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Google Analytics lets you track your website’s performance for free and will help you determine if you have any weaknesses that need to be addressed.
There’s an old adage that goes something like,"Anything worth doing is worth doing well. And anything worth doing well is worth measuring."
This is so true when it comes to a website. A website needs to be done well in order to achieve your desired results (i.e. customers to your door). And doing a website well also means getting it optimized so people will find it in an online search – which is where measuring comes into play. And the good news is that tracking website performance is free through Google Analytics.
Any website developer worth their salt knows how to install Google Analytics tracking code on a website. It can be done in three simple steps:
1. Sign up. Provide basic information about what site you would like to monitor. You must have, or create, a Google account to do so (again, it’s free). You can set this up to get regular reports e-mailed to you. You can also log in to see your reports at any time. Set aside five to 10 minutes to review each Google Analytics report.
2. Add tracking code. You’ll get a tracking code to paste onto your pages so Google knows when your site is visited.
3. Learn about your audience. In a few hours, you’ll be able to start seeing data about your site. To see your Google Analytics reports directly, visit www.google.com/analytics. Log in with your Google username and password and click on “View Reports.” This takes you to the Dashboard.
Viewing the Dashboard
Here are some of the most important things you should pay attention to on the Google Analytics Dashboard (see graphic below; each letter corresponds to the following features):
A. URL (web address)
B. Time period reviewed in this report.
C. This graph shows the daily traffic the website receives.
D. “Visits” — The number of visitors who came to the site during this time period. Below that are the number of pages viewed on the site.
E. The average number of pages visitors viewed while on the site. The average in our industry is about 1.8 pages. Less is more when it comes to a website; the public simply won’t pay attention to much more than your homepage and a “Contact Us” page or other “call to action” page.
F. Bounce rate — What a visitor does once they land on the homepage. If they leave the homepage without looking at any other pages, that’s considered a “bounce.” This is an interesting indicator of the quality of traffic the website is getting. If someone clicks on at least one other page, Google believes they must have found what they were looking for. As you consider the design of your site, give the web surfer a reason and method to navigate to another page within your site. The lower the bounce rate percentage, the better. In our example, 63 percent leave this site without viewing any other pages. The industry average is around 70 percent.
G. The average amount of time a visitor spends on the site. Obviously, you want people to stay on your site as long as possible. Give them a reason to stay, like viewing a video, getting directions or filling out a “Request an Estimate” form.
H. The percentage of visitors who hit on your site for the first time. This is usually high in our industry.
I. This pie chart shows how people found the site. “Direct Traffic” means they knew the URL, typed it in and hit “Enter.” “Referring Sites,” like Yelp, Better Business Bureau, etc., are other sites that link to this one. “Search Engines” is traffic that comes to the site when someone searches for the site and actually finds it in the search results. Search engine traffic should be a high percentage. That will mean the site is being found, thus well optimized.
J. “Content View” shows what pages visitors are visiting. Watch this section to measure how many people are doing what you want them to do, such as clicking on pages like “Contact Us,” “Directions,” “Request an Estimate,” etc.
Top Traffic Sources
Google Analytics reports show you where your website’s traffic comes from. The right column shows you the keywords that were used in searches.
We replaced the name of this shop with an “X.” This shop was found more by name than anything else. While this is great, people obviously know them by name, so we want more people finding this site using the search terms the public uses to find the services we provide. The top search term is “auto body” and the name of the town, which is not found in the top five here. What does yours look like?
Google Analytics is a powerful tool. We’ve only scratched the surface of its overall capability, but these tips will get you started. Later, you can start exploring what else Google Analytics can do for your business.
Use these tips to make informed decisions about the effectiveness of your website. Does it simply need to be better optimized or redesigned? With Google Analytics, you have the tool to answer this question based on real data and then move toward making your site more effective in getting cars to your door.
Next month, we’ll report on the extreme makeover of the Quality Auto Paint & Body website that we critiqued last month. Check it out: www.qualityautopaintandbody.com.
If you would like to ask a question or have your website and social media efforts considered for analysis and possible inclusion in this column, submit them to [email protected].
BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has nearly 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce training, business/education partnerships, apprenticeships, training and web presence management. He’s the owner of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), a provider of website design, development, search engine optimization (SEO) services and social media management services. He also serves as the regional sales manager for Metro Paint Supplies in Chicago. His work history includes vice president of VeriFacts Automotive, founder of Mentors At Work (now a division of VeriFacts), executive director of the
I-CAR Education Foundation and the National Auto Body Council (NABC), co-founder of the Collision Industry Foundation and national director of development for SkillsUSA. He continues to serve, on a volunteer basis, as the SkillsUSA World team leader for the WorldSkills Championships. He can be reached at [email protected].