DW Tips

Why Google Analytics is a Great Tool to Track Website Performance

Nov 13, 2013 by Paul

Making well informed decisions requires accurate data and running a Google AdWords or other 'pay per click' campaign is no different, yet many small businesses make their website marketing decisions with little if any solid data. The amount of potential data available to a website owner is extensive, much more so than in the brick and mortar world, but it must be first captured by an analytics program, such as Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is not only a great tool to track website performance, it is also the de-facto industry standard and best of all, it is free. But what sort of information does it provide the small business owner? The answer is, more than you will ever use. The information is extremely granular and ranges from visitor demographics, to geographic data, to visitor device data. Additionally, you will be able to see exactly what happens on your website, on a page per page basis or as a site average. Popular categories include:

  • Visits.
  • Unique visitors.
  • Page views.
  • Pages per visit.
  • Average Visit Duration.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Percentage of New Visits versus Returning Visitors
  • Conversion rates

This is all great information designed to help you objectively determine how well your site or individual pages are performing, but you can dig deeper and get even more specific information on your visitors such as keywords used, what site they came from and their specific geographic region. So what can you do with all this information?

The first order of business is to determine which statistics are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are the indicators that clearly show the status of your site. Conversions, bounce rates, page views and average visit duration are typical KPIs, but yours may of course differ. Once you know your KPIs you can set a baseline which you can use as a reference point any time you make changes to your site or your advertising campaigns.

Let's use a Pay Per Click (PPC) example:

Let's say you determine that you need more relevant keywords to feed traffic to your site but ran out of ideas for relevant keywords. To get some fresh ideas, you may want to take an existing well performing keyword which happens to be an [exact] match and add a new version of the same word but as a broad match. This will generate a lot more traffic to your site, but with much less relevancy. However, by looking at the actual visitor search queries in Google Analytics, you might find a handful of keywords or phrases which convert well and which are not part of your PPC campaign. You can then experiment with "phrase" match and [exact] match versions of the new keyword or phrase until you find a nice balance between volume and conversions.

Google Analytics is a great tool to track website performance whether you run your own PPC campaigns or you outsource them. The information it provides to the business owner is invaluable in making any website related decision. It is also a great way to confirm your traffic volume should you ever want to sell advertising on your site.

Feel free to contact us should you have any questions about Google Analytics on your site.