I’m excited to write my first post for MakeUseOf.com. I am a passionate web analyst with many years experience analyzing and improving websites. For my first post, I am going to start with the web analytics basics, great for newcomers to web analytics – 7 Reasons Why Your Website Won’t Last Without Analytics. This will hopefully make you realize how important web analytics are to your website! So, without further ado…
1. You Won’t Be Able to Compare the Quality of Your Traffic Sources
Go ahead, keep throwing away money on banner ads and Google Adwords, hoping that some of your traffic will stick. If you don’t analyze the bounce rate or the average time spent of all your different traffic sources, you won’t know what source you should be spending most money on. Who knows, maybe that blog you were advertising on actually is the best traffic after all!
2. You Won’t Know Where Your Visitors Are Going On Your Website
Most website owners design their site expecting visitors to go down a particular path – but all too often visitors take a completely different, unintended path. Without looking at most popular site paths and navigation summaries, you will be in the dark for where your website visitors go, just like your website visitors will be when they arrive on your website.
3. You Won’t Know The Pages that Your Visitors Think Suck
Maybe you think you wrote some great content. But maybe you aren’t sure. An easy way to see how popular each of your pages is to look at the exit rates and bounce rates for them all. Pages with high exit rates and high bounce rates (visitors that enter on a page, and then go no further) indicate poor content – get improving!
4. You Won’t Know if Your Content Keeps Visitors Coming Back
One of the most important things for any website to do is to keep visitors coming back. Otherwise, you have wasted your chance – website visitors are fickle things! Comparing new vs. repeat visits tells you exactly how often people are coming back. If your traffic gets 99% new traffic, chances are your website doesn’t make people want to come back. Time for a rethink!
5. You Won’t Be Able to Measure How Well Your Website Converts
So, you may have a free e-book, or get people to sign up for a newsletter. If you don’t set up funnels and conversion goals for the key goal of your website, you won’t know how well your pages are converting, and where people are leaving to during key registration pages. Maybe you need to take off that navigation on those pages after all…
6. You Won’t Be Able to See How Your Website Fares Over Time
Simple one. If your unique visitors and page views are declining over time, chances are that you need to re-think your website strategy and marketing. Keep comparing these metrics overtime, particularly on a month to month basis. If they are going up, keep up the great work!
7. You Will Have to Rely on Guessing For Website Improvements
This is one of the most important reasons to use a web analytics tool. Without looking at ‘what’ visitors are doing on your website, you won’t know what needs improving – like what pages are making people leave or where people aren’t clicking where you want them to click. Use all this information to improve your website, and then do further analysis based on those changes. Watch your repeat visits improve and pageviews increase!
These are many of the reasons that many of the big websites like pets.com failed back in the dot com boom of the late 90’s (remember their dog sock puppet?). They just threw millions of dollars at building a website and then marketing it, without actually understanding what the visitors were doing once they got to the website, and whether they even came back. If only they had better web analytics tools and better web analysts back then!
For those of you who don’t have a web analytics tool on their site, Google Analytics is a great place to start. It shows you all the great information and metrics I mention above, and is really easy to set up. Stay tuned for more on posts from me about Google Analytics best practices too. Anyway. Hope you enjoyed my first post on this website.
Written by Rich Page, A web fanatic, and owner of Rich Page Ramblings blog – full of cool website reviews and web analytics insight.