visitors converted to your success point… be that to submit a lead, make a purchase, or contact you through the site.
There is an underlying issue here that we find when speaking with clients. When we ask them what they're looking for, they always tell us that they're after more visitors to their site.
While we can't disagree, we shift the focus towards more productive visitors. See, our theory is that you can have all the visitors in the world — but if they're not targeted or they can't produce business for you — what good are they?
That's why it's critical to understand your visitors. Research using your analytical reports to find out what sites they're coming in from, what areas of your site are most productive, and what they're using and looking for once inside.
With this information in hand, go back to the computer and hammer out some new content that speaks to these users. By doing this, you'll give them another reason to come back — and will be one step closer in reeling in hundreds of similarly productive visitors in the future.
Develop a Timeline and Test!
While it's great to make changes that positively impact your site — you have to test things out to make sure they work. Failure is not a bad thing — it's just a sign that you're actively trying something different.
With search engine optimization, different approaches can be rewarding — but you need to know when to pull the trigger.
Tap into your web analytics and look specifically at what major search engines are doing on your site. Google for example will send out their spider called GoogleBot. If you can see that every other Thursday GoogleBot is coming into your site and grabbing all of the pages… When do you think would be a good time to push those new changes live? You got it — Wednesdays!
This approach will save you time assuming that the trends continue on (and with Google, they tend to do just that).
Final Word on Analytics
There are thousands of web analytics providers out there, and each has a different understanding of search optimization, relevant reporting, and so on. Before you buy into any service of program, be sure that you can accomplish these and other tasks. Challenge the vendor offering such tools to show you how to make the most of your search efforts.
Many companies will reward your asking for these tools with some free training to help speed your learning curve. Good luck!