Web Analytics In A Nutshell – How To Measure Your Success

Web analytics changed how we do business in the 21st century. Now we can find insights into customers previously impossible to discover, including information on website visitors’ demographics, interests, online behaviors, and more.

We can find out what works and what doesn’t, cut underperforming marketing campaigns and increase budgets for winning campaigns. Simply put, web analytics have made it easier to grow almost any business. Read on for a quick guide covering the nuts and bolts of web analytics, and how to put web analytics to work for your business.

Tracking Your Search Rankings

With every SEO project, it’s important to start tracking how your website appears in the search rankings, for several reasons:

  1. Tracking your search rankings measures progress over time and helps you see what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Tracking search rankings will warn you of potential threats, such as sneaky competitors trying to move into your territory, or Google algorithm updates shaking the search results around.
  3. If you really want to be tricky, you can track competitors’ rankings and get an overview of what they are doing.

Fortunately, tracking search rankings is easier than ever. Most all-in-one SEO platforms already offer rankings tracking with their paid plans, such as Moz and Ahrefs.

All you have to do is copy and paste your keywords into their rankings page listed below, and you’re good to go—you can see how high you rank for your keywords in Google, how your rankings perform on both desktop and mobile, and measure their movements over time.

When you enter your keywords just make sure you select the correct location, otherwise you could be trying to rank for keywords in New York and tracking search results in San Francisco…

Google Search Console does have reports on search rankings but are not as detailed or customizable as the professional SEO tools. And Google has a history of removing or hiding keyword data from webmasters, for various reasons.

I wouldn’t rely on Google Search Console reports alone, unless you’re fine to wake up one morning and discover all your data has disappeared because someone at Google HQ decided to change the free reports available to webmasters. Paid SEO tools track keyword rankings for a reason…

SerpWatcher, part of KWDFinder – 200 Keywords From $37 Per Month

https://serpwatcher.com/

Moz Pro Rank Tracking – 300 Keywords From $99 Per Month

https://moz.com/products/pro/rank-tracking

Ahrefs Rank Tracker – 500 Keywords From $99 Per Month

https://ahrefs.com/rank-tracker

Search Performance Report – Google Search Console

https://search.google.com/search-console/performance/search-analytics

Why use Google Analytics?

You may have already heard about Google Analytics. Google Analytics is the web analytics platform used by the majority of sites. It has its quirks, but it’s the best readily available, all-round analytics tool available for understanding site traffic. And the best part is it’s free.

If you don’t have Google Analytics installed, put down this masterclass, install Google Analytics now and then slap your web developer. I’m not joking. Without Google Analytics set up, growing a business online is like trying to pilot an airplane blindfolded. Without Google Analytics it’s difficult to find out what works and what doesn’t, identify issues and solve them before they turn into bigger issues, and get a sense for the general direction your business is headed. Google Analytics is useful for monitoring the performance of a business and applicable to about 95% of businesses.

To get started with Google Analytics, head on over to the below URL and click on “sign in.” Create a Google account if you do not have one already, and walk through the simple steps to get started. You may need help from your web developer if you are unable to edit code on your site.

Google Analytics

https://www.google.com/analytics/

How to use Google Analytics

Let me tell you something a little risqué. On its own, most data is useless. You heard correctly, for real awareness and insights, we need to be able to compare data and identify trends over time. There are two ways to analyze and understand data in Google Analytics in reference to time:

1. Compare two date ranges

Click on the date field input in Google Analytics. Enter two timeframes and you can compare them both. Useful date comparisons include comparing this week’s performance to last week’s performance, last month’s performance to the month prior, and last month’s performance to the same month the previous year.

2. Look at the charts over a long time frame

Simply look at the charts over the longest time period possible and look for trends, without comparing date ranges. This is not so effective for finding hard- to-find information or identifying granular insights, but this approach is useful for a bird’s eye view of the direction your traffic is heading.

Note: Seasonality is a factor affecting many businesses. Sometimes you may see a downturn in traffic, but this may not necessarily indicate your site is performing poorly. It could be that your market experiences a downward trend in certain months. If your business is experiencing a downward trend, use the “compare two date ranges” approach and compare the current month’s traffic to the same month last year. If you are seeing increases, then you know your site is performing well, irrespective of seasonal trends.

Acquisition

Acquisition is an area of Google Analytics any business owner or marketer should spend a lot of 

time reviewing. The Acquisition section of Google Analytics breaks down where your site traffic is coming from. Without keeping a close eye on your traffic sources, it is almost impossible to make informed judgments about the performance of your site or your marketing.

Click “Acquisition” in the main sidebar on the left. In the “All Traffic” section you can see actual amounts of traffic you’ve received from a given source. The Channels section listed under “All Traffic” is of special interest. This lists the main sources sending customers to your website. From the “Channels” tab, you can dig further for deeper insights into the performance for specific sources sending customers to your site, such as social visitors, search engine visitors, email visitors, and so on.

Organic Search report

The Organic Search report is essential for monitoring your performance in search engines. Within the Organic Search report, you can actually see how many times you received a visitor from a search engine.

It’s worth mentioning, a few years ago Google made changes to Google Analytics that still has many search engine marketers and marketing professionals shaking their fists at the sky. Early in 2012, Google changed this tool to hide a large portion of the keyword information, making it difficult to get exact information on the keywords customers are using to arrive at your site. Thanks, Google!

Now when someone types a phrase into Google, if they are signed into a Google account while browsing, the keyword the visitor searches for will show up as a “not provided” keyword in Google Analytics. When this happens, you have no idea what that person typed into Google before arriving at your site.

The amount of keyword information that has been obscured by Google has gradually increased, but don’t be too concerned, we can still measure overall performance of search engine traffic by looking for total increases or decreases in the Organic Search report.

To view the Organic Search report, click on the Acquisition tab on the left sidebar, click on “ Acquisition ” , “All Traffic”, click on “Channels”, and click on “Organic Search.”

Segments

Imagine if you could narrow down to a particular segment of your audience, such as paid traffic, search engine traffic, mobile traffic, iPad users, and so on, and instantly see how many inquiries these users have made, how much time they are spending on your site, what country they are from, and how many sales they are making. This feature exists and it is called Segments

Segments are powerful. With Segments, you can identify portions of your audience that potentially generate more inquiries or sales than other customers. You can also identify portions of your audience having difficulty using your site, and get insights to fix these areas for better performance.

To use Segments, simply click on the “Add Segment” tab at the top of every page and you can choose from the list a large number of Segments for deeper insights.

Common web analytics terms explained

Pageviews

A Pageview is counted each time a user loads a page on your site.

Unique Pageviews

Similar to a Pageview, but if one user loads a page several times it will only be considered one Unique Pageview.

Session

A session is what occurs when a visitor arrives at the site, and at some point closes the browser. If that visitor returns again, this is counted as an additional session.

User

If a user visits your site, and then returns at a later stage, this is counted as one unique User.

Bounce Rate

If a visitor visits your site, and then leaves without visiting any more pages, this is a bounce. The percentage of visitors who bounce is your bounce rate. A common question among marketers and business owners is: what is a good bounce rate? There is no general rule.

Bounce rates vary greatly between sites and industries. If you find a particular page with a very high bounce rate (+70%), this could be an indicator the visitors do not like the content or they are experiencing technical issues.

Conversion rate

One of the most important metrics to monitor is your site conversion rate. A conversion rate is the percentage of Users completing a desired action. The action could be filling out an inquiry form, downloading a product, or buying something from you. If you receive one hundred visitors, and three of these visitors complete a sale, this would be a three percent conversion rate.

Goals

Goals are custom goals you can set up within Google Analytics to track particular business goals or targets you may have for your site.

Common goals to set up include newsletter signups, product downloads, inquiry form completions, and so on.

Call tracking — powerful analytics for every business

Web analytics and VOIP tech has advanced at a lightning pace in the past few years. Tracking and attributing phone calls to marketing channels was previously an arduous task for the local or international marketer, but finally, it’s now both cheap and easy to track the source of phone calls in your marketing campaigns.

Better yet, you can track your calls to a great level of detail, including discovering the source of each phone call (Google, Facebook, Google Ads, etc.) and discover the particular keyword or ad a phone call originated from.

In case you’re wondering how this wonderful technology works, most call tracking platforms use a fancy technology called “dynamic number insertion”, presenting different phone numbers to different users, depending on where they came from, then tracking it in the platform and presenting the data to you, all neat-and-tidy, on a reports screen or a mobile app.

Before running through popular tools for tracking calls, let’s cover important points to safeguard your search engine performance, and make sure you get set up correctly.

Key points for implementing call tracking

  1. If you rely on SEO, or local SEO, it’s important to keep your “real” phone number displayed on your website, for both search users and Google-bot. Make sure your developer is aware of this, and keep your “real” number displayed at all times to these users in the call-tracking platform. If you don ’ t do this, the

“ NAP ” (Name, Address, Phone number) displayed on your site could become inconsistent, and have a negative impact on search rankings.

  1. Make sure the call tracking platform integrates with Google Ads and Google Analytics.
  2. If you’re using a CRM system, like Salesforce and so on, you might want to check the call tracking system links up with your particular CRM.
  3. Finally, if you’re on WordPress, or another CMS, ensure the call tracking platform has a plugin for your particular CMS for easy set up. If the platform has a plugin for the software running your site, this often means you can get set up in under an hour or so.

Popular call tracking platforms on the market right now

Call Rail

https://www.callrail.com/

Call Rail is popular for its ease-of-use, international support, integrations with Google Analytics, Google Ads, WordPress, Salesforce and flexibility. It also includes cool features like text messaging, geo-routing, voicemail and more. Plans start at $30 per month.

Call Tracking Metrics

https://www.calltrackingmetrics.com/

Call Tracking Metrics is another popular platform, also offering international support, Google Analytics, Google Ads, WordPress integrations, and overall, similar features to Call Rail. Some online user reports mention preferring Call Rail for its simplicity and flexibility, and found Call Tracking Metrics a little difficult to navigate, but in the end, it’s often best to trial both platforms initially and see what works best for your business. Plans start at $39 per month.

Other web analytics tools

There are many web analytics tools out there to help with improving the performance of your site. Google Analytics is great for understanding overall traffic performance, but if you want to delve deeper, check out the following tools for greater insights:

Crazy Egg – Free to start. Plants start at $24 per month.

https://www.crazyegg.com/

If you want a visual indication of how visitors behave on your site once they arrive, Crazy Egg is a fantastic tool. With Crazy Egg, you can get heat maps of where visitors click on the page. You can also see heat maps of how far visitors scroll down the page.

Visual Website Optimizer – 30 day free trial.

https://vwo.com/

Visual Website Optimizer is a popular split-testing analytics tool. With Visual Website Optimizer, you can split test different variations of your site, and see which version makes more sales or conversions, and increase your overall sales.

Google Tag Assistant

https://get.google.com/tagassistant/

Google Tag Assistant is a handy free tool, for diagnosing any issues with the tracking codes for all the fancy web tracking tools you ’ ve set up on your site. It ’ s especially useful for developers diagnosing issues, when you ’ re having obvious problems with your web analytics.

Google Data Studio

https://datastudio.google.com/overview

If you’re a data junky then you’ll get your fix with Google Data Studio. Data Studio is hardcore, it can create visual reports so you can monitor almost anything—calls, ad campaigns on various platforms, search rankings, Salesforce leads, your bookkeeping system, the list goes on. The best part is, it’s free.

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