With the end of the fiscal year quickly wrapping up, it’s the perfect time to tackle Google Analytics in order to report your B2B website’s performance. We know you probably already have Google Analytics set up, as the majority of do. Unfortunately we also know that most of you rarely log in. In fact, this is one of the first questions we ask new clients, and sadly the reply is often “yes we have it, but we never actually look at it…” To be honest this is shamefully true for our site also. We understand that rightly so, client work comes first and certainly before studying a complex website tracking system. However, this means we are all missing out on something great.
We are well aware that at this point Google can track our every move. Google always knows exactly what we are looking for, quite possibly even before we know ourselves.
Many of us have a peripheral understanding of what Google Analytics is. We know it counts visitors to our site. But actually, Google Analytics goes much deeper than that. Google Analytics is a system that comprises a short piece of code hidden on every page of your site, which links through to the Google Analytics servers. Via a cookie, the code allows every visitor to your site to be anonymously tracked. Sneaky, Google.
When you log into Google Analytics (www.google.co.uk/analytics) you are confronted by a rather complex looking dashboard. The first window of information you see is a display showing an overview of visitors to the site. This key page is probably about as far as most people get. But even if this is as far as you go, this page still offers an important indication of site performance. Much of the content here is self-explanatory, but there are a couple of things that are really worth looking at more carefully.
It’s very easy to miss the date range in the top right hand corner of the page. Date range important to note because when you start Google Analytics you are only looking at the past month of activity as described by the date range. With just a click you can go back as far as needed (even back to the date Google Analytics was first installed). This gives you an overview of traffic over a longer period. Hopefully it will also allow you to identify spikes in traffic that you might be able to associate with specific marketing activities, such as speaking at an event.
This stat is very useful as it can often identify a problem with your site, but it can also cause a bit of confusion. The bounce rate is the proportion of visitors who have visited your site, but have only visited one page and then left. A high bounce rate (the average B2B bounce rate is, very roughly, 50-60%) usually indicates a problem with the site, though narrowing down what that problem might be is more complex.
For example, a high bounce rate might indicate you are attracting the wrong people to your site. To some degree, we have this problem with our own company name. The phrase “keen as mustard” rates highly on Google,” so inevitably we get a percentage of traffic from people simply searching for a definition, rather than a marketing company. So when these individuals visit the site and find out it does not explain the phrase, they immediately leave and contribute to our bounce rate. Unfortunately there are any number of explanations for a high bounce rate, therefore logical thinking and studying visitor behaviour often comes into play when narrowing this down.
Using the menu to the left in Google Analytics allows you to drill further into the data. Although some of these areas are irrelevant because they are for B2C, other sections can be extremely useful for those of us in B2B.
An area we find very useful is the behavior section, which allows you to look at how visitors behave en masse on your site. Under behaviour, the overview shows the popularity of site pages. Your homepage will always be the most popular page, but we have traditionally found that the ‘About Us’ page ranks second very consistently.
Make sure to also look at behaviour flow (unfortunately quite hidden but very useful). This shows how visitors move through the site from page to page in a visual way. It also includes a proportion, highlighted in red, of visitors leaving the site. Using this you can start to understand what keeps people on the site, and conversely where people are inclined to leave and take steps to rectify that.
Under behaviour, page analytics is also incredibly useful, visually showing how visitors interact with your site. It allows you to see a heat map of the conglomerated page clicks, overlaid onto the page itself to understand where people are clicking. Using these tools you are able to evolve the site design and page content design to better enable visitors to navigate the site, get the content they will be interested in and reduce confusion.
Google Analytics is a very rich and in depth website analysis tool that we often only scratch the surface of. Many of us only use it to see how many people are visiting our site, but if you take time to learn more you will be rewarded with a better understanding of how your site is used.
Given time and effort it also allows you to evolve your website, adding content and adapting it to better serve its purpose. With the introduction of sophisticated CMS (Content Management Systems) websites are increasingly becoming less static and Google Analytics gives you the insight to adapt them to your visitor needs.