Having completed Lesson Three: Exercising your Website, you know your website is getting all the exercise it needs. But even so, is it healthy? You may be putting a lot of effort into all this ‘exercising’, but how do you know whether it’s beneficial for your website?
In order to check up on the health of your website, you need to have some kind of tool that is collecting data so you can establish a) if there’s traffic going to your website b) which parts of the website are doing well c) which parts of the website aren’t doing as well as they should. There are many free tools for this, with one of the most popular and easy to install being Google Analytics. Once you have Google Analytics installed, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your website statistics at least every month or so.
There’s no point looking at each individual data strand separately – these mean nothing unless compared to other data points. And the data should be analysed over time so you can look at the trends over time.
Here’s your checklist for what to look out for in Google Analytics *:
|AUDIENCE||What does it mean?||Why is it important?|
|Unique Visitors||The number of individual visitors to your site.||This is most useful viewed over set periods of time so you can take note of trends and increases or decreases in your website’s traffic. This is best viewed in conjunction with the number of visits.|
|Visits||This is the total number of visits to your website. This records each and every time a user lands on your website, even if they visit it more than one.||Understanding how many visits your website is getting in total can help you gain an idea of how many people are visiting your website more than once.|
|Pages / Visits||The average number of pages each user is clicking onto.||This tells you how many different pages each visitor is clicking to. This helps you understand whether your website is encouraging users to travel through your website.|
|Average Visit Duration||The average amount of time that the user is on the website on||The amount of time users spend on a website is a good indicator of how engaging your website is.|
|Bounce Rate||The percentage of users who land on the homepage and leave straight away without looking at any other part of the website.||The higher the bounce rate, the more people are leaving your website as soon as they land on the homepage. This often happens when people don’t know where they’re clicking to.|
|% New Visits||The percentage of new visitors who visit your site.||As well as retaining existing visitors to the site, increasing your reach is important too and this will help you determine whether your ‘exercise’ is paying off.|
|TRAFFIC SOURCES||What does it mean?||Why is it important?|
|Search Traffic||The percentage of people who visited the site through a search engine||Are people finding your website using the keywords that you’ve optimized your content for? Data around this will also tell you what keywords people are using to find your website.|
|Referral Traffic||The percentage of visitors who landed on the website after coming via a link from another site.||These count as inbound links and the better quality the website, the more favourably search engines view your website.|
|Direct Traffic||The percentage of visitors who arrived at the site directly, by typing in the URL.||This will tell you how many already know about your website (they may even have visited it before) and that they remember the URL or have this saved somewhere for quick access.|
|CONTENT||What does it mean?||Why is it important?|
|Content||This shows the pages on your website that have the most visitors.||This helps you understand the pages that are generating the most page views. And also the pages that aren’t doing so well. If you can work out why some pages are getting more views than others then you’re onto a good thing.|
Don’t forget, you should also keep a close eye on how your social media updates and emails are doing too. Was there one tweet that had more replies than others? Or a Facebook status that didn’t get any Likes at all? How does it compare to other Facebook statuses that had several Likes? It’s also a good idea to look at timings too. For example, what time did you sent out that email? Was it the best time? Are most of your target audience even awake and checking their emails at 7am on a Sunday morning?
The most important thing to remember is to QUESTION EVERYTHING. Pretend you’re a kid again. Ask WHY. A lot.
Having successfully completed Lesson Four and established a healthy website, you can start thinking about what accessories you need for your website >
* This is a healthcheck for traffic and user interaction on the website, and assumes that elements such as site structure and SEO is all already sorted.